I found the reading and the documentary for Neuroscience really fascinating. While I think it may be difficult to use neuroscience specifically as a theory for my object of study, I did find it useful for thinking through networks. Working through the neuroscience material illuminated some discussions we’ve been having about networks this semester in ways that I didn’t expect, particularly in how to consider and define agency. It also helped make clear the extent that networks reach, as well as the complexity. The complexity being on a level that is so difficult to sometimes tease out; even scientists aren’t entirely sure why some of the things in the brain happen. It’s a slow moving process, where the tracing of connections take a significant amount of time. I saw a lot of parallels between this and what Latour was calling for in actor-network theory. It also made a lot more sense why he discussed the complexity level as well as the labor that would be necessary in order to actually uncover these connections.

synapseFor me, this section particularly illuminated agency in regard to movement. It wasn’t easy for me conceptualize what this would mean or look like, but as I thought about the synapse firing taking place in the brain and the movement of these electrical or chemical responses, it became a lot easier to conceptualize. The images on action potential and synapse helped me visualize what this might look like. I think this was because it allowed me to really see the movement taking place and how the smaller pieces of the neuro-network had agency through movement.

Images from Rediscovering Biology Ch. 10

The complexity within the system is vast and this actually helped finally think about my Case study II, because it was so vast that it was intimidating to take on. The text book discusses the signal travel (the movement, or agency of the signal): “Also recall that a signal traveling through the brain often involves many neurons, each making so many connections. This interconnectedness gives rise to the extraordinary complexity of the brain. The activation of a single sensory neuron could quickly lead to the activation or inhibition of thousands of neurons” (Across the Synapse). Considering the complexity of the signal that travels through the brain, it is no wonder that Latour needed to discuss the complexity of tracing connections in the social network as well. This also reminded me for my Case study that I needed to just find the place and stop. I couldn’t keep continue to try to trace everything as it would be impossible. I had to pick a starting and stopping point and focus as best I could on that. Once I was able to accept that, it became a lot easier to work through Case Study II.

Works Cited:

Rediscovering Biology – Online Textbook: Unit 10 Neurobiology. Annenberg Foundation, 2016. Web. 27 March 2016. <http://www.learner.org/courses/biology/textbook/neuro/index.html&gt;.