Ann-Sophie Barwich

Ann-Sophie Barwich
Indiana University Bloomington | IUB · History and Philosophy of Science & Cognitive Science Program

PhD
Starting a lab.

About

45
Publications
12,418
Reads
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227
Citations
Introduction
Additional affiliations
July 2015 - June 2018
Columbia University
Position
  • Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience
December 2013 - December 2015
University of Exeter
Position
  • Fellow
October 2013 - June 2015
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • http://www.kli.ac.at/people/fellow-detail/15a3a710/ann-sophie-barwich http://smellosophy.weebly.com

Publications

Publications (45)
Book
Full-text available
Decades of cognition research have shown that external stimuli “spark” neural patterns in particular regions of the brain. This has fostered a view of the brain as a space that we can map: here the brain responds to faces, there it perceives a sensation in your left hand. But it turns out that the sense of smell—only recently attracting broader att...
Article
Full-text available
In 1991, Buck and Axel published a landmark study in Cell for work that was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize. The identification of the olfactory receptors as the largest family of GPCRs catapulted olfaction into mainstream neurobiology. This BenchMark revisits Buck’s experimental innovation and its surprising success at the time.
Article
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Theories of perception are heavily tilted to the visual: we have much to learn from our surprisingly acute sense of smell
Article
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The annals of science are filled with successes. In footnotes do we hear about the failures, the cul-de-sacs, and the forgotten ideas. Failure is how research advances. Yet it hardly features in theoretical perspectives on science. That is a mistake. Failures, whether clear-cut or ambiguous, are heuristically fruitful in their own right. Thinking a...
Article
Full-text available
Does the sense of smell involve the perception of odor objects? General discussion of perceptual objecthood centers on three criteria: stimulus representation; perceptual constancy; and figure-ground segregation. These criteria, derived from theories of vision, have been applied to olfaction in recent philosophical debates about psychology. An inhe...
Chapter
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Can we use light switches and, at the same time, believe in myths? This question resonates with ongoing disputes about the authority of science versus non-scientific ways of thinking. Recently, concerns regarding an overreach of scientific authority in human culture renewed momentum to pseudoscientific ideas originating in anti-science sentiments....
Chapter
Full-text available
Since the 1990s, molecular and cellular cognition (MCC) has elucidated critical causal mechanisms behind higher level processes of perception and cognition. New intervention techniques, including genetic tracers and fluorescent visualization, have facilitated targeted access and manipulation of molecular pathways to investigate their precise roles...
Chapter
Full-text available
Barwich and Xu present a first-hand account of Xu’s recent application of a new tool, SCAPE microscopy, which uncovered a new mechanism of mixture coding at the olfactory periphery. SCAPE (Swept, Confocally-Aligned Planar Excitation) microscopy allows for fast three-dimensional, high- resolution imaging of entire small organisms (e.g., larvae) or l...
Article
Full-text available
In 1991, Linda Buck and Richard Axel identified the multigene family expressing odor receptors. Their discovery transformed research on olfaction overnight, and Buck and Axel were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Behind this success lies another, less visible study about the methodological ingenuity of Buck. This hidden tale...
Article
Full-text available
Should theories of “higher-level” cognitive effects originate in “lower-level” molecular mechanisms? This paper supports reductionist explanations of sensory perception via molecular mechanisms in neurobiology. It shows that molecular and cellular mechanisms must constitute the material foundation to derive better theories and models for neuroscien...
Article
Full-text available
Noses are extremely sophisticated chemical detectors allowing animals to use scents to interpret and navigate their environments. Odor detection starts with the activation of odorant receptors (ORs), expressed in mature olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) populating the olfactory mucosa. Different odorants, or different concentrations of the same odor...
Article
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Piece for Nautilus on the experimental recreation and catalog of historical smells.
Preprint
Full-text available
Noses are extremely sophisticated chemical detectors allowing animals to use scents to interpret and navigate their environments. Odor detection starts with the activation of odorant receptors (ORs), expressed in mature olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) populating the olfactory mucosa. Different odorants, or different concentrations of the same odor...
Article
Full-text available
How your brain identifies an aroma from its minute molecular traces is a marvel.
Article
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Becoming an expert in anything, whether it’s wine tasting or mathematics, changes the way you perceive the world.
Article
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Perfumes embody a chemical record of style and technology. Blurring the boundary between what counts as natural and artificial in both a material and a perceptual sense, perfumery presents us with a domain of multiple disciplinary identities relevant to social studies: art, craft, and techno-science. Despite its profound impact as a cultural practi...
Article
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Short piece on the effect of smell training on the brain and neural plasticity for Neo.Life
Article
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Essay on Sleight of Hand Tricks as part of the Making and Knowing Project (see: https://edition640.makingandknowing.org/#/essays/ann_043_sp_16) Abstract: A set of recipes on fols. 33r–43v in Ms. Fr. 640 is dedicated to sleight of hand. These tricks are part of a larger canon of “secrets” performed at public places, such as markets and taverns, and...
Preprint
Full-text available
Withstanding contemporary fashion in the philosophy of science, this paper outlines an argument in favor of reductionist explanations of sensory perception via molecular mechanisms in neurobiology. It explores in depth the recent application of new real-time molecular imaging techniques to mixture coding in olfaction. Seemingly emergent psychologic...
Article
Full-text available
Review of Conscious Experience by Anil Gupta What is the role of conscious experience in rational perceptual judgment? Anil Gupta’s book does something daring; it sets out to answer this question without a definition of conscious experience. It thereby avoids “the hard problem,” it avoids “the easy problem,” and it also avoids the practical proble...
Preprint
Full-text available
