Tuesday, 23 September 2003
The Notion of 'Dedicated' Neural Systems: A Work-in-Progress
Brian Keeley, Pitzer College
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: One concept found in neurobiology,
particularly those that focus on evolution, is that of "dedicated"
neural systems. For example, the "Fusiform Face Area"
is a part of the primate brain that is allegedly dedicated to the
processing of faces. A second example: while humans can respond
to electrical stimuli in their environment (think of touching a
9-volt battery to your tongue), we seem to be importantly different
from electric fish that have neural structures dedicated to the
processing of electrical stimuli. (Presumably, the battery is stimulating
taste, touch and pain sensors on your tongue; that is sensory cells
dedicated to those modalities). This work-in-progress is an attempt
to make philosophical sense of this neuroscientific concept of "dedication".
What is being claimed and what are the conditions for making this
sort of claim? Is it a claim about evolutionary function? If not,
then what is it?