The consideration of time or dynamics is fundamental for all aspects of mental activity--perception, cognition, and emotion--because the main feature of brain activity is the continuous change of the underlying brain states even in a constant environment. The application of nonlinear dynamics to the study of brain activity began to flourish in the 1990s when combined with empirical observations from modern morphological and physiological observations. This book offers perspectives on brain dynamics that draw on the latest advances in research in the field.
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.
What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. This engaging book—part scientific overview, part memoir, part futurist speculation—describes Koch's search for an empirical explanation for consciousness.
We form individual memories by a process known as consolidation: the conversion of immediate and fleeting bits of information into a stable and accessible representation of facts and events. These memories provide a version of the past that helps us navigate the present and is critical to individual identity. In this book, Thomas Anastasio, Kristen Ann Ehrenberger, Patrick Watson, and Wenyi Zhang propose that social groups form collective memories by analogous processes.
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.
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.
Over the past sixty years, powerful methods of model-based control engineering have been responsible for such dramatic advances in engineering systems as autolanding aircraft, autonomous vehicles, and even weather forecasting. Over those same decades, our models of the nervous system have evolved from single-cell membranes to neuronal networks to large-scale models of the human brain. Yet until recently control theory was completely inapplicable to the types of nonlinear models being developed in neuroscience.
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.
Episodic memory proves essential for daily function, allowing us to remember where we parked the car, what time we walked the dog, or what a friend said earlier. In How We Remember, Michael Hasselmo draws on recent developments in neuroscience to present a new model describing the brain mechanisms for encoding and remembering such episodes as spatiotemporal trajectories.
This volume offers a range of perspectives on a simple problem: How does the brain choose efficiently and adaptively among options to ensure coherent, goal-directed behavior? The contributors, from fields as varied as anatomy, psychology, learning theory, neuroimaging, neurophysiology, behavioral economics, and computational modeling, present an overview of key approaches in the study of cognitive control and decision making.