Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain

Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain

Patricia Smith Churchland

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 0262031167

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Honorable Mention in the category of Psychology in the 1986 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Annual Awards Competition presented by the Association of American Publishers, Inc.

Five chapters in the book's first part, "Some Elementary Neuroscience," sketch the history of the science of nervous systems and provide a general introduction to neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and neuropsychology. In the second part, "Recent Developments in the Philosophy of Science," chapters place the mind-body problem within the wider context of the philosophy of science. Drawing on recent research in this area, a general account of intertheoretic reduction is explained, arguments for a reductionist strategy are developed, and traditional objections from dualists and other anti reductionists are answered in novel ways. The third part, "A Neurophilosophical Perspective," concludes the book with a presentation and discussion of some of the most promising theoretical developments currently under exploration in functional neurobiology and in the connectionist models within artificial intelligence research.

Patricia Churchland is Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego. A Bradford Book.

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signals that they pass on . Motor neurons terminate on muscles to produce contractions . Interneurons are a mixed bag of everything else in between sensory neurons and motor neurons . Neurons come in a wide variety of types, and the types differ greatly in such properties as size, axonal length , and characteristic pattern of dendritic arborization (figure 2.4). In lower animals there is much less evidence of specialization, and in invertebrates the division of processes into axons and dendrites

fluids contain ions , which are molecules or atoms that have gained or lost electrons and consequently are negatively or positively charged. The plot of the basic electrochemical story depends on two general classes of ions: large negatively charged organic ions concentrated inside the cell, and inorganic ions with systematically changeable concentration profiles inside and outside the cell . The large organic ions inside the cell cannot pass through the membrane, and their net charge is

of this complex interfusion and integration of synaptic potentials in the soma and dendrites , information is processed, though complete understanding of what is going on still eludes us. (But see chapter 10 for discussion of a theory that addresses this matter .) Nevertheless, it is easy to see that the relative position of stimuli on the dendrites , the width of the fiber , the density of ionic channels, the availability of energy, and so on, will playa role in the overall character of the

(1981) has shown that there is a parcellation of fibers departing from one cortical column and terminating in another cortical column , and that the prefrontal cortex, like the somatosensory and visual cortex, displays a columnar organization . She and her colleagues FunctionalNeuroanatomy 137 the macrocolumn enjoy their OWl) peculiar extrinsic connections to modules outside the macrocolumn . As Mountcastle says : Thus the total set of modules of a large entity is fractionated into

exceedingly complex and delicate, and they give up their secrets with exasperating reluctance . Understanding something of how the knowledge was won , how conflicting theories were resolved, how technological advances made a difference, and so forth , anchors modern neuroscience and renders it more accessible . The historical perspective enables us both to articulate the fundamental assumptions inherent in current understanding that are owed to his torical origins and to test those

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