This dissertation analyzes the role of government policy in shaping the new interdisciplinary field, brain science, in the late 20th century. From the early 1990s, government initiatives for the promotion of this field were notable such as the Decade of the Brain in the U.S. However, by analyzing the shaping of its interdisciplinarity from the beginning of neuroscience, known as modern brain science, this dissertation reveals how influential government policy was from the early 1960s in the development of brain science. It was no accident that the Neurosciences Research Program (NRP), an initial program of neuroscience, was formed at MIT in 1962 by gathering a wide range of researchers including biologists, psychologists, and cyberneticians. In the context of increasing, yet lopsided support from the U.S. government for biological studies in the 1950s, the MIT biologist Francis O. Schmitt aspired to build a new interdisciplinary research community, putting the brain at the center - which would, in his expectation, lead to derive a new revolutionary theory in biology. Reflecting his aspiration, the NRP was shaped and institutionalized in light of unusually increased funding for basic research in the U.S.
In other words, interdisciplinarity in brain science was not an inevitable but a distinctive outcome of active envisioning from multiple stakeholders like researchers, funding agencies, and the government. Its dynamic shaping has characterized the development of brain science in the late 20th century. In the late 1980s, in the situation of diminished government support in basic research and increased diversity of neuroscientists, its theoretical emphasis gave way to the growing attention to compile brain data, resulting in the launch of the Human Brain Project in the 1990s. A new database was envisioned in a way to embrace multiple levels and forms of brain data, not because there was an available technique for it, but because bringing them was an important aspect in defining neuroscience in the U.S. With the support of the OECD, which promoted the significance of international collaboration in large-scale scientific projects in the post-Cold War period, the project for a brain database could draw international participation from like South Korea. However, when representatives gathered in the OECD for it, it was notable that a Korean representative was an electrical engineer, while most of the others were either biologists or medical scientists.
With the case of brain research in South Korea, this dissertation reveals how its interdisciplinarity embodied distinctive compositions, imaginations, and representations that reflected both its government’s practices of science policy as a developing country and its new initiatives as a Newly Industrialized Country. It focuses on the two moments when Korean researchers put an effort into forming brain research communities - one led by medical scientists in the early 1990s and the other led by electrical engineers in the late 1990s. By questioning why, in the late 1990s, an interdisciplinary gathering of brain researchers were institutionalized in the form of a new law, academic society and research centers, my analysis on South Korea highlights the importance of local research interests (ex. ginseng’s pharmacological effects and the Korean language recognition technique), the characteristic of government’s funding structure, the impact of government’s political agenda, the influence of global trends in relevant research areas, and the role of policy entrepreneurs. My dissertation ultimately shows the presence and influence of different dynamics in shaping this interdisciplinary field in different temporal and spatial contexts. It sheds light on a way in which a distinctive order for producing interdisciplinary knowledge was situated and promoted in a society that shaped the development of brain science in the late $20^(th)$ century.