Lectures

homunculus Revolts: Re-Figuring the Neurological Subject

Figuring a Grotesque Norm

 1954 Homunculus: Penfield Archives, Osler Library of the History of Medicine
 This hand drawn illustration rendered in black ink shows two mirror image outlines of cross sections of the cerebral cortex comprised of segmented lines each of which is labeled with the part of the body to which that part of the brain corresponds. Curving around the surface of each outline are the sensory (on the left) and motor (on the right) homunculi, distorted nude human figures with elongated feet, massive hands, massive faces with huge lips and mouth separated from their bodies, and various parts of the alimentary system represented below the chin. The sensory homunculus also has a scrotum and uncircumcised penis beneath its feet. The heads of each seem to have shorn hair, and musculature and features coded as male. 1954 Homunculus: Penfield Archives, Osler Library of the History of Medicine
This hand drawn illustration rendered in black ink shows two mirror image outlines of cross sections of the cerebral cortex comprised of segmented lines each of which is labeled with the part of the body to which that part of the brain corresponds. Curving around
Features

Opening up shrinking life-worlds

Lives change dramatically as dementia progresses. Using observations of people suffering from obsessions and compulsions, I will analyse this change along three dimensions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by intrusive anxiety-provoking thoughts (obsessions) and rituals aimed at reducing anxiety, which then paradoxically come to exacerbate it (compulsions). I have been studying clinicians working with people who suffer from a severe, …

Features

Peripheral participants: Thinking through distortion, displacement, nullification

Warm haze

As I spoke, people looked at me worriedly. The kindness in their eyes was mixed with curiosity and concern. Rather than answering me, they turned to each other to discuss something beyond my grasp. I had aphasia and my incoherent stream of words was puzzling to the people around me. I spoke, I thought, in perfect sentences but …

Web Roundups

Web Roundup: Death, Life, and the Immortal Brain

Among the many tech-focused booths at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) early this year, one stood out in particular: an exhibition of manufactured bodies, or “sleeves,” into which someone could theoretically download their consciousness. The exhibition was a promotion for the new Netflix series Altered Carbon, a science fiction saga set 300 years in the future where individuals can …

BooksFeatures

Book Forum––Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega’s Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject

This article is part of the series:

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Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega’s Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject is a fine-grained account of the “neuro-” in a range of disciplines, and, importantly––crucially––, takes stock of the history and scope of this prefix.  But more than this the book is an exploration, a critical engagement with the surge of brain-centered approaches to behavior, to physiology, to mind, …

BooksFeatures

Book Forum––Des Fitzgerald’s Tracing Autism: Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and the Affective Labor of Neuroscience

This article is part of the series:

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Des Fitzgerald writes of his book, Tracing Autism, “This is a book about scientists talking about their own practice, in tones that are beset by ambiguity, uncertainty, complexity, and even some anxiety” (9).  This is true, and after reading the book one might find the description a little understated.  By now the idea that neuroscience, any science, is …