The Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain

The Neuroscientific TurnMelissa M Littlefield and Jenell M Johnson

University of Michigan Press, £63.50

The neurosciences, as many biologists will have noticed, continue to attract public attention – especially with regards to neuroimaging in the popular media. Less apparent, perhaps, has been the emerging engagement of humanities scholars and social scientists with research in this area.

Littlefield and Johnson bring together an impressive range of academics from a variety of traditions to reflect on the (potential) import of neuroscience into disciplines such as economics, literary criticism and moral philosophy.

In contrast to some commentaries on neuroscience that either uncritically accept its salience to other spheres of research or conversely fully reject its insights, the contributions to this book cast a more sober eye over neuroscientific developments and their rapprochements in the humanities and social sciences. It is therefore a useful read for anyone considering interdisciplinary research, as well as for a more general audience of scholars intrigued by how disciplines are picked up and put to work by colleagues from quite different academic realms.

A particular strength of this volume is the great degree to which the chapters speak to and engage with each other. Likewise, the preface (by a neuroscientist and ethicist) and afterword (by an anthropologist) are both thoughtful discussions on the contributions to The Neuroscientific Turn and provocations for further reflection and research.

Dr Martyn Pickersgill MSB