Primatologists generally agree that monkeys lack higher-order intentional capacities related to theory of mind. Yet the discovery of the so-called "mirror neurons" in monkeys suggests to many neuroscientists that they have the rudiments of intentional understanding. Given a standard philosophical view about intentional understanding, which requires higher-order intentionahty, a paradox arises. Different ways of resolving the paradox are assessed, using evidence from neural, cognitive, and behavioral studies of humans and monkeys. A decisive resolution to the paradox requires substantial additional empirical (...) work and perhaps a rejection of the standard philosophical view. (shrink)
Multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) is a popular analytical technique in neuroscience that involves identifying patterns in fMRI BOLD signal data that are predictive of task conditions. But the technique is also frequently used to make inferences about the regions of the brain that are most important to the tasks in question, and our analysis shows that this is a mistake. MVPA does not provide a reliable guide to what information is being used by the brain during cognitive tasks, nor where (...) that information is. This is due in part to inherent run to run variability in the decision space generated by the classifier, but there are also several other issues, discussed below, that make inference from the characteristics of the learned models to relevant brain activity deeply problematic. These issues have significant implications both for many papers already published, and for how the field uses this technique in the future. (shrink)
Byrne & Russon's account of program imitation in primates involves propositional attitudes (expectations and goals), which limits its falsifiability. Yet their account of priming shows exactly how imitation without attitudes would look. The challenge is to upgrade the notion of priming to give an account of low-level program imitation without invoking propositional attitudes.
Neural organization: Structure, function, and dynamics shows how theory and experiment can supplement each other in an integrated, evolving account of the brain's structure, function, and dynamics. (1) Structure: Studies of brain function and dynamics build on and contribute to an understanding of many brain regions, the neural circuits that constitute them, and their spatial relations. We emphasize Szentágothai's modular architectonics principle, but also stress the importance of the microcomplexes of cerebellar circuitry and the lamellae of hippocampus. (2) Function: Control (...) of eye movements, reaching and grasping, cognitive maps, and the roles of vision receive a functional decomposition in terms of schemas. Hypotheses as to how each schema is implemented through the interaction of specific brain regions provide the basis for modeling the overall function by neural networks constrained by neural data. Synthetic PET integrates modeling of primate circuitry with data from human brain imaging. (3) Dynamics: Dynamic system theory analyzes spatiotemporal neural phenomena, such as oscillatory and chaotic activity in both single neurons and (often synchronized) neural networks, the self-organizing development and plasticity of ordered neural structures, and learning and memory phenomena associated with synaptic modification. Rhythm generation involves multiple levels of analysis, from intrinsic cellular processes to loops involving multiple brain regions. A variety of rhythms are related to memory functions. The Précis presents a multifaceted case study of the hippocampus. We conclude with the claim that language and other cognitive processes can be fruitfully studied within the framework of neural organization that the authors have charted with John Szentágothai. Key Words: cognitive maps; computational neuroscience; dynamics; hippocampus; memory; modular architectonics; neural modeling; neural organization; neural plasticity; rhythmogenesis; Szentágothai. (shrink)
AristotleÕs central argument for teleologyÑthough not necessarily his conclusionÑis repeated in the teleological arguments of Isaac Newton, Immanuel Kant, William Paley, and Charles Darwin. To appreciate AristotleÕs argument and its influence I assert, first, that AristotleÕs naturalistic teleology must be distinguished from PlatoÕs anthropomorphic one; second, the form of AristotleÕs arguments for teleology should be read as instances of inferences to the best explanation. On my reading, then, both NewtonÕs and PaleyÕs teleological arguments are Aristotelian while their conclusions are (...) Platonic. Kant and DarwinÕs arguments are likewise Aristotelian while their conclusions are unique. (shrink)
Attention research with prefrontal patients supports Merker's argument regarding the crucial role for the midbrain in higher cognition, through largely overlooked and misunderstood prefrontotectal connectivity. However, information theoretic analyses reveal that both exogenous (i.e., collicular) and endogenous (prefrontal) sources of information are responsible for large-scale context-sensitive brain dynamics, with prefrontal cortex being at the top of the hierarchy for cognitive control. (Published Online May 1 2007).
Phillips & Silverstein argue that a range of cognitive disturbances in schizophrenia result from a deficit in cognitive coordination attributable to NMDA receptor dysfunction. We suggest that the viability of this hypothesis would be further supported by explicit implementation in a computational framework that can produce quantitative estimates of the behavior of both healthy individuals and individuals with schizophrenia.
