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February 27, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Linking the Brain:  Computerization, Biomedicalization, and Globalization in Neuroscience, 1960-2000

Thursday, February 27, 2020
4PM | E51-095

Many observers have assumed that the American Human Brain Project of the 1990s marked the culmination of the “computer revolution” in neuroscience. The Project aimed to build a large-scale brain database and drew an international participation from countries including South Korea. The development of the Human Brain Project was, however, not a sudden or inevitable consequence of the adoption of new computing technologies in neuroscience. It rather represented the contingent gathering of divergent moral economies which shaped the values of data and data practices in neuroscience in different countries. From a historical and comparative perspective, my book project examines distinctive evolutionary processes of the “computer revolution” in the U.S. and South Korea and its culmination in the Human Brain Project in the post-Cold War period. By doing so, it traces the conjoint rise of big data and big biology at the interdisciplinary intersection of brain, mind, and computer studies in the late 20th century.

This talk presents an overview of my book in progress, mainly focusing on the U.S. It will highlight two moments in the history of neuroscience, when its plural term, neurosciences, was highly used and resonated to address the issue of heterogeneous ideas and practices in brain science. The first moment was when the first neuroscience community was formed at MIT in the 1960s with the launch of the “Neurosciences Research Program.” The second moment was when the “Neurosciences Research Branch” was newly built at the National Institute of Mental Health in the 1980s which led the Human Brain Project in the U.S. By focusing on those two moments, this talk will show the changing meaning of computing technologies, the shaping of interdisciplinarity in neuroscience(s), and the making of big science project during and after the Cold War.


February 27, 2020
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm



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