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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

(p.164) 8 The Development and Application of Efficient Coding Explanation in Neuroscience
Explanation Beyond Causation

Mazviita Chirimuuta

Oxford University Press

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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