• Do neurobiologists aim to discover natural kinds? I address this question in this chapter via a critical analysis of classification practices operative across the 43-year history of research on long-term potentiation. I suggest that this 43-year history supports the idea that the structure of scientific practice surrounding LTP research has remained an obstacle to the discovery of natural kinds as philosophers of science have traditionally conceived them.
  •  102
    Understanding Stability in Cognitive Neuroscience Through Hacking's Lens
    Philosophical Inquiries (1): 189-208. 2021.
    Ian Hacking instigated a revolution in 20th century philosophy of science by putting experiments (“interventions”) at the top of a philosophical agenda that historically had focused nearly exclusively on representations (“theories”). In this paper, I focus on a set of conceptual tools Hacking (1992) put forward to understand how laboratory sciences become stable and to explain what such stability meant for the prospects of unity of science and kind discovery in experimental science. I first use …Read more
  •  184
    Descriptive accounts of the nature of explanation in neuroscience and the global goals of such explanation have recently proliferated in the philosophy of neuroscience and with them new understandings of the experimental practices of neuroscientists have emerged. In this paper, I consider two models of such practices; one that takes them to be reductive; another that takes them to be integrative. I investigate those areas of the neuroscience of learning and memory from which the examples used to…Read more
  •  89
    Many neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases and other brain disorders are accompanied by impairments in high-level cognitive functions including memory, attention, motivation, and decision-making. Despite several decades of extensive research, neuroscience is little closer to discovering new treatments. Key impediments include the absence of validated and robust cognitive assessment tools for facilitating translation from animal models to humans. In this review, we describe a state-of-t…Read more
  •  241
    Classification, Kinds, Taxonomic Stability, and Conceptual Change
    Aggression and Violent Behavior. forthcoming.
    Scientists represent their world, grouping and organizing phenomena into classes by means of concepts. Philosophers of science have historically been interested in the nature of these concepts, the criteria that inform their application and the nature of the kinds that the concepts individuate. They also have sought to understand whether and how different systems of classification are related and more recently, how investigative practices shape conceptual development and change. Our aim in this …Read more
  •  138
    Are there Model Behaviours for Model Organism Research? Commentary on Nicole Nelson's Model Behavior
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 82 101266. 2020.
    One might be inclined to assume, given the mouse donning its cover, that the behavior of interest in Nicole Nelson's book Model Behavior (2018) is that of organisms like mice that are widely used as “stand-ins” for investigating the causes of human behavior. Instead, Nelson's ethnographic study focuses on the strategies adopted by a community of rodent behavioral researchers to identify and respond to epistemic challenges they face in using mice as models to understand the causes of disordered h…Read more
  •  279
    Crime is a serious social problem, but its causes are not exclusively social. There is growing consensus that explaining and preventing it requires interdisciplinary research efforts. Indeed, the landscape of contemporary criminology includes a variety of theoretical models that incorporate psychological, biological and sociological factors. These multi-disciplinary approaches, however, have yet to radically advance scientific understandings of crime and shed light on how to manage it. In this p…Read more
  • 17 beta-estradiol synthesis modulates cerebellar dependent motor memory formation in adult male rats
    with Cristina V. Dieni, Jacqueline A. Sullivan, Mario Faralli, Samuele Contemori, Andrea Biscarini, Vito E. Pettorossi, Roberto Panichi
    Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 155 276-286. 2018.
    Neurosteroid 17 beta-estradiol (E2) is a steroid synthesized de novo in the nervous system that might influence neuronal activity and behavior. Nevertheless, the impact of E2 on the functioning of those neural systems in which it is slightly synthesized is less questioned. The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) adaptation, may provide an ideal arena for investigating this issue. Indeed, E2 modulates cerebellar parallel fiber-Purkinje cell synaptic plasticity that underlies encoding of VOR adaptation.…Read more
  • Acute inhibition of estradiol synthesis impacts vestibulo-ocular reflex adaptation and cerebellar long-term potentiation in male rats
    with Cristina V. Dieni, Aldo Ferraresi, Jacqueline A. Sullivan, Sivarosa Grassi, Vito E. Pettorossi, Roberto Panichi
    Brain Structure and Function 223 (2): 837-850. 2018.
    The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) adaptation is an ideal model for investigating how the neurosteroid 17 beta-estradiol (E2) contributes to the modification of behavior by regulating synaptic activities. We hypothesized that E2 impacts VOR adaptation by affecting cerebellar synaptic plasticity at the parallel fiber–Purkinje cell (PF) synapse. To verify this hypothesis, we investigated the acute effect of blocking E2 synthesis on gain increases and decreases in adaptation of the VOR in male rats …Read more
  • How landmark suitability shapes recognition memory signals for objects in the medial temporal lobes.
    with C. Martin, J. Wright, S. Kohler
    NeuroImage 166 425-436. 2018.
