In 2007, ten world-renowned neuroscientists proposed “A Decade of the Mind Initiative.” The contention was that, despite the successes of the Decade of the Brain, “a fundamental understanding of how the brain gives rise to the mind [was] still lacking” (2007, 1321). The primary aims of the decade of the mind were “to build on the progress of the recent Decade of the Brain (1990-99)” by focusing on “four broad but intertwined areas” of research, including: healing and protecting, understanding, enriching, (...) and modeling the mind. These four aims were to be the result of “transdisciplinary and multiagency” research spanning “across disparate fields, such as cognitive science, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, mathematics, engineering, and computer science.” The proposal for a decade of the mind prompted many questions (See Spitzer 2008). In this chapter, I address three of them: (1) How do proponents of this new decade conceive of the mind? (2) Why should a decade be devoted to understanding it? (3) What should this decade look like? (shrink)
Biomedical science has been remarkably successful in explaining illness by categorizing diseases and then by identifying localizable lesions such as a virus and neoplasm in the body that cause those diseases. Not surprisingly, researchers have aspired to apply this powerful paradigm to addiction. So, for example, in a review of the neuroscience of addiction literature, Hyman and Malenka (2001, p. 695) acknowledge a general consensus among addiction researchers that “[a]ddiction can appropriately be considered as a chronic medical illness.” Like other (...) diseases, “Once addiction has taken hold, it tends to follow a chronic course.” (Koob and La Moal 2006, p. ?). Working from this perspective, much effort has gone into characterizing the symptomology of addiction and the brain changes that underlie them. Evidence for involvement of dopamine transmission changes in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) have received the greatest attention. Kauer and Malenka (2007, p. 844) put it well: “drugs of abuse can co-opt synaptic plasticity mechanisms in brain circuits involved in reinforcement and reward processing”. Our goal in this chapter to provide an explicit description of the assumptions of medical models, the different forms they may take, and the challenges they face in providing explanations with solid evidence of addiction. <br>. (shrink)
What role does the concept of representation play in the contexts of experimentation and explanation in cognitive neurobiology? In this article, a distinction is drawn between minimal and substantive roles for representation. It is argued by appeal to a case study that representation currently plays a role in cognitive neurobiology somewhere in between minimal and substantive and that this is problematic given the ultimate explanatory goals of cognitive neurobiological research. It is suggested that what is needed is for representation to (...) instead play a more substantive role. (shrink)
This volume brings together a number of perspectives on the nature of realization explanation and experimentation in the ‘special’ and biological sciences as well as the related issues of psychoneural reduction and cognitive extension. The first two papers in the volume may be regarded as offering direct responses to the questions: (1) What model of realization is appropriate for understanding the metaphysics of science? and (2) What kind of philosophical work is such a model ultimately supposed to do?
The Morris water maze has been put forward in the philosophy of neuroscience as an example of an experimental arrangement that may be used to delineate the cognitive faculty of spatial memory (e.g., Craver and Darden, Theory and method in the neurosciences, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2001; Craver, Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). However, in the experimental and review literature on the water maze throughout the history of its use, (...) we encounter numerous responses to the question of “what” phenomenon it circumscribes ranging from cognitive functions (e.g., “spatial learning”, “spatial navigation”), to representational changes (e.g., “cognitive map formation”) to terms that appear to refer exclusively to observable changes in behavior (e.g., “water maze performance”). To date philosophical analyses of the water maze have not been directed at sorting out what phenomenon the device delineates nor the sources of the different answers to the question of what. I undertake both of these tasks in this paper. I begin with an analysis of Morris’s first published research study using the water maze and demonstrate that he emerged from it with an experimental learning paradigm that at best circumscribed a discrete set of observable changes in behavior. However, it delineated neither a discrete set of representational changes nor a discrete cognitive function. I cite this in combination with a reductionist-oriented research agenda in cellular and molecular neurobiology dating back to the 1980s as two sources of the lack of consistency across the history of the experimental and review literature as to what is under study in the water maze. (shrink)
Descriptive accounts of the nature of explanation in neuroscience and the global goals of such explanation have recently proliferated in the philosophy of neuroscience (e.g., Bechtel, Mental mechanisms: Philosophical perspectives on cognitive neuroscience. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007; Bickle, Philosophy and neuroscience: A ruthlessly reductive account. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 2003; Bickle, Synthese, 151, 411–434, 2006; Craver, Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) and with them new understandings of the <span class='Hi'>experimental</span> (...) practices of neuroscientists have emerged. In this paper, I consider two models of such practices; one that takes them to be reductive; another that takes them to be integrative. I investigate those areas of the neuroscience of learning and memory from which the examples used to substantiate these models are culled, and argue that the multiplicity of <span class='Hi'>experimental</span> protocols used in these research areas presents specific challenges for both models. In my view, these challenges have been overlooked largely because philosophers have hitherto failed to pay sufficient attention to fundamental features of <span class='Hi'>experimental</span> practice. I demonstrate that when we do pay attention to such features, evidence for reduction and integrative unity in neuroscience is simply not borne out. I end by suggesting some new directions for the philosophy of neuroscience that pertain to taking a closer look at the nature of neuroscientific experiments. (shrink)
This article investigates several consequences of a recent trend in philosophy of mind to shift the relata of realization from mental state–physical state to function‐mechanism. It is shown, by applying both frameworks to the neuroscientific case study of memory consolidation, that, although this shift can be used to avoid the immediate antireductionist consequences of the traditional argument from multiple realizability, what is gained is a far more modest form of reductionism than recent philosophical accounts have intimated and neuroscientists themselves have (...) claimed. (shrink)
Proceedings of the Pittsburgh Workshop in History and Philosophy of Biology, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, March 23-24 2001 Session 5: Development, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology.