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Cognitive Neuroscience

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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.

Fifty years ago, neuroscientists thought that a mature brain was fixed like a fly in amber, unable to change. Today, we know that our brains and nervous systems change throughout our lifetimes. This concept of neuroplasticity has captured the imagination of a public eager for self-improvement—and has inspired countless Internet entrepreneurs who peddle dubious “brain training” games and apps.

Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science

Cognitive science is experiencing a pragmatic turn away from the traditional representation-centered framework toward a view that focuses on understanding cognition as “enactive.” This enactive view holds that cognition does not produce models of the world but rather subserves action as it is grounded in sensorimotor skills. In this volume, experts from cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, robotics, and philosophy of mind assess the foundations and implications of a novel action-oriented view of cognition.

This volume offers a comprehensive overview of the latest neuroscientific approaches to the scientific study of creativity. In chapters that progress logically from neurobiological fundamentals to systems neuroscience and neuroimaging, leading scholars describe the latest theoretical, genetic, structural, clinical, functional, and applied research on the neural bases of creativity. The treatment is both broad and in depth, offering a range of neuroscientific perspectives with detailed coverage by experts in each area.

Laboratory research on human attention has often been conducted under conditions that bear little resemblance to the complexity of our everyday lives. Although this research has yielded interesting discoveries, few scholars have truly connected these findings to natural experiences. This book bridges the gap between “laboratory and life” by bringing together cutting-edge research using traditional methodologies with research that focuses on attention in everyday contexts.

On Consciousness and the Integration of Modalities

Although science has made considerable progress in discovering the neural basis of cognitive processes, how consciousness arises remains elusive. In this book, Cyriel Pennartz analyzes which aspects of conscious experience can be peeled away to access its core: the “hardest” aspect, the relationship between brain processes and the subjective, qualitative nature of consciousness. Pennartz traces the problem back to its historical roots in the foundations of neuroscience and connects early ideas on sensory processing to contemporary computational neuroscience.

Past, Present, and Future

Dolphin researchers have collected an impressive amount of data over the last twenty years, thanks to advances in technology for monitoring, recording, and analyzing dolphin behavior as well as increasing interest in exploring and modeling dolphins’ cognitive capacities. This volume offers a comprehensive reference to the latest research on dolphin communication and cognition, reporting on findings from both the laboratory and the field.

New Directions in the Study of Concepts

The study of concepts has advanced dramatically in recent years, with exciting new findings and theoretical developments. Core concepts have been investigated in greater depth and new lines of inquiry have blossomed, with researchers from an ever broader range of disciplines making important contributions. In this volume, leading philosophers and cognitive scientists offer original essays that present the state-of-the-art in the study of concepts.

Experiments in Cooperative Cognitive Architecture

In this book, Whitman Richards offers a novel and provocative proposal for understanding decision making and human behavior. Building on Valentino Braitenberg’s famous “vehicles,” Richards describes a collection of mental organisms that he calls “daemons”—virtual correlates of neural modules. Daemons have favored choices and make decisions that control behaviors of the group to which they belong, with each daemon preferring a different outcome. Richards arranges these preferences in graphs, linking similar choices, which thus reinforce each other.

Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain

The computer analogy of the mind has been as widely adopted in contemporary cognitive neuroscience as was the analogy of the brain as a collection of organs in phrenology. Just as the phrenologist would insist that each organ must have its particular function, so contemporary cognitive neuroscience is committed to the notion that each brain region must have its fundamental computation.

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