We review and critically evaluate the current status of the simulative approach in cognitive science and neuroscience. By discussing specific examples and success cases in computational neuroscience and robotics, we point out that several ideas, theories, and predictions that stemmed from artificial systems research have contributed significantly to scientific progress in cognitive science and neuroscience, and especially when modelling studies interacted synergistically with empirical and theoretical research. Furthermore, the simulative approach is represented in an increasing number of interdisciplinary conferences and events, and it has recently influenced funding policies in the EU and the USA. The examples reviewed here suggest that the simulative method is more efficacious when conducted in an interdisciplinary endeavour, when it provides a normative / mechanistic basis to generate empirical predictions, or offers a unifying perspective on empirical phenomena that are usually studied in isolation. However, despite the success cases reviewed here, the epistemological status of the simulative approach – and especially robotics – in cognitive science and neuroscience is still disputed and its impact is not fully realized.
Keywords: Cognitive Science, Computational neuroscience, Large-scale brain simulation, Models in neuroscience, Sciences of artificial, Simulative method.