Call for Graduate Student Papers: “Sorting Brains Out: Tasks, Tests, and Trials in the Neuro- and Mind Sciences”

 

Penn_campus_2CFP from graduate students for a conference at the University of Pennsylvania,

Sept. 18/19, 2015.

This conference, titled Sorting Brains Out: Tasks, Tests, and Trials in the Neuro- and Mind Sciences, 1890–2015, invites “participants to think broadly and deeply about the social, philosophical, political, and ethical commitments that have been reflected, reinforced, denounced, or discarded by [the mind and brain sciences over the past 125 years]. We ask participants to look forward and back in time, to explore how contemporary conceptions of mind and brain prolong and elaborate much older ideas, and how the histories of these sciences can help us understand both continuities and ruptures in theories, practices, and values.”

Find the full explanation and details about the conference here.

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In The Lancet: 5O years of neuroscience

In the ‘Perspectives’ section, Steven Rose writes:

The British Neuroscience Association (BNA) is teaming up with the Edinburgh International Science Festival for its annual conference this April. The BNA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its origins as a small discussion group meeting monthly upstairs in a London pub. The Science Festival is just half as old. The very term neuroscience was unfamiliar half a century ago—it had been coined in the early 1960s by a far-seeing Massachusetts Institute of Technology biophysicist, Francis Schmitt.

Read the full text of his personal history of neuroscience here.

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UCHPD Sonu Shamdasani Inaugural Lecture

V0011094ET A practictioner of Mesmerism using Animal Magnetism Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A practitioner of mesmerism using animal magnetism on a woman who responds with convulsions. Wood engraving.  Mesmer, Franz Anton 1734-1815. Wood engraving c.1845 Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/On Tuesday, March 17 at 6:30 pm in the Wilkins Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre at University College London, Sonu Shamdasani will deliver a lecture entitled “Why Study the History of Psychotherapy?”

Shamdasani is the Philemon Professor of Jung History and directs the UCL Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines. Previously he was the acting director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine. Find the full abstract for the talk here.

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In the New Issue of JHN: Jirí Procháska, Ludwig Edinger, & More

njhn20.v024.i01.coverThe latest issue of the Journal of the History of the Neuroscience is now online (find it here). Included in this issue are articles on the first comparative survey of the microscopic anatomy of vertebrate brains, tuberculosis-related aphasia in the nineteenth century, and the treatise “De structura nervorum” by Jirí Procháska. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

 

“Jirí Procháska (1749-1820): Part 2: “De structura nervorum”–Studies on a Structure of the Nervous System,” by Alexandr Chvátal. The abstract reads:

The treatise “De structura nervorum” by Jirí Procháska was published in 1779 and is remarkable not only for its anatomical and histological findings but also for its historical introduction, which contains a detailed bibliographical review of the contemporary knowledge of the structure of the nervous tissue. Unfortunately, the treatise has never been translated from the Latin language, but it deserves further analysis as a historical document about the level of neuroscience research conducted by a famous Czech scholar. The present article includes a historical overview of the contemporary knowledge of the structure of the nervous tissue up to the late eighteenth century from the perspective of today, a translation of selected chapters from Prochaska’s treatise (a historical introduction about the medieval knowledge of the structure of the nervous tissue and an interpretation of his neurohistological observations), and an analysis of Jirí Prochaska’s results in light of current knowledge.

 

Continue reading In the New Issue of JHN: Jirí Procháska, Ludwig Edinger, & More

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Blog Post: UTSIC’s Projective Tests as Material Culture

UofT RorschachThe University of Toronto Scientific Instrument Collection’s Kira Lussier writes on the history of the Rorschach (and other projective tests) at UofT, and its uptake in popular culture. Read her full piece here.

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New issue of HoP featuring digital history, Brazilian psychology at the Belo Horizonte Teachers College, and much more!

Vol 18
February  2015

The first issue of the 18th volume of History of Psychology is now available (here). Contents include a digital networking of early articles in the journal Psychological Review, an account of Alfred Binet’s subject Jacques Inaudi, the relation between experimental psychology and educational training in early 20th century Brazil, and more. Article titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

 

“The ‘textbook Gibson’: The assimilation of dissidence,” by Alan Costall and Paul Morris. The abstract reads:

We examine how the textbooks have dealt with one of psychology’s most eminent dissidents, James Gibson (1904–1979). Our review of more than a hundred textbooks, dating from the 1950s to the present, reveals fundamental and systematic misrepresentations of Gibson. Although Gibson continues to figure in most of the textbooks, his work is routinely assimilated to theoretical positions he emphatically rejected: cue theory, stimulus-response psychology, and nativism. As Gibson’s one-time colleague, Ulric Neisser, pointed out, psychologists are especially prone to trying to understand new proposals “by mapping it on to some existing scheme,” and warned that when “an idea is really new, that strategy fails” (Neisser, 1990, p. 749). The “Textbook Gibson” is an example of such a failure, and perhaps also of the more general importance of assimilation—“shadow history”—within the actual history of psychology.

Continue reading New issue of HoP featuring digital history, Brazilian psychology at the Belo Horizonte Teachers College, and much more!

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UCL /BPS Seminar: Sarah Marks on the Historical Question of Communist Psychiatry

On February 23rd at 6-7:30, University College London’s Centre for the History of s200_sarah.marksPsychological Disciplines, in conjunction with the British Psychological Society, will be hosting a talk by Sarah Marks titled “Communist Psychiatries? Neurasthenia and Modernization in Czechoslovakia and East Germany.”

Marks will address mid-century traditions within Central European psychiatric disciplines that can be said to have accorded with Soviet ideology. Find the full abstract here. Organized by Professor Sonu Shamdasani. Located at Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.

