Professor John-Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist from Berlin, spoke at the Media Neuroscience Lab of the Department of Communication yesterday afternoon.
The lecture touched on Haynes’ experience with brain imaging technology and its applications, and Haynes argued that while this technology is useful in certain cases, brain imaging has a limited role in allowing researchers to understand and predict human behavior. The Media Neuroscience Lab is designed to carry out communication research using neuroscience technologies like brain imaging, and it also provides data on traditionally social scientific theories.
The lab has completed various projects on narratives and morality as well as the neuroscience of persuasion, flow in video games and other media and science-related topics. The group is open to undergraduate and graduate students alike, and holds weekly meetings in the Social Sciences and Media Studies Building that often include the input of Professor René Weber of the Department of Communication and his fellow researchers.
At the meeting featuring Haynes’ lecture, the neuroscience professor explained that brain imaging and other forms of neuroscience are not necessarily applicable to everyday needs.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘What can neuroscience [get] me?’ and a lot of the time, it doesn’t [get] you anything,” Haynes said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that useful for day-to-day applications.”
The Media Neuroscience Lab was founded by Weber and graduate students last year, in an attempt to integrate the physical science approach of neuroscience with the social science approach of communication.
Weber said the lab is a particularly unique hub of neuroscience study, as it differs from most other labs in its application of communication.
“We are the only media neuroscience lab run by communication scholars, founded by communication scholars, posing questions from the communication discipline in the world,” Weber said. “There is no other lab in the world that does that.”
Scholars from the Department of Psychology also participate in the project, as the lab welcomes researchers from all disciplines, according to Weber.
“We are open to interesting people that ask interesting questions,” Weber said. “We want to build a community — a community of like-minded people that see value in looking at the communication/media phenomenon from a more cognitive media perspective.”


A version of this article appeared on page 4 of the May 22, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus