The Tension between "Mind" and "Brain" in Biomedical Imaging: Shifting Notions of Personhood

By Diane Zeeuw.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: July 6, 2016 $US5.00

How has biomedical brain imaging technology impacted notions of identity, personhood, and illness? How might our aesthetic preferences inadvertently shape our understanding of these images? The brain is arguably the most mysterious and complex organ of the human body; experienced as a material substance and also understood to be the site of complex abstract functions seemingly in excess of current medical/neurological explanation. From Descartes onwards we have grappled with notions of consciousness, from the model of the proverbial "ghost in the machine" of normative dualism, to visualizing the functioning of the mind as a complex organic network. This paper explores the interpretive tension between the technologically propelled medical picturing (or tangible visualization) of the brain as matter, and theories of mind. How has biomedical brain imaging technology shifted and informed our understanding of such significant definitions of personhood as volition? Conversely, how might our many attempts to affectively, aesthetically, or analytically visualize a meaningful notion of what constitutes "mind" help us cope with our material embodiment?

Keywords: Biomedical Image, Brain, Mind

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 7, Issue 3, September, 2016, pp.65-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: July 6, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 626.116KB)).

Diane Zeeuw

Professor, Kendall College of Art, Design of Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA