Plastic Neuroscience: Studying what the brain cares about


Drawing on Allan Newell’s “You can’t play 20 questions with nature and win,” this article proposes that neuroscience needs to go beyond binary hypothesis testing and design experiments that follow what neurons care about. Examples from Lettvin et. al. are used to demonstrate that one can experimentally play with neurons and generate surprising results. In Continue reading…



[Excerpts:] Parsing the neuronal sensorium is already to dismantle through analysis that which we imagine to be a comprehensive totality. If our sensorium is the sensing package that constitutes our participation in the world, then it follows that this assemblage of sensory inputs defines our boundaries, making the world present to us and by subtraction making Continue reading…

Objective Brains, Prejudicial Images


Science in Context 12, 1 (1999), pp.173-201 In this article I argue that brain images constructed with computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) are part of a category of “expert images” and are both visually persuasive and also particularly difficult to interpret and understand by non-experts. Following the innovative judicial analogy of “demonstrative Continue reading…

»Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity


By showing us the human brain at work, PET (positron emission tomography) scans are subtly–and sometimes not so subtly–transforming how we think about our minds. Picturing Personhood follows this remarkable and expensive technology from the laboratory into the world and back. It examines how PET scans are created and how they are being called on Continue reading…


»Haptic Creativity


Co-authored with Natasha Myers. 2011 “Haptic Creativity and the Mid-Embodiments of Experimental Life,” in Companion to the Anthropology of Bodies/Embodiment.  In this chapter, we present our collaboration working as anthropologists of experimental forms of life. We examine fieldsites where practitioners develop and use computerized visualization technologies. In the process we aim to collaborate with scientists and Continue reading…


»Teach ABody++


ANT 210-001, Tue 3-6p, Young 224 Prof. Joseph Dumit,   Class is designed around learning to answer and re-answer the following questions: What can a body do? Where does a body end? How does a body feel? Does a body have a machine? How can a body be extended? How does a body end? Continue reading…