Spontaneous activity levels prior to stimulus presentation can determine how that stimulus will be perceived. It has also been proposed that such spontaneous activity, particularly in the default-mode network (DMN), is involved in self-related processing. We therefore hypothesised that pre-stimulus activity levels in the DMN predict whether a stimulus is judged as self-related or not. Method: Participants were presented in the MRI scanner with a white noise stimulus that they were instructed contained their name or another. They then had to (...) respond with which name they thought they heard. Regions where there was an activity level difference between self and other response trials two seconds prior to the stimulus being presented were identified. Results: Pre-stimulus activity levels were higher in the right temporoparietal junction (RTPJ), the right temporal pole (RTP), and the left superior temporal gyrus in trials where the participant responded that they heard their own name than trials where they responded that they heard another. Conclusion: Pre-stimulus spontaneous activity levels in particular brain regions, largely overlapping with the DMN, predict the subsequent judgement of stimuli as self-related. This extends our current knowledge of self-related processing and its apparent relationship with intrinsic brain activity in what can be termed a rest-self overlap. (shrink)
In this paper we consider two major issues: conceptual–experimental approaches to the self, and the neuroanatomical substrate of the self. We distinguish content- and processed-based concepts of the self that entail different experimental strategies, and anatomically, we investigate the concept of midline structures in further detail and present a novel view on the anatomy of an integrated subcortical–cortical midline system. Presenting meta-analytic evidence, we show that the anterior paralimbic, e.g. midline, regions do indeed seem to be specific for self-specific stimuli. (...) We conclude that future investigation of the self need to develop novel concepts that are more empirically plausible than those currently in use. Different concepts of self will require novel experimental designs that include, for example, the brain’s resting state activity as an independent variable. Modifications of both conceptual and anatomical dimensions will allow an empirically more plausible account of the relationship between brain and self. (shrink)
While neuroscience has made enormous progress in understanding the brain, the implications of these empirical findings for ontological questions in philosophy including the mind–body problem remain yet unclear. In the first paper, I discussed the model of brain that as implied and supported by the empirical data. This leads me now to the question of an empirically plausible ontology of brain. Therefore, the aim in this second paper is the ontological characterization of the brain in terms of a process-based ontology (...) that avoids what Whitehead described as “simple location” and “fallacy of misplaced concreteness”. The discussion of the model of the brain is complemented by developing a process-based ontological characterization of the brain. Specifically, as based on Whitehead, I argue that “simple location” of the brain as thing or object in time and space amounts to nothing but an abstraction rendering what Whitehead described as “fallacy of misplaced concreteness”. Instead of describing the brain as static, non-temporal and isolated thing or object, I characterize the brain ontologically by dynamic, temporal, and relational processes. This leads me to a process-based ontology of brain which may be specified in spatiotemporal terms. Since the world’s larger spatiotemporal range or scale contains, e.g., nests, the smaller one of the brain, I characterize their ontological relationship by “spatiotemporal nestedness” and “spatiotemporal directedness”. Such spatiotemporal relationship between world and brain precludes the confusion between the world as whole and the brain as part, e.g., “mereological confusion”. I conclude that process-based or better, more specifically, spatiotemporal ontology of the brain and its relationship to the world may offer novel views on the question for the ontological relationship between mind and brain, e.g., the mind–brain problem, by converting or reformulating it as “world-brain problem”. (shrink)
Recent studies have demonstrated neural overlap between resting state activity and self-referential processing. This “rest-self” overlap occurs especially in anterior cortical midline structures like the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (PACC). However, the exact neurotemporal and biochemical mechanisms remain to be identified. Therefore, we conducted a combined electroencephalography (EEG)-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) study. EEG focused on pre-stimulus (e.g., prior to stimulus presentation or perception) power changes to assess the degree to which those changes can predict subjects’ perception (and judgment) of subsequent (...) stimuli as high or low self-related. MRS measured resting state concentration of glutamate, focusing on PACC. High pre-stimulus (e.g., prior to stimulus presentation or perception) alpha power significantly correlated with both perception of stimuli judged to be highly self-related and with resting state glutamate concentrations in the PACC. In sum, our results show (i) pre-stimulus (e.g., prior to stimulus presentation or perception) alpha power and resting state glutamate concentration to mediate rest-self overlap that (ii) dispose or incline subjects to assign high degrees of self-relatedness to perceptual stimuli. (shrink)