Empirical success is a central criterion for scientific decision-making. Yet its understanding in philosophical studies of science deserves renewed attention: Should philosophers think differently about the advancement of science when they deal with the uncertainty of outcome in ongoing research in comparison with historical episodes? This paper ar...
Chapter
Full-text available
How much does stimulus input shape perception? The common-sense view is that our perceptions are representations of objects and their features and that the stimulus structures the perceptual object. The problem for this view concerns perceptual biases as responsible for distortions and the subjectivity of perceptual experience. These biases are inc...
Chapter
Full-text available
Scientific models share one central characteristic with fiction: their relation to the physical world is ambiguous. It is often unclear whether an element in a model represents something in the world or presents an artifact of model building. Fiction, too, can resemble our world to varying degrees. However, we assign a different epistemic function...
Article
Full-text available
Empirical success is a central criterion for scientific decision-making. Yet its understanding in philosophical studies of science deserves renewed attention: Should philosophers think differently about the advancement of science when they deal with the uncertainty of outcome in ongoing research in comparison with historical episodes? This paper ar...
Article
Full-text available
How much does stimulus input shape perception? The common-sense view is that our perceptions are representations of objects and their features and that the stimulus structures the perceptual object. The problem for this view concerns perceptual biases as responsible for distortions and the subjectivity of perceptual experience. These biases are inc...
Article
Full-text available
This paper tells the story of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), one of the most important scientific objects in contemporary biochemistry and molecular biology. By looking at how cell membrane receptors turned from a speculative concept into a central element in modern biochemistry over the past 40 years, we revisit the role of manipulability as...
Research
Full-text available
Blog Post on Smell as an Aesthetic Sense for Imperfect Cognitions. http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/is-smell-aesthetic-sense.html
Article
Full-text available
Is the sense of smell a source of aesthetic perception? Traditional philosophical aesthetics has centered on vision and audition but eliminated smell for its subjective and inherently affective character. This article dismantles the myth that olfaction is an unsophisticated sense. It makes a case for olfactory aesthetics by integrating recent insig...
Article
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Post for Auxiliary Hypotheses, Blog of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Article
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Short piece for The Philosophers' Magazine on why philosophers should pay attention to olfaction.
Presentation
Full-text available
Video of my talk at MIT, Center for Bits and Atoms (Andreas Mershin’s lab), 9 December 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej45lyl3rzA Research on olfaction is on the rise. The discovery of the olfactory receptor genes by Linda Buck and Richard Axel in 1991 catapulted olfaction from eccentricity into core neurobiological research. With the identi...
Article
Full-text available
Neurobiology studies mechanisms of cell signalling. A key question is how cells recognise specific signals. In this context, olfaction has become an important experimental system over the past 25 years. The olfactory system responds to an array of structurally diverse stimuli. The discovery of the olfactory receptors (ORs), recognising these stimul...
Article
Full-text available
What does it take for a scientific model to represent? Models, as an integral part of scientific practice, are historically and contextually bound in their application. Practice-oriented debates in recent philosophy of science have emphasised how models can be said to act as representations in practice, e.g., as “mediators” between theory and data....
Article
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Do sensory measurements deserve the label of " measurement " ? We argue that they do. They fit with an epistemological view of measurement held in current philosophy of science, and they face the same kinds of epistemological challenges as physical measurements do: the problem of coordination and the problem of standardization. These problems are a...
Chapter
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This paper revisits the concept of fiction employed in recent debates about the reality of theoretical entities in the philosophy of science. From an anti-realist perspective the dependence of evidence for some scientific entities on mediated forms of observation and modelling strategies reflects a degree of construction that is argued to closely r...
Article
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Philosophical discussion about the reality of sensory perceptions has been hijacked by two tendencies. First, talk about perception has been largely centered on vision. Second, the realism question is traditionally approached by attaching objects or material structures to matching contents of sensory perceptions. These tendencies have resulted in a...
Article
Full-text available
This article argues for a different outlook on the concept of extension, especially for the reference of general terms in scientific practice. Scientific realist interpretations of the two predominant theories of meaning, namely Descriptivism and Causal Theory, contend that a stable cluster of descriptions or an initial baptism fixes the extension...
Article
Full-text available
A recent and growing discussion in philosophy addresses the construction of models and their use in scientific reasoning by comparison with fiction. This comparison helps to explore the problem of mediated observation and, hence, the lack of an unambiguous reference of representations. Examining the usefulness of the concept of fiction for a compar...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
My postdoc project investigates the role of scientific expertise in current laboratory-based neuroscience. By tracing the emergence, success, and decline of standard lab routines in research on the sense of smell, I analyze how cognitive and behavioral patterns influence scientific decision-making. Its current dynamics and susceptibility to the revision of its core premises makes olfactory research an excellent example to study the ambiguity of determining what is a reliable research strategy. One of the key reasons for the historical marginalization of olfaction was the experimental difficulty of conducting research into olfaction: How do you measure odors? Another reason is that smell was long considered a declining and "lower sense" that lacks cognitive significance. (To be sure, nothing could be further from the truth!) The contemporary relevance of research in olfaction is twofold: It lies in is its capability for methodological innovations and its potential to serve a new model sense for understanding the structure and content of perception.