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Understanding the Brain: The Grand Frontier

Narrator: This is Science Today. Many researchers who study the brain consider it the grand frontier. Neurobiologist Tallie Z. Baram of the University of California, Irvine says that's because the possibilities seem endless.

Baram: It's infinite, maybe almost like astronomy because there are perhaps a finite number of brain cells. But the connections between them and therefore, the way they influence one another change infinitely. And these connections change with time and in fact the whole brain progresses with time with new cells coming on and others dying. So really, it's a knowledge that we're never going to be completely on top of.

Narrator: Yet, the decade of the genome has changed the landscape and has offered researchers a vast understanding of brain function and dysfunction.

Baram: People got very enthusiastic because there's really been a tremendous understanding of how the brain works. We can delve into this complexity and really understand some specific mechanism - and then if we understand the mechanism, what really influences brain function, we should try to prevent and to treat.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.