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The Sci-Fi Brain: Narratives in Neuroscience and Popular Culture

Alftberg, Åsa LU and Bengtsen, Peter LU (2018) In Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research 10(1). p.11-30
Abstract
The connection between neuroscience, popular media and lay perceptions of the brain involves the framing of complex scientific processes and results through familiar cultural narratives and metaphors. Such narratives are often built on the premise that neuroscience, with the help of powerful new technologies, will finally solve the mysteries of brain and mind, consciousness and morality. At the same time, popular culture – especially the science fiction genre – tends to focus on worst case scenarios of the implementation of technology. This article explores cultural narratives of what the brain is and how it functions in two different contexts – among neuroscientists and within popular culture. In particular, narratives about technology... (More)
The connection between neuroscience, popular media and lay perceptions of the brain involves the framing of complex scientific processes and results through familiar cultural narratives and metaphors. Such narratives are often built on the premise that neuroscience, with the help of powerful new technologies, will finally solve the mysteries of brain and mind, consciousness and morality. At the same time, popular culture – especially the science fiction genre – tends to focus on worst case scenarios of the implementation of technology. This article explores cultural narratives of what the brain is and how it functions in two different contexts – among neuroscientists and within popular culture. In particular, narratives about technology and the malleable brain as well as the notion of the mad scientist are studied. The article explores how these narratives are presented and used in popular culture and how neuroscientists relate to the narratives when describing their work. There is a contrast, but also a blurring of boundaries, between actual research carried out and the fictional portrayals of scientists constructing, or altering, fully functional brains. This to some extent serves as a background for the public’s understanding of, and attitude towards, neuroscience – something that must be taken into consideration when dealing with the therapeutic treatment of patients. The narratives of neuroscience in popular culture are to some extent shaped by actual scientific practices and findings, but neuroscience is also influenced by laypeople’s perceptions, which often have their roots in the narratives of popular culture. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
medical humanities, neuroscience, neurologi, science fiction, popular culture, popular culture narratives, narratives, framing, Dollhouse, Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly
in
Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research
volume
10
issue
1
pages
20 pages
publisher
Linköping University Electronic Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:85045725870
ISSN
2000-1525
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c371dddf-3165-454c-8f68-242a36d869cb
alternative location
https://www.academia.edu/36449213/
date added to LUP
2018-02-26 09:24:51
date last changed
2018-05-29 09:45:01
@article{c371dddf-3165-454c-8f68-242a36d869cb,
  abstract     = {The connection between neuroscience, popular media and lay perceptions of the brain involves the framing of complex scientific processes and results through familiar cultural narratives and metaphors. Such narratives are often built on the premise that neuroscience, with the help of powerful new technologies, will finally solve the mysteries of brain and mind, consciousness and morality. At the same time, popular culture – especially the science fiction genre – tends to focus on worst case scenarios of the implementation of technology. This article explores cultural narratives of what the brain is and how it functions in two different contexts – among neuroscientists and within popular culture. In particular, narratives about technology and the malleable brain as well as the notion of the mad scientist are studied. The article explores how these narratives are presented and used in popular culture and how neuroscientists relate to the narratives when describing their work. There is a contrast, but also a blurring of boundaries, between actual research carried out and the fictional portrayals of scientists constructing, or altering, fully functional brains. This to some extent serves as a background for the public’s understanding of, and attitude towards, neuroscience – something that must be taken into consideration when dealing with the therapeutic treatment of patients. The narratives of neuroscience in popular culture are to some extent shaped by actual scientific practices and findings, but neuroscience is also influenced by laypeople’s perceptions, which often have their roots in the narratives of popular culture.},
  author       = {Alftberg, Åsa and Bengtsen, Peter},
  issn         = {2000-1525},
  keyword      = {medical humanities,neuroscience,neurologi,science fiction,popular culture,popular culture narratives,narratives,framing,Dollhouse,Joss Whedon,Buffy the Vampire Slayer,Firefly},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {04},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {11--30},
  publisher    = {Linköping University Electronic Press},
  series       = {Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research},
  title        = {The Sci-Fi Brain: Narratives in Neuroscience and Popular Culture},
  volume       = {10},
  year         = {2018},
}