Building a Brain Trust

You needn't be a brainiac, but you should at least have an abiding interest in cognitive science if you want to become a charter member of a new online club devoted to the subject. CogNet, a production of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is under construction but operational--and free--until September 2000. Join now for discounts on books and journals and to have a say in how the site develops.

CogNet offers more perks than most virtual academic communities, including a searchable library of full-text journal articles and books, online utilities for creating and posting a CV, job listings, news updates, bibliography building programs, and an almanac of programs, seminars, and lecture series.

The site's most stimulating locale promises to be the Forum. Here members--from psychologists to computer scientists to physiologists--debate theories, review books, and pose questions commonplace to highbrow. Of the latter variety, one current discussion is hashing out how the brain's language centers might have evolved. The complex grammatical rules shared by unrelated languages suggest that the human brain has some hard-wired programming for learning how to speak. Like protowings that can't help a bird ancestor fly, it's not immediately obvious how protogrammar areas of the brain evolved before people could speak. Talk is cheap now; joining next September will probably cost you about $30.