Article “Collecting Data and the Status of the Research Subject in Brain-Machine Interface Research in Chronic Stroke Rehabilitation” published in #somatechnics #ststwitter #BMI #neuroethics

I almost forgot: I would like to thank the editors Iris van der Tuin and Holly Randell-Moon and the guest editors Lotta-Lili Fiedel, Lisa Malich and Sofia Varino very much for letting me contribute to Somatechnics (Edinburgh University Press) Special Issue 9.2 Data Matters: (Un)doing Data and Gender in the Life Sciences. I would like to thank not only the editors but also the reviewers for their careful reading, thoughtful comments and efforts towards improving my paper.

So, here comes the abstract of my article “Collecting Data and the Status of the Research Subject in Brain-Machine Interface Research in Chronic Stroke Rehabilitation” (Melike Şahinol):

Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) has moved to the forefront of neuroscientific trials as it not only establishes a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device but enables the measuring of brain activity in research subjects whereby data is collected. With special emphasis on the somatechnics of BMI, this article analyses the relationship between this data collection process and actual patient care in chronic stroke rehabilitation. In doing so, it focuses on behaviour patterns associated with the use of specific technology that enables the scientist to use certain techniques in order to establish a hierarchy among research participants. In this hierarchy the scientist assumes a superior status to the research subject, an occurrence that is partially supported by using BMI technology and partially initiated by the need to generate data. Based on ethnographic studies of BMI research in hospitals and laboratories, the article outlines how this hierarchical structure in neuroscientific research leads to ethical questions in the quality of actual patient care. It continues to explore how patient care is affected mainly as a result of the changing status of the research subject from an initial bio-technical form that produces data in real time and whose brain is understood as an epistemic object to the patient being considered a ‘perceptible’ or ‘plausible gestalt’ (Lindemann 2009) and therefore a social person. Although focus lies on the status of the research subject as part of actual patient care, scientific data generation remains indispensable for medical advancement; that is curing the patient. The article draws conclusion by addressing this very problem and therewith intends to contribute empirically based insights to a socially relevant discourse on neuroscientific trials.

Somatechnics 9.2-3 (2019): 244–263
DOI: 10.3366/soma.2019.0282
© Edinburgh University Press