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Patricia S. Churchland

Patricia S. Churchland is President’s Professor of Philosophy Emerita at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences. She is the author of many books, including Neurophilosophy and Brain-Wise (both published by the MIT Press).

Titles by This Author

Before The Computational Brain was published in 1992, conceptual frameworks for brain function were based on the behavior of single neurons, applied globally. In The Computational Brain, Patricia Churchland and Terrence Sejnowski developed a different conceptual framework, based on large populations of neurons. They did this by showing that patterns of activities among the units in trained artificial neural network models had properties that resembled those recorded from populations of neurons recorded one at a time.

Studies in Neurophilosophy

Progress in the neurosciences is profoundly changing our conception of ourselves. Contrary to time-honored intuition, the mind turns out to be a complex of brain functions. And contrary to the wishful thinking of some philosophers, there is no stemming the revolutionary impact that brain research will have on our understanding of how the mind works.

Critical Essays, 1987-1997

Paul M. and Patricia S. Churchland are towering figures in the fields of philosophy, neuroscience, and consciousness. This collection was prepared in the belief that the most useful and revealing of anyone's writings are often those shorter essays penned in conflict with or criticism of one's professional colleagues. The essays present the Churchlands' critical responses to a variety of philosophical positions advanced by some two dozen philosophical theorists.

Sensory Processes

Bringing together contributors working on a common problem but addressing different levels of brain organization by way of different techniques, The Mind-Brain Continuum seeks to determine which scientific questions are most pressing as we move toward discovering the neurobiology of psychological processes. As the title implies, contributions are organized around the notion that mental activity is brain activity, providing a broad, integrated view of a particular subset of brain function.

How do groups of neurons interact to enable the organism to see, decide, and move appropriately? What are the principles whereby networks of neurons represent and compute? These are the central questions probed by The Computational Brain. Churchland and Sejnowski address the foundational ideas of the emerging field of computational neuroscience, examine a diverse range of neural network models, and consider future directions of the field.

Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain

Five chapters in the book's first part, "Some Elementary Neuroscience," sketch the history of the science of nervous systems and provide a general introduction to neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and neuropsychology. In the second part, "Recent Developments in the Philosophy of Science," chapters place the mind-body problem within the wider context of the philosophy of science.