The question of consciousness is perhaps the most significant problem still unsolved by science. In Inner Presence, Antti Revonsuo proposes a novel approach to the study of consciousness that integrates findings from philosophy, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience into a coherent theoretical framework.
Hemispheric specialization is involved in every aspect of sensory, cognitive, and motor systems integration. Study of the corpus callosum, the bands of tissue uniting the brain's two hemispheres, is central to understanding neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and behavior. It also brings the tools of hemispheric specialization to a fundamental problem of cognitive neuroscience: modularity and intermodular communication.
Although there are many scientific and philosophical reasons to study the brain, for William J. Freed, "the most compelling reason to study the brain is to be able to repair the brains of individuals with nervous system injury or disease." Advances in repairing the nervous system, as well as new data on brain development, growth, and plasticity, have revolutionized the field of brain research and given rise to the technology of brain tissue transplantation. In this book Freed discusses both what may and what may not be possible.
Perceptual learning is the specific and relatively permanent modification of perception and behavior following sensory experience. It encompasses parts of the learning process that are independent from conscious forms of learning and involve structural and/or functional changes in primary sensory cortices. A familiar example is the treatment for a "lazy" or crossed eye. Covering the good eye causes gradual improvement in the weaker eye’s cortical representations. If the good eye is patched too long, however, it learns to see less acutely.
The emerging field of systems biology involves the application of experimental, theoretical, and modeling techniques to the study of biological organisms at all levels, from the molecular, through the cellular, to the behavioral. Its aim is to understand biological processes as whole systems instead of as isolated parts. Developments in the field have been made possible by advances in molecular biology—in particular, new technologies for determining DNA sequence, gene expression profiles, protein-protein interactions, and so on.
The neurobiology and psychology of attention have much to learn from each other. Neurobiologists recognize that responses in sensory cortex depend on the behavioral relevance of a stimulus, but have few ways to study how perception changes as a result. Psychologists have the conceptual and methodological tools to do just that, but are confounded by the multiple interpretations and theoretical ambiguities. This book attempts to bridge the two fields and to derive a comprehensive theory of attention from both neurobiological and psychological data.
Until recently, genetic, neuroanatomical, and psychological investigations on neurodevelopmental disorders were carried out independently. Now, tremendous advances across all disciplines have brought us toward a new scientific frontier: the integration of molecular genetics with a developmental cognitive neuroscience. The goal is to understand the basic mechanisms by which genes and environmental processes contribute to the development of specific structures and regions of the brain.