First-person constraints on dynamic-mechanistic explanations in neuroscience: The case of migraine and epilepsy aura models

The next (hybrid) meeting of the seminar „Philosophy of Cognitive Science” will take place on March, 16th, at 10:30 (AM Warsaw, CET). This time we will meet in person (and online), the seminar will take place in the Staszic Place (IFiS, PAN)room: 161, and at  GoogleMeet (for link ask:

Our guests will be Marek Pokropski (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Warsaw) and Piotr Suffczyński (Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw). We will discuss the paper: First-person constraints on dynamic-mechanistic explanations in neuroscience: The case of migraine and epilepsy aura models.

Abstract: According to recent discussion, integration of cognitive science might proceed by constraints on mechanistic and dynamic-mechanistic explanatory models provided by different research fields. However, not much attention has been given to constraints that could be provided by the study of first-person experience, which in the case of multifaceted mental phenomena are of key importance. In this paper, we consider the question whether information about first- person experience can constrain dynamic-mechanistic models. We discuss two cases of such explanatory models in neuroscience, namely that of migraine and of epilepsy. We argue that these models include first-person constraints provided by first-person insights about the target phenomena. Thus, we conclude that the dynamic-mechanistic framework for explanations in neuroscience is able to include constraints from the first-person level.

In the first section, we give a general overview of the mechanistic framework of explanation in neuroscience and the idea of mechanistic integration of cognitive neuroscience based on the notion of constraints. We also argue that the mechanistic approach is complementary with the dynamical one. In the second section, we discuss the development of explanatory models of migraine. As we argue, first-person insights about the migraine aura experience have played a crucial role in the explanatory process by constraining mechanistic models in respect to dynamical and structural properties. In the third section, we discuss explanations of epilepsy and introduce a recent model of focal seizure. The model differs from previous models in that it embodies the transition between phases of the epileptic seizure and provides a novel explanation of this phenomenon. In the last section, we discuss the limitations of these models as well as prospects of future revision, for instance, by adding prodromal and postictal phases of seizures.

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