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Cognition, Brain, & Behavior

Cognition, Brain, & Behavior

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From James and Wundt to Cognitive Science

Modern psychology began with the adoption of experimental methods at the end of the nineteenth century: Wilhelm Wundt established the first formal laboratory in 1879; universities created independent chairs in psychology shortly thereafter; and William James published the landmark work Principles of Psychology in 1890. In A History of Modern Experimental Psychology, George Mandler traces the evolution of modern experimental and theoretical psychology from these beginnings to the "cognitive revolution" of the late twentieth century.

In recent decades, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study. The social neuroscience approach to the subject is premised on the idea that studying empathy at multiple levels (biological, cognitive, and social) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how other people’s thoughts and feelings can affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

How They Shape Our World

How can you know when someone is bluffing? Paying attention? Genuinely interested? The answer, writes Alex Pentland in Honest Signals, is that subtle patterns in how we interact with other people reveal our attitudes toward them. These unconscious social signals are not just a back channel or a complement to our conscious language; they form a separate communication network. Biologically based “honest signaling,” evolved from ancient primate signaling mechanisms, offers an unmatched window into our intentions, goals, and values.

Sociocultural Grounds for Self-Consciousness

In Our Own Minds, Radu Bogdan takes a developmental perspective on consciousness—its functional design in particular—and proposes that children's functional capacity for consciousness is assembled during development out of a variety of ontogenetic adaptations that respond mostly to sociocultural challenges specific to distinct stages of childhood.

New Perspectives on the Causal Theory of Action

The causal theory of action (CTA) is widely recognized in the literature of the philosophy of action as the "standard story" of human action and agency—the nearest approximation in the field to a theoretical orthodoxy. This volume brings together leading figures working in action theory today to discuss issues relating to the CTA and its applications, which range from experimental philosophy to moral psychology.

The Brain and the Enigma of Impossible Languages

In The Boundaries of Babel, Andrea Moro tells the story of an encounter between two cultures: contemporary theoretical linguistics and the cognitive neurosciences. The study of language within a biological context has been ongoing for more than fifty years. The development of neuroimaging technology offers new opportunities to enrich the "biolinguistic perspective" and extend it beyond an abstract framework for inquiry.

In Music and Probability, David Temperley explores issues in music perception and cognition from a probabilistic perspective. The application of probabilistic ideas to music has been pursued only sporadically over the past four decades, but the time is ripe, Temperley argues, for a reconsideration of how probabilities shape music perception and even music itself.

Dyslexia research has made dramatic progress since the mid-1980s. Once discounted as a “middle-class myth,” dyslexia is now the subject of a complex—and confusing—body of theoretical and empirical research. In Dyslexia, Learning, and the Brain, leading dyslexia researchers Roderick Nicolson and Angela Fawcett provide a uniquely broad and coherent analysis of dyslexia theory.

A Revolution in Economics

Revolutionary developments in economics are rare. The conservative bias of the field and its enshrined knowledge make it difficult to introduce new ideas not in line with received theory. Happiness research, however, has the potential to change economics substantially in the future.

In The Self-Organizing Social Mind, John Bolender proposes a new explanation for the forms of social relations. He argues that the core of social-relational cognition exhibits beauty—in the physicist’s sense of the word, associated with symmetry. Bolender describes a fundamental set of patterns in interpersonal cognition, which account for the resulting structures of social life in terms of their symmetries and the breaking of those symmetries.

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