Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The neural dogma
by Merrill, Bradford Chester, M.A., University of Nevada, Reno, 2008, 128; 1460809
Abstract (Summary)

Sciences that concern animal or human behavior cannot be replaced by cell biology or biochemistry because the neural cell type accepts top down causation from the organism as a whole. Observations from the neurosciences show that the neuron and the network of neurons accept top down causation from persistent patterns of connectivity and activity in the brain. This contention is justified by a comparison between the planned connectivity of computing machines, where the connections and activity cannot be changed by experience, and the neural cell type that also functions as connectivity, but connectivity that can change with experience. The features that neurons exhibit in this comparison are exactly the features that escape the constraints of planned engineering, features that depend upon the integration of the neuron and the network of neurons with other cell types, organs, and the organism as a whole.

The accepted neural doctrine asserts that the neural cell type plays the central role in brain activity. Reporting and training in the neurosciences portray the neuron as the exclusive functional unit of the brain. This neural dogma is a barrier to interdisciplinary understanding of animal and human behavior, because the role of other cell types, the brain as a whole, and the organism as a whole tend to be dismissed as support, nutrition, input, and output. The neural dogma is motivated by the functionalist concept of mind in philosophy, a concept that is shared with reductionist psychological theories, a dysfunctional relation between disciplines. Skepticism about the irreducibility of behavioral sciences asserts that top down causation on the human nervous system is an illusion, but that is an assertion that is not justified by the neurosciences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nickles, Thomas
Commitee: Lucash, Frank, Von Bartheld, Christopher, Wessinger, Christopher
School: University of Nevada, Reno
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- Nevada
Source: MAI 47/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Neurosciences, Psychobiology, Philosophy
Keywords: Computational brain, Emergence, Integrative neuroscience, Neural computation, Neuroglia, Reductionist neuroscience
Publication Number: 1460809
ISBN: 9780549948179
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