Philosophical issues in neuroscience
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Philosophical Issues in Neuroscience. Dr. Kelley Kline FSU. I. What is Physiological Psychology ?. The study of the biological basis of behavior. Behavior is observed & the putative mechanisms underlying such behavior is examined. Most research focuses on brain mechanisms.

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Philosophical issues in neuroscience

Philosophical Issues in Neuroscience

Dr. Kelley Kline


I what is physiological psychology

I. What is Physiological Psychology?

  • The study of the biological basis of behavior.

  • Behavior is observed & the putative mechanisms underlying such behavior is examined.

  • Most research focuses on brain mechanisms.

Ii fields related to physiological psychology

II. Fields related to physiological Psychology:

  • Neurologystudy of brain disease

  • Neurophysiologystudy of brain function

  • Neuropsychologystudy & treatment of brain damage in people

  • Psychophysiologystudy of relationship between

    the ANS & behavior

    Psychophysicsstudy of sensory stimuli &


Physiological research draws from diverse paradigms

Physiological Research draws from diverse paradigms:

1. Human & nonhuman subjects

2. Experiments, quasi-experimental studies, & case studies

3. Pure & applied research

Iii the search for the soul

III. The Search for the soul:

  • Since earliest times, humankind has engaged in a search for the “soul” & the body part in which it is “housed.”

  • A # of body parts were thought to “house” the soul: liver, blood, & heart.

The heart vs the brain hypothesis

The Heart vs. The Brain Hypothesis:

  • Many thought the soul was in the heart.

    Greeks noticed that people died from chest wounds, leading them to infer the “mind” is in the heart.

Aristotle 384 322 b c

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

Thought the heart is the source of mental processes because it is warm & active.

The brain, cool by contrast, was thought to cool the blood & heart.

Hippocrates argued for the brain hypothesis 460 377 b c

Hippocrates: argued for the brain hypothesis (460-377 B.C.)

  • He observed loss of mental functions associated with brain injury.

  • He concluded all mental processes must be brain processes. Hence, the “soul” or “mind” must be located in the brain.

  • Mind & brain were one.

Galen the roman physician 129 199 a d

Galen: The Roman Physician (129-199 A.D.)

  • Rome’s leading physician & surgeon to gladiators, noticed link between brain injury & loss of mental functions.

  • Argued that nerves from sense organs go to the brain, not the heart.

Iv the mind body problem

IV. The Mind/Body Problem:

  • What is it???

  • The relationship between the mind & the brain.

  • Two basic views: dualism & monism

A rene descartes dualism

A. Rene Descartes: Dualism

  • Argued the “mind” exists independently of the brain, but interacts with the brain through the pineal gland to control behavior.

    Pineal gland was “seat of soul.”

  • How can a non-material mind produce movements in a material body????

Dualists try to get around this problem by saying

Dualists try to get around this problem by saying:

  • 1. The mind & body operate in parallel without interacting.

  • 2. The body can affect the mind, but the mind can’t affect the body.

  • Both offer dualists a loophole to explain behavior without considering the mind.

B monism

B. Monism:

  • Avoids the mind/body problem, because it argues that the mind & body are the same thing.

  • Most popular among scholars***

  • Monist materialism– argues that everything that exists is material.

  • Psychological experiences are the result of physical events taking place in our brains.

C current view

C. Current view

  • We really don’t know whether mental processes come first or brain processes come first?

V phrenology heads up

V. Phrenology: Heads up!!!

  • Studied individual differences in mental functions by examining the bumps on the skull.

  • Theory—a well-developed brain region associated with a given function (memory) would produce a larger bump on the skull, indicating greater performance in that area.

Phrenologists gull spurzheim

Phrenologists: Gull & Spurzheim

  • Identified a list of traits they could examine people for.

  • Although Gall gathered an impressive amount of data, there were no statistics to examine his findings.

  • His “correct” observations can easily be explained by confirmation bias.

Behavioral neurology broca

Behavioral Neurology: Broca

  • Paul Broca- found an area of brain damage associated with a language disorder.

  • Language must be produced by the left frontal lobe.

  • Method laid foundation for neurology & neuropsychology.

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