UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

At UCL, the academic mission is paramount. Our ambition is to achieve the highest standards in our teaching and research.

Join us for BSc, MSc, and PhD study.

Staff books include:

Gregory - Eureka

New paper: Helmholtz Club, Neuroscience and Francis Crick

4 January 2014

Congratulations to Dr Christine Aicardi, STS Postdoctoral Research Fellow, for her new paper on Francis Crick (link)

Of the Helmholtz Club, South-Californian seedbed for visual and cognitive neuroscience, and its patron Francis Crick

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Volume 45, March 2014, Pages 1–11


Taking up the view that semi-institutional gatherings such as clubs, societies, research schools, have been instrumental in creating sheltered spaces from which many a 20th-century project-driven interdisciplinary research programme could develop and become established within the institutions of science, the paper explores the history of one such gathering from its inception in the early 1980s into the 2000s, the Helmholtz Club, which brought together scientists from such various research fields as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, psychophysics, computer science and engineering, who all had an interest in the study of the visual system and of higher cognitive functions relying on visual perception such as visual consciousness. It argues that British molecular biologist turned South Californian neuroscientist Francis Crick had an early and lasting influence over the Helmholtz Club of which he was a founding pillar, and that from its inception, the club served as a constitutive element in his long-term plans for a neuroscience of vision and of cognition. Further, it argues that in this role, the Helmholtz Club served many purposes, the primary of which was to be a social forum for interdisciplinary discussion, where ‘discussion’ was not mere talk but was imbued with an epistemic value and as such, carefully cultivated. Finally, it questions what counts as ‘doing science’ and in turn, definitions of success and failure—and provides some material evidence towards re-appraising the successfulness of Crick’s contribution to the neurosciences.

Page last modified on 04 jan 14 11:10 by Joe Cain

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)
0207 679 1328 office | +44 207 679 1328 international | | @stsucl
postal address:  Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom
street address: 22 Gordon Square, London, WC1E 6BT | maps