Appealing Images: Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Production of Authoritative Knowledge

This study examined the common stories that are mentioned in discussions of magnetic resonance imaging in the US. (MRI). The authors aimed to demonstrate how the narratives included elements of progress, the physical body, and authoritative information. The research also considers how politics and social factors affect the three features. The article tries to establish a connection between what is seen in the MRI and dispels the myth that it is a concise reflection of the body. Firstly, the article Appealing Images: Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Production of Authoritative Knowledge

This article sought to analyze the prevalent narratives that are alluded to in the US in the discussion of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The authors sought to prove that the narratives assumed the features of progress, the physical body and authoritative knowledge to be a part of the image. The study further reflects on the influences of politics and social elements on the three features. Principally, the article demystifies the notion that the MRI is a succinct reflection of the body and the attempts to create a link between what is viewed in the MRI.

Firstly, the article Appealing Images: Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Production of Authoritative Knowledge is predicated on the understanding that the MRI inspires cultural imagination by creating the illusion that it fully captures the internal, fleshy part of the body. An MRI scan allows the viewer the opportunity to observe the internal structure of the body. It is assumed to penetrate the outer surface and reflect on the internal tissues of the body. However, the assessment of the production of medical images indicates that the pictures revealed to the patient or the practitioner involved are often mediated and influenced by the values (Joyce, 2005), and the culture of the parties that were primarily involved in the entire process.

There are several narratives which are promoted to describe the manifestation of the MRI. Some of the popular narratives include the assumption that the image is a transparent body, magnetic resonance imaging as progress and the assumptions which view MRI as an agent which is independent and speaks for itself. These narratives allude to the influences of the social practice and cultural indoctrination in the production and interpretation of the MRI. Some of the faults in studying the MRI scans area culmination of the use of narratives that “conflated the anatomical image with the body” (Joyce, 2005).

The social influences in MRI affect both the body under the examination and the machine to be used in the scan. Essentially, the responsibility of deciding on the parameters to be used in examining the tissues of the subject patient is relegated to the technologist and the physician. Joyce (2005) contends that “the combination of MRI machines, bodies, and decisions by technologists and radiologists produces an array of artefactual forms. Thus, it is not always true that the images produced are the complete and conclusive reflection of the internal tissues. Other manifestations of social influences on MRI include the written reports, the narrative of the unidentified bright objects and old friends and the clinical practices in MRI and other diagnostic tests (Joyce, 2005).

There are several positive implications of the institutional policies and practices with regards to the diagnostic process. To begin with, the social context makes efficient use of the limited time that is allowed the technologists and physicians to infer findings from the diagnostic interventions. Essentially, “institutional contexts and regulations also shape the interpretative work of radiologists” (Joyce, 2005). The regulations further curtain the finance that I committed to each scan which in turn promotes sustainability of the healthcare process.

Conclusively, narratives on the MRI process are a consequence of cultural assumptions. The image that is derived from the process reflects on the values of the institution involved in the intervention. Objectivity in the 21st century provides one of the metrics that can be used to curtail the proliferation of wrongful MRI interpretation. Just because one is allowed a view into the image does not necessarily mean that they are observing the truth about the body.

Discipline and the Material Form of Images: An Analysis of Scientific Visibility

This study was an extension of the research on the influences of social factors in the scientific research methods. According to Lynch (1985), indicates that the production of visual displays, inferred from the empirical research process, is an intrinsic feature of the scientific activity. The initiative enables the transformation of the specimen in the studies into coherent and observable elements. The article explores the conventions that are used by scientists in the laboratory to manifest their objects of study (Lynch, 1985). Principally, “the conventions produce features of visual displays which reflect the disciplinary organization of scientific labor as much as they do the organization of natural objects and their relationships”.

Science is mainly a constructive experience that is inspired and overseen by the scientist. To infer her suppositions, Lynch (1985) made use of an image which displayed the home ranges of a market lizard. Three main processes where involved in the development of the image. These included the marking of the lizards, constituting a grid and the placement of inferred observations within the areas in the grid. Firstly, marking entails the identification of the lizards to be involved in the analysis.

The establishment of the yard intervals in the study is subject to the researcher’s preferences. This initiative marks the beginning of the social influence on the study of the lizards. The normalization of the observations provides another reflection of the influence of the scientist in the scientific process. The merging of the graphic properties with the visible residues of a specimen reflects the influences of the scientist in the rendering process.

The themes of marking, constituting the grid and the placing of the observations within the grid setting were further manifested in the study of the electron micrographic montages. The engagement of the color-coded marks in the experiment was intended to achieve the marking metric. Some of the marking techniques used included indexing, labelling and the upgrade of visibility (Lynch, 1985). Constituting graphic space was achieved through initiatives such as exposed geometries, upgrading geometricity, utilization of formats in composing scales. After these interventions, the last process involved the normalization of the observations. Conclusively, the processes inferred in the article, in describing the scientific process, attests to the notion that science is dependent on construction.

Neuroscience, Informatics and Changing Notions of Objectivity

The advent of the computers ushered in a new era in neuroscience. Computers inspired the development of neuroinformatics. Neuroinformatics and cyberscience study the manifestation of objects and data in the scientific realm through the employ of the computers. Conversely, Beaulieu (2001) indicates that “empirical studies of various sciences have shown that analyses of tools should also reflect on the particular disciplined in which they are developed”. The study proposes a framework that accedes to the influences of the institutional boundaries in the networking and data basing initiatives (Beaulieu, 2001).

Tools of objective knowledge are varied. The article’s examination of the development of the atlases of the brain provides an insight into the influence of representations on the overall objectivity of an object. Informatics affects the perception that is extended towards the atlases in the brain. The examination of the influence of subjectivity in the determination of findings on the atlases provides a succinct reflection of the conflict in neuroscience. The mitigation initiatives involved in the conflict led to the broadening of neuroinformatics.

The development of the talaraich atlas provides an insight into the changing dynamics of the brain-imaging initiative. Talaraich atlas facilitated the automation and standardization in the average brain, a new object in the average brain atlas and a shift from the average to probabilistic atlases (Beaulieu, 2001). The pathological probabilities atlases allowed the automation of data processing and analysis. The talaraich atlas facilitated the development of the diagnostic atlases which facilitated even more insights into the brain structure.

Conclusively, the article indicates that embedding of quantification automation and standardization promotes objectivity in the scientific enquiry processes. It mitigates human influence on the research process and further facilitates the mathematization of observations to ensure that they reflect the true structure of the element that is under analysis. The modern atlases incorporate the ideals of objectivity in assessing the brain make up.


Beaulieu, A. (2001). Neuroscience, Informatics and Changing Notions of Objectivity. Social Studies of Science, 31(5), 635-80.

Joyce, K. (2005). Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Production of Authoritative Knowledge. Social Studies of Science, 35(3), 437-462.

Lynch, M. (1985). Discipline and the Material Form of Images: An Analysis of Scientific Visibility. Social Studies of Science, 15, 37-66.

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