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Explanation Beyond CausationPhilosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations$
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Alexander Reutlinger and Juha Saatsi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198777946.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 September 2021

The Development and Application of Efficient Coding Explanation in Neuroscience

The Development and Application of Efficient Coding Explanation in Neuroscience

Chapter:
(p.164) 8 The Development and Application of Efficient Coding Explanation in Neuroscience
Source:
Explanation Beyond Causation
Author(s):

Mazviita Chirimuuta

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198777946.003.0009

In the philosophy of neuroscience, much attention has been paid to mechanistic causal explanations, both in terms of their theoretical virtues, and their application in potential therapeutic interventions. Non-mechanistic, non-causal explanatory models, it is often assumed, would have no role to play in any practical endeavors. This assumption ignores the fact that many of the non-mechanistic explanatory models which have been successfully employed in neuroscience have their origins in engineering and applied sciences, and are central to many new neuro-technologies. This chapter examines the development of explanations of lateral inhibition in the early visual system as implementing an efficient code for converting photoreceptor input into a data-compressed output from the eye to the brain. Two applications of the efficient coding approach are considered: in streamlining the vast datasets of current neuroscience by offering unifying principles, and in building artificial systems that replicate vision and other cognitive functions.

Keywords:   philosophy of neuroscience, mechanistic explanation, computational explanation, neural coding, information theory

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