Skip navigation

Cognition, Brain, & Behavior

Cognition, Brain, & Behavior

  • Page 1 of 86
An Investigation into the Varieties and Virtues of Anxiety

In The Anxious Mind, Charlie Kurth offers a philosophical account of anxiety in its various forms, investigating its nature and arguing for its value in agency, virtue, and decision making. Folk wisdom tells us that anxiety is unpleasant and painful, and scholarly research seems to provide empirical and philosophical confirmation of this. But Kurth points to anxiety’s positive effects: enhancing performance, facilitating social interaction, and even contributing to moral thought and action.

One in twenty-three people carry the genes for the synesthesia. Not a disorder but a neurological trait—like perfect pitch—synesthesia creates vividly felt cross-sensory couplings. A synesthete might hear a voice and at the same time see it as a color or shape, taste its distinctive flavor, or feel it as a physical touch. In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Richard Cytowic, the expert who returned synesthesia to mainstream science after decades of oblivion, offers a concise, accessible primer on this fascinating human experience.

Retraining Subconscious Awareness

This is a book for readers who want to probe more deeply into mindfulness. It goes beyond the casual, once-in-awhile meditation in popular culture, grounding mindfulness in daily practice, Zen teachings, and recent research in neuroscience. In Living Zen Remindfully, James Austin, author of the groundbreaking Zen and the Brain, describes authentic Zen training—the commitment to a process of regular, ongoing daily life practice. This training process enables us to unlearn unfruitful habits, develop more wholesome ones, and lead a more genuinely creative life.

Selected Essays

These essays explore how the rich and sophisticated forms of self-consciousness with which we are most familiar—as philosophers, psychologists, and as ordinary, reflective individuals—depend on a complex underpinning that has been largely invisible to students of the self and self-consciousness.

The Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Many organisms (including humans) make decisions by relying on mental representations. Not simply a reaction triggered by perception, representational decision making employs high-level, non-perceptual mental states with content to manage interactions with the environment. A person making a decision based on mental representations, for example, takes a step back from her perceptions at the time to assess the nature of the world she lives in. But why would organisms rely on representational decision making, and what evolutionary benefits does this reliance provide to the decision maker?

Toward a Test of Rational Thinking

Why are we surprised when smart people act foolishly? Smart people do foolish things all the time. Misjudgments and bad decisions by highly educated bankers and money managers, for example, brought us the financial crisis of 2008. Smart people do foolish things because intelligence is not the same as the capacity for rational thinking. The Rationality Quotient explains that these two traits, often (and incorrectly) thought of as one, refer to different cognitive functions.

In this book, Leonard Talmy proposes that a single linguistic/cognitive system, targeting, underlies two domains of linguistic reference, those termed anaphora (for a referent that is an element of the current discourse) and deixis (for a referent outside the discourse and in the spatiotemporal surroundings). Talmy argues that language engages the same cognitive system to single out referents whether they are speech-internal or speech-external.

The Conspiracy Against Science

In a post-truth, fake news world, we are particularly susceptible to the claims of pseudoscience. When emotions and opinions are more widely disseminated than scientific findings, and self-proclaimed experts get their expertise from Google, how can the average person distinguish real science from fake? This book examines pseudoscience from a variety of perspectives, through case studies, analysis, and personal accounts that show how to recognize pseudoscience, why it is so widely accepted, and how to advocate for real science.

Integrating Insights from Gestalt Theory, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Predictive Processing

How can we account for phenomenal unity? That is, how can we characterize and explain our experience of objects and groups of objects, bodily experiences, successions of events, and the attentional structure of consciousness as wholes? In this book, Wanja Wiese develops an interdisciplinary account of phenomenal unity, investigating how experiential wholes can be characterized and how such characterization can be analyzed conceptually as well as computationally.

Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. With the publication of The Illusion of Conscious Will in 2002, Daniel Wegner proposed an innovative and provocative answer: the feeling of conscious will is created by the mind and brain; it helps us to appreciate and remember our authorship of the things our minds and bodies do.

  • Page 1 of 86