Art and the Brain: Chapter 14. Technological Innovations and the Nervous System


Neuroscience and Light Technologies
Movement and Time
Cultural Movement Enacted


Finally, four points stand out when looking at the integration of these more contemporary technologies. First, in cultural products, psychological and sensate connections with the nervous system are often quite unlike scientific projects that aim to look with “objective” eyes, focusing in on functions and operations. Second, due to the unstable materials of early films, many have not survived. This means we have lost both research tools and early cultural impressions. Third, if people were initially drawn to the way the camera could expand our visual capacities, fix movements the eye could not see, and instantly copy specimens, later discoveries like x-rays and other non-optical imaging techniques, the subject of the next chapter, remind us that each question answered generally raises at least a dozen new ones as scientists, artists, and the general public stir the new contributions into the mix. Fourth, as the concluding chapter will discuss, psychological innovations and their environmental impacts have accelerated our understanding of brain development and connected the brain with the environment.

In other words, we now know that during the course of our lives brain development is impacted by environmental pollution, disease, and other factors. Starting out as a tiny strip of cells, the brain is formed by complex biological processes. Within this process, brain function can be impaired during neurodevelopment, as it can be impaired and re-shaped throughout life. Indeed, recent research has shown that our brains retain a degree of plasticity throughout our lives. In other words, while we now understand that brain development itself begins before birth and continues over the course of our lives, much historical research was operating within a different paradigm.

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