Iain Sturges

iain christopher.sturges@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

Translational Imaging of the Brain in the Twentieth Century: Patterns and Trends in Computerised Tomography (CT), and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) devices

My Research

The research project is a history of brain imaging technologies in the latter half of the twentieth century, particularly Computerised Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This will be done with a view to prescribe a lens on how the neurosciences, as a biomedical entity, have become entwined with the concept of translational research. In terms of a temporality, I start with the theoretical and practical developments of the technologies from the 1960s onwards. I will end my narrative around the turn of the twenty first century to not complicate the issue of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) versus fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), as well as the boom of the neurosciences after the 1990s ‘Decade of the Brain’.

In terms of a methodology I am inspired by two bodies of literature. The first is the field of ‘Critical Neuroscience’, particularly as outlined by Choudhury and Slaby in the 2012 edited volume Critical Neuroscience: A Handbook of the Social and Cultural Contexts of Neuroscience. The second is the ideas of Canadian philosopher Ian Hacking on the analytical frameworks of “calibration/validation” as well as “classificatory looping”.

Why am I doing this? In some sense, this question is answered by the discourse surrounding Critical Neuroscience. There is a need for a critique of, and problematisation, of the decontextualization and reductionism of the neurosciences. However, in also targeting translational research within the neurosciences, I am also concerned with the prominence of commercialisation of research, biotech, and human beings (both in a physical and mental sense). The need for a critique of the ties between translational research and neuroscience is made more pressing by the sheer proliferation of this tendency in both neurosciences and the wider biomedical subjects. In terms of neuroimaging. For example, the ONE Manchester Imaging project, recently announced this year, stresses the key ties between development of neuroimaging research and tech with commercial and clinical outputs. A need for a Critical Neuroscience study of the subject of neuroimaging, neuroscience, and translational research is therefore due to question and problematise this trend. To understand, critique, and have an informed discussion about the implications of close ties between neuroimaging data and the principals of twenty first century neo-liberal capitalism.

I am also on the editorial board for the newly launched, student-led science magazine Planet Bee here at the University of Manchester.

Previous Study

In 2017, I graduated from the University of Kent with a BA (hons) in History. My dissertation explored the history of Gas fuelled Street-Lighting in nineteenth century London, with a particular focus on the relationship between the Gas Light and Coke Company (GLCC) and the Liberty of Norton Folgate.

In 2018 I then completed an MsC in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine with CHSTM. My Master’s thesis explored the history of electroencephalography (EEG) in the first half of the twentieth century. This, much as my current PhD, was done with an eye to the relation between brain imaging and clinical/commercial results.

My previous work will be available to view on Academia.edu as soon as I get the grade back for my Master’s thesis.

Research Interests

History of medicine, history of technology, neuroscience, neuroimaging, biomedicine, biocapital, translational research.