A person with synesthesia might feel the flavor of food on her fingertips, sense the letter J as shimmering magenta or the number 5 as emerald green, hear and taste a spouse’s voice as buttery golden brown. Synesthetes rarely talk about their peculiar sensory gift--believing either that everyone else senses the world exactly as they do, or that no one else does. Yet synesthesia occurs in one in twenty people, and is even more common among artists.
Cognitive neuroscience explores the relationship between our minds and our brains, most recently by drawing on brain imaging techniques to align neural mechanisms with psychological processes. In Mind and Brain, William Uttal offers a critical review of cognitive neuroscience, examining both its history and modern developments in the field. He pays particular attention to the role of brain imaging--especially functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)--in studying the mind-brain relationship.
Certain ideas have preoccupied thinkers since ancient times: the nature of mind, the sources of knowledge and belief, the nature of the self, ethics and the best way to lead our lives, the question of free will. In this book, John Malone examines these ideas in the writings of thinkers from antiquity to the present day and argues for their importance not just as precursors of modern views but as ideas that are frequently better than current ones. We can get good advice, he writes, from the writings of the best thinkers of the past.
The presence of sentience in a basically material reality is among the mysteries of existence. Many philosophers of mind argue that conscious states and properties are nothing beyond the matter that brings them about. Finding these arguments less than satisfactory, Gerald Vision offers a nonphysicalist theory of mind. Revisiting and defending a key doctrine of the once widely accepted school of philosophy known as emergentism, Vision proposes that conscious states are emergents, although they depend for their existence on their material bases.
Our forebears may have had a close connection with the natural world, but increasingly we experience technological nature. Children come of age watching digital nature programs on television. They inhabit virtual lands in digital games. And they play with robotic animals, purchased at big box stores. Until a few years ago, hunters could "telehunt"—shoot and kill animals in Texas from a computer anywhere in the world via a Web interface. Does it matter that much of our experience with nature is mediated and augmented by technology?
Modern psychology began with the adoption of experimental methods at the end of the nineteenth century: Wilhelm Wundt established the first formal laboratory in 1879; universities created independent chairs in psychology shortly thereafter; and William James published the landmark work Principles of Psychology in 1890. In A History of Modern Experimental Psychology, George Mandler traces the evolution of modern experimental and theoretical psychology from these beginnings to the "cognitive revolution" of the late twentieth century.
In The Self-Organizing Social Mind, John Bolender proposes a new explanation for the forms of social relations. He argues that the core of social-relational cognition exhibits beauty—in the physicist's sense of the word, associated with symmetry. Bolender describes a fundamental set of patterns in interpersonal cognition, which account for the resulting structures of social life in terms of their symmetries and the breaking of those symmetries.
David Marr's posthumously published Vision (1982) influenced a generation of brain and cognitive scientists, inspiring many to enter the field. In Vision, Marr describes a general framework for understanding visual perception and touches on broader questions about how the brain and its functions can be studied and understood. Researchers from a range of brain and cognitive sciences have long valued Marr's creativity, intellectual power, and ability to integrate insights and data from neuroscience, psychology, and computation.
Hemispheric asymmetry is one of the basic aspects of perception and cognitive processing. The different functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain have been studied with renewed interest in recent years, as scholars explore applications to new areas, new measuring techniques, and new theoretical approaches. This volume provides a comprehensive view of the latest research in brain asymmetry, offering not only recent empirical and clinical findings but also a coherent theoretical approach to the subject.
What does it mean to hear music in colors, to taste voices, to see each letter of the alphabet as a different color? These uncommon sensory experiences are examples of synesthesia, when two or more senses cooperate in perception. Once dismissed as imagination or delusion, metaphor or drug-induced hallucination, the experience of synesthesia has now been documented by scans of synesthetes' brains that show "crosstalk" between areas of the brain that do not normally communicate.