Plastic Neuroscience: Studying what the brain cares about

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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

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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

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[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…

»Embodying Improvisation

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What are we talking about when we talk about embodiment, bodies, our bodies, other bodies? How did we learn to talk these ways that these words come so easily out of our mouths and fingers? And are we always improvising, and if so, how, and against what background of non-improvisation? Embodying Improvisation Class Winter 13 Continue reading…

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»Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity

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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…

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»Objective Brains, Prejudicial Images

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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…

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