How can a fruitful dialogue with neuroscientists add knowledge to the unconscious – the specific research object of psychoanalysis? Apparently a growing number of worldwide research groups have begun to realize that the neurosciences and psychoanalysis can benefit from each other in interesting ways. Sometimes empirical studies evoke challenging research questions for both research fields. In the on-going LAC-Depressionstudy, for example, one interesting and unexpected finding for both research fields is that a large majority of chronically depressed in long-term (...) psychoanalytic therapy suffered from severe traumatization during childhood. Changes of dreams during psychoanalysis with severely traumatized patients could indicate that a symbolization process of the trauma has taken place – and thus indicating significant transformations in the inner world of the patient. In this paper we report on an attempt to measure such transformation processes in the manifest dreams of chronic depressed analysands not only by clinical psychoanalytic observations but also by a theory-guided content analysis of dreams. These findings are then interrelated with neural correlates of changes in dreams illustrated in a single case of the on-going FRED study (Frankfurt fMRI/EEG Depression Study) where chronically depressed patients are examined with fMRI during their psychoanalytic treatment. The results of both fields of research are then discussed. (shrink)
The Mathematics Education and Neurosciences project is an interdisciplinary research program that bridges mathematics education research with neuroscientific research. The bidirectional collaboration will provide greater insight into young children's (aged four to six years) mathematical abilities. Specifically, by combining qualitative ‘design research’ with quantitative ‘experimental research’, we aim to come to a more thorough understanding of prerequisites that are involved in the development of early spatial and number sense. The mathematics education researchers are concerned with kindergartner's spatial structuring ability, (...) while the neuroscientists are studying kindergartner's automatic quantity processing and its effect on mathematical development. The outcomes of these investigations should contribute to practical ways of fostering and supporting young children's mathematical thinking and learning. (shrink)
_Cognitive Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary area of research that combines measurement of brain activity (mostly by means of neuroimaging) with a simultaneous performance of cognitive tasks by human subjects. These investigations have been successful in the task of connecting the sciences of the brain (Neurosciences) and the sciences of the mind (Cognitive Sciences). Advances on this kind of research provide a map of localization of cognitive functions in the human brain. Do these results help us to understand how mind (...) relates to the brain? In my view, the results obtained by the Cognitive Neurosciences lead to new investigations in the domain of Molecular Neurobiology, aimed at discovering biophysical mechanisms that generate the activity measured by neuroimaging instruments. In this context, I argue that the understanding of how ionic/molecular processes support cognition and consciousness cannot be made by means of the standard reductionist explanations. Knowledge of ionic/molecular mechanisms can contribute to our understanding of the human mind as long as we assume an alternative form of explanation, based on psycho-physical similarities, together with an ontological view of mentality and spirituality as embedded in physical nature (and not outside nature, as frequently assumed in western culture)._. (shrink)
Let me first state that I like Antti Revonsuo’s discussion of the various methodological and interpretational problems in neuroscience. It shows how careful and methodologically reflected scientists have to proceed in this fascinating field of research. I have nothing to add here. Furthermore, I am very sympathetic towards Revonsuo’s general proposal to call for a Philosophy of Neuroscience that stresses foundational issues, but also focuses on methodological and explanatory strategies. In a footnote of his paper, Revonsuo complains – as many (...) others do today – about what is sometimes called “physics imperialism”. This is the view that physics dominates the philosophy of science. I am not sure if this is still the case nowadays, but it is certainly historically correct that almost all work in the field of methodology centered around cases from physics. Although this has been changing, there are still plenty of special sciences philosophers did not worry about much. Admittedly, I am myself a trained physicist and not a neuroscientist and will therefore probably be biased negatively. As it is, I will discuss some examples from physics in order to illustrate my points. (shrink)
In Joseph Butler, we have an account of human beings as moral beings that is, as this essay demonstrates, being supported by the recently emerging findings of the neurosciences. This applies particularly to Butler's portrayal of our empathic emotions. Butler discovered their moral significance for motivating and guiding moral decisions and actions before the neurosciences did. Butler has, in essence, added a sixth sense to our five senses: this is the moral sense by means of which we perceive (...) what we ought or ought not do. The moral sense yields relatively reliable moral perceptions when we love our neighbors as ourselves, and when our love for ourselves is genuine. Accurate moral perceptions will be thwarted by self-deceit—that is, by a self-partiality devoid of neighbor love, a condition that thwarts genuine self-love. This essay explores the parallels between Butler's understanding of self-deceit and Robert J. Lifton's understanding of "doubling.". (shrink)
The author comments on the article “The neurobiology of addiction: Implications for voluntary control of behavior,‘ by S. E. Hyman. Hyman suggests that addicted individuals have substantial impairments in cognitive control of behavior. The author states that brain and neurochemical systems are involved in addiction. He also suggests that neuroscience can link the diseased brain processes in addiction to the moral struggles of the addicts. Accession Number: 24077919; Authors: Charland, Louis C. 1; Email Address: email@example.com; Affiliations: 1: University of Western (...) Ontario, Talbot COllege, London, Ontario; Subject: EDITORIALS; Subject: ADDICTIONS; Subject: BEHAVIOR; Subject: HYMAN, S. E.; Subject: NEUROCHEMISTRY; Subject: NEUROSCIENCES; Number of Pages: 2p. (shrink)
