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Critical Neuroscience: A Handbook of the Social and Cultural Contexts of Neuroscience

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Critical Neuroscience brings together multi-disciplinary scholars from around the world to explore key social, historical and philosophical studies of neuroscience, and to analyze the socio-cultural implications of recent advances in the field. Original, interdisciplinary approach explores the creative potential for engaging experimental neuroscience with social studies of neuroscience. Furthers the dialogue between neuroscience and the disciplines of the social sciences and humanities. Transcends traditional scepticism, introducing novel ideas about 'how to be critical' in and about science. Features contributions from eminent scholars including Steven Rose, Joseph Dumit, Laurence Kirmayer, Shaun Gallagher, Fernando Vidal, Allan Young and Joan Chiao.
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... This approach, which is also rather common among proponents of computational psychiatry (54), therefore locates the psychiatric problem that requires evaluation and treatment within the patient or defendant themselves. This position is increasingly called into question though by theories of mental disorders that one may call externalist (49,(55)(56)(57)(58). As Roberts and colleagues summarize, such positions "hold that a comprehensive understanding of mental disorder cannot be achieved unless we attend to factors that lie outside of the head: neural explanations alone will not fully capture the complex dependencies that exist between an individual's psychiatric condition and her social, cultural, and material environment (57)." ...
... At the same time, the individual expression and sustention of psychiatric disorders are similarly intertwined with an individual's social environment. Arguing for an ecological view of the human brain, Fuchs calls this circular causality (55,65): social feedback loops contribute to eliciting and sustaining dysfunctional states, such as unrequited stress reaction, which in turn again influence the social environment. Empirically, such interactions can be traced in the rich field of social neuroscience, looking at brain processes during reciprocal social interactions (66). ...
... An externalist view of psychiatric disorders has important implications for using AI in forensic psychiatry. If mental illnesses are indeed "inseparable from the patient's lifeworld or social environment" (55), this should impact the selection of training data, the selection of appropriate models, the interplay between trained psychiatrists and AI models, and educative needs. ...
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Harnessing the power of machine learning (ML) and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques promises substantial improvements across forensic psychiatry, supposedly offering more objective evaluations and predictions. However, AI-based predictions about future violent behaviour and criminal recidivism pose ethical challenges that require careful deliberation due to their social and legal significance. In this paper, we shed light on these challenges by considering externalist accounts of psychiatric disorders which stress that the presentation and development of psychiatric disorders is intricately entangled with their outward environment and social circumstances. We argue that any use of predictive AI in forensic psychiatry should not be limited to neurobiology alone but must also consider social and environmental factors. This thesis has practical implications for the design of predictive AI systems, especially regarding the collection and processing of training data, the selection of ML methods, and the determination of their explainability requirements.
... Más aún, la expansión de las neurociencias no solo implica la creación de nuevos instrumentos y disciplinas, sino también la producción de nuevos problemas, objetos, sujetos y subjetividades (véase, por ejemplo, el concepto de "sujeto cerebral" en Vidal & Ortega, 2017). Todo esto da lugar a diversos conflictos tanto a nivel epistémico como social, al interior y por fuera del ámbito académico, relacionados a la política de los cuerpos, cerebros y personas (Choudhury & Slaby, 2016). Por ejemplo, al establecer vínculos entre la investigación neurocientífica y las prácticas educativas, se busca evitar riesgos como el reduccionismo, el biologicismo, el determinismo o la medicalización de las investigaciones neurocientíficas, proponiendo la integración con otras formas de investigación (Mauro, 2020). ...
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Las neurociencias contemporáneas se producen por la confluencia de múltiples disciplinas y líneas de investigación, de modo que estudiarlas ofrece una oportunidad para observar cómo ocurre la integración de conocimientos heterogéneos. Este artículo se propone caracterizar la integración del conocimiento en neurociencias en Argentina, centrándose en las prácticas que utilizan los científicos para producir conocimiento interdisciplinario y en la forma en que estas transforman el resultado de la investigación y tensionan las estructuras institucionales y organizacionales. Se realizó un estudio con enfoque cualitativo, basado principalmente en entrevistas y análisis documental y bibliográfico, siguiendo la metodología establecida por otros estudios sobre interdisciplina y transdisciplina. En los resultados se presentan seis prácticas relevantes para caracterizar cómo los científicos integran elementos (información, datos, técnicas, herramientas, perspectivas, conceptos o teorías) provenientes de dos o más disciplinas. En la conclusión se identifican tres dinámicas interdisciplinares que subyacen a las prácticas y pueden funcionar como una heurística para pensar las políticas científicas y la gestión de la interdisciplina. También se señalan las implicancias del trabajo para pensar los procesos de integración de conocimiento en neurociencias.
