The Tools of Neuroscience Experiment : Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

The Tools of Neuroscience Experiment
Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives

ISBN 9781032127996
Published December 31, 2021 by Routledge
362 Pages 40 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume establishes the conceptual foundation for sustained investigation into tool development in neuroscience. Neuroscience relies on diverse and sophisticated experimental tools, and its ultimate explanatory target—our brains and hence the organ driving our behaviors—catapults the investigation of these research tools into a philosophical spotlight.

The chapters in this volume integrate the currently scattered work on tool development in neuroscience into the broader philosophy of science community. They also present an accessible compendium for neuroscientists interested in the broader theoretical dimensions of their experimental practices. The chapters are divided into five thematic sections. Section 1 discusses the development of revolutionary research tools across neuroscience’s history and argues to various conclusions concerning the relationship between new research tools and theory progress in neuroscience. Section 2 shows how a focus on research tools and their development in neuroscience transforms some traditional epistemological issues and questions about knowledge production in philosophy of science. Section 3 speaks to the most general questions about the way we characterize the nature of the portion of the world that this science addresses. Section 4 discusses hybrid research tools that integrate laboratory and computational methods in exciting new ways. Finally, Section 5 extends research on tool development to the related science of genetics.

The Tools of Neuroscience Experiment will be of interest to philosophers and philosophically minded scientists working at the intersection of philosophy and neuroscience.

Table of Contents


Stuart Firestein

Editors’ Introduction

John Bickle, Carl F. Craver and Ann-Sophie Barwich

Section I: Research Tools in Relation to Theories

1. Tinkering in the Lab

John Bickle

2. Tools, experiments and theories: An examination of the role of experiment tools

Gregory Johnson

3. Science in practice in neuroscience: The Cincinnati water maze in the making

Nina A. Atanasova, Michael T. Williams and Charles V. Voorhees

4. Where molecular science meets perfumery: A behind-the-scenes look at SCAPE microscopy and its theoretical impact on current olfaction

Ann-Sophie Barwich and Lu Xu

5. A different role for tinkering: Brain fog, COVID-19, and the accidental nature of Neurobiological Theory Development

Valerie Gray Hardcastle and C. Matthew Stewart

Section II: Research Tools and Epistemology

6. Dissemination and adaptiveness as key variables in tools that fuel scientific revolutions

Alcino J. Silva

7. Towards an epistemology of intervention: Optogenetics and maker’s knowledge

Carl F. Craver

8. Triangulating tools in the messiness of cognitive neuroscience

Antonella Tramacere

9. Prediction, explanation and the "toolbox" problem

Marco J. Nathan

Section III: Research Tools, Integration, Circuits and Ontology

10. How do tools obstruct (and facilitate) integration in neuroscience?

David J. Colaço

11. Understanding brain circuits: do new experimental tools need to address new concepts?

David Parker

12. Cognitive ontologies, task ontologies and explanation in cognitive neuroscience

Daniel Burnston

Section IV: Tools and Integrative Pluralism

13. "It takes two to make a thing go right": The coevolution of technological and mathematical tools in neuroscience

Luis Favela

14. Hybrid brains: Interfacing living neurons and circuits with computational models

Astrid Prinz

Section V: Tool Use and Development Beyond Neuroscience

15. Beyond actual difference making: Causal selections in genetics

Janella Baxter

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John Bickle is Professor of Philosophy and Shackouls Honors College Faculty at Mississippi State University and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He is author of four academic books and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Neuroscience (2009).

Carl F. Craver is a Professor in the Philosophy Department and the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis. He specializes in the Philosophy of Science and has continuing research activity in the neuropsychology of memory. He is the author of Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience and (with Lindley Darden) In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries across the Life Sciences. 

Ann-Sophie Barwich is Assistant Professor at Indiana University Bloomington (Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine; Cognitive Science). She specializes in olfaction as a model for theories of mind and brain. Barwich is the author of Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind (2020).