Dynamical Models and Explanation in Neuroscience

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Ross, Lauren N.
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Kaplan and Craver claim that all explanations in neuroscience appeal to mechanisms. They extend this view to the use of mathematical models in neuroscience and propose a constraint such models must meet in order to be explanatory. I analyze a mathematical model used to provide explanations in dynamical systems neuroscience and indicate how this explanation cannot be accommodated by the mechanist framework. I argue that this explanation is well characterized by Batterman’s account of minimal model explanations and that it demonstrates how relationships between explanatory models in neuroscience and the systems they represent is more complex than has been appreciated.