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Within this chapter, a methodological preface of fundamental importance for a scientific approach capable of making sociological paradigms applicable and proceeding in the research work towards empathy will be placed. In particular, we will discuss the trans-disciplinary approach, the motivation behind the choice of the transdisciplinary approach lies in its uniqueness in returning to the dialogue between the sciences those concepts that currently belong to scientific universalisms. In fact, transdisciplinarity is a scientific and intellectual approach that aims at the full understanding of the complexity of the present world (Benard & Buning, 2010; Cerulo, 2010; Auriemma, 2022a, b). The term transdisciplinarity was introduced by pedagogue and philosopher Jean Piaget in 1970. Piaget, for example, was enthusiastic in the confornts of a transdisciplinarity of the sciences, so much so that he hoped to “see in the future the development of interdisciplinary relations toward a higher stage that could be referred to as ‘transdisciplinary,’ which will not have to be limited to recognizing interactions or reciprocities through specialized research, but which will have to identify those connections within a total system without stable boundaries between the disciplines themselves” (Piaegt, 1971). Later, in 1985, theoretical physicist Basarab Nicolescu (1942) added to and expanded Piaget’s definition, pointing out that the earlier formulation could lead to transdisciplinarity becoming a super-discipline. Nicolescu, therefore, introduced the concept of “beyond disciplines” and developed his idea, described in La transdisciplinarité, Manifeste (Nicolescu, 1996). His elaboration started from his experience in quantum physics and not just from a simple etymological adaptation of the prefix “trans” (ibid.). It might seem a paradox that from quantum physics came the timely conceptualization of transdisciplinarity, yet he explains that “it is not a new discipline in the strict sense, but a new ‘attitude,’ a new intellectual, cultural, and operational approach to building a better reality for future generations. It is not about the establishment of a “discourse above discourses,” nor is it about a new science that stands as a new epistemology of disciplines as we know them in the present” (ibid., p. 34). Transdisciplinarity is defined by Basarab Nicolescu with three methodological postulates: (1) the existence of different degrees of reality, perception and knowledge; (2) the logic of the third included; and (3) complexity.
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The science of human development informs our thinking about children and their development. The Brain Development Revolution asks how and why has brain development become the major lens for understanding child development, and its consequences. It describes the 1997 I Am Your Child campaign that engaged public attention through a sophisticated media communications effort, a White House conference, and other events. It explores the campaign's impact, including voter initiatives to fund early childhood programs and a national campaign for prekindergarten education, but also several missed opportunities. The study examines why brain development compels our attention, why we are – but shouldn't be – neurodeterminists, and the challenges of communicating developmental brain science. This book examines the framing of the brain development story, the selectivity of the messaging, and overpromising the results of early programs. Lastly, it discusses proposals for how science communication can be improved to better serve children and the public.
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Vivemos numa época em que já poucos mistérios persistem, mas talvez dois ainda suscitem o nosso fascínio e interesse em transcender as fronteiras do conhecimento que limitam a sua compreensão. Um é o macrocosmo dos corpos celestes do universo e do espaço infinitamente grande. O outro é o microscomo do nosso cérebro, contido na nossa cabeça, mas que também encerra galáxias de complexidade no intrincado funcionamento molecular das suas células e no pulsar elétrico dos seus neurónios. Este órgão que é o ator e autor de todos os nossos pensamentos, emoções, ações, sonhos e planos está tão perto, afinal todos temos um, mas tão longe do nosso completo entendimento. Por isso, o cérebro é o protagonista deste livro que nos convida e desafia para uma digressão conceptual que não tem ponto de partida, nem de chegada, antes constitui um percurso polissémico, que suscita mais questões do que respostas.
