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Beyond the Brain Conference

Beyond the Brain Conference

Academic Conference at the University of Edinburgh on Reconceptualizing Mental Disorders

Abstracts: Mark Sprevak

Brain Disorders Versus Mental Disorders

Mental disorders are often seen as disorders in the mechanisms that underlie cognition. An important development in cognitive science over the past thirty years has been the recognition that cognitive mechanisms might not always and everywhere be identical to neural mechanisms. Cognition sometimes spills outside the head, recruiting the non-neural body, environment, and even other people as component parts of its mechanisms supplementing a neurally-based core set of capacities. This raises the possibility that, if mental disorders are disorders of cognitive mechanisms, mental disorders may not always and everywhere be disorders of neural mechanisms. One should consider looking outside the brain for mechanisms, or dysfunctions in mechanisms, that sustain certain mental disorders. This talk explores how a distributed cognition perspective may help open up new, potentially valuable, approaches in psychiatry.


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