The Brain Lecture series at the IHC, that was hosted during my annual Spring Residency in the Film and Media Department at UCSB, handily coincided with my new interest in neuroscience. I am hoping to learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia more generally for a project on “Memory Loss, Gender and the Politics of Care.” From personal experience with people suffering in one way or another with memory issues, I know that which parts of the brain are affected, and how the brain as a “network” deals with damage in different areas, is very complicated. I spent my research leave reading about the brain starting with Damasio (of course), followed by Paul Armstrong on How Literature Plays with the Brain and Catherine Malabou’s intriguing intervention in her The New Wounded. I went on to look at many other texts, preferably those with humanities perspectives, such as Greg Downey and Daniel H. Lende on “Neuropathology and the Encultured Brain.” I was also lucky to meet Dr. Kenneth Kosik, who holds the Harriman Chair in Neuroscience in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at UCSB. He also directs the Neuroscience Research Institute there, and works with Alzheimer’s patients internationally. His books about how to deal with the coming epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease were especially helpful. I hope to share interdisciplinary perspectives with Dr. Kosik when I return next year. Finally, I also came across the work of Mark Solms and those around him who have for some time been exploring links between psychoanalysis and neuroscience. The group believe that each has much to offer the other. I found Solms’ books (sometimes co-authored with his wife and colleagues) intriguing and productively suggestive of unexpected commonalities between what Freud was able to envision about the brain and today’s neuroscientists’ ideas, benefiting from contemporary technologies. My Renaissance colleague, Ben Robinson, at Stony Brook University argues that Freud’s early neurology training relied on work done as early as the mid- to late-seventeenth century. My colleague recommended I read Thomas Willis on an anatomy of the brain and nervous system, and also his account of the embodied soul. I have yet to get my hands on Willis’ books but clearly that’s an important thing to do!
At any rate, the lecture series organized by Susan Derwin, Director of the IHC, was enormously helpful in offering numerous interdisciplinary perspectives on the brain and neuroscience research.
Here’s the schedule for 2016; if you want to see list of events, click here: