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Since the 1990s, intellectual and institutional projects whose names combine the prefix neuro- with the name of one of the human or social sciences have multiplied. An incomplete alphabetical list of the “disciplines of the neuro” or “neurodisciplines” (a collective we shall also sometimes call “neuroX”) may start with neuroanthropology, neuroarcheology, and neuroarthistory and finish with neurosociology and neurotheology; in between, we could place neuroeconomics, neuroeducation, neuroaesthetics, neuroethics, neurolaw, neuromarketing, neuropolitics, neuropsychoanalysis, and more.

We limited ourselves to areas that emerged during the Decade of the Brain and have therefore excluded those, such as neuropsychiatry and neurophilosophy, that were well established by the 1990s. 

In spite of their diversity, the disciplines of the neuro may be considered as a single constellation held together by a set of core common beliefs and foundational elements. The disciplines of the neuro share a complex of interconnected features:

1. A postulate: The mind is what the brain does.
2. A goal: To discover neurobiological “foundations” or “substrates.”
3. A tool: Neuroimaging, especially fMRI.
4. A product: Neural correlates.
5. Mystification as to the meaning of the correlations and therefore the substrates they are said to unveil.
6. A desire for causality manifest in the sliding from correlations to causes.
7. Disparity between the methodology, the stated goals, and the interpretation of the results.
8. Irrelevance insofar as they cannot answer the question So what? addressed to their empirical results.
9. A self-defeating logic whereby the neurodisciplines miss or annihilate (conceptually) their purported objects of study.
10. Claims about objectivity and reality, according to which to demonstrate neurobiological substrates amounts to knowing a phenomenon objectively and makes it more real.
11. An epistemic hierarchy in which, since the neurosciences ultimately account for psychological, social, and cultural phenomena, the neurobiological approach ranks above other forms of inquiry and knowledge.
12. A neglect of the concepts and productions of the humanities and social sciences.
13. A redemptory role, since the neuroX may help save the humanities and social sciences from their theoretical and methodological dead ends.

Such a list will surely strike some readers as an unfair overgeneralization. And indeed, not every item applies equally to every single neuroX production.

In their introduction to The Neuroscientific Turn, Melissa Littlefield and Jenell Johnson (2012, 9) note that, beyond the differences among the neurodisciplines that make up the “turn,” the neuro “signifies a hypothetical location (i.e., the nervous system, brain, neuron) where we should look for answers to our deepest questions about consciousness, learning, selfhood, and so forth.”


Vidal, Fernando and Ortega, Francisco. Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (Forms of Living)....

Book cover

You can learn more about the book The Neuroscientific Turn on the link below:

The Neuroscientific Turn

The articles, links and videos below explore some of the fields cited by Vidal and Ortega, just in case you're wondering:

Neurotheology: The relationship between brain and religion


Society for Neuroeconomics

The "Neuropolitics" Consultants Who Hack Voters Brains

Neuropsychoanalysis Association
Neuroarthistory: an introduction with John Onians
What is neuromarketing? Our reporter finds out
Neuroethics and the Study of You | Fahad Paryani | TEDxYouth@LakesideHS
Nina Kraus – Breaking the Wall to Neuroeducation @Falling Walls Conference 2015 SD



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Published in 11/01/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic Chap. 2: Disciplines of the Neuro:

Invalid DateFirst use of the term NeuropoliticsFirst use of the term Neuropolitics
Invalid DateNeuropolitics, by William ConnollyNeuropolitics, by William Connolly
Invalid DateNeuroXNeuroX
Invalid DateNeuro Lit Crit
Invalid DatefMRI: A New Research Tool, by APAfMRI: A New Research Tool, by APA
Invalid DateU.S. Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
Invalid DateThe Development of ElectroencephalographyThe Development of Electroencephalography
Invalid DateInvention of fMRIInvention of fMRI