Philosophy of Neuroscience
Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience
MICHAEL L. ANDERSON
Department of Philosophy, Western University
Michael L. Anderson’s research is located at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, computer science, and the philosophy of cognitive science, and has appeared in venues including Artificial Intelligence, AI Magazine, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Connection Science, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, NeuroImage, The Neuroscientist, Philosophical Psychology, Synthese and Topics in Cognitive Science. His most recent book After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain (MIT Press, 2014) outlines a novel framework for understanding the overall functional organization of the brain, places its function in evolutionary context, and demonstrates how mechanisms originally evolved for the support of sensory-motor coordination have been coopted to facilitate language and mathematics. Anderson was a 2012-13 Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, at Stanford University.
Much of Dr. Anderson’s most recent work has focused on understanding the functional structure of the brain from within an evolutionary context. In particular, he has been uncovering evidence for the evolutionary and developmental importance of neural reuse, a process whereby parts of the brain are used and reused in multiple circumstances—in different dynamic coalitions—to support perception, action and cognition. This work first drew widespread attention as a result of a Behavioral and Brain Sciences target article (“Neural reuse: A fundamental organizational principle of the brain”), and the project has continued to move the work forward both philosophically and empirically. For instance, “Mining the brain for a new taxonomy of the mind” reflects on some of the possible implications of reuse for the reforming taxonomy of psychology; “Beyond componential constitution in the brain: Starburst amacrine cells and enabling constraints” offers a case study of the Starburst Amacrine Cell (a neural cell found in mammalian retina), and calls for some specific reforms of the Craver/Bechtel model of mechanistic explanation in light of the way function arises from structure in this case; “Allocating structure to function: the strong links between neuroplasticity and natural selection” lays out in detail the current status of the modularity debate, and offers a novel framework for understanding brain evolution and development in light of neural reuse; “Describing functional diversity of brain regions and brain networks” develops methods for capturing and quantifying the functional diversity of the brain; and “Beyond the tripartite cognition-emotion-interoception model of the human insular cortex” applies these methods to large repositories of fMRI data to paint a nuanced functional picture of the human insula.
The investigation of neural reuse grew naturally out of an interest in embodied cognition, at least one thread of which has focused on the influence of evolutionarily older perception-action systems on “higher” cognitive functions including language, logic, and mathematics. Over the past few years, Dr. Anderson has been working to integrate the main findings of, and the particular evolutionary perspective exemplified by the embodied cognition movement, with the evidence for neural reuse. The result of that effort is After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain, a monograph released by MIT Press in December of 2014. The book offers an ecological and evolutionary framework for understanding the brain and cognition. It describes some of the empirical methods that can be brought to bear on the project of reforming the taxonomy of psychology (in fact, it offers a number of empirical reforms, and lays out a specific research agenda for the cognitive neurosciences more generally). And it offers the outlines of an action-grounded, embodied theory of natural language—a cognitive ability widely believed impossible to adequately treat from within embodied cognition framework.
Books [written or edited]
Anderson, M.L. (2014). After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).
Anderson, M.L. and Oates, T. eds. (2005). Metacognition in Computation: Papers from the 2005 AAAI Spring Symposium. (Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press).
O’Donovan-Anderson, M. (1997). Content and Comportment: On Embodiment and the Epistemic Availability of the World. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield).
O’Donovan-Anderson, M. ed. (1996). The Incorporated Self: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Embodiment. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield).
Anderson, M.L. (2016, in press). Précis of After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38.
Anderson, M.L. (2016, in press). Reply to reviewers: Reuse, embodied interactivity, and the emerging paradigm shift in the human neurosciences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38.
Anderson, M.L. (2016, in press). Neural reuse in the evolution and development of the brain. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.
Anderson, M.L. (2015). Mining the brain for a new taxonomy of mind. Philosophy Compass, 10(1): 68-77.
Anderson, M.L., Richardson, M. & Chemero, A. (2012). Eroding the boundaries of cognition: Implications of embodiment. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4(4): 717-30.
Anderson, M.L. & Finlay, B. (2014). Allocating structure to function: the strong links between neuroplasticity and natural selection. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7: 918.
Uddin, L., Kinnison, J., Pessoa, L. & Anderson, M.L. (2014). Beyond the tripartite cognition-emotion-interoception model of the human insular cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(1):16-27.
Anderson, M.L., Kinnison, J. & Pessoa, L. (2013). Describing functional diversity of brain regions and brain networks. NeuroImage, 73: 50-58.
