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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2003-04 >> abstracts

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?

Revised 3/11/08 - Copyright 2006