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Cognitive Neuroscience

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From Laboratory to Theory

Vision is one of the most active areas in biomedical research, and visual psychophysical techniques are a foundational methodology for this research enterprise. Visual psychophysics, which studies the relationship between the physical world and human behavior, is a classical field of study that has widespread applications in modern vision science. Bridging the gap between theory and practice, this textbook provides a comprehensive treatment of visual psychophysics, teaching not only basic techniques but also sophisticated data analysis methodologies and theoretical approaches. It begins with practical information about setting up a vision lab and goes on to discuss the creation, manipulation, and display of visual images; timing and integration of displays with measurements of brain activities and other relevant techniques; experimental designs; estimation of behavioral functions; and examples of psychophysics in applied and clinical settings.

The book's treatment of experimental designs presents the most commonly used psychophysical paradigms, theory-driven psychophysical experiments, and the analysis of these procedures in a signal-detection theory framework. The book discusses the theoretical underpinnings of data analysis and scientific interpretation, presenting data analysis techniques that include model fitting, model comparison, and a general framework for optimized adaptive testing methods. It includes many sample programs in Matlab with functions from Psychtoolbox, a free toolbox for real-time experimental control. Once students and researchers have mastered the material in this book, they will have the skills to apply visual psychophysics to cutting-edge vision science.

From Interactions to Integration

The idea that a specific brain circuit constitutes the emotional brain (and its corollary, that cognition resides elsewhere) shaped thinking about emotion and the brain for many years. Recent behavioral, neuropsychological, neuroanatomy, and neuroimaging research, however, suggests that emotion interacts with cognition in the brain. In this book, Luiz Pessoa moves beyond the debate over functional specialization, describing the many ways that emotion and cognition interact and are integrated in the brain.

The amygdala is often viewed as the quintessential emotional region of the brain, but Pessoa reviews findings revealing that many of its functions contribute to attention and decision making, critical components of cognitive functions. He counters the idea of a subcortical pathway to the amygdala for affective visual stimuli with an alternate framework, the multiple waves model. Citing research on reward and motivation, Pessoa also proposes the dual competition model, which explains emotional and motivational processing in terms of their influence on competition processes at both perceptual and executive function levels. He considers the broader issue of structure-function mappings, and examines anatomical features of several regions often associated with emotional processing, highlighting their connectivity properties. As new theoretical frameworks of distributed processing evolve, Pessoa concludes, a truly dynamic network view of the brain will emerge, in which "emotion" and "cognition" may be used as labels in the context of certain behaviors, but will not map cleanly into compartmentalized pieces of the brain.

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.

Following opening chapters that offer theoretical context, the contributors discuss such issues as the heritability of creativity; creativity in patients with brain damage, neurodegenerative conditions, and mental illness; clinical interventions and the relationship between psychopathology and creativity; neuroimaging studies of intelligence and creativity; neuroscientific basis of creativity-enhancing methodologies; and the information-processing challenges of viewing visual art.

Contributors: Baptiste Barbot, Mathias Benedek, David Q. Beversdorf, Aaron P. Blaisdell, Margaret A. Boden, Dorret I. Boomsma, Adam S. Bristol, Shelley Carson, M.H.M. de Moor, Andreas Fink, Liane Gabora, Dennis Garlick, Elena L. Grigorenko, Richard J. Haier, Rex E. Jung, James C. Kaufman, Helmut Leder, Kenneth J. Leising, Bruce L. Miller, Apara Ranjan, M.P. Roeling, W. David Stahlman, Mei Tan, Pablo P.L. Tinio, Oshin Vartanian, Indre V. Viskontas, Dahlia W. Zaidel

How the Physical Brain Captures a Landscape of Abstract Universals

In Plato's Camera, eminent philosopher Paul Churchland offers a novel account of how the brain constructs a representation—or "takes a picture"—of the universe’s timeless categorical and dynamical structure. This construction process, which begins at birth, yields the enduring background conceptual framework with which we will interpret our sensory experience for the rest of our lives. But, as even Plato knew, to make singular perceptual judgments requires that we possess an antecedent framework of abstract categories to which any perceived particular can be relevantly assimilated. How that background framework is assembled in the first place is the motivating mystery, and the primary target, of Churchland's book.

Unexpectedly, this neurobiologically grounded account of human cognition also provides a systematic story of how such low-level epistemological activities are integrated within an enveloping framework of linguistic structures and regulatory mechanisms at the social level. As Churchland illustrates, this integration of cognitive mechanisms at several levels has launched the human race on an epistemological adventure denied to all other terrestrial creatures.

A Mysterious Relationship

This book explores the relationships between language, music, and the brain by pursuing four key themes and the crosstalk among them: song and dance as a bridge between music and language; multiple levels of structure from brain to behavior to culture; the semantics of internal and external worlds and the role of emotion; and the evolution and development of language. The book offers specially commissioned expositions of current research accessible both to experts across disciplines and to non-experts. These chapters provide the background for reports by groups of specialists that chart current controversies and future directions of research on each theme.

The book looks beyond mere auditory experience, probing the embodiment that links speech to gesture and music to dance. The study of the brains of monkeys and songbirds illuminates hypotheses on the evolution of brain mechanisms that support music and language, while the study of infants calibrates the developmental timetable of their capacities. The result is a unique book that will interest any reader seeking to learn more about language or music and will appeal especially to readers intrigued by the relationships of language and music with each other and with the brain.

