Translating the brain

2010 was a good year for neuroscience-and-society conferences.  We’ve already written about three of them on this site.  And here’s another: “Translating the Brain: Ethics, Publics, Prospect,” was convened late last year at the University of Edinburgh by Martyn Pickersgill, Christina Plafky and Sarah Cunningham-Burley:

The symposium sought to examine the place, role and impact of neuroscience in spheres such as public health, and how it is understood and articulated by a range of individuals and institutions (including how it challenges, or not, how they see themselves, others, and social relationships). The meeting brought together leading scholars in science and technology studies and medical sociology who have conducted research germane to this theme, alongside philosophers and lawyers. Its primary objective was to explore how empirical studies in these disciplines might offer a new vantage point for understanding the production and negotiation of ethical and social concerns pertaining to the neurosciences.

While no audio or video of the lectures is available, the organizers have put together a nice report of the event, complete with summaries of the talks and an overview of the discussion.  Here are the titles of the papers; you can read the summaries in the report itself:

You are who you are by default’: Novel Conceptualizations of Self and Brain from Cognitive Neuroscience’s Study of the ‘Resting State”,  Dr Felicity Callard, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

‘Between the Bench, the Beside and the Armchair: Constructing the Brain in Neuroscience and Neuroethics’, Dr Caragh Brosnan, Research Fellow, Centre for Biomedicine and Society, King’s College London

‘Mind as Belly’, Dr Stefan Ecks, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

‘Towards a Public Neuroscience: Ageing and the Brain’, Dr Tiago Moreira, Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Durham

This symposium was part of a larger research project called “Constituting neurologic subjects” overseen by Pickersgill, Cunningham-Burley and Paul Martin of the University of Nottingham.  The team has a succinct report on that project available, as well as a policy and practice brief.