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Special Issue of Science in Context: “Of Means and Ends: Mind and Brain Science in the Twentieth Century”

 

Stephen Casper
Stephen Casper

The March 2015 issue of Science in Context is now online. Guest edited by Stephen T. Casper (left), the articles in this special issue explore the roles played by context in the brain and mind sciences. To quote the epilogue written by Roderick Buchanan, the included essays “illustrate the changing cultural form and function of the biopsyche disciplines – disciplines that are both sciences and technologies of selfhood. To varying degrees, each essay actively engages Paul Forman’s [2007] thesis on modern and postmodern cultural valuations of science and technology.” Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow.

 

 

 

“Of Means and Ends: Mind and Brain Science in the Twentieth Century,” by Stephen T. Casper. The abstract reads:

What role does context play in the mind and brain sciences? This introductory article, “Of Means and Ends,” explores that question through its focus on the ways scientists and physicians engaged with and constructed technology in the mind and brain sciences in the twentieth century. This topical issue addresses how scientists, physicians, and psychologists came to see the ends of technology as important in-and-of themselves. In so doing, the authors of these essays offer an interpretation of historian Paul Forman’s revisionist and highly contextualist chronology of the twentieth century, which presents the comparatively recent tendency to aggrandize the ends of technology as evidence of a major, epochal transformation in the epistemic culture of twentieth-century American science. This collection of papers suggests that it was in the vanguard of such fields as psychology, psychiatry, and neurophysiology in North America and Europe that the ends and applications of technology became important in-and-of themselves.

Continue reading Special Issue of Science in Context: “Of Means and Ends: Mind and Brain Science in the Twentieth Century”

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New HHS: Brain Sciences in the Lycée, Linguistics in Imperial Germany, & Much More

Larry McGrath

The February 2015 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on educational reformers’ promotion of brain sciences in Third Republic France, shifting attention in linguistics to “living” language in Imperial Germany, the cultural psychology of Giambattista Vico, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Confronting the brain in the classroom: Lycée policy and pedagogy in France, 1874–1902,” by Larry McGrath. The abstract reads,

During the influx of neurological research into France from across Europe that took place rapidly in the late 19th century, the philosophy course in lycées (the French equivalent of high schools) was mobilized by education reformers as a means of promulgating the emergent brain sciences and simultaneously steering their cultural resonance. I contend that these linked prongs of philosophy’s public mission under the Third Republic reconciled contradictory pressures to advance the nation’s scientific prowess following its defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 without dropping France’s distinct tradition of 19th-century spiritualism, which extended from Maine de Biran’s philosophical psychology to Victor Cousin’s official eclectic spiritualism. Between 1874 and 1902, the French Ministry of Public Instruction transformed philosophy into a national project designed to guide the reception of experimental psychology generally and neurology in particular. This article features original archival research on philosophy textbooks and students’ course notes that illuminate the cultural and intellectual impact of these sciences in the fin de siècle from inside the classroom. I argue that the scientific turn in the psychology section of the lycée philosophy course reflected and brought about a distinct philosophical movement that I call ‘scientific spiritualism’. While historians have analysed philosophy instruction as a mechanism used by the Third Republic to secularize students, this article sheds new light on lycée philosophy professors’ campaign to promote scientific spiritualism as a means to advance incipient brain research and pare its reductionist implications.

“Avestan studies in Imperial Germany: Sciences of text and sound,” by Judith R. H. Kaplan. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HHS: Brain Sciences in the Lycée, Linguistics in Imperial Germany, & Much More

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History of Psych at Sundance

Two films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival take inspiration from now infamous experiments from psychology’s past. Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard, centres on Stanley Milgram’s controversial obedience to authority experiments,

In 1961, social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted the “obedience experiments” at Yale University. The experiments observed the responses of ordinary people asked to send harmful electrical shocks to a stranger. Despite pleadings from the person they were shocking, 65 percent of subjects obeyed commands from a lab-coated authority figure to deliver potentially fatal currents. With Adolf Eichmann’s trial airing in living rooms across America, Milgram’s Kafkaesque results hit a nerve, and he was accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster.

Experimenter invites us inside Milgram’s whirring mind, beginning with his obedience research and wending a path to uncover how inner obsessions and the times in which he lived shaped a parade of human behavior inquiries, including the “six degrees of separation” findings. Constantly subverting expectations with surprising structural and stylistic choices, writer/director Michael Almereyda transmutes the crusty period biopic form into something playful, energetic, and deeply satisfying—taking bold risks to yield profound insights, like all great experiments. —C.L.

The Stanford Prison Experiment, starring Billy Crudup, explores Philip Zimbardo’s study of the same name. The film is described on the Sundance site as follows,

It is the summer of 1971. Dr. Philip Zimbardo launches a study on the psychology of imprisonment. Twenty-four male undergraduates are randomly assigned to be either a guard or a prisoner. Set in a simulated jail, the project unfolds. The participants rapidly embody their roles—the guards become power-hungry and sadistic, while the prisoners, subject to degradation, strategize as underdogs. It soon becomes clear that, as Zimbardo and team monitor the escalation of action through surveillance cameras, they are not fully aware of how they, too, have become part of the experiment.

Based on the real-life research of Dr. Zimbardo (who was a consultant on the film), The Stanford Prison Experiment is a dramatic period piece that remains relevant over 40 years later. Along with an impressive cast, including Billy Crudup as Zimbardo, Kyle Patrick Alvarez (C.O.G., 2013 Sundance Film Festival) delivers an intense, visceral film about the role of power that plays to both chilling and exhilarating effect. —K.Y.

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