Penner-Wilger, M. & Anderson, M.L. (2013). The relation between finger gnosis and mathematical ability: Why redeployment of neural circuits best explains the finding. Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 4: 877.
Anderson, M.L. & Penner-Wilger, M. (2013). Neural reuse in the evolution and development of the brain: Evidence for developmental homology? Developmental Psychobiology, 55(1): 42-51.
Anderson, M.L. (2010). Neural reuse: A fundamental organizational principle of the brain. (Target article) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(4): 245-66.
Anderson, M.L. (2010). Cortex in context: Reply to commentaries. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(4): 294-313.
Anderson, M.L. & Chemero, T. (2009). Affordances and intentionality: Reply to Roberts. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 30(4): 301-12.
Anderson, M.L. (2009). What mindedness is. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 5(4): 1-12.
Chaovalitwongse, A., Suharitdamrong, W., Liu, C-C., & Anderson, M.L. (2008). Brain network analysis of seizure evolution. Annales Zoologici Fennici, 45(5): 402-14.
Anderson, M.L. (2008). Circuit sharing and the implementation of intelligent systems. Connection Science, 20(4): 239-51.
Anderson, M.L., Fults, S., Josyula, D.P., Oates, T., Perlis, D., Schmill, M.D., and *Wilson, S. (2008). A self-help guide for autonomous systems. AI Magazine, 29(2): 67-76.
Anderson, M.L. & Rosenberg, G. (2008). Content and action: The guidance theory of representation. In: D. Smith (ed) Evolutionary Biology and the Central Problems of Cognitive Science, a special issue of Journal of Mind and Behavior, 29(1-2): 55-86.
Anderson, M.L., *Gomaa, W., Grant, J. & Perlis, D. (2008). Active logic semantics for a single agent in a static world. Artificial Intelligence, 172: 1045-63.
Anderson, M.L. (2007). Massive redeployment, exaptation, and the functional integration of cognitive operations. Synthese, 159(3): 329-345.
Anderson, M.L. (2007). Evolution of cognitive function via redeployment of brain areas. The Neuroscientist, 13(1): 13-21.
Anderson, M.L. (2007). The massive redeployment hypothesis and the functional topography of the brain. Philosophical Psychology, 21(2): 143-174.
Anderson, M.L. (2016, in press). Neural reuse and the in principle limitations on reproducibility in cognitive neuroscience. In: Harald Atmanspacher and Sabine Maasen (eds.). Reproducibility – Principles, practices, problems. New York: Wiley.
Anderson, M.L. & Chemero, A. (2016, in press). The brain evolved to guide action. In S. Shepherd (ed.), Handbook of evolutionary neuroscience. (London: Wiley-Blackwell).
Anderson, M.L. (2015). Beyond componential constitution in the brain: Starburst amacrine cells and enabling constraints. In: T.K. Metzinger and J.M. Windt, (eds.) OpenMIND (Munich: Barbara Wengler Stiftung).
Anderson, M.L., Gomaa, W., Grant, J. & Perlis, D. (2013). An approach to human-level commonsense reasoning. In: K. Tanaka, F. Berto, E. Mares, and F. Paoli (eds.). Paraconsistency: Logic and Applications, pages 201-222. (Dordrecht: Springer).
Schmill, M.D., Anderson, M.L., Fults, S., Josyula, D., Oates, T., Perlis, D., *Shahri, H., *Wilson, S. & *Wright, D. (2011). The Metacognitive Loop and reasoning about anomalies. In: M. Cox and A. Raja, (eds.). Metareasoning: Thinking about thinking, pages 183-98. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).
Anderson, M.L., *Brumbaugh, J. & *Şuben, A. (2010). Investigating functional cooperation in the human brain using simple graph-theoretic methods. In: A. Chaovalitwongse, P.M. Pardalos, and P. Xanthopoulos, (eds.). Computational Neuroscience, (pp. 31-42). Springer.
Anderson, M.L. (2008). On the grounds of x-grounded cognition. In: Paco Calvo and Tony Gomila, eds. Elsevier Handbook of Embodied Cognition (Amsterdam: Elsevier), pp. 423-35.
Anderson, M.L. (2008). Evolution, embodiment and the nature of the mind. In: B. Hardy-Vallee & N. Payette, eds. Beyond the brain: embodied, situated & distributed cognition. (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press), pp. 15-28.
Anderson, M.L. (2007). How to study the mind: An introduction to embodied cognition. In F.Santoianni and C. Sabatano, eds. Brain Development in Learning Environments: Embodied and Perceptual Advancements. (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press), pp. 65-82.