Bias in Textbook Illustrations

It strikes me that there are almost no illustrations of female bodies in the course book (“Neuroscience” fourth edition). I went through the entire text to verify my hunch (see below).

There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for the omission of female illustrations, leading me to the conclusion that this wasn’t a decision, but rather an ingrained bias of framing males as the “neutral” or “default” figure in spite of the fact that in the gross taxomy of humans there tend to be slightly more “female” organisms.

Research-level bias is mentioned in chapter 12: “Unfortunately, neither Penfield nor contemporary researchers have spent much time mapping the somatosensory maps of the female body and its unique features (what some have called the “hermunculus”).” (pg. 432). This oversight presents a clear opportunity for someone to study non-male somatosensory maps in depth – I wonder if anyone will.

In chapter 17, another blind-spot in our scientific understanding  is addressed: “Research on the physiology of the human sexual response has tended to focus unduly on men, but we will try to summarize some of what is known about both sexes.” (pg. 587).

When neuroscience research frames one type of person as the default, then significant variations can go unstudied.   There are also issues with simply studying “both sexes” as there are more than 2 sexes (e.g. intersex people), and the definitions of sex become more fine-grained as more variables interact (hormones, signalling, chromosomes…) In other words, neuroscience should be studying more than one sex more often.

Posted by M

Studies sound/new media Uses they/them pronouns
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Week 3

In this weeks lecture we learned about synaptic transmission processes. Parts of the introduced principles were already familiar to me as we learned about chemical synapses in high school biology classes. I learned more about the chemical details behind these synapses. Furthermore, I learned about electrical synapses and found it quite interesting that there is a second, faster way of transmitting signals.

With this the low level functionality of the brain has been covered and to prepare for next week I read the chapters 8-10 in the book. Learning about the senses especially vision was very interesting since I am visiting this lecture to learn more about how principles from neuroscience can be applied to robotics where vision is heavily researched.

Learning the basic terminologies was very important for me to be able to read and understand neuroscience literature better. I hope that during the rest of this course I will gain more insight into how different senses are integrated and how this information is represented in the brain.

Posted by Oliver Struckmeier

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Week 1

Since the first week included a lot about understanding how structure affects function, I drew a picture of neuron-parts to help visualize this.

Posted by M

Studies sound/new media Uses they/them pronouns
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Hello world!

Welcome to Aalto. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Posted by M

Studies sound/new media Uses they/them pronouns
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