Fast forward through three decades of rapid growth in the field to 2004, where, as part of Columbia's 250th anniversary celebrations, CU President Lee Bollinger formally launched a university-wide initiative in Mind, Brain and Behavior at a major symposium on this topic The Jerome L. Greene Science Center will serve as the intellectual home for Columbia's expanding research initiative in Mind, Brain and Behavior.
It is widely believed that beyond molecular analysis, a more complete understanding of the human mind poses problems of great complexity. This compelling endeavor will require the intellectual resources of the entire university. Columbia is committed to expanding the realm of traditional neuroscience to include other disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology on the more macroscopic level, and physics, chemistry, bioengineering, nanotechnology, computer sciences on the other. The establishment of the Center for Neuroscience Initiatives (CNI) and the plans for the new Jerome L. Greene Science Center are the first phase and foundation for development of this comprehensive initiative in Mind, Brain and Behavior.
In the 20th century, scientists discovered a great deal about the brain. They discovered what happens to individual neurons when memories are made. They created powerful tools to image brain function. But while they made great strides toward understanding molecules, cells and brain circuitry, scientists continue to unearth how these circuits come together in systems to record memories, illuminate sight and produce language. We have entered an era in which knowledge of nerve cell function has brought us to the threshold of a more profound understanding of behavior and of the mysteries of the human mind. Many believe that the next level of understanding will come from analyses not of single cells but of ensembles of neurons whose concerted actions must underlie the complexity of human behavior and thought. Neural circuits must, in some way, account for high-level functions such as memory, self-awareness, language, joy, depression, and anger. Taking this research to the next level through collaborations with the social sciences will illuminate and identify the role of social interactions in normal and abnormal brain function (and vice versa) and we can begin to explore themes related to evolutionary biology, psychology, and anthropology. At the more atomic level of the spectrum, we anticipate developing programs at the interface with nanotechnology, chemical biology and bioengineering. We will forge close ties between the brain sciences, the programs of the business and law schools, and the many schools of the humanities to ask and answer questions that are fundamental to our understanding of human existence.
Planning for the Mind, Brain and Behavior Initiative
Strategic and scientific planning for the development of specific programs, core facilities, education and outreach are currently underway. Updates will be added to this site as they are available.