Industriousness and Daydreaming: Cognitive Neuroscience’s Revaluation of Rest
Dr Felicity Callard
Senior Lecturer in Social Science for Medical Humanities, Durham University
Friday 2nd of November, 3:30pm
East Quadrangle Lecture Theatre, University of Glasgow
Wine Reception to follow
Abstract: How might human geography respond to the epistemological and ontological challenges posed by the cognitive neurosciences — as regards their diverse formulations regarding the brain, the mind and the self?
How, moreover, might we harness the creativity and challenge of interdisciplinary collaboration in order to address these challenges? This talk provides reflections on these questions by turning to a specific area of cognitive neuroscientific research, that of fMRI resting state research, and by describing my collaboration with a resting state researcher and a cognitive psychologist.
The methods and objects of resting-state research potentially catalyse a new model of brain and self. The field’s focus on non-observable and unconstrained mental activity contribute to the emergence of an account of the self grounded as much through mind-wandering as through deliberate, externallly-goal-focused activity; the focus on the rhythm of the intrinsic and spontaneous dynamics of the brain contributes to the emergence of an account of the self specified through and anchored by those dynamics rather than through her responses to the environment and the exteroceptive stimuli that impinge upon her. But in the process, ‘rest’ – as signifying the cessation of movement or labour – has been transformed: the brain, inner mental life – and potentially the self – are conceptualized by researchers in this field as perpetually industrious, productive and oriented towards the future.