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Perspective

Nothing in Cognitive Neuroscience Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution

1
Department of Psychiatry and Legal Medicine, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Valles, 08193 Barcelona, Spain
2
Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Academic Editors: James Sonne and Lucilla Parnetti
NeuroSci 2021, 2(2), 177-192; https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci2020013
Received: 22 March 2021 / Revised: 22 April 2021 / Accepted: 16 May 2021 / Published: 21 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neuroanatomy of Consciousness and the Will)
Evolutionary theory should be a fundamental guide for neuroscientists. This would seem a trivial statement, but I believe that taking it seriously is more complicated than it appears to be, as I argue in this article. Elsewhere, I proposed the notion of “bounded functionality” As a way to describe the constraints that should be considered when trying to understand the evolution of the brain. There are two bounded-functionality constraints that are essential to any evolution-minded approach to cognitive neuroscience. The first constraint, the bricoleur constraint, describes the evolutionary pressure for any adaptive solution to re-use any relevant resources available to the system before the selection situation appeared. The second constraint, the satisficing constraint, describes the fact that a trait only needs to behave more advantageously than its competitors in order to be selected. In this paper I describe how bounded-functionality can inform an evolutionary-minded approach to cognitive neuroscience. In order to do so, I resort to Nikolaas Tinbergen’s four questions about how to understand behavior, namely: function, causation, development and evolution. The bottom line of assuming Tinbergen’s questions is that any approach to cognitive neuroscience is intrinsically tentative, slow, and messy. View Full-Text
Keywords: evolutionary constraints; neuroscientific theories; evolution of the brain evolutionary constraints; neuroscientific theories; evolution of the brain
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MDPI and ACS Style

Vilarroya, O. Nothing in Cognitive Neuroscience Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution. NeuroSci 2021, 2, 177-192. https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci2020013

AMA Style

Vilarroya O. Nothing in Cognitive Neuroscience Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution. NeuroSci. 2021; 2(2):177-192. https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci2020013

Chicago/Turabian Style

Vilarroya, Oscar. 2021. "Nothing in Cognitive Neuroscience Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" NeuroSci 2, no. 2: 177-192. https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci2020013

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