1. Olson, DaiWai M. Editor

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Turn on the television, open a newspaper, click open your favorite news Web site, and you are very likely to read or hear that the world today is experiencing conflict like no other time in history. Political pundits, friends, family, and even complete strangers have informed me that the world is more divided now than ever. The implication is that conflict is bad and probably unnecessary. In the next few paragraphs, I hope to challenge that belief (at least so much as it pertains to the care of neuroscience patients).

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Every issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (JNN) has at least 1 article, 1 fact, or 1 tidbit that will create conflict with someone. This is because, despite thinking that we are doing the right things for our patients, there is at least 1 thing that each and every one of us believes that is complete and utter nonsense. The problem is confounded because we just don't know what that 1 thing is[horizontal ellipsis]yet. We don't know because science has yet to provide adequate evidence for us to reject that belief. Worse yet, when science does provide that evidence, it is likely to be met with conflict.


Let's explore 1 example of how conflict is both necessary and good.


For well more than 1000 years, the ventricular doctrine was used to explain the localization of certain psychological and cognitive functions. The great scientists of the day (starting with Aristotle) understood that the ventricles in the brain were responsible for interpreting sensory information and integrating input from taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound.1 This way of thinking persisted until Andreas Vesalius introduced conflict.2


Vesalius attacked fundamental elements of the ventricular doctrine. He pointed out that all mammals have similar ventricular systems, thereby rejecting the notion that human intellectual function arises from a unique ventricular system. His drawings and observations of the cerebral ventricles conflicted with a system based on long-held beliefs. Challenging the system created even more conflict and scientific arguments, and some noteworthy name-calling ensued. Change came slowly, but through the resolution of conflict, neuroscience gained knowledge.


In the previously mentioned example, it is easy to see that the conflict could be traced directly to Vesalius. It is equally easy to see how this conflict forced the scientific community to reevaluate their beliefs. Scientists had to figure out how to incorporate the new information brought about by Vesalius' observations. The conflict over accepting or rejecting the ventricular doctrine was just as real and important to the scientists of 1550 as the conflicts in healthcare and politics are real to the JNN readers in 2017.


This issue of the JNN has several key elements vital to productive scientific literature. This issue has 2 Letters to the Editor. Now, before you go turning the page expecting to see 1 group of authors berating another group of authors, I will share that neither Letter to the Editor is harsh nor particularly confrontational. Rather, they are both working toward resolving conflict. This issue also has 5 original research articles that suggest new and innovative approaches to care. The authors suggest new findings that may conflict with your current practice.


As you read through these research reports, you might find that you personally have some conflict. You may disagree with the design, the assumptions, or the conclusion. If you find that you have conflicting feelings, I encourage you to share your thoughts. Help us (neuroscience nurses) move forward and resolve the conflicts and challenges. Do not run from conflict. Rather, become part of the discussion that resolves the conflict because, through the resolution of conflict, we all gain knowledge.




1. Bennett MR, Hacker PMS. History of Cognitive Neuroscience. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell; 2013. [Context Link]


2. Finger S. Minds Behind the Brain: A History of the Pioneers and Their Discoveries. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2005. [Context Link]