Skip navigation

Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Page 2 of 11
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.

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.

This volume offers a range of perspectives on a simple problem: How does the brain choose efficiently and adaptively among options to ensure coherent, goal-directed behavior? The contributors, from fields as varied as anatomy, psychology, learning theory, neuroimaging, neurophysiology, behavioral economics, and computational modeling, present an overview of key approaches in the study of cognitive control and decision making. The book not only presents a survey of cutting-edge research on the topic, it also provides a handbook useful to psychologists, biologists, economists, and neuroscientists alike.

The contributors consider such topics as the anatomical and physiological basis of control, examining core components of the control system, including contributions of the cerebral cortex, the ways in which subcortical brain regions underpin the control functions of the cortex, and neurotransmitter systems; variations in control seen in the development from adolescence to adulthood, in healthy adults, and in patient populations; recent developments in computational approaches, including reinforcement learning; and overarching trends in the current literature, including neuroeconomics, social decision making, and model-based approaches to data from neuroimaging and electrophysiology.

Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) suffer most visibly with such motor deficits as tremor and rigidity and less obviously with a range of nonmotor symptoms, including autonomic dysfunction, mood disorders, and cognitive impairment. The neuropsychiatric disturbances of PD can be as disabling as its motor disorders; but they have only recently begun to be studied intensively by clinicians and scientists. In this book, Patrick McNamara examines the major neuropsychiatric syndromes of PD in detail and offers a cognitive theory that accounts for both their neurology and their phenomenology.

McNamara offers an up-to-date review of current knowledge of such neuropsychiatric manifestations of PD as cognitive deficits, personality changes, speech and language symptoms, sleep disorders, apathy, psychosis, and dementia. He argues that the cognitive, mood, and personality symptoms of PD stem from the weakening or suppression of the agentic aspects of the self.

McNamara's study may well lead to improved treatment for Parkinson's patients. But its overarching goal is to arrive at a better understanding of the human mind and its breakdown patterns in patients with PD. The human mind-brain is an elaborate and complex structure patched together to produce what we call the self. When we observe the disruption of the self structure that occurs with the various neuropsychiatric disorders associated with PD, McNamara argues, we get a glimpse into the inner workings of the most spectacular structure of the self: the agentic self, the self that acts.

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. In these cutting-edge contributions, leading advocates of the multilevel approach view empathy from the perspectives of social, cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology and cognitive/affective neuroscience. Chapters include a critical examination of the various definitions of the empathy construct; surveys of major research traditions based on these differing views (including empathy as emotional contagion, as the projection of one’s own thoughts and feelings, and as a fundamental aspect of social development); clinical and applied perspectives, including psychotherapy and the study of empathy for other people’s pain; various neuroscience perspectives; and discussions of empathy’s evolutionary and neuroanatomical histories, with a special focus on neuroanatomical continuities and differences across the phylogenetic spectrum. The new discipline of social neuroscience bridges disciplines and levels of analysis. In this volume, the contributors’ state-of-the-art investigations of empathy from a social neuroscience perspective vividly illustrate the potential benefits of such cross-disciplinary integration.ContributorsC. Daniel Batson, James Blair, Karina Blair, Jerold D. Bozarth, Anne Buysse, Susan F. Butler, Michael Carlin, C. Sue Carter, Kenneth D. Craig, Mirella Dapretto, Jean Decety, Mathias Dekeyser, Ap Dijksterhuis, Robert Elliott, Natalie D. Eggum, Nancy Eisenberg, Norma Deitch Feshbach, Seymour Feshbach, Liesbet Goubert, Leslie S. Greenberg, Elaine Hatfield, James Harris, William Ickes, Claus Lamm, Yen-Chi Le, Mia Leijssen, Abigail Marsh, Raymond S. Nickerson, Jennifer H. Pfeifer, Stephen W. Porges, Richard L. Rapson, Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, Rick B. van Baaren, Matthijs L. van Leeuwen, Andries van der Leij, Jeanne C. Watson

