Enacting the ‘neuro’ in practice: Translational research, adhesion and the promise of porosity

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Studies of Science, 2014, 44 (5), pp. 680 - 700
Issue Date:
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© The Author(s) 2014. This article attends to the processes through which neuroscience and the neuro are enacted in a specific context: a translational neuroscience research group that was the setting of an ethnographic study. The article therefore provides a close-up perspective on the intersection of neuroscience and translational research. In the scientific setting we studied, the neuro was multiple and irreducible to any particular entity or set of practices across a laboratory and clinical divide. Despite this multiplicity, the group’s work was held together through the ‘promise of porosity’ – that one day there would be translation of lab findings into clinically effective intervention. This promise was embodied in the figure of the Group Leader whose expertise spanned clinical and basic neurosciences. This is theorized in terms of a contrast between cohesion and adhesion in interdisciplinary groupings. We end by speculating on the role of ‘vivification’ – in our case mediated by the Group Leader – in rendering ‘alive’ the expectations of interdisciplinary collaboration.
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