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Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind

Nikolas Rose
Joelle M. Abi-Rached
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The brain sciences are influencing our understanding of human behavior as never before, from neuropsychiatry and neuroeconomics to neurotheology and neuroaesthetics. Many now believe that the brain is what makes us human, and it seems that neuroscientists are poised to become the new experts in the management of human conduct.Neurodescribes the key developments--theoretical, technological, economic, and biopolitical--that have enabled the neurosciences to gain such traction outside the laboratory. It explores the ways neurobiological conceptions of personhood are influencing everything from child rearing to criminal justice, and are transforming the ways we "know ourselves" as human beings. In this emerging neuro-ontology, we are not "determined" by our neurobiology: on the contrary, it appears that we can and should seek to improve ourselves by understanding and acting on our brains.

    Neuroexamines the implications of this emerging trend, weighing the promises against the perils, and evaluating some widely held concerns about a neurobiological "colonization" of the social and human sciences. Despite identifying many exaggerated claims and premature promises,Neuroargues that the openness provided by the new styles of thought taking shape in neuroscience, with its contemporary conceptions of the neuromolecular, plastic, and social brain, could make possible a new and productive engagement between the social and brain sciences.

    Copyright note: Reproduction, including downloading of Joan Miro works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4633-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Biological Sciences, Psychology, History of Science & Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    What kind of beings do we think we are? This may seem a philosophical question. In part it is, but it is far from abstract. It is at the core of the philosophies we live by. It goes to the heart of how we bring up our children, run our schools, organize our social policies, manage economic affairs, treat those who commit crimes or whom we deem mentally ill, and perhaps even how we value beauty in art and life. It bears on the ways we understand our own feelings and desires, narrate our biographies, think about our futures, and...

  6. Chapter One The Neuromolecular Brain
    (pp. 25-52)

    In the summer of 1961, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Francis O. Schmitt and a small group of collaborators began to lay the plans for a project that was as simple to state as it was ambitious to imagine: to do for the brain what Watson and Crick had so recently done for the gene when they discovered the structure of DNA and “cracked the genetic code.”² In the process they were to invent what they would come to termneuroscience(Swazey 1975, 531). “To this end, new devices are being forged,” wrote Schmitt in 1967, “with one...

  7. Chapter Two The Visible Invisible
    (pp. 53-81)

    In mid-February 2007, a press release generated considerable interest in the popular media. Titled “The Brain Scan That Can Read People’s Intentions,” it reported the work of an international team led by John-Dylan Haynes at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany. The team had conducted some laboratory experiments imaging the brains of subjects who were confronted with a simple task in which they had to decide between a small number of possible choices. The scans showed activity in particular brain regionsbeforethe action was undertaken; it seemed that one could predict the later...

  8. Chapter Three What’s Wrong with Their Mice?
    (pp. 82-109)

    We take the title of this chapter from Jacqueline Crawley’sWhat’s Wrong with My Mouse?from which we have learned a great deal about the world of animal modeling of behavioral disorders (Crawley 2007).² Given the limitations that have long surrounded experimental intervention into the brains of living humans, animal research has been crucial to the project of neuroscience, from the molecular dissection of neurobiological processes such as neurotransmission, to research on plasticity and neurogenesis, and of course, to the development and testing of psychiatric drugs. But why frame the chapter in such terms—why might there be ‘something wrong’...

  9. Chapter Four All in the Brain?
    (pp. 110-140)

    In 1953, Dr. Henry Yellowlees, chief medical officer at the United Kingdom’s Department of Health, published a small volume described as “commonsense psychiatry for lay people”; its title wasTo Define True Madness.³ This phrase is, of course, a quote from Shakespeare’sHamlet, published in 1602. Polonius, in act 2, scene 2, having told the King that his noble son is mad, then pauses for a second: “Mad call I it; for to define true madness, What is’t but to be nothing else but mad? But let that go.” Psychiatry, since its invention in the nineteenth century, has found it...

  10. Chapter Five The Social Brain
    (pp. 141-163)

    Human beings, to state the obvious, are social creatures. We have platitudes by the dozen to assure us that ‘no man is an island.’¹ We live in groups—families, communities, societies. We work collaboratively in organizations, fight in bands and armies, take pleasure in events where we gather together to dance, party, watch or play sports. We interact in pairs, and small and large groups, whether in love or in hate, in teams and gangs, and in everyday activities. We care for one another and experience sympathy, empathy, or a sense of obligation to some, though not to others. And...

  11. Chapter Six The Antisocial Brain
    (pp. 164-198)

    The headline onSky Newson April 26, 2010, read: “Murdered Gangster’s Brain Donated to Science: Scientists Have Been Given the Chance to Get Inside the Mind of One of Australia’s Most Notorious Gangsters.”² It was reporting the fact that Roberta Williams had given “experts” permission to examine the brain of her husband, Carl Williams, who had been murdered in Melbourne’s maximum security Barwon Prison less than three years into a thirty-five year sentence. “I believe it’s to help with research,” Mrs. Williams is quoted as saying, “and might explain why guys like Carl do the violent things they do.”...

  12. Chapter Seven Personhood in a Neurobiological Age
    (pp. 199-224)

    The self an illusion created by our brain.¹ This is the message of a host of recent semipopular books published by neuroscientists over the past decade.² Not long ago, few would have had the temerity to approach this issue in such a direct manner. But now many neuroscientists are willing to take up the challenge posed by Freud at the start of the previous century: to find the neural bases of the processes that he lodged, in his view only provisionally, in the psyche (Pribram and Gill 1976). Like Freud, today’s neuroscientists challenge the view that consciousness is the master...

  13. Conclusion Managing Brains, Minds, and Selves
    (pp. 225-234)

    Are developments in the neurosciences transforming our conceptions of what it is to be a human being? If so, how have they come to achieve this role, what forms are these transformations taking, and with what consequences?¹ These questions, with which we began this book, lead to a subsidiary one, for if such transformations are occurring, how should the social and human sciences respond, given that individual and collective human beings are their own privileged objects of investigation? Of course, it is far too early to reach any definitive diagnosis. As we have argued, while investigations into the brain and...

  14. Appendix How We Wrote This Book
    (pp. 235-236)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 237-276)
  16. References
    (pp. 277-324)
  17. Index
    (pp. 325-338)