Michael L. Anderson

"Neural reuse, dynamics, and constraints: Getting beyond componential mechanistic explanation of neural function"

Michael L. Anderson
09/09 2019
12:15-13:15, D-IAS Conference Room (Ø18-509-1) in Odense

Neural reuse, dynamics, and constraints: Getting beyond componential mechanistic explanation of neural function


By Professor Michael L. Andersen
Rotman CRC in Philosophy of Science, Department of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario

This talk will review some of the evidence that structure-function relationships in the brain are complex, dynamic, and–most importantly–not adequately captured by the leading form of explanation in the neurosciences, componential mechanistic explanation (CME). In CME one identifies the spatial subparts of a system, discerns their functions, and determines how the parts are organized and interact to give rise to system-level function. However, in the brain neural sub-systems are not stable, function-determining interactions can be bottom up and also top-down, and function-relevant parts are not always spatial sub-parts of the system in question. In light of this, I will suggest that it would be more fruitful to look for the ways that function emerges from interacting structures via the imposition of enabling constraints, that temporary stabilize the system’s configuration (i.e. enact a synergy) to achieve the cognitive or behavioural task at hand.

Read more about Michael L. Anderson at: www.mljanderson.org

For further info:

After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain (MIT Press, 2014)


Precis and commentary in Behavioral and Brain Sciences: