September

Faculty Column: Decade of the Mind

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Psychology has always been an exciting field that is full of promise. Theories developed from psychological study and research have changed the way we explain human behavior and mental processes.

These theories have ongoing influences on the lives of every person.

The field is a dynamic science and the last 50 years of psychological research have led to exponential growth in every domain of psychology. President Bush proclaimed 1990 to 1999 “the decade of the brain” based on the burgeoning field of neuroscience and the rapid growth of knowledge about the brain’s structure, growth and functions.

The major benefits of this neuroscientific research have included more effective treatments that prevent, halt or delay damage from trauma and disease, as well as restoration in damaged brain functions for many individuals. It also acknowledges that human behavior and mental processes are more complex than we imagined.

In 2007, top neuroscientists proposed a renewed focus on the brain in the context of the larger construct of “the mind” which encompasses the physical brain, thoughts, feelings, desires, plans and memories... the entire human experience. The exciting focus of this new “decade of the mind” is the interdisciplinary nature of the work being done. Psychological research is flourishing through interdependent relationships with sociology, anthropology, biology, medicine, education, mental health, neuroscience and even artificial intelligence and robotics!

So what will the next 50 years look like? Where will the field of psychology be in 2065? I believe the “decade of the mind” will lead to continued discoveries about our experience as human beings. The meaningful connections created through collaborations within and across fields will push the frontier of psychology as a science and lead to new and important questions that could not be imagined 50 or even 20 years ago. Although I cannot predict the future of psychology, I am convinced it will be incredible and I am thrilled to be a part of it!

Erin Way, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology

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