Some things are funny—jokes, puns, sitcoms, Charlie Chaplin, The Far Side, Malvolio with his yellow garters crossed—but why? Why does humor exist in the first place? Why do we spend so much of our time passing on amusing anecdotes, making wisecracks, watching The Simpsons? In Inside Jokes, Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams offer an evolutionary and cognitive perspective. Humor, they propose, evolved out of a computational problem that arose when our long-ago ancestors were furnished with open-ended thinking.
The emerging field of action science is characterized by a diversity of theoretical and methodological approaches that share the basic functional belief that evolution has optimized cognitive systems to serve the demands of action. This book brings together the constitutive approaches of action science in a single source, covering the relation of action to such cognitive functions as perception, attention, memory, and volition. Each chapter offers a tutorial-like description of a major line of inquiry, written by a leading scientist in the field.
How do we make decisions? Conventional decision theory tells us only which behavioral choices we ought to make if we follow certain axioms. In real life, however, our choices are governed by cognitive mechanisms shaped over evolutionary time through the process of natural selection. Evolution has created strong biases in how and when we process information, and it is these evolved cognitive building blocks--from signal detection and memory to individual and social learning--that provide the foundation for our choices.
In this accessible and engaging introduction to modern vision science, James Stone uses visual illusions to explore how the brain sees the world. Understanding vision, Stone argues, is not simply a question of knowing which neurons respond to particular visual features, but also requires a computational theory of vision.
How do we gain access to things as they are? Although we routinely take our self-made pictures to be veridical representations of reality, in actuality we choose (albeit unwittingly) or construct what we see. By movements of the eyes, the direction of our gaze, we create meaning. In Brain and the Gaze, Jan Lauwereyns offers a novel reformulation of perception and its neural underpinnings, focusing on the active nature of perception.
Over a century ago, William James proposed that people search through memory much as they rummage through a house looking for lost keys. We scour our environments for territory, food, mates, and information. We search for items in visual scenes, for historical facts, and for the best deals on Internet sites; we search for new friends to add to our social networks, and for solutions to novel problems. What we find is always governed by how we search and by the structure of the environment.
There are few articles in science that remain relevant over a span of 100 years; Max Wertheimer’s pioneering experimental studies on apparent motion and figural organization are notable exceptions. Wertheimer’s 1912 account of motion perception started a revolution and established the Gestalt school of psychology. It also paved the way for further investigations of apparent motion perception, including subsequent research by Oliver Braddick, Stuart Anstis, Vilaynur Ramachandran, and others.
By adulthood, most of us have become experts in human behavior, able to make sense of the myriad behaviors we find in environments ranging from the family home to the local mall and beyond. In philosophy of mind, our understanding of others has been largely explained in terms of knowing others’ beliefs and desires; describing others’ behavior in these terms is the core of what is known as folk psychology.
Research in the cognitive sciences has advanced significantly in recent decades. Computational cognitive modeling has profoundly changed the ways in which we understand cognition. Empirical research has progressed as well, offering new insights into many psychological phenomena. This book investigates the possibility of exploiting the successes of the cognitive sciences to establish a better foundation for the social sciences, including the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science.
The study of consciousness has advanced rapidly over the last two decades. And yet there is no clear path to creating models for a direct science of human experience or for integrating its insights with those of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. In Inner Experience and Neuroscience, Donald Price and James Barrell show how a science of human experience can be developed through a strategy that integrates experiential paradigms with methods from the natural sciences.