The study of the brain and nervous system is applicable to many facets of daily life, from decisions we make about spending money to the way we view ourselves and others. Scientists, educators, economists, and lawyers are now recognizing the impact of brain function on learning, decision-making, planning and criminal behavior. Collaborations between these individuals could one day guide efforts to improve teaching methods and curricula, and identify people with an inclination toward high-risk behaviors such as suicide or drug use.
Advances in brain scanning technology and genetics are enabling scientists to predict behavior, personality, and disease with increasing accuracy. For instance, brain imaging studies of teenagers helped scientists better understand their tendency toward thrill-seeking behaviors, including drug and alcohol abuse. Additionally, researchers are exploring how imaging technology might be used to detect mental illness, lies or hint at a person’s susceptibility to committing criminal actions. This information could guide early intervention and prevention efforts, but it also raises important ethical questions.