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The Australian National University

Michael Anderson (U of Western Ontario): Neural reuse and dynamic structure-function relationships in the brain

Date and time

Thu, 24/08/2017 - 15:30 - 17:30


Coombs Seminar Room A

I this talk I outline the evidence for the dynamic multi-functionality of the various parts of the brain, and use it to put pressure on the leading account of scientific explanation in the neurosciences, Craver-Bechtel componential mechanistic explanation. Then, via a case-study of Starbust Amacrine Cells, a motion-sensitive neuron in mammalian retina, and of Hippocampal place cells, in both of which cases specific cellular function seems to depend on the state of the overall network, I introduce the notion of enabling constraints as an alternative to componential mechanisms. I will suggest that function sometimes arises from the (dynamic) constraints placed on structures, and that this style of explanation can capture a wider array of neural phenomenon than componential mechanistic explanation.

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