The insight that, in terms of behaviour control, the mesodiencephalic system is superordinate to the cortex should have profound implications for behavioural sciences. Nevertheless, the thalamocortical system could still be deemed an “organ of consciousness” if we came to accept that consciousness is not central to purposeful behaviour, in accordance with instinct theory. Philosophically, Merker's concepts of basic consciousness and ego-centre warrant critical discussion. (Published Online May 1 2007).
The advent of functional brain imaging has revolutionized the ability to understand the biological mechanisms underlying decision-making. Although it has been amply demonstrated that assumptions of rationality often break down in experimental games, there has not been an overarching theory of why this happens. I describe recent advances in functional brain imaging and suggest a framework for considering the function of the human reward system as a discrete agent.
Dysfunctions of the neural circuits that implement social behavior are necessary but not a sufficient condition to develop schizophrenia. We propose that schizophrenia represents a disease of general connectivity that impairs not only the “social brain” networks, but also different neural circuits related with higher cognitive and perceptual functions. We discuss possible mechanisms and evolutionary considerations.
Female behavior that is driven by ambivalent attachment is far from passive or withdrawn. As dramatised in the movie such women's emotional hyper-reactivity is often expressed in violence, which is antithetical to securing investment from mates or peers. Single motherhood, rather than reflecting an avoidant strategy in which close relationships are devalued, is often the result of ecological conditions in which paternal investment is desired but unavailable.
I will describe two non-standard ways of thinking about time. The first is ubiquitous in animal cognition. I will call it ‘phase time’. Suppose for example you consider a hibernating animal. This animal might have representation of the various seasons of the year, and modulate its actions dependent on the season. But it need have no distinction between the winter of one year and the winter of another; it thinks of time only in terms of repeatable phases.
Can one be ill and happy? I use a phenomenological approach to provide an answer to this question, using Merleau-Ponty’s distinction between the biological and the lived body. I begin by discussing the rift between the biological body and the ill person’s lived experience, which occurs in illness. The transparent and taken for granted biological body is problematised by illness, which exposes it as different from the lived experience of this body. I argue that because of this rift, the experience (...) of illness cannot be captured within a naturalistic view and propose to supplant this view with a phenomenological approach. The latter approach accounts for changes in the ill person’s relationship to her social and physical world. These changes, I argue, cannot be captured by a naturalistic perspective. I then propose the notion of health within illness as a useful concept for capturing the experience of well-being reported by some ill people. I present empirical evidence for this phenomenon and assess its philosophical significance. Finally, I suggest that adaptability and creativity are two common positive responses to illness, demonstrating that health within illness is possible. The three elements combined – the transformed body, health within illness and adaptability and creativity – serve as the basis for a positive answer to the question posed above. (shrink)
This commentary cites evidence to argue that girls growing up in a competitive and aggressive environment are more likely to shift to avoidant attachment than to ambivalent attachment in middle childhood. These avoidant women are also more likely to favor a short-term mating strategy. The role of oxytocin (OT) and early experience in shaping an avoidant attachment in females is also discussed.
The beginnings of unity and order in living things, by C. M. Child.--On the structure of the unconscious, by K. Koffka.--The genesis of social reactions in the young child, by J. E. Anderson.--The unconscious of the behaviorist, by J. B. Watson.--The unconscious patterning of behavior in society by E. Sapir.--The configurations of personality, by W. I. Thomas.--The prenatal and early postnatal phenomena of consciousness, by M. E. Kenworthy.--Values in social psychology, by F. L. Wells.--Higher levels of mental integration, by W. (...) A. White. (shrink)
The basal and reciprocal models of the relationship between androgen secretion and dominance are not mutually exclusive. Individuals may differ in basal levels of androgen secretion, reactivity to experiences, and androgen sensitivity. Early experiences might affect any of these parameters.
Griffiths and Machery (2008) argue that innateness is a ?folk biological? notion, which, as such, has no useful reconstruction in contemporary biology. If this is so, not only is it wrong to identify the vernacular notion with the precise theoretical concept of canalization, but worse, it would appear that many of the putative scientific claims for particular competences and capacities being innate are simply misplaced. The present paper challenges the core substantive claim of Griffiths and Machery's position, namely, that innateness (...) understood on canalization lines as environment-independent development (somehow and to some degree) is a confused, outmoded notion. It will be contended that the modality-independence of language offers a prima facie case against Griffiths and Machery's general position. (shrink)
We discuss the development of cognitive neuroscience in terms of the tension between the greater sophistication in cognitive concepts and methods of the cognitive sciences and the increasing power of more standard biological approaches to understanding brain structure and function. There have been major technological developments in brain imaging and advances in simulation, but there have also been shifts in emphasis, with topics such as thinking, consciousness, and social cognition becoming fashionable within the brain sciences. The discipline has great promise (...) in terms of applications to mental health and education, provided it does not abandon the cognitive perspective and succumb to reductionism. (shrink)
Rips et al. argue that the construction of math schemas roughly similar to the Dedekind/Peano axioms may be necessary for arriving at arithmetical skills. However, they neglect the neo-Fregean alternative axiomatization of arithmetic, based on Hume's principle. Frege arithmetic is arguably a more plausible start for a top-down approach in the psychological study of mathematical cognition than Peano arithmetic.
