SAUVAYRE Romy, 2022, The hidden face of neuroscience [french], Toulouse, Editions Erès


Neuroscience fascinates as much as it questions epistemologists and methodologists. Controversial work has highlighted the brain areas of preference for Democrats and Republicans, Coca-Cola, or iPhones. In this book, we will be talking about a salmon. We propose to take the reader down the socio-historical path of the dissemination of a study that performed functional neuroimaging, not on a living human subject as usual, but on a dead salmon. It seems obvious that a dead salmon cannot have brain activity. However, American researchers detected such activity and disseminated the research around the world. The media saw it as proof of the unreliability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies. In contrast, neuroscientists first dismissed or mocked this study, before citing it more widely. The path of the media and scientific dissemination of this extraordinary neuroimaging will be traced and put into perspective in order to understand and explain its success. In addition, this book will address the issue of dissemination, interpretation and the value given to scientific work by the media and the scientific community. This book also presents a scientific controversy aired by recognized neuroscientists. Finally, this singular object – the neuroimaging of a dead salmon – reveals a specific social dynamic that leads to an epistemological analysis of research practices and scientific norms.