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new book – ‘Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness’ by Joel & Ian Gold

July 9, 2014

Suspicious Minds

Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madnessby Joel Gold and Ian Gold (Free Press, 2014)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Combining extraordinary true stories with the latest research, Joel and Ian Gold take us on a wild journey through the delusional brain to explore the intersection of neuroscience, biology, and culture.

Mr. A. was admitted to Dr. Joel Gold’s inpatient unit at Bellevue Hospital in 2002. He was, he said, being filmed constantly, and his life was being broadcast around the world “like The Truman Show”—the 1998 film depicting a man who is unknowingly living out his life as the star of a popular soap opera. Over the next few years, Gold saw a number of patients suffering from what he and his brother, Dr. Ian Gold, began calling the “Truman Show Delusion,” launching them on a quest to understand the nature of this particular phenomenon, of delusions more generally, and the nature of madness itself.

The current view of delusions is that they are the result of biology gone awry, of neurons in the brain misfiring. In contrast, the Golds argue, delusions are in fact the result of the interaction between the brain and the social world. By exploring the major categories of delusion via fascinating case studies and marshaling the latest research in schizophrenia, the brothers reveal the role of culture and the social world in the development of psychosis, notably delusions. The result is a groundbreaking new direction for thinking about the interaction of the brain and the world around us.

Sure to appeal to those who admire the work of Oliver Sacks, Steven Pinker, and Antonio Damasio, Suspicious Minds presents a fascinating study about just how dramatically our surroundings can influence our brains.

Google Books preview:

Comments (0) - culture,new books,psychology

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

Comments (1) - cognitive science,new books,philosophy of mind

currently $2.00 kindle ebook – ‘How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain’ by Gregory Burns

July 7, 2014

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Kindle Daily Deal for Sunday 7/6 – 50 “Summer Reads” for $1.99 each (fiction & nonfiction)

July 6, 2014

Selections include:

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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.

Google Books preview:

See also: R. Passingham’s webpage

Comments (0) - cognitive science,human evolution,new books