Philosophy and Neuroscience: Philosophy 422
Office Hours: Thursday, 2-4 PM, and by appointment
I. Course Description
We are nearing the end of the decade of the brain, making this a good time
to take stock of philosophical issues arising in neuroscience. The roots of
many contemporary research endeavors and controversial questions in neuroscience
are found much earlier in its history; accordingly, this course will focus on
the historical roots of neuroscience as well as its contemporary developments.
The topics we take up will fall into two categories: philosophy of science questions
about the explanatory strategies scientists have employed in studying the brain,
the nature of the explanations neuroscientists advance, and the credibility
of the evidence for these explanations, and philosophy of mind questions concerning
how developments in neuroscience influence our conception of mind.
II. Course Requirements
This class will be conducted primarily as a seminar. That means that students
are responsible for all readings and for taking an active role in seminar discussions.
In addition, each student is expected to do two class presentations on assigned
readings from the list below. These presentations are not to be long and detailed--rather,
they should focus attention on issues the presenter takes to be important, and
to provoke discussion. They should not attempt to provide a detailed overview
of what was in the reading.
In addition to the class presentations, students will need to write two papers,
both of which may, but need not, arise from class presentations. The first paper,
due February 28, should be a short paper, approximately 5-7 pages in
length. The second paper, due May 6, should be a somewhat more ambitious
paper, approximately 10-12 pages in length. The first paper should deal explicitly
with an issue discussed in the first half of the seminar. The second paper may
focus on a topic raised in the second half of the seminar, or, with permission
of the instructor, pursue a topic related to but not covered in the seminar.
The first paper will count for 35% of the final grade, the second paper for
65%; the overall grade may be raised or lowered to reflect extraordinary or
deficient participation in the seminar.
III. Readings and Schedule of Classes
Introductory Materials (selections from the World Wide Web)
January 14: Introductory Session:
- (1) Of what philosophical interest is neuroscience?
- (2) The origins of trying to identify mental capacities with brain structures:
Franz Gall and Marie-Jean-Piere Flourens.
Part I. The Neural Architecture
January 21: The neuron controversy
- Golgi, Camillo (1906). The neuron doctrine--theory and facts. In Nobel
Lectures: Physiology or Medicine: 1901-1921. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Cajal, Santiago Ramón Y Cajal (1906). The structure and connexions
of neurons. In Nobel Lectures: Physiology or Medicine: 1901-1921. Amsterdam:
January 28 and February 4: Mapping the brain
- Brodmann, K. (1909/1994). Localization in the cerebral cortex. (translated
by L. J. Garey.) London: Smith-Gordon. Preface, Introduction, Chapters 1 (The
basic laminar pattern of the cerebral cortex), 4, pp. 107-129 (Description
of Individual Brain Maps: 1. The human brain), and 9 (Physiology of the Cortex
as an Organ)
- Lashley, K. S. and Clark, G. (1946). The cytoarchitecture of the cerebral
cortex of Ateles: A critical examination with architectonic studies. Journal
of Comparative Neurology, 85, 223-305.
- Mishkin, M., Ungerleider, L. G., and Macko, K. A. (1983). Object vision
and spatial vision: Two cortical pathways. Trends in Neurosciences,
- van Essen, D. C. and Gallant, J. L. (1984). Neural mechanisms of form and
motion processing in the primate visual system. Neuron, 13,
February 4: Evolution of the brain
- Deacon, T. W. (1996). Prefrontal cortex and symbol learning: Why a brain
capable of language evolved only once. In B. Velichkovsky and D. M. Rumbaugh
(eds.). Communicating and meaning: The evolution and development of language.
Mahwah, NJ, Erlbaum.
Part II. Structure/Function Mapping
February 11 and 18: Deficits and Lesion Studies
- Broca, P. (1861/1960). Remarks on the seat of the faculty of articulate
language followed by an observation of aphemia (pp. 49-72). In G. von Bonin
(ed.), Some papers on the cerebral cortex. Springfield, IL, Charles
- Wernicke, C. (1885/1977). Recent works on aphasia. In G. H. Eggert, Wernicke's
works on aphasia: A sourcebook and review. The Hague: Mouton. (pp. 173-205)
- Geschwind, N. (1979). Specializations of the human brain. Scientific
- Bradley, D. C., Garrett, M. F., and Zurif, E. (1980). Syntactic deficits
in Broca's aphasia. In D. Caplan (ed.), Biological studies of mental processes
(pp. 269-286). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Friederici, A. D. (1996). The temporal organization of language: Developmental
and neuropsychological aspects. In B. Velichkovsky and D. M. Rumbaugh (eds.).
Communicating and meaning: The evolution and development of language.
