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This article traces attempts in the 1930s to create a spatio-temporal model of the active, living brain. Images and models of electric, illuminated displays – derived from electro-technology and engineering – allowed for a changing imaginary of a brain that was immediately accessible. The example of the Luminous Brain Model, a three-dimensional science education model, demonstrates how the visual language of illumination could serve as a flexible rhetorical tool that offered sensations of liveliness to modern viewers and promised to show a transparent view of a dynamic brain. Alternatively, various scientists in the 1930s used the analogy of the brain as an illuminated electric news ticker to conceptualize temporal patterns of changing brain activity, thus drawing the brain into a new metropolitan sphere of material surfaces with real-time mediation. These two historical imaginaries of blinking brains reveal new trajectories of the ‘metaphorical circuits’ through which technology and cerebral biology are mutually articulated.

In: Nuncius
Neurocentrism, Cognition and the Challenge of the Arts and Humanities
Volume Editors: and
Moving beyond the neurohype of recent decades, this book introduces the concept of worlding as a new way to understand the inherent entanglement of brains/minds with their worldly environments, cultural practices, and social contexts. Case studies ranging from film, literature, music, and dance to pedagogy, historical trauma, and present-day discourses of mindfulness investigate how brains are worlded in an active interplay of biological, cognitive, and socio-discursive factors. Combining scholarly work with personal accounts of neurodiversity and essays by artists reflecting on their practical engagement with cognition, Worlding the Brain makes a case for the distinctive role of the humanities and arts in the study of brains and cognition and explores novel forms interdisciplinarity.