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Archive for 'cognitive science'

new book – ‘The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Delusional Thought’ by Philip Gerrans

July 12, 2014

The Measure of Madness

The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Delusional Thought (Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology) by Philip Gerrans (Bradford Book/MIT, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

In The Measure of Madness, Philip Gerrans offers a novel explanation of delusion. Over the last two decades, philosophers and cognitive scientists have investigated explanations of delusion that interweave philosophical questions about the nature of belief and rationality with findings from cognitive science and neurobiology. Gerrans argues that once we fully describe the computational and neural mechanisms that produce delusion and the way in which conscious experience and thought depend on them, the concept of delusional belief retains only a heuristic role in the explanation of delusion.

Gerrans proposes that delusions are narrative models that accommodate anomalous experiences. He argues that delusions represent the operation of the Default Mode Network (DMN) — the cognitive system that provides the raw material for humans’ inbuilt tendency to provide a subjectively compelling narrative context for anomalous or highly salient experiences — without the “supervision” of higher cognitive processes present in the nondelusional mind. This explanation illuminates the relationship among delusions, dreams, imaginative states, and irrational beliefs that have perplexed philosophers and psychologists for over a century. Going beyond the purely conceptual and the phenomenological, Gerrans brings together findings from different disciplines to trace the flow of information through the cognitive system, and applies these to case studies of typical schizophrenic delusions: misidentification, alien control, and thought insertion. Drawing on the interventionist model of causal explanation in philosophy of science and the predictive coding approach to the mind influential in computational neuroscience, Gerrans provides a model for integrative theorizing about the mind.

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new book – ‘The Innocent Eye: Why Vision Is Not a Cognitive Process’ by Nico Orlandi

July 8, 2014

The Innocent Eye

The Innocent Eye: Why Vision Is Not a Cognitive Process (Philosophy of Mind Series) by Nico Orlandi (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Why does the world look to us as it does? Generally speaking, this question has received two types of answers in the cognitive sciences in the past fifty or so years. According to the first, the world looks to us the way it does because we construct it to look as it does. According to the second, the world looks as it does primarily because of how the world is. In The Innocent Eye, Nico Orlandi defends a position that aligns with this second, world-centered tradition, but that also respects some of the insights of constructivism. Orlandi develops an embedded understanding of visual processing according to which, while visual percepts are representational states, the states and structures that precede the production of percepts are not representations.

If we study the environmental contingencies in which vision occurs, and we properly distinguish functional states and features of the visual apparatus from representational states and features, we obtain an empirically more plausible, world-centered account. Orlandi shows that this account accords well with models of vision in perceptual psychology — such as Natural Scene Statistics and Bayesian approaches to perception — and outlines some of the ways in which it differs from recent ‘enactive’ approaches to vision. The main difference is that, although the embedded account recognizes the importance of movement for perception, it does not appeal to action to uncover the richness of visual stimulation.

The upshot is that constructive models of vision ascribe mental representations too liberally, ultimately misunderstanding the notion. Orlandi offers a proposal for what mental representations are that, following insights from Brentano, James and a number of contemporary cognitive scientists, appeals to the notions of de-coupleability and absence to distinguish representations from mere tracking states.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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out in paperback – ‘The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex: Anatomy, Evolution, and the Origin of Insight’ by Richard E. Passingham and Steven P. Wise

July 1, 2014

Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex

The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex: Anatomy, Evolution, and the Origin of Insight (Oxford Psychology Series) by Richard E. Passingham and Steven P. Wise (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

The prefrontal cortex makes up almost a quarter of the human brain, and it expanded dramatically during primate evolution. The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex presents a new theory about its fundamental function. In this important new book, the authors argue that primate-specific parts of the prefrontal cortex evolved to reduce errors in foraging choices, so that particular ancestors of modern humans could overcome periodic food shortages. These developments laid the foundation for working out problems in our imagination, which resulted in the insights that allow humans to avoid errors entirely, at least at times.

In the book, the authors detail which parts of the prefrontal cortex evolved exclusively in primates, how its connections explain why the prefrontal cortex alone can perform its function, and why other parts of the brain cannot do what the prefrontal cortex does. Based on an analysis of its evolutionary history, the book uses evidence from lesion, imaging, and cell-recording experiments to argue that the primate prefrontal cortex generates goals from a current behavioural context and that it can do so on the basis of single events. As a result, the prefrontal cortex uses the attentive control of behaviour to augment an older general-purpose learning system, one that evolved very early in the history of animals. This older system learns slowly and cumulatively over many experiences based on reinforcement. The authors argue that a new learning system evolved in primates at a particular time and place in their history, that it did so to decrease the errors inherent in the older learning system, and that severe volatility of food resources provided the driving force for these developments.

Written by two leading brain scientists, The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex is an important contribution to our understanding of the evolution and functioning of the human brain.

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See also: R. Passingham’s webpage

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new book – ‘The Custom-Made Brain: Cerebral Plasticity, Regeneration, and Enhancement’ by Jean-Didier Vincent and Pierre-Marie Lledo

June 26, 2014

The Custom-Made Brain

The Custom-Made Brain: Cerebral Plasticity, Regeneration, and Enhancement by Jean-Didier Vincent and Pierre-Marie Lledo (Columbia University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Two leading neuroscientists introduce the concepts of “cerebral plasticity” and the “regenerating brain,” describing what we know now about the processes through which the brain constantly reconstructs itself and the potential benefits this knowledge could have in addressing concerns for neurological, cognitive, and emotional health.

The authors begin with a survey of the fundamental scientific developments that led to our current understanding of the regenerative mind, elucidating the breakthrough neurobiological studies that paved the way for our present understanding of the brain’s plasticity and regenerative capabilities. They then discuss the application of these findings to such issues as depression, dyslexia, schizophrenia, and cognitive therapy, incorporating the latest technologies in neuroimaging, optogenetics, and nanotechnology. Their work shows the brain is anything but a static organ, ceasing to grow as human beings become adults. Rather, the brain is dynamic, evolving organically in relation to physical, cultural, historical, and affective stimuli, a plasticity that provides early hope to survivors of trauma and degenerative disorders.

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out in paperback – ‘Quantum Models of Cognition and Decision’ by Jerome R. Busemeyer and Peter D. Bruza

June 20, 2014

Quantum Models of Cognition and Decision

Quantum Models of Cognition and Decision by Jerome R. Busemeyer and Peter D. Bruza (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Much of our understanding of human thinking is based on probabilistic models. This innovative book by Jerome R. Busemeyer and Peter D. Bruza argues that, actually, the underlying mathematical structures from quantum theory provide a much better account of human thinking than traditional models. They introduce the foundations for modelling probabilistic-dynamic systems using two aspects of quantum theory. The first, ‘contextuality’, is a way to understand interference effects found with inferences and decisions under conditions of uncertainty. The second, ‘quantum entanglement’, allows cognitive phenomena to be modeled in non-reductionist ways. Employing these principles drawn from quantum theory allows us to view human cognition and decision in a totally new light. Introducing the basic principles in an easy-to-follow way, this book does not assume a physics background or a quantum brain and comes complete with a tutorial and fully worked-out applications in important areas of cognition and decision.

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