We propose a general framework for integrating theory and empiricism in human evolutionary ecology. We specifically emphasize the joint use of stochastic nonlinear dynamics and information theory. To illustrate critical ideas associated with historical contingency and complex dynamics, we review recent research on social preferences and social learning from behavioral economics. We additionally examine recent work on ecological approaches in history, the modeling of chaotic populations, and statistical application of information theory.
Evolution is not like an exam in which pre-set problems need to be solved. Failing to recognise this point, Clark & Thornton misconstrue the type of explanation called for in species learning although, clearly, species that can trade spaces have more chances to discover novel beneficial behaviours. On the other hand, the trading spaces strategy might help to explain lifetime learning successes.
I agree with Oaksford & Chater (O&C) that human beings resemble Bayesian reasoners much more closely than ones engaging standard logic. However, I have many problems with their framework, which appears to be rooted in normative rather than ecological rationality. The authors also overstate everyday rationality and neglect to account for much relevant psychological work on reasoning.
If one formulates Helmholtz's ideas about perception in terms of modern-day theories one arrives at a model of perceptual inference and learning that can explain a remarkable range of neurobiological facts. Using constructs from statistical physics it can be shown that the problems of inferring what cause our sensory inputs and learning causal regularities in the sensorium can be resolved using exactly the same principles. Furthermore, inference and learning can proceed in a biologically plausible fashion. The ensuing scheme rests on (...) Empirical Bayes and hierarchical models of how sensory information is generated. The use of hierarchical models enables the brain to construct prior expectations in a dynamic and context-sensitive fashion. This scheme provides a principled way to understand many aspects of the brain's organisation and responses. In this paper, we suggest that these perceptual processes are just one emergent property of systems that conform to a free-energy principle. The free-energy considered here represents a bound on the surprise inherent in any exchange with the environment, under expectations encoded by its state or configuration. A system can minimise free-energy by changing its configuration to change the way it samples the environment, or to change its expectations. These changes correspond to action and perception, respectively, and lead to an adaptive exchange with the environment that is characteristic of biological systems. This treatment implies that the system's state and structure encode an implicit and probabilistic model of the environment. We will look at models entailed by the brain and how minimisation of free-energy can explain its dynamics and structure. (shrink)
In sociology, there has been a controversy about whether there is any essential difference between a human being and a tool, or if the tool–user relationship can be defined by co-actor symmetry. This issue becomes more complex when we consider examples of AI and robots, and even more so following progress in the development of various bio-machine hybrid technologies, such as robots that include organic parts, human brain implants, and adaptive prosthetics. It is argued that a concept of autonomous agency (...) based on organismic embodiment helps to clarify the situation. On this view, agency consists of an asymmetrical relationship between an organism and its environment, because the continuous metabolic and regulatory activity of the organism gives rise to its own existence, and hence its specific behavioral domain. Accordingly, most (if not all) of current technologies are excluded from the class of autonomous agents. Instead, they are better conceptualized as interfaces that mediate our interactions with the world. This has important implications for design: Rather than trying to help humans to achieve their goals by duplicating their agency in artificial systems, it would be better to empower humans directly by enhancing their existing agency and lived experience with technological interfaces that can be incorporated into their embodiment. This incorporation might be especially facilitated by bio-machine hybrid technology that is designed according the principles of biological autonomy and multi-agent coordination dynamics. (shrink)
What kind of movement or behavior is involved in neonate imitation? What exactly is the newborn infant doing when it responds to seeing gestures on another person's face? This question is closely related to some other questions, such as whether neonate imitation is possible, and whether it is truly imitation. Piaget, of course, thought that this sort of "invisible imitation" was not possible for infants less than 8-12 months of age.
Studies by Gardiner and colleagues connecting musical pitch and arithmetic learning support Rips et al.'s proposal that natural number concepts are constructed on a base of innate abilities. Our evidence suggests that innate ability concerning sequence ( or BSC) is fundamental. Mathematical engagement relating number to BSC does not develop automatically, but, rather, should be encouraged through teaching.