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Especially since the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, a vibrant enthusiasm for the sciences has led to increasing faith in empirical methods of learning. At its best, this tendency pits speculation and curiosity against careful scientific investigations of physical reality. At its worst, it becomes a narrow fixation on specific and reductive ways of understanding reality. This latter sort of scientism is unfortunate, whereas science itself contains huge optimism about reality and our understanding of it. The sciences seem to give great explanatory power, being able even to explain the most fundamental dynamical laws of micro-causal interactions right up to macro-scale effects. To the early scientist and learned community at large, the sciences could reveal and explain the hidden designs of nature, or to usurp the supposed role for a divine design entirely, depending upon how one viewed the results of Newton, for example.KeywordsScientific revolutionDataficationAlgorithmsArtificial intelligenceDashboarding
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Constructing the Subject traces the history of psychological research methodology from the nineteenth century to the emergence of currently favored styles of research in the second quarter of the twentieth century. Kurt Danziger considers methodology to be a kind of social practice rather than simply a matter of technique. Therefore his historical analysis is primarily concerned with such topics as the development of the social structure of the research relationship between experimenters and their subjects, as well as the role of the methodology in the relationship of investigators to each other in a wider social context. The book begins with a historical discussion of introspection as a research practice and proceeds to an analysis of diverging styles of psychological investigation. There is an extensive exploration of the role of quantification and statistics in the historical development of psychological research. The influence of the social context on research practice is illustrated by a comparison of American and German developments, especially in the field of personality research. In this analysis, psychology is treated less as a body of facts or theories than a particular set of social activities intended to produce something that counts as psychological knowledge under certain historical conditions. This perspective means that the historical analysis has important consequences for a critical understanding of psychological methodology in general.
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Recent neuroscience, in replacing the old model of the brain as a single centralized source of control, has emphasized "plasticity," the quality by which our brains develop and change throughout the course of our lives. Our brains exist as historical products, developing in interaction with themselves and with their surroundings. Hence there is a thin line between the organization of the nervous system and the political and social organization that both conditions and is conditioned by human experience. Looking carefully at contemporary neuroscience, it is hard not to notice that the new way of talking about the brain mirrors the management discourse of the neo-liberal capitalist world in which we now live, with its talk of decentralization, networks, and flexibility. Consciously or unconsciously, science cannot but echo the world in which it takes place. In the neo-liberal world, "plasticity" can be equated with "flexibility"-a term that has become a buzzword in economics and management theory. The plastic brain would thus represent just another style of power, which, although less centralized, is still a means of control. In this book, Catherine Malabou develops a second, more radical meaning for plasticity. Not only does plasticity allow our brains to adapt to existing circumstances, it opens a margin of freedom to intervene, to change those very circumstances. Such an understanding opens up a newly transformative aspect of the neurosciences. In insisting on this proximity between the neurosciences and the social sciences, Malabou applies to the brain Marx's well-known phrase about history: people make their own brains, but they do not know it. This book is a summons to such knowledge.
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There is a new way of thinking about the mind that does not locate mental processes exclusively "in the head." Some think that this expanded conception of the mind will be the basis of a new science of the mind. In this book, leading philosopher Mark Rowlands investigates the conceptual foundations of this new science of the mind. The new way of thinking about the mind emphasizes the ways in which mental processes are embodied (made up partly of extraneural bodily structures and processes), embedded (designed to function in tandem with the environment), enacted (constituted in part by action), and extended (located in the environment). The new way of thinking about the mind, Rowlands writes, is actually an old way of thinking that has taken on new form. Rowlands describes a conception of mind that had its clearest expression in phenomenology -- in the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. He builds on these views, clarifies and renders consistent the ideas of embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended mind, and develops a unified philosophical treatment of the novel conception of the mind that underlies the new science of the mind.
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In this short and powerful book, celebrated philosopher Martha Nussbaum makes a passionate case for the importance of the liberal arts at all levels of education. Historically, the humanities have been central to education because they have rightly been seen as essential for creating competent democratic citizens. But recently, Nussbaum argues, thinking about the aims of education has gone disturbingly awry both in the United States and abroad. Anxiously focused on national economic growth, we increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable and empathetic citizens. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills has eroded our ability to criticize authority, reduced our sympathy with the marginalized and different, and damaged our competence to deal with complex global problems. And the loss of these basic capacities jeopardizes the health of democracies and the hope of a decent world. In response to this dire situation, Nussbaum argues that we must resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product. Rather, we must work to reconnect education to the humanities in order to give students the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world. Drawing on the stories of troubling--and hopeful--educational developments from around the world, Nussbaum offers a manifesto that should be a rallying cry for anyone who cares about the deepest purposes of education.