Evidence for Information Processing in the Brain

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Burock, Marc
preprint description
Many cognitive and neuroscientists attempt to assign biological functions to brain structures. To achieve this end, scientists perform experiments that relate the physical properties of brain structures to organism-level abilities, behaviors, and environmental stimuli. Researchers make use of various measuring instruments and methodological techniques to obtain this kind of relational evidence, ranging from single-unit electrophysiology and optogenetics to whole brain functional MRI. Each experiment is intended to identify brain function. However, seemingly independent of experimental evidence, many cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, and philosophers of science assume that the brain processes information as a scientific fact. In this work we analyze categories of relational evidence and find that although physical features of specific brain areas selectively covary with external stimuli and abilities, and that the brain shows reliable causal organization, there is no direct evidence supporting the claim that information processing is a natural function of the brain. We conclude that the belief in brain information processing adds little to the science of cognitive science and functions primarily as a metaphor for efficient communication of neuroscientific data.