What is theory and what
is its place in neurobiology? Let us look at the history
of other natural sciences, such as mathematics, physics,
or chemistry. Up until about 400 years ago humankind
had been accumulating extensive experimental knowledge
, which had led to relatively few technological advances.
This is because to build a new machine one has to know
exactly how different components of the machine interact,
which could only be done by trial and error. After the
great laws of physics were discovered, one could engineer
a new machine without much trial and error. This led
to the explosion of technology in the new era. Thus,
after discovery of the rules of quantum mechanics chemists
designed many new substances and better understood existing
Our mission is to understand the principles underlying
functioning of the nervous system. We look for quantitative
laws analogous to the Schrödinger equation in physics,
which would allow us to predict results of experiments.
When such predictions are made, experimental efforts
can be concentrated on limitations of theories and uncovering
new rules. This will lead to better understanding of
the brain and new technological advances.