Mandler's target article claims that infants' capacity to abstract certain kinds of information from perceptual ldisplays occurs through a special mechanism of ?perceptual meaning analysis?, which generates abstract, ?image-schemas? that are analogical representations summarizing spatial relations and movement in space. Under this view, perceptual processes give input to forming conceptual representations, but higher-order concepts are disembodied, symbolic representations that are stripped of their embodied roots. My alternative argument is that bodily experience has an enduring role in early conceptual development, and (...) throughout the lifespan, with image-schemas being continually tied to ongoing perceptual and kinesthetic actions. Many global and abstract concepts may be created in the moment given specific task demands and retain deep connections to embodied actions and experiences. (shrink)
This bibliographical review of the modelling of the mitotic apparatus covers a period of one hundred and twenty years, from the discovery of the bipolar mitotic spindle up to the present day. Without attempting to be fully comprehensive, it will describe the evolution of the main ideas that have left their mark on a century of experimental and theoretical research. Fol and Bütschli's first writings date back to 1873, at a time when Schleiden and Schwann's cell theory was rapidly gaining (...) ground throughout Germany. Both mitosis and chromosomes were to be discovered within the space of thirty years, along with the two key events in the animal and plant reproductive cycle, namely fecondation and meiosis. The mitotic pole, a term still in use to this day, was employed to describe a morphological fact which was noted as early as 1876, namely that the lines and the dots of the karyokinetic figure, with its spindle and asters, looks remarkably like the lines of force around a bar magnet. This was to lead to models designed to explain the movements of chromosomes which take place when the cell nucleus appears to cease to exist as an organelle during mitosis. The nature of those mechanisms and the origin of the forces behind the chromosomes' ordered movements were central to the debate. Auguste Prenant, in a remarkable bibliographical synthesis published in 1910, summed up the opposing viewpoints of the vitalists, on the one hand, who favoured the theory of contractility or extensility in spindle fibres, and of those who believed in models based on physical phenomena, on the other. The latter subdivided into two groups: some, like Bütschli, Rhumbler or Leduc, referred to diffusion, osmosis and superficial tension, whilst the others, led by Gallardo and Hartog, focussed on the laws of electromagnetism. Lillie, Kuwada and Darlington followed up this line of research. The mid-20th century was a major turning point. Most of the modelling mentioned above was criticized and fell into disuse after disappearing from research publications and textbooks.This marked the onset of a new era, as electron microscopes made possible the materialization and detailed study of the macromolecular elements of the fibres, filaments and microtubules of the cytoskeleton. The successive phases of (a) de Harven and Bernhard's 1956 discovery of the centriole's ultrastructure, (b) its identification with the basal body of the cilia and flagella, confirming the theory set out by Henneguy and von Lenhossek (1898–99), (c) the universal presence of microtubules in animal, vegetal and eukaryotic protist cells, (d) the polymerization-depolymerization induced reversible transformations of the tubulin pool in mitosing cells (Inoue, 1960), (e) ultrastructural comparative studies of the mitotic apparatus of eukaryotes illustrating the Pickett-Heaps integrating concept of the MTOC (microtubule-organizing centre), (f) the possibility ofin vitro experiments on mtocs or on microtubules, brings us upon the present day, which has seen the focus placed on the concept of motor-proteins (kinesin, dynein) and on cell cycle models. The latter are based on a close coincidence between the observable modifications of the mitotic apparatus and the periodic variations in intracellular concentrations of calcium or of certain enzymes (cyclins, Cdc2) during the main transitions of the cell cycle. (shrink)
This article examines and rejects the claim that 'innateness is canalization'. Waddington's concept of canalization is distinguished from the narrower concept of environmental canalization with which it is often confused. Evidence is presented that the concept of environmental canalization is not an accurate analysis of the existing concept of innateness. The strategy of 'biologicizing the mind' by treating psychological or behavioral traits as if they were environmentally canalized physiological traits is criticized using data from developmental psychobiology. It is concluded that (...) identifying innateness with environmental canalization can only result in adding unhelpful associations from 'folkbiology' to the relatively precise idea of canalization. (shrink)
We critique five points that impede the target article's far-reaching efforts toward formulating a neurobiological theory of language. Neurolinguistics amounts to no more than neurology in linguistics in this account, because it assumes “perceptual representational isomorphism,” processing autonomy and “meaning,” thereby aiming primarily at justifying modular concepts in terms of associative principles.