, Volume 193, Issue 5, pp 1509–1534 | Cite as

The cognitive neuroscience revolution

S.I. : Neuroscience and Its Philosophy


We outline a framework of multilevel neurocognitive mechanisms that incorporates representation and computation. We argue that paradigmatic explanations in cognitive neuroscience fit this framework and thus that cognitive neuroscience constitutes a revolutionary break from traditional cognitive science. Whereas traditional cognitive scientific explanations were supposed to be distinct and autonomous from mechanistic explanations, neurocognitive explanations aim to be mechanistic through and through. Neurocognitive explanations aim to integrate computational and representational functions and structures across multiple levels of organization in order to explain cognition. To a large extent, practicing cognitive neuroscientists have already accepted this shift, but philosophical theory has not fully acknowledged and appreciated its significance. As a result, the explanatory framework underlying cognitive neuroscience has remained largely implicit. We explicate this framework and demonstrate its contrast with previous approaches.


Cognitive neuroscience Multilevel mechanisms Explanation Integration Computation Representation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.University of Missouri – St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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