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A Critical Appraisal of Cognitive Neuroscience

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.

New Perspectives

The notion that neurons in the living brain can change in response to experience—a phenomenon known as "plasticity"—has become a major conceptual issue in neuroscience research as well as a practical focus for the fields of neural rehabilitation and neurodegenerative disease. Early work dealt with the plasticity of the developing brain and demonstrated the critical role played by sensory experience in normal development.

Although William James declared in 1890, “Everyone knows what attention is,” today there are many different and sometimes opposing views on the subject. This fragmented theoretical landscape may be because most of the theories and models of attention offer explanations in natural language or in a pictorial manner rather than providing a quantitative and unambiguous statement of the theory. They focus on the manifestations of attention instead of its rationale.

A Laboratory Study of Multimodal Semiotic Interaction in the Age of Computers

The results of fMRI brain scanning require extensive analysis in the laboratory. In Handling Digital Brains, Morana Alac shows that fMRI researchers do not sit passively staring at computer screens but actively involve their bodies in laboratory practice. Discussing fMRI visuals with colleagues, scientists animate the scans with gestures, and talk as they work with computers. Alač argues that to understand how digital scientific visuals take on meaning we must consider their dynamic coordination with gesture, speech, and working hands.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows researchers to observe neural activity in the human brain noninvasively, has revolutionized the scientific study of the mind. An fMRI experiment produces massive amounts of highly complex data; researchers face significant challenges in analyzing the data they collect. This book offers an overview of the most widely used statistical methods of analyzing fMRI data. Every step is covered, from preprocessing to advanced methods for assessing functional connectivity.

The Neuroscience of Visual Impairment

Can a blind person see? The very idea seems paradoxical. And yet, if we conceive of "seeing" as the ability to generate internal mental representations that may contain visual details, the idea of blind vision becomes a concept subject to investigation. In this book, Zaira Cattaneo and Tomaso Vecchi examine the effects of blindness and other types of visual deficit on the development and functioning of the human cognitive system.

The Information Content of Visual Processes

This book breaks with the conventional model of perception that views vision as a mere inference to an objective reality on the basis of "inverse optics." The authors offer the alternative view that perception is an expressive and awareness-generating process. Perception creates semantic information in such a way as to enable the observer to deal efficaciously with the chaotic and meaningless structure present at the physical boundary between the body and its surroundings.

Exploring the Integrative Study of Work in Living Systems

The work performed by living systems ranges from photosynthesis to prodigious feats of computation and organization. This multidisciplinary volume explores the relationships between work and the study of work across many different levels of organization.

Making Sense of Sound

Every time we listen—to speech, to music, to footsteps approaching or retreating—our auditory perception is the result of a long chain of diverse and intricate processes that unfold within the source of the sound itself, in the air, in our ears, and, most of all, in our brains. Hearing is an "everyday miracle" that, despite its staggering complexity, seems effortless. This book offers an integrated account of hearing in terms of the neural processes that take place in different parts of the auditory system.

Most neurons in the brain are covered by dendritic spines, small protrusions that arise from dendrites, covering them like leaves on a tree. But a hundred and twenty years after spines were first described by Ramón y Cajal, their function is still unclear. Dozens of different functions have been proposed, from Cajal’s idea that they enhance neuronal interconnectivity to hypotheses that spines serve as plasticity machines, neuroprotective devices, or even digital logic elements.