When Gregor Mendel’s researches established the laws of genetics, he was studying height and color in pea plants. He looked at traits controlled by single genes, because there he could see the clearest patterns. We now know that his chosen genes were the exception. Most genes have multiple purposes, with many and varied interactions. The genome is a web that resists being compartmentalized, and epigenetics is even more intricately convoluted.
In recent decades, neurologists have been studying the brain the way Mendel studied genetics. They can localize separate functions in separate regions with fMRI, and induce predictable reactions with stimulation of a particular neuron.
But there are hints that the brain’s organization will prove to be every bit as convoluted as the genome’s. If this turns out to be the case, we will need very different methods and different concepts from the reductionism that has been the mainstay of Western science.
Read an article at The Conversation