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. Unlike most dyslexia research, which addresses the question “what is the cause of the reading disability called dyslexia?” the authors’ work has addressed the deeper question of “what is the cause of the learning disability that manifests as reading problems?” This perspective allows them to place dyslexia research within the much broader disciplines of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience and has led to a rich framework, including two established leading theories, the automatization deficit account (1990) and the cerebellar deficit hypothesis (2001).
Nicolson and Fawcett show that extensive evidence has accumulated to support these two theories and that they may be seen as subsuming the established phonological deficit account and sensory processing accounts. Moving to the explanatory level of neural systems, they argue that all these disorders reflect problems in some component of the procedural learning system, a multiregion system including major components of cortical and subcortical regions. The authors’ answer to the fundamental question “what is dyslexia?” offers a challenge and motivation for research throughout the learning disabilities, laying the foundations for future progress.

Roderick I. Nicolson is Professor of Psychology and Dean of the Faculty of Pure Science at the University of Sheffield. Angela Fawcett was Reader in Dyslexia at the University of Sheffield and is now Professor of Child Research and Director of the Centre for Child Research at Swansea University.

A Tribute to Michael S. Gazzaniga

These essays on a range of topics in the cognitive neurosciences report on the progress in the field over the twenty years of its existence and reflect the many groundbreaking scientific contributions and enduring influence of Michael Gazzaniga, "the godfather of cognitive neuroscience"—founder of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, founding editor of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, and editor of the major reference work, The Cognitive Neurosciences, now in its fourth edition (MIT Press, 2009). The essays, grouped into four sections named after four of Gazzaniga's books, combine science and memoir in varying proportions, and offer an authoritative survey of research in cognitive neuroscience. "The Bisected Brain" examines hemispheric topics pioneered by Gazzaniga at the start of his career; "The Integrated Mind" explores the theme of integration by domination; the wide-ranging essays in "The Social Brain" address subjects from genes to neurons to social conversations and networks; the topics explored in "Mind Matters" include evolutionary biology, methodology, and ethics.

Contributors: Kathleen Baynes, Giovanni Berlucchi, Leo M. Chalupa, Mark D’Esposito, Margaret G. Funnell, Mitchell Glickstein, Scott A. Guerin, Todd F. Heatherton, Steven A. Hillyard, William Hirst, Alan Kingstone, Stephen M. Kosslyn, Marta Kutas, Elisabetta Làdavas, Joseph Ledoux, George R. Mangun, Michael B. Miller, Elizabeth A. Phelps, Steven Pinker, Michael I. Posner, Patricia A. Reuter-Lorenz, Mary K. Rothbart, Andrea Serino, Brad E. Sheese

Each edition of this classic reference has proved to be a benchmark in the developing field of cognitive neuroscience. The fourth edition of The Cognitive Neurosciences continues to chart new directions in the study of the biologic underpinnings of complex cognition—the relationship between the structural and physiological mechanisms of the nervous system and the psychological reality of the mind. The material in this edition is entirely new, with all chapters written specifically for it.

Since the publication of the third edition, the field of cognitive neuroscience has made rapid and dramatic advances; fundamental stances are changing and new ideas are emerging. This edition reflects the vibrancy of the field, with research in development and evolution that finds a dynamic growth pattern becoming specific and fixed, and research in plasticity that sees the neuronal systems always changing; exciting new empirical evidence on attention that also verifies many central tenets of longstanding theories; work that shows the boundaries of the motor system pushed further into cognition; memory research that, paradoxically, provides insight into how humans imagine future events; pioneering theoretical and methodological work in vision; new findings on how genes and experience shape the language faculty; new ideas about how the emotional brain develops and operates; and research on consciousness that ranges from a novel mechanism for how the brain generates the baseline activity necessary to sustain conscious experience to a bold theoretical attempt to make the problem of qualia more tractable.

  • Page 2 of 11