Contributors: Francisco Aboitiz, Michael A. Arbib, Annabel J. Cohen, Ian Cross, Peter Ford Dominey, W. Tecumseh Fitch, Leonardo Fogassi, Jonathan Fritz, Thomas Fritz, Peter Hagoort, John Halle, Henkjan Honing, Atsushi Iriki, Petr Janata, Erich Jarvis, Stefan Koelsch, Gina Kuperberg, D. Robert Ladd, Fred Lerdahl, Stephen C. Levinson, Jerome Lewis, Katja Liebal, Jônatas Manzolli, Bjorn Merker, Lawrence M. Parsons, Aniruddh D. Patel, Isabelle Peretz, David Poeppel, Josef P. Rauschecker, Nikki Rickard, Klaus Scherer, Gottfried Schlaug, Uwe Seifert, Mark Steedman, Dietrich Stout, Francesca Stregapede, Sharon Thompson-Schill, Laurel Trainor, Sandra E. Trehub, Paul Verschure

How do we make decisions? Conventional decision theory tells us only which behavioral choices we ought to make if we follow certain axioms. In real life, however, our choices are governed by cognitive mechanisms shaped over evolutionary time through the process of natural selection. Evolution has created strong biases in how and when we process information, and it is these evolved cognitive building blocks—from signal detection and memory to individual and social learning—that provide the foundation for our choices. An evolutionary perspective thus sheds necessary light on the nature of how we and other animals make decisions.

This volume—with contributors from a broad range of disciplines, including evolutionary biology, psychology, economics, anthropology, neuroscience, and computer science—offers a multidisciplinary examination of what evolution can tell us about our and other animals' mechanisms of decision making. Human children, for example, differ from chimpanzees in their tendency to over-imitate others and copy obviously useless actions; this divergence from our primate relatives sets up imitation as one of the important mechanisms underlying human decision making. The volume also considers why and when decision mechanisms are robust, why they vary across individuals and situations, and how social life affects our decisions.

A Meta-Meta-Analysis

Cognitive neuroscientists increasingly claim that brain images generated by new brain imaging technologies reflect, correlate, or represent cognitive processes. In this book, William Uttal warns against these claims, arguing that, despite its utility in anatomic and physiological applications, brain imaging research has not provided consistent evidence for correlation with cognition. Uttal bases his argument on an extensive review of the empirical literature, pointing to variability in data not only among subjects within individual experiments but also in the new meta-analytical approach that pools data from different experiments. This inconsistency of results, he argues, has profound implications for the field, suggesting that cognitive neuroscientists have not yet proven their interpretations of the relation between brain activity captured by macroscopic imaging techniques and cognitive processes; what may have appeared to be correlations may have only been illusions of association. He supports the view that the true correlates are located at a much more microscopic level of analysis: the networks of neurons that make up the brain.

Uttal carries out comparisons of the empirical data at several levels of data pooling, including the meta-analytical. He argues that although the idea seems straightforward, the task of pooling data from different experiments is extremely complex, leading to uncertain results, and that little is gained by it. Uttal's investigation suggests a need for cognitive neuroscience to reevaluate the entire enterprise of brain imaging-cognition correlational studies.

Edited by Barry E. Stein

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. More recently, studies involving both human and nonhuman subjects have focused on relationships among multisensory neuronal ensembles and their behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive correlates. The New Handbook of Multisensory Processing synthesizes the central themes in this rapidly developing area, reports on current findings, and offers a blueprint for future research. The contributions, all of them written for this volume by leading experts, reflect the evolution and current state of the field.

This handbook does more than simply review the field. Each of the volume's eleven sections broadly surveys a major topic, and each begins with a substantive and thought-provoking commentary by the section editor that identifies the major issues being explored, describes their treatment in the chapters that follow, and sets these findings within the context of the existing body of knowledge. Together, the commentaries and chapters provide an invaluable guide to areas of general agreement, unresolved issues, and topics that remain to be explored in this fast-moving field.

Analogous Processes on Different Levels

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. Using facts and insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and history, they describe a single process of consolidation with analogous—not merely comparable—manifestations on any level, whether brain, family, or society. They propose a three-in-one model of memory consolidation, composed of a buffer, a relator, and a generalizer, all within the consolidating entity, that can explain memory consolidation phenomena on individual and collective levels.

When consolidation is disrupted by traumatic injury to a brain structure known as the hippocampus, memories in the process of being consolidated are lost. In individuals, this is known as retrograde amnesia. The authors hypothesize a "social hippocampus" and argue that disruption at the collective level can result in collective retrograde amnesia. They offer the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) as an example of trauma to the social hippocampus and present evidence for the loss of recent collective memory in mainland Chinese populations that experienced the Cultural Revolution.

The Picoeconomics and Neuroeconomics of Disordered Gambling: Economic Theory and Cognitive Science

The explanatory power of economic theory is tested by the phenomenon of irrational consumption, examples of which include such addictive behaviors as disordered and pathological gambling. Midbrain Mutiny examines different economic models of disordered gambling, using the frameworks of neuroeconomics (which analyzes decision making in the brain) and picoeconomics (which analyzes patterns of consumption behavior), and drawing on empirical evidence about behavior and the brain.

The book describes addiction in neuroeconomic terms as chronic disruption of the balance between the midbrain dopamine system and the prefrontal and frontal serotonergic system, and reviews recent evidence from trials testing the effectiveness of antiaddiction drugs. The authors argue that the best way to understand disordered and addictive gambling is with a hybrid picoeconomic-neuroeconomic model.

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