Beauchamp and Childress have performed a great service by strengthening the principle of respect for the patient's autonomy against the paternalism that dominated medicine until at least the 1970s. Nevertheless, we think that the concept of autonomy should be elaborated further. We suggest such an elaboration built on recent developments within the neurosciences and the free will debate. The reason for this suggestion is at least twofold: First, Beauchamp and Childress neglect some important elements of autonomy. Second, neuroscience itself (...) needs a conceptual apparatus to deal with the neural basis of autonomy for diagnostic purposes. This desideratum is actually increasing because modern therapy options can considerably influence the neural basis of autonomy itself.Sabine MNeuroScienceAndNorms: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Norms in Neuroimaging at Bonn University Hospital, Germany. Her main research interests are in neuroethics. She is coauthor of three German books about neuroethics and bioethics.Henrik Walter, M.D., Ph.D., is Full Professor of Medical Psychology at the University of Bonn, Germany, and vice-director of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Clinic of Bonn. He is author of Neurophilosophy of Free Will (MIT Press, 2001) and editor (together with Stephan Schleim and Tade Spranger) of the book From Neuroethics to Neurolaw? (Vandenhoeck & Rupprect, 2009, in German). His research fields are biological psychiatry, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, neurophilosophy, and neuroethics. (shrink)
The Matter of the Mind addresses and illuminates the relationship between psychology and neuroscience by focusing on the topic of reduction. Written by leading philosophers in the field Discusses recent theorizing in the mind-brain sciences and reviews and weighs the evidence in favour of reductionism against the backdrop of recent important advances within psychology and the neurosciences Collects the latest work on central topics where neuroscience is now making inroads in traditional psychological terrain, such as adaptive behaviour, reward systems, (...) consciousness, and social cognition. (shrink)
The neurosciences are generating new findings regarding genetic and neurobiological aspects of the pathophysiology of mental disorders. Especially, certain genetic risk factors like neuregulin-1 seem to predispose individuals to a psychotic phenotype beyond the limits of traditional classificatory boundaries between organic psychoses in Alzheimerâs disease, bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia. Little, however, is known about how such genetic risk factors actually confer an increased risk for psychosis in an individual patient. A gap between neuroscientific findings and psychopathological phenomena exists. (...) The main hypothesis how this gap may be bridged is that mental disorders arise as a consequence of dysfunctions of normal mental functions. Modularity may provide a useful conceptual framework in that temporally and/or spatially stable neural circuits subserve certain physiological functions of the human brain, which become the target of pathophysiological effectors. The idea of a modular construction of the human brain is based on neurobiological evidence regarding the columnar architecture of the cerebral cortex, which provides certain elementary analytical functions. Modular dysfunctions may be assessed with methods of experimental psychopathology, in which subsystems of brain functions are tested with standardized experimental psychological techniques (functional psychopathology). The main questions here are how to define a module, and whether the classical neuroscientific definitions can be used to characterize higher integrative functions of the human brain. (shrink)
In its predominant form, the understanding of the neurosciences, which stand in high public esteem, is a naturalistic one. The critique of this naturalism concerns the technical modelling of brain functions as a syntactic or control loop machine. Adequate solutions to the mind-body problem are not found in this way. An alternative exists in the shape of the methodical-culturalistic approach, which describes the neurosciences as human practice, modelled on the pragmatism of medicine: Starting from (diagnosed and described) defects, (...) the medical practitioner searches for the causes of the disorder. The neuroscientistâs naÃ¯ve focus on the central nervous system is replaced by the reflection on the actions and objectives of the neuroscientist himself. This results in a number of conclusions with regard to human/animal comparisons and to the importance of brain research for the self-image of human beings, for instance concerning free will. (shrink)
Freud's legacy deriving from his work The project for a scientific psychology (1895) could give a new impetus to the dialogue between psychoanalysis and neurosciences. A rapproachment phase is warrented. Based on the work of psychoanalysts who are themselves neuroscientists (such as Mauro Mancia, Martha Koukkou and Harold Shevrin) or have a long term dialogue with neuroscientists (Arnold Modell), three points of epistemological congruence are described: dualism is no longer a satisfactory solutioncautions for the centrality of interpretation (hermeneutics)the self-criticism (...) of neuroscientists. (shrink)
The impact of current developments in the neurosciences on the concept of psychiatric diseases Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10202-008-0054-2 Authors Felix Thiele, Europäische Akademie zur Erforschung von Folgen wissenschaftlich-technischer Entwicklungen Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler GmbH Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler Germany Barbara Hawellek, Universität Bonn Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie Bonn Germany Journal Poiesis & Praxis: International Journal of Technology Assessment and Ethics of Science Online ISSN 1615-6617 Print ISSN 1615-6609 Journal Volume Volume 6 Journal Issue Volume 6, Numbers 1-2.
