Background and activities

Rita Elmkvist Nilsen is



  • Strategic communication and impact analysis
  • Communication of research and innovation
  • Public relations in the areas of neuroscience research, brain health, and neurotechnologies
  • Collaboration and coordination in interdisciplinary teams


Work Areas

  • Responsibility for strategic and operative communication at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, NTNU
  • Institute profile and reputation
  • Communication advise
  • Multimedia storytelling: videos, illustrations, animations, interactive web-based stories, infographics
  • Science writing
  • Art-Science project coordinator
  • New Media, Social media (SoMe), communicAction


  • A dual background in Biology and Visual Culture/Media Studies/Knowledge formation
  • PhD project: Neuroimaging technologies as formative, knowledge producing apparatuses. Her PhD is supervised by Aud Sissel Hoel (NTNU) and co-supervised by Anne Beaulieu (University of Groningen) and funded by the Research Council of Norway and NTNU.
  • Master's thesis: a phenomenological study of the documentary, epistemological, mnemonic, and formative qualities of the photographic medium, supervised by Terje Borgersen (NTNU)


Research interests

  • Democratisation of scientific facts
  • Evidence-based science communication
  • Images of knowledge
  • Operative images (images as tools for acting)
  • Imaging technologies
  • Visualization and visual thinking 
  • Media aesthetics
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Biofeedback
  • Neurophenomenology
  • Phenomenology & postphenomenology
  • Posthumanism & New materialism
  • Science and technology studies
  • Interdisciplinary research


PhD project 

My PhD project investigates the roles of images in enabling knowledge in cognitive neuroscience, and how similar these are to image media in other domains. In neuroscience, imaging technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) serves as interfaces that mediate knowledge production in the field. Brain maps permit new ways of establishing the properties of the brain: both in the minute structural variations between subjects' brains in a population, and in the dynamic visualizations of the individual's brain activity. Considered as sites of convergence of features of the brain, what role does these atlases play in defining notions of self? Studying the ways that neuroimaging technologies have co-evolved with and been challenged by new knowledge and new theories, my hypothesis is that, throughout history, the varying support for different and sometimes conflicting theories on the human mind and brain are closely connected to the historical context of technological innovations as well as the properties and effects of their mediations. A guiding insight of my work is that scientific instruments and objects of knowledge act together in the mediation process in such a way that the instruments simultaneously enable and limit the access to the object in characteristic ways.



Scientific, academic and artistic work

Displaying a selection of activities. See all publications in the database

Journal publications


  • Nilsen, Rita Elmkvist; Borgersen, Terje. (2008) Spectrum for subjektet. Liten blikkenes historie. 2008.