Computational Psychiatry: A Pragmatist Perspective – Sam Wilkinson

Thursday, 16th October 2022, 18:00 [hybrid]
Topic: Computational Psychiatry: A Pragmatist Perspective
Speaker: Sam Wilkinson

This event will be held in person (with the option for some to participate online concurrently, via Teams). We would like to encourage as many of you as possible to join us in person.

Ticket sales for in-person attendance close at 6pm on 11/10/22.

Location: Seminar room 5, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), 16 De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF.

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Computational Psychiatry is an extremely exciting and rapidly advancing field. What are its prospects? And what is the precise nature of the contributions that it makes – and could possibly make in future – to our understanding of mental disorder?

In this talk, I start by clarifying what I mean by “Computational Psychiatry”. I then focus on an important subset of the field, which constitutes a family of views about the fundamental nature of cognition, namely, Bayesian/Predictive Processing approaches. I present important contributions that these approaches make to a wide variety of psychiatric phenomena, including psychosis, depression, addiction and psychological trauma, as well as valuable suggestions that they make for treatment.

I then ask: what is the precise nature of the contribution that these approaches make to our understanding of these phenomena? In other words: what is the explanatory scope and limits of computational psychiatry? In order to answer this, I examine computational psychiatry through the lens of philosophy of science, and, in particular, a pragmatic view of explanation. What emerges is a series of lessons about how computational psychiatry should be used in furthering our understanding of mental disorder. Computational psychiatry is an immensely powerful tool that is optimally used within certain conceptual constraints.

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