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  PSYCHIATRIC ISSUES 2014 

Minerva Psichiatrica 2014 March;55(1):1-15

Copyright © 2014 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Localization versus holism and intrinsic versus extrinsic views of the brain: a neurophilosophical approach

Northoff G.

Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics Research Unit, University of Ottawa, Institute of Mental Health Research, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, Ottawa, ON, Canada


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The brain can now be visualized in novel ways given the recent emergence of functional imaging techniques like functional magnetic resonance imaging. This revives old question from neuroscience and neurology that have focused on localizing mental states and their contents in particular regions or networks of the brain. Alternative to such localization, a holistic view of brain function where the whole brain participates in processing mental contents has been suggested. Therefore, I here discuss the alternative between localization and holism. In addition, the brain has often been considered to be mere reflex apparatus thus reacting merely mechanical to extrinsic stimuli – neural activity is consequently purely extrinsic. This has been challenged by the recent discovery of intrinsic that is internally generated neural activity in the brain. Therefore, I here contrast extrinsic and intrinsic view of the brain and, at the end, I draw an analogy between the philosopher’s Immanuel Kant’s view of the mind and an intrinsic view of the brain.

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