LTP Revisited: Reconsidering the Explanatory Power of Synaptic Efficacy

Jonathan Najenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changes in synaptic strength are described as a unifying hypothesis for memory formation and storage, leading philosophers to consider the ‘synaptic efficacy hypothesis’ as a paradigmatic explanation in neuroscience. Craver’s mosaic view has been influential in understanding synaptic efficacy by presenting long-term potentiation as a multi-level mechanism nested within a multi-level structure. This paper argues that the mosaic view fails to fully capture the explanatory power of the synaptic efficacy hypothesis due to assumptions about multi-level mechanisms. I present an alternative approach that emphasizes the explanatory function of unification, accounting for the widespread consensus in neuroscience regarding synaptic efficacy by highlighting the stability of synaptic causal variables across different multi-level mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Explanation
  • LTP
  • Mechanism
  • Memory
  • Synaptic Efficacy
  • Unification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy


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