• Open Access

The notion of computation is fundamental to an autonomous neuroscience



The increasing sophistication of the tools and results of cellular and molecular neuroscience would appear to suggest that explanatory force in neuroscience is defined by reduction to molecular biology. This view, however, is mistaken in that it loses sight of the goal of neuroscience proper: the characterization of the information content of biophysical variables and the transformation of these variables that lead to behaviors. Neuroscience is thus distinguished from applied molecular and cellular biology by the notion of computation. In this commentary, I will show how the notion of computation in neuroscience differs from that of other fields that investigate complex systems and argue that computation at various levels of neural organization is the paramount goal of neuroscientific explanation and not the so-called reduction of “mind to molecules.” © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity, 16,10–19, 2010