Plastic Neuroscience: Studying what the brain cares about

hand-brain

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…

How Flowcharts Got into the Brain

Colby-SimNeuroses copy

NSF Scholar’s award for Diagramming Brains, Minds and Computers Together. This project, supported by the Biology & Society initiative between the Science, Technology & Society Program and the BIO directorate at NSF, examines the role of flowcharts in neurosciences. Flowcharts are commonly used today in computer science, psychology, and neuroscience. Despite the near ubiquity of diagrams Continue reading…

Neuroexistentialism

CyborgMouse

[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…

»Introduction to Cultural Anthropology through Debt

Strike Debt

A class for 500 students, 29 sections, 10 Teaching Assistants… any suggestions most appreciated! Objectives: Learn to read social science writing: understand how articles are structured, how data is collected, how arguments are made. Learn to think critically about social science concepts like cultures, practices, performances, economies, friends, family, timings, exchanges, debts, and gifts. Learn Continue reading…

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»Inter-pill-ation and the instrumentalization of compliance

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Compliance’s usefulness as a measure of prescribed treatment adherence by a patient has been its ability to index treatment success, and therefore help in ensuring and governing health. What these anthropologists have discovered, however, is that because of its function as an index, compliance has been itself instrumentalized and made to serve goals sometimes quite far from health.

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»Biomedicine as Culture

Biomedicine as Culture

Co-edited with Regula Burri in 2008. Biomedicine as Culture: Instrumental Practices, Technoscientific Knowledge, and New Modes of Life (Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society), best described through contents: Introduction REGULA VALÉRIE BURRI AND JOSEPH DUMIT PART I Social and cultural studies of biomedicine 1 Medicalizing culture(s) or culturalizing medicine(s) STEFAN BECK 2 Metaphors of medicine Continue reading…

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