Philosophers, artists and scientists have long sought to explain nature and tried to use the knowledge to improve human existence. Fresh insights into the function of the human brain now provide opportunities for deepening that knowledge and using it to approach important social and medical problems. Here are recent examples from BCI research. Early results from an ongoing investigation of the effects of music training in children show us that music does change minds, brains, and social behavior, and suggest that early music education would produce major human benefits. Another project examines how people from different cultures differ in their norms, ideals, and values and inquiries about the neurobiological foundations of these cultural differences. How do biological predispositions interact with cultural norms to shape behavior? How can such knowledge help the management of conflicts? In yet another example, we consider how the brain constructs feelings and consciousness, from the level of nerve cells to that of the whole brain. Because a significant number of medical conditions are diseases of feeling, for example, depression, addictions, pain syndromes, the findings address both timeless philosophical issues and the prospect of new treatments.