Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Overview of Critical Neuroscience


Via Somatosphere, these two videos offer a useful introduction to "Critical Neuroscience," an emergent field that seeks to examine (with a critical eye) the ways in which the new brain technologies influence our lives, from the personal, social, ethical, clinical, commercial, and policy debates to the methods and tools used to acquire new findings.


Critical Neuroscience probes the extent to which discussion of neuroscience—in ethical debates, policy texts, commercial, and clinical projects—matches the achievements and potential of neuroscience itself. It examines the ways in which the new sciences and technologies of the brain lead to classifying people in new ways, and the effects this can have on social and personal life. It studies both the methods used to gain new knowledge, and the ways in which the knowledge is interpreted and used. The project aims at finding or creating a shared vocabulary for neuroscientists and social scientists in which they can talk about the potential of the tools, the analytical methods, the interpretations of the data. We also need a shared way in which to think about the barrage of media reports of all this work. Critical Neuroscience aims, more over, at drawing attention to any social or political imperatives that make certain research programs in neuroscience more attractive and better funded than others. We hope to introduce our observations into brain research itself, and to integrate them into new experimental and interpretive directions.
The incredibly overpriced handbook to this field is Critical Neuroscience: A Handbook of the Social and Cultural Contexts of Neuroscience (2011), but two of the articles/chapters are available at Suparna Choudhury's Academia.edu page.

This is an interesting new field and these videos offer a nice introduction.

Videos from “Critical Neuroscience” Course

By Eugene Raikhel

I’ve written in the past (here and here) about the Critical Neuroscience project – an effort led by a group of social and biological scientists and philosophers to develop “a reflexive scientific practice that responds to the social, cultural and political challenges posed by the advances in the behavioural and brain sciences,” (Choudhury, Nagel and Slaby 2009). Suparna Choudhury, Jan Slaby and others have been very active in developing this project through a series of workshops, conferences, publications and ultimately, research projects. A short course on Critical Neuroscience has now been included in McGill’s Summer Program in Social and Cultural Psychiatry and you can view videos of two lectures from the course online. I’ve embedded them below.

If you’re interested in learning more about Critical Neuroscience, a good place to start is the Introduction and “Proposal for a Critical Neuroscience” from Choudhury and Slaby’s edited volume Critical Neuroscience. I was very excited to also have a chapter included in that volume; the only problem has been that the book has only been released in hardcover at a prohibitive price. Luckily Suparna has been kind enough to post both of these chapters on her Academia.edu site.


1: Critical Neuroscience and the Cultural Brain: An Outlook

How do we make sense of what is going on in the field of neuroscience? How can we make sense of the many discourses about neuroscience? Lecture given by Suparna Choudhury of McGill University, Montreal and Jan Slaby of Freie Universitat, Berlin.


2: Critical Neuroscience: An Overview

Critical Neuroscience and the Cultural Brain: an outlook. How do we make sense of what is going on in the field of neuroscience? How can we make sense of the many discourses about neuroscience? Lecture given by Suparna Choudhury of McGill University, Montreal and Jan Slaby of Freie Universitat, Berlin. 
In part two, Laurence Kirmayer gives an overview on the field of Critical Neuroscience, covering varieties of critical neuroscience, cultural constructions of the brain, the social brain, cultural neuroscience and neurodiversity.



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