From Science to the Public: Deep Brain Stimulation

BMBF ELSA (Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects) Research Network Transfer of Knowledge [mehr]

Duration: October 2013-September 2016


The goal of the project is to analyze the scientific discourse on deep brain stimulation (DBS), the transfer of knowledge as well as variables that affect this process. The study shall not only contribute to an overall better understanding of how complex, subject-specific research knowledge is acquired, disseminated, understood and misunderstood within and beyond the confines of a certain discipline, but more specifically it will also serve to develop strategies to improve this knowledge transfer.

This transfer within scholarly discourse to its portrayal in public media, pop culture to the point of individual reception will be studied in three sub-projects. Each of the sub-projects focuses on a different aspect of this transfer.

  • Sub-project 1: Deep Brain Stimulation: Reconstruction of the Transfer of Knowledge from the Scientific Community to the Broad Public
    • Oonagh Hayes
    • Project Management: Prof. Dr. Jens Clausen and Prof. Urban Wiesing


  • Sub-project 2: The influence of emotions on the acquisition of knowledge about depth brain stimulation
    • Dr. Claudia Sassenrath/ Dr. Hannah Greving
    • Project Management: Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dipl.-Psych. Kai Sassenberg.


  • Sub-project 3: Understanding the fragility of medical findings in participatory media formats
    • Project Management: Prof. Dr. rer. soc. Dipl.-Psych. Ulrike Cress and Dr. Joachim Kimmerle.



Sub-project 1: Deep Brain Stimulation: Reconstruction of theTtransfer of Knowledge from the Scientific Community to the Broad Public

This project will examine both the scientific and public discourses using an ethical and historical approach. As a starting point, we will trace the historical development of DBS and analyze the discussions within the scientific community concerning its effectiveness, uses, contraindications and ethical issues. This analysis is based on various sources: In addition to medical publications and interviews with experts, decisions about research funding will be included in the reconstruction of the scientific discourse. Moreover, the public discussion of DBS within Germany will be investigated as well. The focus of this portion of the analysis will lie on general print media, radio and television as well as patient-oriented information. Placing both discourses – that of the scientific community and the general public – side by side in terms of their chronological development allows for a better understanding of not only the successes but also the difficulties and misunderstandings. In this way, the project can help to establish successful communication strategies, determine potential improvements and avoid misunderstandings.