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Neurobiology and Neurology

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A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Over the past decade, an explosion of empirical research in a variety of fields has allowed us to understand human moral sensibility as a sophisticated integration of cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms shaped through evolution, development, and culture. Evolutionary biologists have shown that moral cognition evolved to aid cooperation; developmental psychologists have demonstrated that the elements that underpin morality are in place much earlier than we thought; and social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in moral decision making. This volume offers an overview of current research on the moral brain, examining the topic from disciplinary perspectives that range from anthropology and neurophilosophy to justice and law.

The contributors address the evolution of morality, considering precursors of human morality in other species as well as uniquely human adaptations. They examine motivations for morality, exploring the roles of passion, extreme sacrifice, and cooperation. They go on to consider the development of morality, from infancy to adolescence; findings on neurobiological mechanisms of moral cognition; psychopathic immorality; and the implications for justice and law of a more biological understanding of morality. These new findings may challenge our intuitions about society and justice, but they may also lead to more a humane and flexible legal system.

Scott Atran, Abigail A. Baird, Nicolas Baumard, Sarah Brosnan, Jason M. Cowell, Molly J. Crockett, Ricardo de Oliveira-Souza, Andrew W. Delton, Mark R. Dadds, Jean Decety, Jeremy Ginges, Andrea L. Glenn, Joshua D. Greene, J. Kiley Hamlin, David J. Hawes, Jillian Jordan, Max M. Krasnow, Ayelet Lahat, Jorge Moll, Caroline Moul, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Alexander Peysakhovich, Laurent Prétôt, Jesse Prinz, David G. Rand, Rheanna J. Remmel, Emma Roellke, Regina A. Rini, Joshua Rottman, Mark Sheskin, Thalia Wheatley, Liane Young, Roland Zahn

Toward a Living Zen

In Zen-Brain Horizons, James Austin draws on his decades of experience as a neurologist and Zen practitioner to clarify the benefits of meditative training. Austin integrates classical Buddhist literature with modern brain research, exploring the horizons of a living, neural Zen.

When viewed in the light of today, the timeless wisdom of some Zen masters seems almost to have anticipated recent research in the neurosciences. The keen attentiveness and awareness that we cultivate during meditative practices becomes the leading edge of our subsequent mental processing. Austin explains how our covert, involuntary functions can make crucial contributions to the subtle ways we learn, intuit, and engage in creative activities.

Austin begins by looking back at ancient Buddhist narratives. He then weaves together the major themes of self, attention, emotion, language, and insight. He goes on to examine Zen and psychology as cultural developments, including recent information about how a clear, calm awareness can change the meditating brain. He considers the pathways through which intuitions develop on their way to becoming realized, exploring the phenomena of the spontaneous color imagery that arises during meditation.

Looking out even further into the future, Austin discusses the universal themes of creativity, happiness, openness, and selflessness. Along the way, he bows in homage to William James, explores “Buddhist Botany” and “Avian Zen,” demonstrates why living Zen means much more than sitting quietly indoors on a cushion, and provides simplified advice that helps guide readers to the most important points.

Probing Cognition

In the last decade, the synergistic interaction of neurosurgeons, engineers, and neuroscientists, combined with new technologies, has enabled scientists to study the awake, behaving human brain directly. These developments allow cognitive processes to be characterized at unprecedented resolution: single neuron activity. Direct observation of the human brain has already led to major insights into such aspects of brain function as perception, language, sleep, learning, memory, action, imagery, volition, and consciousness. In this volume, experts document the successes, challenges, and opportunity in an emerging field.

The book presents methodological tutorials, with chapters on such topics as the surgical implantation of electrodes and data analysis techniques; describes novel insights into cognitive functions including memory, decision making, and visual imagery; and discusses insights into diseases such as epilepsy and movement disorders gained from examining single neuron activity. Finally, contributors consider future challenges, questions that are ripe for investigation, and exciting avenues for translational efforts.

