Novel Tool Development and the Dynamics of Control: The Rodent Touchscreen Operant Chamber as a Case Study

Philosophy of Science 89 (5):1-19 (2022)
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In the quest to discover the neural bases of cognition, rigorous behavioral tools are equally as important as sophisticated tools for neural intervention. This paper evaluates several episodes in the development of a novel behavioral tool for rodent cognitive testing, the rodent touchscreen operant chamber. Using conceptual tools on offer in the philosophical literature on exploratory experimentation and control, I illuminate how optimization of this behavioral tool and an understanding of the causal knowledge it may be used to generate historically has involved dynamic interplay between community-driven exploratory practices operating in parallel with causal hypothesis-driven research.

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Jacqueline Anne Sullivan
University of Western Ontario


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