n°42 — A conundrum: the visual communication of neuroscience. Author: James Langdon
And yet the interaction of neuroscience with mainstream visual culture tends toward the simplistic and the amateurish. Science communication seems to regard graphic design and art direction sceptically, preferring to contextualise its technical images with a collage of cartoons, internet memes, and generic high-tech stock photography. The emerging neurotechnology industry, by contrast, adopts the visual language of corporate ‘big tech’. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Neuralink project presents its experimental neural implant technology as if it were an innocent commercial appliance.
These observations are urgent. Inevitably neuroscience will soon yield opportunities for technologically augmenting the human brain that could further entrench inequality and stratification in our society. This text is *not* a call for more friendly interdisciplinary collaboration between graphic design and neuroscience, but a pointed critical assessment of the visual literacy of one field from the perspective of another.