Ralph Adolphs, William S. Anderson, Arjun K. Bansal, Eric J. Behnke, Moran Cerf, Jonathan O. Dostrovsky, Emad N. Eskandar, Tony A. Fields, Itzhak Fried, Hagar Gelbard-Sagiv, C. Rory Goodwin, Clement Hamani, Chris Heller, Mojgan Hodaie, Matthew Howard III, William D. Hutchison, Matias Ison, Hiroto Kawasaki, Christof Koch, Rüdiger Köhling, Gabriel Kreiman, Michel Le Van Quyen, Frederick A. Lenz, Andres M. Lozano, Adam N. Mamelak, Clarissa Martinez-Rubio, Florian Mormann, Yuval Nir, George Ojemann, Shaun R. Patel, Sanjay Patra, Linda Philpott, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, Ian Ross, Ueli Rutishauser, Andreas Schulze-Bonhage, Erin M. Schuman, Demetrio Sierra-Mercado, Richard J. Staba, Nanthia Suthana, William Sutherling, Travis S. Tierney, Giulio Tononi, Oana Tudusciuc, Charles L. Wilson

in Development and in Evolution of Behavior and the Mind

This introduction to the structure of the central nervous system demonstrates that the best way to learn how the brain is put together is to understand something about why. It explains why the brain is put together as it is by describing basic functions and key aspects of its evolution and development. This approach makes the structure of the brain and spinal cord more comprehensible as well as more interesting and memorable. The book offers a detailed outline of the neuroanatomy of vertebrates, especially mammals, that equips students for further explorations of the field.

Gaining familiarity with neuroanatomy requires multiple exposures to the material with many incremental additions and reviews. Thus the early chapters of this book tell the story of the brain’s origins in a first run-through of the entire system; this is followed by other such surveys in succeeding chapters, each from a different angle. The book proceeds from basic aspects of nerve cells and their physiology to the evolutionary beginnings of the nervous system to differentiation and development, motor and sensory systems, and the structure and function of the main parts of the brain. Along the way, it makes enlightening connections to evolutionary history and individual development. Brain Structure and Its Origins can be used for advanced undergraduate or beginning graduate classes in neuroscience, biology, psychology, and related fields, or as a reference for researchers and others who want to know more about the brain.

Downloadable instructor resources available for this title: file of figures in the book

Brain-Immune Connections in Autism, Schizophrenia, and Depression

In Infectious Behavior, neurobiologist Paul Patterson examines the involvement of the immune system in autism, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. Although genetic approaches to these diseases have garnered the lion's share of publicity and funding, scientists are uncovering evidence of the important avenues of communication between the brain and the immune system and their involvement in mental illness. Patterson focuses on this brain-immune crosstalk, exploring the possibility that it may help us understand the causes of these common, but still mysterious, diseases. The heart of this engaging book, accessible to nonscientists, concerns the involvement of the immune systems of the pregnant woman and her fetus, and a consideration of maternal infection as a risk factor for schizophrenia and autism. Patterson reports on research that may shed light on today’s autism epidemic. He also outlines the risks and benefits of both maternal and postnatal vaccinations.

In the course of his discussion, Patterson offers a short history of immune manipulation in treating mental illness (recounting some frightening but fascinating early experiments) and explains how the immune system influences behavior and how the brain regulates the immune system, looking in particular at stress and depression. He examines the prenatal origins of adult disease and evidence for immune involvement in autism, schizophrenia, and depression. Finally, he describes the promise shown by recent animal experiments that have led to early clinical trials of postnatal and adult treatments for patients with autism and related disorders.

A New View from the Thalamus

In this book, two leading authorities on the thalamus and its relationship to cortex build on their earlier findings to arrive at new ways of thinking about how the brain relates to the world, to cognition, and behavior. Based on foundations established earlier in their book Exploring the Thalamus and Its Role in Cortical Function, the authors consider the implications of these ground rules for thalamic inputs, thalamocortical connections, and cortical outputs.

The authors argue that functional and structural analyses of pathways connecting thalamus and cortex point beyond these to lower centers and through them to the body and the world. Each cortical area depends on the messages linking it to body and world. These messages relate to the way we act and think; each cortical area receives thalamic inputs and has outputs to motor centers. Sherman and Guillery go on to discuss such topics as the role of branching axons that carry motor instructions as well as copies of these motor instructions for relay to cortex under the control of the thalamic gate. This gate allows the thalamus to control the passage of information on the basis of which cortex relates to the rest of the nervous system.