Mahwah, NJ, Erlbaum.
- Frith, C. (in press). Studies of deficits and pathologies: What pathology
tells us about mind/brain relationships. In W. Bechtel and G. Graham, A
companion to cognitive science. Oxford: Blackwell.
February 25: Double-dissociations
- Coltheart, M. (1987). Cognitive neuropsychology and the study of reading.
In M. I. Posner and O. S. M. Marin (eds.), Attention and performance, volume
11 (pp. 3-37). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Plaut, D. C. (1995). Double dissociation without modularity: Evidence from
connectionist neuropsychology. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology,
March 11: Stimulation Studies
- Ferrier, David (1986/1978). Functions of the Brain. New York: G.
P. Putnam's Sons. Reprinted as volume 3 of D. N. Robinson (ed.) Significant
contributions to the history of psychology, 1750-1920. Washington, DC:
University Publications of America. Chapters 7 (Functions of the Cerebrum)
and 8 (Phenomena of electrical irritation of the cerebral hemispheres)
- Penfield, W. and Rasmussen, T. (1950). The cerebral cortex of man: A
clinical study of localization of function. New York: MacMillan, Chapter
2: Sensorimotor Representations of the Body.
- Valentine, E. 1973). Brain Control. New York: Wiley. Excerpt: Human
Response to Brain Stimulation, pp. 104-114.
March 18: Single Cell Recording
- Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N. (1979). Brain mechanisms of vision. Scientific
- Stein, B. E., Wallace, M. T., and Stanford, T. R. (in press). The use of
single neuron electrophysiology in cognitive science. In W. Bechtel and G.
Graham, A companion to cognitive science. Oxford: Blackwell.
March 25: Imaging the Brain
- Haxby, J. V., Grady, C. L., Horwitz, B., Ungerleider, L. G. , Mishkin, M.,
Carson, R. Herscovitch, P., Schapiro, M. B., and Rapoport, S. I. (1991). Dissociation
of object and spatial visual processing pathways in human extrastriate cortex.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 88, 1621-1625.
- Buckner, R. and Petersen, S. (in press). Applications of neuroimaging to
the study of cognition. In W. Bechtel and G. Graham, A companion to cognitive
science. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Stufflebeam, R. and Bechtel, W. (1997). PET: Exploring the myth and the
method. Philosophy of Science, 63 (Proceedings).
- van Orden, G. and Paap, K. R. (1997). Functional neuroimages fail to discover
pieces of mind in the parts of the brain. Philosophy of Science, 63
Part III. Simulating the Brain
April 1: Early Efforts
- McCulloch, W. S. & Pitts, W. (1943). A logical calculus of the ideas
immanent in nervous activity. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics,
- Block, H. D. (1962). The perceptron: A model for brain functioning. Review
of Modern Physics, 34, 123-135.
- Marr, D. (1982). Vision. San Francisco: Freeman. Parts of chapters
1 and 2
April 8: Recent Developments
- Jacobs, R. A., Jordan, M. I., and Barto, A. G. (1991). Task decomposition
through competition in a modular connectionist architecture: The what and
where vision tasks. Cognitive Science, 15, 219-248.
- Montague, P. Read and Dayan, P. (in press). Neurobiological modeling: squeezing
top down to meet bottom up. In W. Bechtel and G. Graham, A companion to
cognitive science. Oxford: Blackwell.
Part IV. Models of the Relation of Neuroscience and Psychology
April 15: Reduction and Eliminativism
- Chuchland, P. S. (1986). Neurophilosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- McCauley, R. N. (1996). Explanatory pluralism and the co-evolution of theories
of science. In R. N. McCauley (ed.), The Churchlands and their critics.
Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
- Churchland, P. S. and Churchland, P. M. (1996). "McCauley's demand
for a co-level competitor. In R. N. McCauley (ed.), The Churchlands and
their critics. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Part V. Representations in the Brain
April 22: What counts as representations in the brain?
- Merzenich, M. M. and de Charms, R. C. (1996). Neural representation, experience,
and change. In R. Llinás and P. S. Churchland (eds.), The mind-brain
continuum. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Churchland, P. S. , Ramachandran, V. S., and Sejnowski, T. J. (1994). A
critique of pure vision. In C. Koch and J. L. Davis, Large-scale neuronal
theories of the brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Grush, R. (1997). The architecture of representation. Philosophical Psychology,
April 29: The Binding Problem
- Singer, W. (1996). Neuronal synchronization: A solution to the binding problem?
In R. Llinás and P. S. Churchland (eds.), The mind-brain continuum.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Hardcastle, V. (in press). The problem of perceptual binding. In W. Bechtel
and G. Graham, A companion to cognitive science. Oxford: Blackwell.