Why do we have emotions? What are the bases of social behaviour? What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? How, and why, do we appreciate art? How do we make decisions? Are there biological foundations to ethical behaviour? Why do people follow religions, or believe in life after death? -/- These wide-ranging, but important questions are just some of those considered in this exploration of the field of neuroscience, and how it can crucially inform our knowledge across (...) a range of seemingly unrelated disciplines. 'Neuroculture' considers the implications of our modern understanding of how the brain works, how it was shaped by evolution, and how it can help us understand many mental issues central to everyday life. -/- The book starts with a look at emotions and how they are important in our behaviour. It then considers social behaviour, looking at the adaptive differences between men and women. The next chapter considers emotion and rationality, and the mechanisms of decision making. In the following chapter, the author looks at philosophical issues, considering the relationship between the mind and brain, and considering whether the hardware/software distinction in a computer might tell us something about mind-brain interactions. The following chapter considers neuroaesthetics - the biological foundations of our appreciation of art - including visual art, literature, and music. Is art a useless ornament? Is music, to quote Steven Pinker, really just 'auditory cheescake'? After this, the author looks at the field of neuroeconomics - how neuroscience is informing us about how we make economic choices. The wide-ranging chapters that follow consider neuroethics - the biological foundations of ethical behaviour, neuropsychiatry - the connection between neural functioning and psychiatric disorders, neuroreligion - the possible biological foundations of religious belief, and neuropolitics - how our knowlege of the emotion and rational reasoning systems might help us develop strategies to solve political problems. -/- Written to appeal to students and researchers across the biological sciences and humanities, Neuroculture will be fascinating reading for those in neuroscience, psychology, biology, medicine, economics, animal behaviour, psychiatry, philosophy, the arts - indeed anyone interested in why we behave as we do. (shrink)
What produces emotions? Why do we have emotions? How do we have emotions? Why do emotional states feel like something? This book seeks explanations of emotion by considering these questions. -/- Emotion continues to be a topic of enormous scientific interest. 'Emotion Explained' describes the nature, functions, and brain mechanisms that underlie both emotion and motivation. However it goes beyond examining brain mechanisms of emotion, by proposing a theory of what emotions are, and an evolutionary, Darwinian, theory of the adaptive (...) value of emotion. It also shows that there is a clear relationship between motivation and emotion. The book also examines how cognitive states can modulate emotions, and in turn, how emotions can influence cognitive states. It considers the role of sexual selection in the evolution of affective behaviour. It also examines emotion and decision making, with links to the burgeoning field of neuroeconomics. The book is also unique in considering emotion at several levels - the neurophysiological, neuroimaging, neuropsychological, behavioural, and computational neuroscience levels. (shrink)
Memory, attention, and decision-making are three major areas of psychology. They are frequently studied in isolation, and using a range of models to understand them. This book brings a unified approach to understanding these three processes. It shows how these fundamental functions for cognitive neuroscience can be understood in a common and unifying computational neuroscience framework. This framework links empirical research on brain function from neurophysiology, functional neuroimaging, and the effects of brain damage, to a description of how neural networks (...) in the brain implement these functions using a set of common principles. The book describes the principles of operation of these networks, and how they could implement such important functions as memory, attention, and decision-making. -/- The topics covered include -/- The hippocampus and memory Reward and punishment related learning: emotion and motivation Visual object recognition learning Short term memory Attention, short term memory, and biased competition Probabilistic decision-making Action selection Decision-making -/- Also included are tutorial appendices on -/- Neural networks in the brain Neural encoding in the brain -/- 'Memory, Attention and Decision-Making' will be valuable for those in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience from advanced undergraduate level upwards. It will also be of interest to those interested in neuroeconomics, animal behaviour, zoology, evolutionary biology, psychiatry, medicine, and philosophy. The book has been written with modular chapters and sections, making it possible to select particular Chapters for course work. (shrink)
The representation of objects and faces by neurons in the temporal lobe visual cortical areas of primates has the property that the neurons encode relatively independent information in their firing rates. This means that the number of stimuli that can be encoded increases exponentially with the number of neurons in an ensemble. Moreover, the information can be read by receiving neurons that perform just a synaptically weighted sum of the firing rates being received. Some ways in which these representations become (...) grounded in the world are described. The issue of syntactic binding in representations, and of its value for a higher order thought system, is discussed. (shrink)
There are many advantages to defining emotions as states elicited by reinforcers, with the states having a set of different functions. This approach leads towards an understanding of the nature of emotion, of its evolutionary adaptive value, and of many principles of brain design. It also leads towards a foundation for many of the processes that underlie evolutionary psychology and behavioral ecology. It is shown that recent as well as previous evidence implicates the amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex in positive as (...) well as negative emotions. The issue of why emotional states feel like something is part of the much larger problem of phenomenal consciousness. It is argued that thinking about one's own thoughts would have adaptive value by enabling first order linguistic thoughts to be corrected. It is suggested that reflecting on and correcting one's own thoughts and plans would feel like something, and that phenomenal consciousness may occur when this type of monitoring process is taking place. (shrink)
The topics treated in The brain and emotion include the definition, nature, and functions of emotion (Ch. 3); the neural bases of emotion (Ch. 4); reward, punishment, and emotion in brain design (Ch. 10); a theory of consciousness and its application to understanding emotion and pleasure (Ch. 9); and neural networks and emotion-related learning (Appendix). The approach is that emotions can be considered as states elicited by reinforcers (rewards and punishers). This approach helps with understanding the functions of emotion, with (...) classifying different emotions, and in understanding what information-processing systems in the brain are involved in emotion, and how they are involved. The hypothesis is developed that brains are designed around reward-and punishment-evaluation systems, because this is the way that genes can build a complex system that will produce appropriate but flexible behavior to increase fitness (Ch. 10). By specifying goals rather than particular behavioral patterns of responses, genes leave much more open the possible behavioral strategies that might be required to increase fitness. The importance of reward and punishment systems in brain design also provides a basis for understanding the brain mechanisms of motivation, as described in Chapters 2 for appetite and feeding, 5 for brain-stimulation reward, 6 for addiction, 7 for thirst, and 8 for sexual behavior. Key Words: amygdala; brain evolution; consciousness; dopamine; emotion; hunger; orbitofrontal cortex; punishment; reward; taste. (shrink)
Understanding consciousness is a truly multidisciplinary project, attracting intense interest from researchers and theorists from diverse backgrounds. Thus, we now have computational scientists, neuroscientists, and philosophers all engaged in the same effort. This book draws together the work of leading researchers around the world, providing insights from these three general perspectives. The work is highlighted by a rare look at work being conducted by Japanese researchers.