Edited by Barry E. Stein

Scientists' attempts to understand the physiology underlying our apprehension of the physical world was long dominated by a focus on the individual senses. The 1980s saw the beginning of systematic efforts to examine interactions among different sensory modalities at the level of the single neuron. And by the end of the 1990s, a recognizable and multidisciplinary field of "multisensory processes" had emerged. More recently, studies involving both human and nonhuman subjects have focused on relationships among multisensory neuronal ensembles and their behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive correlates. The New Handbook of Multisensory Processing synthesizes the central themes in this rapidly developing area, reports on current findings, and offers a blueprint for future research. The contributions, all of them written for this volume by leading experts, reflect the evolution and current state of the field.

This handbook does more than simply review the field. Each of the volume's eleven sections broadly surveys a major topic, and each begins with a substantive and thought-provoking commentary by the section editor that identifies the major issues being explored, describes their treatment in the chapters that follow, and sets these findings within the context of the existing body of knowledge. Together, the commentaries and chapters provide an invaluable guide to areas of general agreement, unresolved issues, and topics that remain to be explored in this fast-moving field.

Linguists have mapped the topography of language behavior in many languages in intricate detail. To understand how the brain supports language function, however, we must take into account the principles and regularities of neural function. Mechanisms of neurolinguistic function cannot be inferred solely from observations of normal and impaired language. In The Neural Architecture of Grammar, Stephen Nadeau develops a neurologically plausible theory of grammatic function. He brings together principles of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and parallel distributed processing and draws on literature on language function from cognitive psychology, cognitive neuropsychology, psycholinguistics, and functional imaging to develop a comprehensive neurally based theory of language function.

Nadeau reviews the aphasia literature, including cross-linguistic aphasia research, to test the model's ability to account for the findings of these empirical studies. Nadeau finds that the model readily accounts for a crucial finding in cross-linguistic studies--that the most powerful determinant of patterns of language breakdown in aphasia is the predisorder language spoken by the subject--and that it does so by conceptualizing grammatic function in terms of the statistical regularities of particular languages that are encoded in network connectivity. He shows that the model provides a surprisingly good account for many findings and offers solutions for a number of controversial problems. Moreover, aphasia studies provide the basis for elaborating the model in interesting and important ways.

How the Brain Builds Representations, Predicts Events, and Makes Decisions

In Biological Learning and Control, Reza Shadmehr and Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi present a theoretical framework for understanding the regularity of the brain's perceptions, its reactions to sensory stimuli, and its control of movements. They offer an account of perception as the combination of prediction and observation: the brain builds internal models that describe what should happen and then combines this prediction with reports from the sensory system to form a belief.

Considering the brain's control of movements, and variations despite biomechanical similarities among old and young, healthy and unhealthy, and humans and other animals, Shadmehr and Mussa-Ivaldi review evidence suggesting that motor commands reflect an economic decision made by our brain weighing reward and effort. This evidence also suggests that the brain prefers to receive a reward sooner than later, devaluing or discounting reward with the passage of time; then as the value of the expected reward changes in the brain with the passing of time (because of development, disease, or evolution), the shape of our movements will also change.

The internal models formed by the brain provide the brain with an essential survival skill: the ability to predict based on past observations. The formal concepts presented by Shadmehr and Mussa-Ivaldi offer a way to describe how representations are formed, what structure they have, and how the theoretical concepts can be tested.

Toward a Common Multivariate Framework for Cell Recording and Functional Imaging

Vision is a massively parallel computational process, in which the retinal image is transformed over a sequence of stages so as to emphasize behaviorally relevant information (such as object category and identity) and deemphasize other information (such as viewpoint and lighting). The processes behind vision operate by concurrent computation and message passing among neurons within a visual area and between different areas. The theoretical concept of "population code" encapsulates the idea that visual content is represented at each stage by the pattern of activity across the local population of neurons. Understanding visual population codes ultimately requires multichannel measurement and multivariate analysis of activity patterns. Over the past decade, the multivariate approach has gained significant momentum in vision research. Functional imaging and cell recording measure brain activity in fundamentally different ways, but they now use similar theoretical concepts and mathematical tools in their modeling and analyses.

With a focus on the ventral processing stream thought to underlie object recognition, this book presents recent advances in our understanding of visual population codes, novel multivariate pattern-information analysis techniques, and the beginnings of a unified perspective for cell recording and functional imaging. It serves as an introduction, overview, and reference for scientists and students across disciplines who are interested in human and primate vision and, more generally, in understanding how the brain represents and processes information.

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