Social Representations of Brain Research: Exploring Public (Dis)engagement With Contemporary Neuroscience

Cliodhna O’Connor, Helene Joffe

Recent years have seen a major expansion of the position of neuroscience in the mass media, public policy, and legal dialogue. Drawing on interviews with 48 London residents, this article examines how people with no prior involvement with neuroscience make sense of the concept of “brain research.” Thematic analysis of the data furnished little evidence that neuroscience has meaningfully infiltrated lay thinking. Respondents consigned brain knowledge to the “other world” of science, which was seen as a decidedly separate social milieu. They envisioned that the only route by which they might become alert to brain information would be if they developed a neurological illness. This article considers the social and psychological dynamics that shape neuroscience’s dissipation into public consciousness.

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One comment

  1. It *is* difficult to discuss brain matters with people I see every day. I hope more laypeople develop an interest in the field. Much of it is not beyond the understanding of regular folks. I mean, sheesh, I’m a substitute teacher, and *I* like learning about it. :)

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