Visiting Speaker: Dr Carla Meurk, University of Queensland, Australia
Title: Is addiction neuroscience useful? A perspectival critique of the neurocentric vision of addiction
Date: Monday 7th September 2015
Location: Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre, Doorway 1, Teviot Place, Edinburgh
Neuroscience research on the effects of chronic drug use on brain function have been used to argue that addiction is a ‘chronic relapsing brain disease’. The public health, policy and social implications of this model of addiction have been the matter of some debate among neuroscientists, philosophers, historians, and science and technology studies scholars among others. In this talk, Dr Meurk will present findings from a recently completed Australian study of the views of approximately 1450 drug dependent persons, their families and the general public about the benefits and drawbacks of addiction neuroscience information and technologies. In particular, she will examine two questions: (1) What does it mean to talk about a concept, or a set of concepts, having ‘impact’? How does ‘impact’ relate to ‘acceptance’ and ‘usefulness’? and (2) Why does it matter what different people think about the idea that addiction is a brain disease? Her analysis focusses on elucidating different disciplinary perspectives as well as the different perspectives of people we engaged in order to approach these questions from multiple angles. She will argue against the neurocentric vision of addiction, encompassed in the brain disease model of addiction, and offer arguments in favour of holding an ambivalent attitude towards neuroscientific innovations and fostering an ecological understanding of addiction.
Dr Carla Meurk is a postdoctoral research fellow and co-leads the Mental Health Policy and Research Translation group at Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research at The University of Queensland, Australia. Carla’s work focuses on knowledge utilisation and communication, specifically the individual, social, ethical and policy dimensions of adopting new scientific ideas and technologies. Dr Meurk’s research is unashamedly interdisciplinary and she has carried out research on a range of topics in environmental management, addiction and mental health.