Mind Hacks brought this to my attention: a scathing review on the misuse of neuroscience, in literary criticism of all places. The review implies that neuroscience is the latest of a number of lit crit fads, such as were Freudianism, Marxism, and Postmodernism. This fits in nicely with an upcoming post at this blog on the disconnect in psychology between the mind and the brain. At Mind Hacks:

A.S. Byatt … suggests that the reason John Donne’s poetry is so compelling is because it engages particular brain processes.

and from the Raymond Tallis review, entitled “Neuroscience Delusion”, in the (UK) Times:

You would not guess how little we know or understand from the hyping of popular neuroscience in which some quite reputable neuroscientists seem to collude. We hear daily of how brain science is “explaining” happiness, love, moral judgement, and so on. It is worth looking at this because it may explain why neuroaestheticians fail to realize that their approach is, at the very least, a little premature. The hype has increased in the last few decades since functional neuro-imaging has enabled scientists to observe directly the activity in the brains of conscious subjects exposed to certain stimuli or engaging in different tasks. The consequent brain activity is taken to be identical with an experience, emotion, or disposition. Even more tendentiously, the areas that light up are regarded as “the centre” for that experience, emotion, or propensity. For example, the neural basis for love is, according to Semi Zeki and Andreas Bartels, “restricted to foci in the medial insula and the anterior cingulated cortex and, subcortically, in the caudate nucleus and the putamen, all bilaterally”.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.


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