Computational Explanation in Neuroscience

As many of you know, the journal Synthese devotes one issue per year to the philosophy of neuroscience.  If you work in this area, you should definitely consider submitting articles to John Bickle, who is in charge of the yearly issue in question. 

This year, most of the yearly Synthese issue on the philosophy of neuroscience is guest-edited by me and devoted to “computational explanation in neuroscience” and related issues.


Many philosophers don’t even realize that neuroscientists often explain phenomena in terms of neural computations.  There are many interesting questions about how to understand computational explanation in neuroscience and its relation to neighboring topics, such as modeling the mind, explaining the mind mechanistically, or understanding the brain.  I describe some of the geography of this area in my essay introducing the issue of Synthese.

The essays I introduce are as follows:

Carl Craver on what distinguishes models that explain from models that don’t.

Frances Egan and Robert Matthews on a third way between bottom-up and top-down approaches to explaining cognition.

Oron Shagrir on how to understand computational explanation in neuroscience.

Rick Grush on how to account for the temporal aspects of our phenomenology.

These articles are of high quality.  I invite you all to look at Synthese when our issue comes out.  It should happen within a few months.