Neuroscientists recognized the need for a reference collection of brain images of healthy individuals free from known brain diseases, disorders, or injuries, essentially a collection of normal profiles that could be compared with the growing library of profiles depicting some sort of brain damage. A few neuroscientists turned to psychologists who were known for their expertise and research in the use of assessment measures of cognitive development among populations with normal intelligence. The collaboration between neuroscientists and psychologists was successful in creating collections of normal brain-imaged profiles.
The reference collection of brain images grew rapidly to form libraries that have led to major discoveries. For example, when the new neuroscientist-psychologist teams realized that no two human brains were identical, the discovery changed the way some pediatricians and educators think about normal cognitive development. Variations in brain images may suggest a neurological basis for variations in students’ special talents and affinities, and also in some of their academic difficulties. It is important to emphasize, however, that the overall similarities among brain profiles are generally greater than the differences.
That is, human brains are more nearly alike in terms of the organization of functions within the brain’s architecture than they are different. A second and more important discovery made by neuroscientist-psychologist-psychiatrist teams concerns the finding that various mental illnesses are characterized by significant differences in brain and blood chemistry. These latter discoveries have led to the formulation of new drugs that help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with mental illnesses.
Collaboration between psychologists and neuroscientists led psychologists to realize that brain imaging was a valuable tool that could provide them with the first brain images of cognitive processing among average adults, adolescents, and children. Thus, the collaboration led the way to the creation of new fields of research called neuro-psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Figuratively, new bridges now connect psychology and the neurosciences.
Educators are beginning to discover the relevance of the cognitive neuroscience literature that focuses on how the brain organizes new information and retrieves new and old information when needed.