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Neuroscience needs its Einstein

Reading the news, you might be excused for thinking that scientists are on the verge of understanding the human brain.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are diligently mapping all 100 trillion neural connections between our 86 billion neurons, and President Obama has just announced a $100 million Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative that will study all those networks in action.

The neurologist Robert Burton is skeptical, to say the least. His new book, "A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind," is a scathing indictment of reductionism in all its guises, and a stirring call to consider whether scientists are even asking the right kinds of questions. Recently I met with Burton in his Sausalito, Calif., home. Over coffee he explained to me what neuroscientists are getting wrong, how neurology can be improved, and why the mind is so perplexing in the first place.

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