Nature Review Neuroscience, 8(February), 153-159, 2007.
Discoveries in the field of neuroscience are a natural source of discourse among scientists and have long been disseminated to the public. Historically, as news of findings has travelled between communities, it has elicited both expected and unusual reactions. What scientific landmarks promote discourse within the professional community? Do the same findings achieve a place in the public eye? How does the media choose what is newsworthy, and why does the public react the way it does? Drawing on examples of past challenges at the crossroads of neuroscience and society and on a case study of trends in one neurogenetic disease, autism, we explore the dialectical forces interacting in scientific and public discourse.