Plastic Reason: An Anthropological Analysis of the Emergence of Adult Cerebral Plasticity in France
University of California, Berkeley, 2006 - 734 pages
From January 2002 to August 2003 I conducted fieldwork among Parisian neurologists, with the laboratory of Alain Prochiantz, located at the Ecole Normale Superieure, as my main fieldsite. In the course of my research I encountered a milieu immersed in a vibrant debate about the future of its discipline, about how neurology should be practiced, about what kind of knowledge it should seek to generate, and about how it should think about the brain and the human. The background to these debates was that neurology and its conceptualization of the brain has been undergoing a fundamental metamorphosis. Throughout the twentieth century the nervous system has been conceptualized as a strictly fixed and immutable structure devoid of any morphogenetic plasticity. This structure was imagined to be composed of distinct functional regions, connected to and communicating with each other through synapses. Understanding the structure of the synaptic connection---and the processes of synaptic transmission---was regarded as the key for understanding the brain. With the discovery of large-scale adult cerebral plasticity in the 1990s---identification of neural stem cells; birth, differentiation, and migration of new neurons; appearance of new and disappearance of old synapses, axons, and dendrites---the traditional conception of the brain as immutable has been considerably troubled. Indeed, what was before impossible---large-scale morphogenetic development---is now regarded as one of its defining features. Prochiantz's lab was one of the first, in France and beyond, to conceptualize and analyze the brain form the perspective of its fundamental plasticity.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Synapse is Liberty 1 15
Things Nocturnal 16 1
5 other sections not shown
Other editions - View all
adult brain adult neurogenesis adulthood Alain Prochiantz anthropology anti-Pax6 articulated Ascher assumption axons Bachelard Beer Brigitte Cajal cells changes Changeux Collège de France conceptual conceptual horizon construction conversations course developmental processes discovery embryogenesis embryology emergence Engrailed epistemological exclusively experimental system experiments fieldwork fixed and immutable French function genetics Giovanni Glowinski Goldschmidt homeobox homeodomain homeoproteins homeotic genes human ideas interlocutors Jean François Jean Pierre Jean Pierre Changeux machine membrane milieu molecular biology morphogenetic processes motion n-a-t of homeoproteins namely nervous system neural neurologists neurology neurons nocturnal non-autonomous transfer observation organism pantp Pax6 Penetratin peptide perspective Peyret Philippe Ascher Pierre Joliot plastic forces plastic reason possible problem Prochiantz Prochiantz's lab produced protein questions relations result scientific scientists Sherrington social Spemann structure synapse synaptic plasticity synaptic transmission technical terms plastic theory things transcription factor transformation Trembleau understanding variables vitro vivo Volovitch western blot