A historical understanding of the virtue of consolation, as contrasted to empathy, compassion, or sympathy, is developed. Recent findings from neuroscience are presented which support and affirm this understanding. These findings are related to palliative care and its current practice in bioethics.
In recent years there has been an explosion of scientific work on consciousness in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and other fields. It has become possible to think that we are moving toward a genuine scientific understanding of conscious experience. But what is the science of consciousness all about, and what form should such a science take? This chapter gives an overview of the agenda.
This collection opens a dialogue between process philosophy and contemporary consciousness studies. Approaching consciousness from diverse disciplinary perspectives—philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, neuropathology, psychotherapy, biology, animal ethology, and physics—the contributors offer empirical and philosophical support for a model of consciousness inspired by the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947). Whitehead’s model is developed in ways he could not have anticipated to show how it can advance current debates beyond well-known sticking points. This has trenchant consequences for epistemology and suggests fresh and (...) promising perspectives on such topics as the mind-body problem, the neurobiology of consciousness, animal consciousness, the evolution of consciousness, panpsychism, the unity of consciousness, epiphenomenalism, free will, and causation. (shrink)
Recent neuroscience and psychology of behavior have suggested that conscious decisions may have no causal role in the etiology of intentional action. Such results pose a threat to traditional philosophical analyses of action. On such views beliefs, desires and conscious willing are part of the causal structure of intentional action. But if the suggestions from neuroscience/psychology are correct, analyses of this kind are wrong. Conscious antecedents of action are epiphenomenal. This essay explores this consequence. It also notes that the traditional (...) alternative to causal analyses of intentional action is not threatened by the putative scientific findings. This, in turn, is ironic in that defenders of the noncausal accounts of action were thought to be in opposition to the natural sciences of action whereas the analyses in the causal style were "on the side of physicalism." This result is also assessed in what follows. (shrink)
euroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior brings together, for the first time, the experiments and theories that have created the new science of rules. Rules are central to human behavior, but until now the field of neuroscience lacked a synthetic approach to understanding them. How are rules learned, retrieved from memory, maintained in consciousness and implemented? How are they used to solve problems and select among actions and activities? How are the various levels of rules represented in the brain, ranging from simple (...) conditional ones if a traffic light turns red, then stop to rules and strategies of such sophistication that they defy description? And how do brain regions interact to produce rule-guided behavior? These are among the most fundamental questions facing neuroscience, but until recently there was relatively little progress in answering them. It was difficult to probe brain mechanisms in humans, and expert opinion held that animals lacked the capacity for such high-level behavior. However, rapid progress in neuroimaging technology has allowed investigators to explore brain mechanisms in humans, while increasingly sophisticated behavioral methods have revealed that animals can and do use high-level rules to control their behavior. The resulting explosion of information has led to a new science of rules, but it has also produced a plethora of overlapping ideas and terminology and a field sorely in need of synthesis. In this book, Silvia Bunge and Jonathan Wallis bring together the worlds leading cognitive and systems neuroscientists to explain the most recent research on rule-guided behavior. Their work covers a wide range of disciplines and methods, including neuropsychology, functional magnetic resonance imaging, neurophysiology, electroencephalography, neuropharmacology, near-infrared spectroscopy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. This unprecedented synthesis is a must-read for anyone interested in how complex behavior is controlled and organized by the brain. (shrink)
The Heart of Judgment explores the nature, historical significance, and contemporary relevance of practical wisdom. Primarily a work in moral and political thought, it also relies extensively on the latest research in cognitive neuroscience to confirm and extend our understanding of the faculty of judgment. Ever since the ancient Greeks first discussed practical wisdom, the faculty of judgment has been an important topic for philosophers and political theorists. It remains one of the virtues most demanded of our public officials. The (...) greater the liberties and responsibilities accorded to citizens in democratic regimes, the more the health and welfare of society rest upon their exercise of good judgment. While giving full credit to the roles played by reason and deliberation in good judgment, the book underlines the central importance of intuition, emotion, and worldly experience. (shrink)
This is the first major response to the new challenge of neuroscience to religion. There have been limited responses from a purely Christian point of view, but this takes account of eastern as well as western forms of religious experience. It challenges the prevailing naturalistic assumption of our culture, including the idea that the mind is either identical with or a temporary by-product of brain activity. It also discusses religion as institutions and religion as inner experience of the Transcendent, and (...) suggests a form of spirituality for today. (shrink)
Upshot: Neuroscience is at the crossroads between past beliefs that are still accepted by contemporary common sense and new, emergent findings, which are often counterintuitive for non-specialists. Gallagher’s work provides a brilliant overview of this emerging knowledge that is redrawing the map of the body--mind relationship.
