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The Brain as a ToolA Neuroscientist's Account$
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Ray Guillery

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198806738

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198806738.001.0001

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Starting to study the brain

Starting to study the brain

Chapter:
(p.65) Chapter 5 Starting to study the brain
Source:
The Brain as a Tool
Author(s):

Ray Guillery

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198806738.003.0005

Chapter 5 takes a look at some of the basic assumptions, questions, rules, laws, and dogmas that we encounter, use, or ignore when we study the brain. As a student, I was taught to study the brain as a functional part of a whole animal, and the nervous system as a part of biology. I was introduced to the ‘neuron doctrine’, which was applied specifically to studies of the brain. I became aware of its strengths and gradually learnt its weaknesses. I learnt the difference between descriptive science and science as a hypothetico-deductive system, and began to see myself as a descriptive scientist looking for areas of the unknown still needing to be explored. I have used this chapter to illustrate, that for the most complex parts of the brain, the rules that are useful where we know and understand many details are often irrelevant or confused where, as for the thalamus and cortex, we know only a few of the relevant details. This book has been written about areas where we often lack such details, where crucial questions have not been asked because they did not arise under the standard perception-to-action model. New questions become relevant under the interactive view, providing opportunities for many new, needed descriptive studies.

Keywords:   neuron doctrine, laws, theories, scientific method, hypotheses, paradigms

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