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What Do Brain Data Really Show?

Valerie Gray Hardcastle and C. Matthew Stewart
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 69, No. S3 (September 2002), pp. S72-S82
DOI: 10.1086/341769
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/341769
Page Count: 11
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What Do Brain Data Really Show?
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Abstract

Abstract There is a bias in neuroscience toward localizing and modularizing brain functions. Single cell recording, imaging studies, and the study of neurological deficits all feed into the Gallian view that different brain areas do different things and the things being done are confined to particular processing streams. At the same time, there is a growing sentiment that brains probably don’t work like that after all; it is better to conceive of them as fundamentally distributed units, multi‐tasking at every level. This sentiment, however, is much less congenial to the tried‐and‐true experimental protocols available today and to theorizing about the brain in general. This essay examines the tension between current experimental methods and large‐scale views of the brain. We argue that this disconnection between experiment and what really are guiding theoretical metaphors seriously impedes progress in neuroscience.

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