    A role of perirhinal cortex (PrC) in recognition memory for objects has been well established. Contributions of parahippocampal cortex (PhC) to this function, while documented, remain less well understood. Here, we used fMRI to examine whether the organization of item-based recognition memory signals across these two structures is shaped by object category, independent of any difference in representing episodic context. Guided by research suggesting that PhC plays a critical role in processing l…Read more
  •  113
    This volume brings together a number of perspectives on the nature of realization explanation and experimentation in the ‘special’ and biological sciences as well as the related issues of psychoneural reduction and cognitive extension. The first two papers in the volume may be regarded as offering direct responses to the questions: (1) What model of realization is appropriate for understanding the metaphysics of science? and (2) What kind of philosophical work is such a model ultimately supposed…Read more
  •  384
    Optogenetics, Pluralism, and Progress
    Philosophy of Science 85 (00): 1090-1101. 2018.
    Optogenetic techniques are described as “revolutionary” for the unprecedented causal control they allow neuroscientists to exert over neural activity in awake behaving animals. In this paper, I demonstrate by means of a case study that optogenetic techniques will only illuminate causal links between the brain and behavior to the extent that their error characteristics are known and, further, that determining these error characteristics requires comparison of optogenetic techniques with technique…Read more
  •  390
    The use of neuroscientific evidence in criminal trials has been steadily increasing. Despite progress made in recent decades in understanding the mechanisms of psychological and behavioral functioning, neuroscience is still in an early stage of development and its potential for influencing legal decision-making is highly contentious. Scholars disagree about whether or how neuroscientific evidence might impact prescriptions of criminal culpability, particularly in instances in which evidence of a…Read more
  •  205
    Do neurobiologists aim to discover natural kinds? I address this question in this chapter via a critical analysis of classification practices operative across the 43-year history of research on long-term potentiation (LTP). I argue that this 43-year history supports the idea that the structure of scientific practice surrounding LTP research has remained an obstacle to the discovery of natural kinds.
  •  36
    This volume is a collection of original essays focusing on a wide range of topics in the History and Philosophy of Science. It is a festschrift for Peter Machamer, which includes contributions from scholars who, at one time or another, were his students. The essays bring together analyses of issues and debates spanning from early modern science and philosophy through the 21st century. Machamer’s influence is reflected in the volume’s broad range of topics. These include: underdetermination, sci…Read more
  •  58
    Coordinated pluralism as a means to facilitate integrative taxonomies of cognition
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (2): 129-145. 2017.
    The past decade has witnessed a growing awareness of conceptual and methodological hurdles within psychology and neuroscience that must be addressed for taxonomic and explanatory progress in understanding psychological functions to be possible. In this paper, I evaluate several recent knowledge-building initiatives aimed at overcoming these obstacles. I argue that while each initiative offers important insights about how to facilitate taxonomic and explanatory progress in psychology and neurosci…Read more
  •  115
    Reconsidering 'spatial memory' and the Morris water maze
    Synthese 177 (2): 261-283. 2010.
    The Morris water maze has been put forward in the philosophy of neuroscience as an example of an experimental arrangement that may be used to delineate the cognitive faculty of spatial memory (e.g., Craver and Darden, Theory and method in the neurosciences, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2001; Craver, Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). However, in the experimental and review literature on the water maze thro…Read more
  •  54
    Memory consolidation, multiple realizations, and modest reductions
    Philosophy of Science 75 (5): 501-513. 2008.
    This article investigates several consequences of a recent trend in philosophy of mind to shift the relata of realization from mental state–physical state to function‐mechanism. It is shown, by applying both frameworks to the neuroscientific case study of memory consolidation, that, although this shift can be used to avoid the immediate antireductionist consequences of the traditional argument from multiple realizability, what is gained is a far more modest form of reductionism than recent philo…Read more
  •  540
    Stabilizing Mental Disorders: Prospects and Problems
    In Harold Kincaid & Jacqueline Sullivan (eds.), Classifying Psychopathology: Mental Kinds and Natural Kinds, Mit Press. pp. 257-281. 2014.
    In this chapter I investigate the kinds of changes that psychiatric kinds undergo when they become explanatory targets of areas of sciences that are not “mature” and are in the early stages of discovering mechanisms. The two areas of science that are the targets of my analysis are cognitive neuroscience and cognitive neurobiology.
