If science has anything to say about it, humans won’t be suffering from any brain diseases (Alzheimer, Parkinson, schizophrenia, etc.) in the near future.
As I have already explained in my Singularity FAQ for Dummies, science has already clearly demonstrated that it is perfectly capable of understanding how our brains work. In fact, the reverse engineering of our own brains has been going on for quite a while. And in the near future, it’s about to hit new heights.
For example, take a look at the article ‘Computer Scientists To Copy Brain Of Mammal‘. It’s obvious that science will learn a great deal from simulating whole brains ‘in silico’. This will lead to more effective cures, that are finetuned to how our brains work. Also be sure to take a look at the official site of the Blue Brain Project.
You need a lot of processing power, in order to run simulations like these. But if we extrapolate into the future a few years, we see that processing power will not be a limiting factor.
Simulating whole brains gives us ever more knowledge of them, which in turn leads to better cures. Using the knowledge we already have today, efforts are underway to have our brains repair themselves by activating the stemcells that are present there, but currently inactive. This is done with the use of nanotechnology, which delivers therapeutic genes exactly where we want them. You will be hearing a lot more of nanotechnology, and nanotech-aided cures in particular, in the coming years.
More on future nanotech-cures can be found in an article entitled ‘Nanotech Moves Closer To Cure‘. Not directly related to brain health, but not exactly excluding it either.
Science will one day, in the not too distant future, be capable of growing new organs for our bodies on demand, through therapeutic cloning. But the brain cannot simply be replaced like any other organ, when it gets ill (for obvious reasons, methinks). The brain is the only organ in our bodies that needs repairs ‘in situ’.
Thanks to advances like the ones mentioned above, we can all look forward to much healthier bodies and brains for ourselves, our family, our friends, and our future children.