The neuroscientific uncanny: an investigation into the limits of scientific method

GENT, Susannah (2016). The neuroscientific uncanny: an investigation into the limits of scientific method. In: Wild or Domesticated: Uncanny in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives to Mind, Interdisciplinary conference, House of Science and Letters, Helsinki, Finland, 20 - 22nd September 2016. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Filmmaker Susannah Gent employs a diverse range of methodological approaches to investigate the uncanny, including art practice, psychoanalysis, and scientific method. Following Mark Solm's assertion: ‘There can’t be a mind for neuroscience and a mind for psychoanalysis. There’s only one human mind’, (Schwartz 2015) she believes that interdisciplinary approaches will reveal interesting peripheral elements which would not come to light through single field investigations. In ‘Das “Unheimlich”’ Freud describes the uncanny as a ‘class of fear’. For many years emotion has been considered too subjective and inappropriate for scientific study yet it was Freud's conviction that psychoanalysis was a science. Recent brain imaging technology has lead to a resurgence of interest in emotion in scientific fields. Gent's research involves an eye tracking survey and an fMRI study which aim to see if scientific approaches can lead to uncovering a neurological underpinning to the uncanny. This study is combined with an experimental film project which documents the process as well as instilling uncanny sensations in the audience, an approach which recognises art practice as a form of research. By allowing the creative process, a method led by non- or unconscious affective decision making, an external artefact, in this case an experimental film, can provide the focus for intersubjective dialogue against a backdrop of objective, scientific method. Currently Gent has a undertaken a behavioural study which has produced an image set of 300 images rated according to eeriness valance by 250 participants. In this presentation Gent will look at the top ten of those images and discuss why she feels psychoanalysis offers the best analytical tools for understanding how these images act upon the participants. The image set is intriguing and includes, in the top ten, an image of euphemistically named prairie oysters from a cookery blog, suggesting that the Freudian castration complex may hold a place in the collective human psyche. This research-in-progress evaluation of interdisciplinary approaches is underpinned by the conviction that humanistic investigations can compliment scientific research as they employ methods unavailable to objective research, essential when researching subjectivity. Ultimately Gent believes that our experience of the uncanny stems, in part, from the haphazard evolutionary development of the brain, where mismatches between our consciousness experiences and unconscious processes produce cognitive dissonance. This indicates a gap or grey area between what we experience and what we think we know. KEY WORDS: uncanny, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, neuropsychoanalysis, interdisciplinary, consciousness, unconscious, Freud, Damasio, brain This presentation would last fifteen minutes and would require facilities for showing images and moving image from DVD or on-line source.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: uncanny, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, neuropsychoanalysis, interdisciplinary, consciousness, unconscious, Freud, Damasio, brain
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Susannah Gent
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 16:36
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2017 00:37
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13789

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