Sleep researchers in different disciplines disagree about how fully dreaming can be explained in terms of brain physiology. Debate has focused on whether REM sleep dreaming is qualitatively different from nonREM (NREM) sleep and waking. A review of psychophysiological studies shows clear quantitative differences between REM and NREM mentation and between REM and waking mentation. Recent neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies also differentiate REM, NREM, and waking in features with phenomenological implications. Both evidence and theory suggest that there are isomorphisms between (...) the phenomenology and the physiology of dreams. We present a three-dimensional model with specific examples from normally and abnormally changing conscious states. Key Words: consciousness; dreaming; neuroimaging; neuromodulation; NREM; phenomenology; qualia; REM; sleep. (shrink)
Empirical approaches on topics such as consciousness, self-awareness, or introspective perspective, need a conceptual framework so that the emerging, still unconnected findings can be integrated and put into perspective. We introduce a model of self-consciousness derived from phenomenology, philosophy, the cognitive, and neurosciences. We will then give an overview of research data on one particular aspect of our model, self-agency, trying to link findings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Finally, we will expand on pathological aspects of self-agency, and in (...) particular on psychosis in schizophrenia. We show, that a deficient self-monitoring system underlies, in part, hallucinations and formal thought (language) disorder in schizophrenia. We argue, that self-consciousness is a valid construct and can be studied with the instruments of cognitive and neuroscience. (shrink)
I examine one of the conceptual cornerstones of the field known as computational neuroscience, especially as articulated in Churchland et al. (1990), an article that is arguably the locus classicus of this term and its meaning. The authors of that article try, but I claim ultimately fail, to mark off the enterprise of computational neuroscience as an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the cognitive, information-processing functions of the brain. The failure is a result of the fact that the authors provide no (...) principled means to distinguish the study of neural systems as genuinely computational/information-processing from the study of any complex causal process. I then argue for two things. First, that in order to appropriately mark off computational neuroscience, one must be able to assign a semantics to the states over which an attempt to provide a computational explanation is made. Second, I show that neither of the two most popular ways of trying to effect such content assignation -- informational semantics and 'biosemantics' -- can make the required distinction, at least not in a way that a computational neuroscientist should be happy about. The moral of the story as I take it is not a negative one to the effect that computational neuroscience is in principle incapable of doing what it wants to do. Rather, it is to point out some work that remains to be done. (shrink)
What makes us conscious? Many theories that attempt to answer this question have appeared recently in the context of widespread interest about consciousness in the cognitive neurosciences. Most of these proposals are formulated in terms of the information processing conducted by the brain. In this overview, we survey and contrast these models. We first delineate several notions of consciousness, addressing what it is that the various models are attempting to explain. Next, we describe a conceptual landscape that addresses how (...) the theories attempt to explain consciousness. We then situate each of several representative models in this landscape and indicate which aspect of consciousness they try to explain. We conclude that the search for the neural correlates of consciousness should be usefully complemented by a search for the computational correlates of consciousness. (shrink)
Psychiatry is a discipline on the border between the biomedical sciences on the one hand and the humanities and social sciences (most notably psychology and anthropology) on the other. This unique position undoubtedly contributes to the attractiveness of psychiatry as a medical specialism for many young doctors, but it also causes significant problems. Unlike other medical disciplines, in which the definitions of diseases are based on objective, measurable pathophysiological underpinnings, psychiatric diagnosis and classification has been based on descriptions of inherently (...) subjective mental and behavioral symptoms that are supposed to be deviant from "normal" psychology or behavior, as reflected in the current .. (shrink)