Progress and challenges in probing the human brain

Nature. 2015 Oct 15;526(7573):371-9. doi: 10.1038/nature15692.


Perhaps one of the greatest scientific challenges is to understand the human brain. Here we review current methods in human neuroscience, highlighting the ways that they have been used to study the neural bases of the human mind. We begin with a consideration of different levels of description relevant to human neuroscience, from molecules to large-scale networks, and then review the methods that probe these levels and the ability of these methods to test hypotheses about causal mechanisms. Functional MRI is considered in particular detail, as it has been responsible for much of the recent growth of human neuroscience research. We briefly review its inferential strengths and weaknesses and present examples of new analytic approaches that allow inferences beyond simple localization of psychological processes. Finally, we review the prospects for real-world applications and new scientific challenges for human neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Brain Mapping / trends*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Connectome
  • Forensic Sciences / trends
  • Genomics / trends
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurosciences / ethics
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Neurosciences / trends*
  • Reproducibility of Results