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Call for papers: Special issue (of Journal of the History of the Neurosciences) on the history and aesthetics of visual images and visualization

By August 16, 2005No Comments

Call for Papers: Special issue on the history and aesthetics of visual images and visualization (for Journal of the History of the Neurosciences):

Physical images and cognitive visualization offer two frames of reference for thinking about the history and development of neuroscience. The images of neurological illustration, for example, constitute a sourcebook on early medical theories. We can also identify a body of images that articulate how cultural beliefs influenced conclusions about behavior and learning as they relate to anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, the brain and our nervous system. Similarly, today’s neuroscientific images are inextricably linked to the idea that neuroscience is a visual science and lead us to seek for intersections among neuroscience, art and the visual brain. Visualization, on the other hand, has fostered mental constructions and cognitive diagrams related to neural operations.

The emergence of brain imaging technologies in the twentieth century has changed the foundation of neuroscience in a way that suggests the tension between visual images and visualization is ripe for a review. Although images have always been an integral part of the neurosciences, the discipline has grown due to the way new research has enhanced our understanding of the relations between the brain and human behavior. Through penetrating points of conjunction among images, visualization and neuroscience, the articles in this compendium will demonstrate that historical thinking has influenced current thinking and engage with how visual images and visualization have captured the form, function, and urge to know the brain. In other words, the renewed acquaintance with visual information is better understood when we review precursors and conceptualize (1) where we have added perspective to earlier views of the brain, (2) realize where contemporary research is re-inventing the wheel, and (3) discover issues where our current methodology fails to break through.

The special issue will include five to thirteen articles. Possible essay topics include (and are not limited to):

-visualization in the development of neuroscientific science/historical theory
– Historical maps as compared with imaging techniques in contemporary neuroscience (e.g., phrenology, fMRI/PET, etc.)
– Influence of changing art styles on neuroscientific representations
– Cartoons, diagrams and neuroscience
– Photography in neuroscience
– How representations affect neuroscientific concepts
– Integrating contemporary imaging techniques with experimental designs that could have been implements in earlier centuries (e.g., psychophysical synesthesia experiments)
– The use of art and representations as a teaching and visualization tool in the laboratory and the classroom (e.g. Cajal and Bell)
– The evolution of particular techniques (e.g., histological staining)
– Visual art and neuroscience (e.g., Leonardo, Vesalius)
– Aesthetics and the visual brain
– Images on the internet
– Neurological disturbance as an influence on visual art and visualization
– The neuroscientist as an artist / the artist as a neuroscientist
– Neuroscience, perception and experimentation
– Images and the study of attention (historical foundations of contemporary projects)
– How artistic projects have aided cognitive neuroscientific studies
– Ethical issues
– Imaging and binding the eye, the brain, and the nervous system

Abstracts due: September 1, 2005 (~350 words). Final paper for review due: May 1, 2006 (3000-5000 words). Final articles: Length: 3000-5000 words (each image is worth ~250 words). Submission instructions: see All papers will be peer-reviewed by the editors of the special issue and at least one editor of the journal itself.

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Thomas Söderqvist

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