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Borck C. Brainwaves: A Cultural History of Electroencephalography

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Borck C. Brainwaves: A Cultural History of Electroencephalography
London: Routledge, 2018. — 346 p.
Translated by Ann M. Hentschel
In the history of brain research, the prospect of visualizing brain processes has continually awakened great expectations. In this study, Cornelius Borck focuses on a recording technique developed by the German physiologist Hans Berger to register electric brain currents; a technique that was expected to allow the brain to write in its own language, and which would reveal the way the brain worked. Borck traces the numerous contradictory interpretations of electroencephalography, from Berger’s experiments and his publication of the first human EEG in 1929, to its international proliferation and consolidation as a clinical diagnostic method in the mid-twentieth century. Borck's thesis is that the language of the brain takes on specific contours depending on the local investigative cultures, from whose conflicting views emerged a new scientific object: the electric brain.
Cornelius Borck is Professor of History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine and Science and Director of the Institute of History of Medicine and Science Studies at the University of Luebeck, Germany.
Contents :
Introduction - Brain Waves Then and Now
Electrifying Brain Images
Hans Berger’s Long Path to the EEG
Current in the Head
Research Strategies of a Conservative Psychiatrist
The Measure of Psychic Energy
The Course to Current
Amplified Oscillations
Artefacts and Noise
Invitation to Stockholm
Electrotechniques of the Live Mind
Cultural Currents 1918–1933
The Bioengineer and Psychodiagnostics
Nerve Apparatus and Psychic Circuits
Thought Rays and Radio-Telepathy
Configurations of Electrotherapy in the Radio Age
Poetics of New Objectivity in Brain Script
The Experimentalization of Daily Life
Terra nova: Contexts of Electroencephalographic Explorations
Epistemic Resonances and Material Cultures
Berger’s Further Voyage through Brain Waves
Local Appointment in Buch near Berlin
Acknowledgment with British Understatement
The Leap over the Pond
The Matrix of the Waves
Set to and Survey Much!
On the Cultural Practice of a New Technology
Dynamics of Standardization
A Diagnostic Panopticon
Under the Shock Spell
The Electrical Brain at Auschwitz
Designing, Tinkering, Thinking
What’s Hidden inside the EEG?
Rapid Vibrations of Thought
The Concert of Cerebral Currents
A German Physiologist’s Lofty Flights
The Brain as a Cybernetic Machine
Brain Theories out of the Model Building-Block Box
Conclusion - Plea for an Open Epistemology
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