5 Top Trends in Neuroscience You Need to Know in 2021

Debunking Popular Myths

As you incorporate neuroscience and neuroleadership into your own work and practice, remember that the field itself is moving and changing rapidly, making it important to stay current with brain science trends. In this blog post, we do the work for you. Here are the Top 5 Trends in Neuroscience you need to know today.

Trend 1: Artificial Intelligence

Neuroscientists are using AI to crunch massive datasets and decode complex brain circuitry c and in turn, have found success applying our understanding of the brain to advance AI design. For example, AI is helping to ‘crack the genetic language of Alzheimer’s Disease’ and computer scientists coded a human sleep-inspired resting state to fix a glitching AI.

Trend 2: Early Life Stress 

Childhood adversity was already a hot topic before the pandemic, but learn-from-home demands only placed a larger spotlight on the influence of early stress & adversity on later life outcomes — and how the brain mediates these environmental risk factors. For example, disadvantaged neighborhoods can hinder brain development. The good news? Puberty presents an opportunity to repair and reset maladaptive stress responses learned during early hardship.

Trend 3: Brain Implants

Brain implants are getting tinier, more precise, and even wireless, allowing us to now read and manipulate brain activity — providing promising therapies while also presenting concerns for privacy and behavioral control. For example, electrodes in a paralyzed man’s brain translated his thoughts into text on a screen.  However, ethicists can also now imagine a world in which bosses read and influence their employee’s brain data.

Trend 4: The Brain & Social Isolation 

Viral infection wasn’t the only consequence of the pandemic. Mental health research in 2020 focused on consequences of social isolation, prolonged uncertainty, and the general disruption to our daily routines that came with quarantine. As it turns out, the pandemic is not good for our minds nor brains; lonely brains light up in response to pictures of people the way a hungry brain reacts to food  and pandemic stress impairs the prefrontal cortex.

 Trend 5: Stem Cell Therapy

Advancements in stem cell therapy are getting translated into the neuro-arena. Scientists are growing specialized neuronal cell types and even ‘mini brains’ to use for regenerative therapies such as spinal cord injuries — but these advancements also present philosophical quandaries about whether ‘cerebral organoids’ are alive and aware in the petri dish.

Bonus Trend: Interoception

Neuroscience evidence is becoming increasingly supportive of an integrated relationship between mind and body — including elucidating “interoception” senses, or the perception of sensations inside the body such as heartbeat and hunger, and understanding the importance of small movements such as fidgeting for cognition. 

What else is going on in neuroscience that interests you? Please comment with your favorite neuro trends below! If you want to learn more about the other 10 trends that did not make it into the list,, please let us know if your comments below as well.

Written by: Wendy Swire (Founder/ Head of the DC Neuroleadership Group) and Daisy Banta, Director of Research at the DC Neuroleadership Group).