Beyond the Neuro-Realism Fallacy: From John R. Mallard’s Hand-painted MRI Image of a Mouse to BioArt Scenarios

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This article examines visual practices inside the laboratory and in the arts, highlighting a problem of reductionism in the transformation from data to images and in the visual incarnation of the neuro-realism fallacy, that is the extreme images of brain scan. Neurosciences are not inherently reductionist. John R. Mallard’s work around data visualisation problems in the development of biomedical imaging shows how scientists themselves can be attentive to the construction of visual practices and their meaning. If neuro-realism is a fallacy within the neurosciences, are art-neuroscience collaborative projects reproducing this fallacy at visual level? The article analysis how neuroscience-art projects can enable us (or not) to foster and maintain a stereoscopic vision in the way in which we approach the conundrum of what it is like to be both a biological organism made up of molecules, neurons, cells, and an entity equipped with intentionality, desires, thoughts, values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-471
Number of pages32
JournalNuncius. Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2017



  • visualisation
  • neuro-realism fallacy
  • BioArt

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