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Drawing on insights from sociology, anthropology, and the history of science and medicine, this paper considers some of the social dimensions and implications for neuroimaging research undertaken within low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). It highlights three key inter-connected issues: (1) technologies for enhancing understandings of ill-health are theory-laden; (2) such technologies are theory-generating; and (3) studies of mental ill-health can also introduce new idioms for understanding subjective distress. The paper unpacks and explores these issues. It argues that the use of neuroimaging technologies in population research has the potential to contribute to solidifying – or even introducing – a biological (and specifically brain-based) understanding of mental ill-health within the communities under study. Examples from studies of neuroscience and society in various high-income countries (HICs) where neuroimaging is popular within public discourse illustrates how this can happen, and with what effects. The social dimensions and implications of neuroimaging are issues that all researchers using these technologies need to not only anticipate, but also explicitly plan for (and potentially seek to mitigate). Without adequate consideration, neuroimaging research carries with it particular risks in relation to extending the epistemological coloniality associated with HIC-sponsored studies conducted within LMIC settings.
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1/08/19 → 31/01/24
1/06/15 → 31/10/21