  •  585
    Construct Stabilization and the Unity of the Mind-Brain Sciences
    Philosophy of Science 83 (5): 662-673. 2016.
    This paper offers a critique of an account of explanatory integration that claims that explanations of cognitive capacities by functional analyses and mechanistic explanations can be seamlessly integrated. It is shown that achieving such explanatory integration requires that the terms designating cognitive capacities in the two forms of explanation are stable but that experimental practice in the mind-brain sciences currently is not directed at achieving such stability. A positive proposal for c…Read more
  •  425
    Models of Mental Illness
    In Harold Kincaid, Jeremy Simon & Miriam Solomon (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Medicine, Routledge. pp. 455-464. 2016.
    This chapter has two aims. The first aim is to compare and contrast three different conceptual-explanatory models for thinking about mental illness with an eye towards identifying the assumptions upon which each model is based, and exploring the model’s advantages and limitations in clinical contexts. Major Depressive Disorder is used as an example to illustrate these points. The second aim is to address the question of what conceptual-theoretical framework for thinking about mental illness is m…Read more
  •  671
    Qualitative Assessment of Self-Identity in Advanced Dementia
    with Sadhvi Batra, Beverly R. Williams, and David S. Geldmacher
    Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice 1-19. 2015.
    This study aimed to understand the preserved elements of self-identity in persons with moderate to severe dementia attributable to Alzheimer’s disease. A semi-structured interview was developed to explore the narrative self among residents with dementia in a residential care facility and residents without dementia in an independent living setting. The interviews were transcribed verbatim from audio recordings and analyzed for common themes, while being sensitive to possible differences between t…Read more
  •  1228
    Classifying Psychopathology: Mental Kinds and Natural Kinds
    with Harold Kincaid
    In Harold Kincaid & Jacqueline Anne Sullivan (eds.), Classifying Psychopathology: Mental Kinds and Natural Kinds, Mit Press. pp. 1-10. 2014.
    In this volume, leading philosophers of psychiatry examine psychiatric classification systems, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, asking whether current systems are sufficient for effective diagnosis, treatment, and research. Doing so, they take up the question of whether mental disorders are natural kinds, grounded in something in the outside world. Psychiatric categories based on natural kinds should group phenomena in such a way that they are subject to the s…Read more
  •  518
    Neuroscience is a laboratory-based science that spans multiple levels of analysis from molecular genetics to behavior. At every level of analysis experiments are designed in order to answer empirical questions about phenomena of interest. Understanding the nature and structure of experimentation in neuroscience is fundamental for assessing the quality of the evidence produced by such experiments and the kinds of claims that are warranted by the data. This article provides a general conceptual fr…Read more
  •  291
    In this chapter, I argue that scientific practice in the neurosciences of cognition is not conducive to the discovery of natural kinds of cognitive capacities. The “neurosciences of cognition” include cognitive neuroscience and cognitive neurobiology, two research areas that aim to understand how the brain gives rise to cognition and behavior. Some philosophers of neuroscience have claimed that explanatory progress in these research areas ultimately will result in the discovery of the underlying…Read more
  •  482
    Medical Models of Addiction
    with Harold Kincaid
    In Collins Spurrett Kincaid Ross (ed.), What is Addiction?, . 2010.
    Biomedical science has been remarkably successful in explaining illness by categorizing diseases and then by identifying localizable lesions such as a virus and neoplasm in the body that cause those diseases. Not surprisingly, researchers have aspired to apply this powerful paradigm to addiction. So, for example, in a review of the neuroscience of addiction literature, Hyman and Malenka (2001, p. 695) acknowledge a general consensus among addiction researchers that “[a]ddiction can appropriately…Read more
  •  677
    A Role for Representation in Cognitive Neurobiology
    Philosophy of Science (Supplement) 77 (5): 875-887. 2010.
    What role does the concept of representation play in the contexts of experimentation and explanation in cognitive neurobiology? In this article, a distinction is drawn between minimal and substantive roles for representation. It is argued by appeal to a case study that representation currently plays a role in cognitive neurobiology somewhere in between minimal and substantive and that this is problematic given the ultimate explanatory goals of cognitive neurobiological research. It is suggested …Read more
  •  365
    In 2007, ten world-renowned neuroscientists proposed “A Decade of the Mind Initiative.” The contention was that, despite the successes of the Decade of the Brain, “a fundamental understanding of how the brain gives rise to the mind [was] still lacking” (2007, 1321). The primary aims of the decade of the mind were “to build on the progress of the recent Decade of the Brain (1990-99)” by focusing on “four broad but intertwined areas” of research, including: healing and protecting, understanding, e…Read more