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…

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…



[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…

»Cyborg Babies


From Techno-sex to Techno-tots Edited by Robbie Davis-Floyd and Joseph Dumit (Routledge, Aug 1998) From fetuses scanned ultrasonically to computer hackers in daycare, contemporary children are increasingly rendered cyborg by their immersion in technoculture. As we are faced with reproductive choices connected directly with technologies, we often have trouble gaining perspective on our own cultural 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…


»Sitting, Academic Style

Skeleton At Computer 1

STS as Equipment for Literature: Sitzfleisch Material Semiosis (draft for 4S talk for panel, “Get your theories up and running with lively machines” – comments welcome) the title is a variation on rhetorician Kenneth Burke’s brilliant piece, “Literature as Equipment for Living,” describing the uses of inspirational and self-help books, noting that most people read Continue reading…