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Exploring the transformative powers of neurosciences: new technologies of brain-environment interactions 
Barbara Morsello (University of Padova)
Ola Söderström (University of Neuchâtel)
Luca Chiapperino (University of Lausanne)
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Ruth Müller (Technical University of Munich)
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

The panel explores cutting-edge neurosciences and technologies reshaping human potential and the treatment of chronic conditions. We welcome STS work exploring the transformative powers of neuroscience and considering their impact on medicine, public health, media discourses and patient daily lives.

Long Abstract:

Neurosciences are reshaping human potential, offering innovative treatments for chronic pathologies and for enhancing patients' quality of life. Human abilities are being seamlessly integrated with technology, as demonstrated by the fusion of human cognition with prosthetics and brain-computer interfaces. Molecular neurosciences, like epigenetics, showcase the potential of exposure-based therapies, including virtual reality and cognitive-behavioral therapy, to promote psychological and neurological resilience. In this context, the environment – whether material, technological, social, or ecological – has become a focal point of neuroscientific innovation. These new connections with-in the brain imply that nearly any environment is potentially actionable for intervention – raising questions about the limits and scope of neuro-sciences and -technologies. This panel sets out to scrutinize the transformations promised, produced or entertained by these neuro-scientific and -technological innovations. In doing so, it also asks whether neurosciences have transformed themselves in this wave of innovation, enacting novel understandings and ways of connecting brains, bodies, machines and their environments. The panel invites theoretical and empirical, as well as disciplinary and interdisciplinary, STS perspectives examining the multiple transformative powers of neurosciences and neurotechnologies. We expect contributors to document any of these emerging approaches to “brain health” in ways that highlight: (i) the novel possibilities for understanding, intervening in and treating chronic pathologies they offer; (ii) how they leverage brain plasticity to potentially enhance patients' quality of life, (iii) the experiences of living with neurotechnologies and the neuro-biosocialities these entertain; (iv) the promissory discourses and imaginaries of neuropolitics and neurodiversity that sustain these innovations; or, (v) even the ethical implications of this research.The panel will rely on a traditional format bringing together the convenors’ research and different expertise, as well as contributions from any researcher interested in the intricate transformations of humans, brains, machines, social relations and material environments brought about by neuroscientific innovations.

Accepted papers: