Recently, historians have focused on Warren S. McCul¬loch’s role in the cybernetics movement during the 1940s and 1950s, and his contributions to the develop¬ment of computer science and communication theory. What has received less attention is McCulloch’s early work in neurophysiology, and its relationship to his philosophical quest for an ‘experimental epistemology’ – a physiological theory of knowledge. McCulloch’s early laboratory work during the 1930s addressed the problem of cerebral localization: localizing aspects of behaviour in the cerebral cortex of the brain. Most of this research was done with the Dutch neurophysiolo¬gist J. G. Dusser de Barenne at Yale University. The con¬nection between McCulloch’s philosophical interests and his experimental work can be expressed as a search for a physiological a priori, an integrated mechanism of sensation.
Abu-Akel A. (2018) The Case for Simulation Theory and Theory Theory as Interaction Accounts of Theory of Mind. Constructivist Foundations 14(1): 33–34. https://cepa.info/5583
Open peer commentary on the article “Decentering the Brain: Embodied Cognition and the Critique of Neurocentrism and Narrow-Minded Philosophy of Mind” by Shaun Gallagher. Abstract: Simulation theory and theory theory are interaction accounts of theory of mind that have been neurocentrically characterized. A hybrid of these theories approximates the interaction theory of social cognition, and can be described in an indexical-symbolic processing framework.
Adams F. & Aizawa K. (2001) The bounds of cognition. Philosophical Psychology 14(1): 43–64. https://cepa.info/6680
Recent work in cognitive science has suggested that there are actual cases in which cognitive processes extend in the physical world beyond the bounds of the brain and the body. We argue that, while transcranial cognition may be both a logical and a nomological possibility, no case has been made for its current existence. In other words, we defend a form of contingent intracranialism about the cognitive.
Adams F. & Aizawa K. (2009) Why the mind is still in the head. In: Robbins P. & Aydede M. (eds.) The Cambridge handbook of situated cognition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 78–95. https://cepa.info/4734
Philosophical interest in situated cognition has been focused most intensely on the claim that human cognitive processes extend from the brain into the tools humans use. As we see it, this radical hypothesis is sustained by two kinds of mistakes, confusing coupling relations with constitutive relations and an inattention to the mark of the cognitive. Here we wish to draw attention to these mistakes and show just how pervasive they are. That is, for all that the radical philosophers have said, the mind is still in the head.
Aizawa K. (2014) Extended cognition. In: Shapiro L. (ed.) The Routledge handbook of embodied cognition. Routledge, London: 31–38. https://cepa.info/4462
Excerpt: This brief chapter will focus on two types of arguments for extended cognition inspired by Clark and Chalmers (1998). First, there has been the thought that cognition extends when processes in the brain, body, and world are suitably similar to processes taking place in the brain. We might describe these as cognitive equivalence arguments for extended cognition. Second, there has been the thought that, when there is the right kind of causal connection between a cognitive process and bodily and environmental processes, cognitive processes come to be realized by processes in the brain, body, and world. We might describe these as coupling arguments for extended cognition. What critics have found problematic are the kinds of similarity relations that have been taken to be applicable or suitable for concluding that there is extended cognition and the conditions that have been offered as providing the right kind of causal connection.
Anderson M. L., Richardson M. J. & Chemero A. (2012) Eroding the boundaries of cognition: Implications of embodiment. Topics in Cognitive Science 4(4): 717–730. https://cepa.info/5572
To accept that cognition is embodied is to question many of the beliefs traditionally held by cognitive scientists. One key question regards the localization of cognitive faculties. Here we argue that for cognition to be embodied and sometimes embedded, means that the cognitive faculty cannot be localized in a brain area alone. We review recent research on neural reuse, the 1/f structure of human activity, tool use, group cognition, and social coordination dynamics that we believe demonstrates how the boundary between the different areas of the brain, the brain and body, and the body and environment is not only blurred but indeterminate. In turn, we propose that cognition is supported by a nested structure of task‐specific synergies, which are softly assembled from a variety of neural, bodily, and environmental components (including other individuals), and exhibit interaction dominant dynamics.
Recognising and representing one’s self as distinct from others is a fundamental component of self-awareness. However, current theories of self-recognition are not embedded within global theories of cortical function and therefore fail to provide a compelling explanation of how the self is processed. We present a theoretical account of the neural and computational basis of self-recognition that is embedded within the free-energy account of cortical function. In this account one’s body is processed in a Bayesian manner as the most likely to be “me”. Such probabilistic representation arises through the integration of information from hierarchically organised unimodal systems in higher-level multimodal areas. This information takes the form of bottom-up “surprise” signals from unimodal sensory systems that are explained away by top-down processes that minimise the level of surprise across the brain. We present evidence that this theoretical perspective may account for the findings of psychological and neuroimaging investigations into self-recognition and particularly evidence that representations of the self are malleable, rather than fixed as previous accounts of self-recognition might suggest.
Excerpt: As a young man worrying about the fundamental questions of philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology, McCulloch set himself the goal of developing an “experimental epistemology”: how can one really understand the mind in terms of the brain? More particularly, he sought to discover “A Logical Calculus Immanent in Nervous Activity.” The present paper will seek to provide some sense of McCulloch’s search for the logic of the nervous system, but will also show that his papers contain contributions to experimental epistemology which provide great insight into the mechanisms of nervous system function without fitting into the mold of a logical calculus. Moreover, McCulloch was not only a scientist but also a storyteller, poet, and memorable “character. ” I will thus interleave a number of characteristic anecdotes into the more objective attempts at scientific history that follow.
Arbib M. A. (2018) From cybernetics to brain theory, and more: A memoir. Cognitive Systems Research 50: 83–145.
While structured as an autobiography, this memoir exemplifies ways in which classic contributions to cybernetics (e.g., by Wiener, McCulloch & Pitts, and von Neumann) have fed into a diversity of current research areas, including the mathematical theory of systems and computation, artificial intelligence and robotics, computational neuroscience, linguistics, and cognitive science. The challenges of brain theory receive special emphasis. Action-oriented perception and schema theory complement neural network modeling in analyzing cerebral cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus, and basal ganglia. Comparative studies of frog, rat, monkey, ape and human not only deepen insights into the human brain but also ground an EvoDevoSocio view of “how the brain got language.” The rapprochement between neuroscience and architecture provides a recent challenge. The essay also assesses some of the social and theological implications of this broad perspective.
Open peer commentary on the article “Decentering the Brain: Embodied Cognition and the Critique of Neurocentrism and Narrow-Minded Philosophy of Mind” by Shaun Gallagher. Abstract: I intend to explore some of the implications of Gallagher’s target article. Retracing the circulation of concepts such as “embodied,” “embedded,” “extended,” etc. in social epidemiology, feminist science and epigenetics, I advocate for studying E-approaches from an epistemological, historical and political viewpoint in order to critically assess the transformations of knowledge that we are currently witnessing.