Extending, Changing, and Explaining the Brain.
This paper address concerns raised recently by Edouardo Datteri (2009) and Carl Craver (2010) about the use of prosthetic implants in experimental neuroscience. Since the operation of the implant induces plastic changes in neural circuits, it is reasonable to worry that operational knowledge of the hybrid system will not be an accurate basis for generalisation when modelling the un-tampered brain. I argue, however, that Datteri’s no-plasticity constraint unwittingly rules out numerous experimental paradigms in systems neuroscience which also bring about changes in the brain. Furthermore, the relevance of prosthetic experiments to basic neuroscience is apparent when one considers the kind of theoretical questions that can be explored precisely by methods which alter neural circuits.
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