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【関連イベント】The 60th meeting of Tokyo Colloquium of Cognitive Philosophy


Department of History and Philosophy of Science will hold the 60th Tokyo Colloquium of Cognitive Philosophy. Everyone is welcome.

Date & Time: April 27th (Wed.), 2016, 17:00-19:00
Venue: the 14th Building, Room 710 on the 7th floor, Komaba Campus, The University of Tokyo.

Presenter: Maxence Gaillard (The University of Tokyo)
Title: Functional brain imaging technologies, just another set of tools for cognitive science?

New brain imaging technologies have grown very fast in the last decades, especially functional brain imaging such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). Some of these technologies have had a deep impact on the course of cognitive science and they have raised numerous debates. Among many doubts, imaging technologies have been accused of lacking reliability, and therefore are believed to be of weak observational significance (imagers only see in brains what they expect to see); to produce shiny images which are in fact only a smokescreen masking what we do not know about the brain and the mind; and to waste funding in unnecessary projects. Putting the debates and polemic aside, I want to draw the attention to the fact that brain imaging tools are scientific instruments, like any other technique used in an experimental research context. We already have interesting insights from the history and philosophy of science about some regularities or typical features of what is to be expected of scientific instruments. I will illustrate by presenting some specific cases in the young history of functional brain imaging applied to cognition research and by interpreting them in the “instrumental” framework. Through this perspective on instruments and the way they are used by experimental scientists, we can propose a narrative of the impact of brain imaging on cognitive science that is at the end quite different from the pros and contras debate. My general conclusion is that the invention of brain imaging did have an impact on the course of cognitive science, but not in the way that is commonly presented by the scientists themselves. I will try to suggest eventually some normative implications for the best use of imaging tools.

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