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Neuroscience and History: After Neurochemistry

Past Series, SOF/Heyman Workshops

dateFebruary 12, 2014 timeWednesday, 6:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University

Around the year 2000, a massive conceptual mutation occurred in the neuronal sciences. After the brain had been a chemical, synaptic organ for almost half a century a new way of thinking and knowing the nervous system emerged –– a biological and cellular way that Tobias Rees would like to call “after neurochemistry.”

In this talk, Rees approaches the emergence of a brain after neurochemistry in two different but closely related ways. In a first part he reconstructs the conceptual event of the emergence of neurochemistry occurring in the 1950s. He shows how unlikely the rise of a synaptic, chemical understanding of the brain was at the time and will map how it quite radically redefined the cellular comprehension of the brain and its diseases (the focus is on depression). In a second part, Rees analyzes how the emergence of a biological, cellular (or plastic) comprehension of the brain has undermined precisely the conceptual presuppositions on which neurochemistry was based and how this has generated a new way of understanding the brain and its diseases (the focus is on the changing understanding of the neuronal substrate of depression). The talk closes with a brief reflection on how plasticity has generated a powerful reconfiguration of the neurological human: a shift away from a neurochemical to a biological, plastic self.

ID is required for entrance.

Attendance to the workshop is by invitation only.