I was reminded by a speaker on NPR, that the 1990’s were declared, by Pres George HW Bush, as the Decade of the Brain. http://www.loc.gov/loc/brain/ Dr Tanaka at the Martinos Center was saying that in Japan, the brain is refered to as the “mystery organ”, but it was even more so just 25 short years ago. I suppose the Decade of the Brain was motivated in part because all the boomer were realizing their short-term memory was going missing, and strokes and Alzheimer’s were really picking up steam.
Prior to the 1990’s the conventional wisdom was neurons were not very good at repair/regeneration, as say the liver is. Now we know different. The concept of plasticity became part of the vernacular. Plasticity is our friend in fact. It means that when one area of the brain is being all pissy, the function that usually goes on there can be moved, as if by magic, to somewhere else, to friendlier turf. Yay brain!
By the way, need I point out that not that long ago, bipartisan support of government-funded scientific research was non-controversial?