Letter from the Editor

The neurosciences probe the deepest questions of what it means to be human, to perceive, to learn and to make decisions, to be conscious and intelligent, to have a concept of self. Mankind has been fascinated by questions of the brain for thousands of years, well into prehistory, and the brain arguably remains our chief subject of wonder. Not only is the brain a source of awe and curiosity, it has also been recognized for centuries as an organ susceptible to debilitating disease, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and autism. Both natural curiosity about the brain as well as the desire to find ways to prevent or treat neuronal diseases has fueled considerable research efforts throughout the world.

With this perspective, it is noteworthy that research into brain science right now is undergoing one of the most exciting and productive phases in its history as technical advances on many fronts (optogenetics, genomics, and imaging, to name a few) occur just as public recognition in the support of brain research is ramping up: examples are the BRAIN Initiative in the U.S. and the European Blue Brain Project.

We also see a progressive evolution of the academic field from its relatively separate beginnings as neurobiology, largely in Medical Schools, and neuropsychology (aka, psychobiology, biopsychology, etc.) in Psychology Departments. Not only have these disciplines merged, but the field has attracted participation from many other classical disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, economics, engineering, etc., so that we now have a broad, unified discipline known as neuroscience.

Thus the time seems especially propitious for launching The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (ORE). This is designed to be a unique resource for students of neuroscience at any level. It is intended as a complete and constantly updated information site that is provided by the top experts in the field and that covers all areas of contemporary neuroscience in more depth than textbooks.

ORE articles, all of which will be peer reviewed, will be regularly updated to keep pace with this quickly evolving field, and the digital medium allows for high quality color illustrations as well as video and audio supplements. Furthermore, we will provide a full range of links to other available related resources.

We hope that this ORE will appeal to all interested in neuroscience, from motivated amateurs to students at various levels to professional scientists.

S. Murray Sherman
University of Chicago
Editor in Chief