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PhD ceremony Ms. J.M. Brenninkmeijer: Brain technologies of the self. How working on the self by working on the brain constitutes a new way of being oneself

When:Mo 15-04-2013 at 16:15

PhD ceremony: Ms. J.M. Brenninkmeijer, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Brain technologies of the self. How working on the self by working on the brain constitutes a new way of being oneself

Promotor(s): prof. G.C.G. Dehue

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences

Taking care of oneself is increasingly interpreted as taking care of one’s brain. Apart from pills, books, food, and games for a better brain, people can also use technical devices to stimulate their brains for self-improvement. These devices, working with light and sound effects, electric or magnetic stimulation, or brainwave feedback, are promoted for problems varying from stress, burn-out, anxiety, depression to ADHD or for the enhancement of cognitive or creative performances. This dissertation describes the historical background and contemporary use of these devices. Brenninkmeijer analyzes how the effects of brain devices were and are scientifically demonstrated; how users of neurofeedback (brainwave training) constitute a new mode of self that is extended with a brain and various other (physiological, psychological, material, and sometimes spiritual) entities; how clients, practitioners and other actors (computers, brain maps, brain waves) have to collaborate during the neurofeedback process; and how the personal beliefs, ideas and frustrations of (early) brainwave scientists regarding the brain and the self contributed to this contemporary way of being a self. That is to say, this dissertation provides a historical, ethnographical, and theoretical exploration of the mode of being that is constituted when people use a brain device to improve themselves.

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