Giorgio Vallortigara

Giorgio Vallortigara is Professor of Neuroscience and Head of the Animal Brain and Cognition Laboratory at the Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University of Trento, Italy. He is the coauthor of Divided Brains: The Biology and Behaviour of Brain Asymmetries.

  • Born Knowing

    Born Knowing

    Imprinting and the Origins of Knowledge

    Giorgio Vallortigara

    An expert on the brain argues that the mind is not a blank slate and that much early behavior is biologically predisposed rather than learned.

    Why do newborns show a preference for a face (or something that resembles a face) over a nonface-like object? Why do baby chicks prefer a moving object to an inanimate one? Neither baby human nor baby chick has had time to learn to like faces or movement. In Born Knowing, neuroscientist Giorgio Vallortigara argues that the mind is not a blank slate. Early behavior is biologically predisposed rather than learned, and this instinctive or innate behavior, Vallortigara says, is key to understanding the origins of knowledge.

    Drawing on research carried out in his own laboratory over several decades, Vallortigara explores what the imprinting process in young chicks, paralleled by the cognitive feats of human newborns, reveals about minds at the onset of life. He explains that a preference for faces or representations of something face-like and animate objects—predispositions he calls “life detectors”—streamlines learning, allowing minds to avoid a confusing multiplicity of objects in the environment, and he considers the possibility that autism spectrum disorders might be linked to a deficit in the preference for the animate. He also demonstrates that animals do not need language to think, and that addition and subtraction can be performed without numbers. The origin of knowledge, Vallortigara argues, is the wisdom that humans and animals possess as basic brain equipment, the product of natural history rather than individual development.

    • Hardcover $24.95

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  • Cognitive Biology

    Cognitive Biology

    Evolutionary and Developmental Perspectives on Mind, Brain, and Behavior

    Luca Tommasi, Mary A. Peterson, and Lynn Nadel

    An overview of current research at the intersection of psychology and biology, integrating evolutionary and developmental data and explanations.

    In the past few decades, sources of inspiration in the multidisciplinary field of cognitive science have widened. In addition to ongoing vital work in cognitive and affective neuroscience, important new work is being conducted at the intersection of psychology and the biological sciences in general. This volume offers an overview of the cross-disciplinary integration of evolutionary and developmental approaches to cognition in light of these exciting new contributions from the life sciences. This research has explored many cognitive abilities in a wide range of organisms and developmental stages, and results have revealed the nature and origin of many instances of the cognitive life of organisms. Each section of Cognitive Biology deals with a key domain of cognition: spatial cognition; the relationships among attention, perception, and learning; representations of numbers and economic values; and social cognition. Contributors discuss each topic from the perspectives of psychology and neuroscience, brain theory and modeling, evolutionary theory, ecology, genetics, and developmental science.

    ContributorsChris M. Bird, Elizabeth M. Brannon, Neil Burgess, Jessica F. Cantlon, Stanislas Dehaene, Christian F. Doeller, Reuven Dukas, Rochel Gelman, Alexander Gerganov, Paul W. Glimcher, Robert L. Goldstone, Edward M. Hubbard, Lucia F. Jacobs, Mark H. Johnson, Annette Karmiloff-Smith, David Landy, Lynn Nadel, Nora S. Newcombe, Daniel Osorio, Mary A. Peterson, Manuela Piazza, Philippe Pinel, Michael L. Platt, Kristin R. Ratliff, Michael E. Roberts, Wendy S. Shallcross, Stephen V. Shepherd, Sylvain Sirois, Luca Tommasi, Alessandro Treves, Alexandra Twyman, Giorgio Vallortigara

    • Hardcover $11.75