In a recent Opinion article, Sui and Humphreys  argue that experimental findings suggest self is ‘special’, in that self-reference serves a binding function within human cognitive economy. Contrasting their view with other functionalist positions, chiefly Dennett's , they deny that self is a convenient fiction and adduce findings to show that a ‘core self representation’ serves as an ‘integrative glue’ helping to bind distinct types of information as well as distinct stages of psycho- logical processing. In other words, where (...) Dennett regards self as analogous to a center of gravity, a simplification posited by observers, Sui and Humphreys regard self as a function that modulates mental processes. In practice, however, the concept of ‘self’ they employ is not unlike Dennett's. We side with Sui and Humphreys in hold- ing that self-reference modulates mental processes: reference to self during a task can bind memory to source, increase perceptual integration, and link attention to decision making, among other things. What is more, these functions are not reducible to other factors such as semantic coding, familiarity, or reward . But whereas Sui and Humphreys contribute important empirical detail, the binding functions they describe are compatible with Dennett's version of functionalism, which treats self as an artifact of social process. (shrink)
Neuroscience has made enormous progress in understanding the brain and its various neuro-sensory and neuro-cognitive functions. However, despite all progress, the model of the brain as well as its ontological characterization remain unclear. The aim in this first paper is the discussion of an empirically plausible model of the brain with the subsequent claim of a neuro-ecological model. Whitehead claimed that he inversed or reversed the Kantian notion of the subject by putting it back into the ecological context of the (...) world, the so-called reformist subjectivist principle. Based on empirical evidence about the experience-dependence of the brain’s spontaneous activity, I argue for an analogous inversion or reversion with regard to the model of brain: empirical evidence is well compatible with a neuro-ecological model which extends beyond and integrates both Humean neuro-sensory and Kantian neuro-cognitive models. I conclude that a neuro-ecological and process-based model of brain and its relationship to the world may offer a novel model of brain that carries major ontological implications as they shall be discussed in the second paper. (shrink)
Most mental disorders affect only a small segment of the population. On the reasonable assumption that minds or brains are prone to occasional malfunction, these disorders do not seem to pose distinctive explanatory problems. Depression, however, because it is so prevalent and costly, poses a conundrum that some try to explain by characterizing it as an adaptation—a trait that exists because it performed fitness-enhancing functions in ancestral populations. Heretofore, proposed evolutionary explanations of depression did not focus on thought processes; instead, (...) they emphasized that it facilitates navigation of adverse social circumstances or promotes immune response to infectious agents. According to a new hypothesis, the “analytical rumination hypothesis” (ARH), however, depression’s crucial adaptive trait is rumination—negative, intrusive thought. ARH holds that, (i) social dilemmas trigger depressed mood; (ii) depressed mood induces changes in body systems that facilitate ruminative analysis aimed at solving dilemmas; and, (iii) depressive rumination is a fitness-enhancing trait that was selected for in evolutionary time. Jointly, (i)~(iii) imply that we should not think of rumination as a disorder; instead, it is a trade-off, an eminently rational one. In the same way that fever solves a problem—coordination of the immune system in response to infection—so too does depressive rumination solve a problem, a social dilemma, albeit at the cost of inducing anhedonia and other maladies. But they argue that the cost is worthwhile, something that should be endured “until the problem is solved.” First, we argue that there are two distinct types of rumination, brooding and pondering; the former is associated with a disposition for depression, not the latter. But only the latter has the problem-solving capabilities that ARH requires. Second, recent brain imaging studies of depression reveal resting state hypoactivity in lateral regions and hyperactivity in paralimbic regions; this asymmetric pattern correlates with heightened levels of brooding, self-focused rumination. In other words, on the personal level, patients are trapped within self, isolated from the external world and suffused with negative affect; on the subpersonal level, this pattern is reflected by an asymmetric pattern of lateral vs. paralimbic resting state activity. Third, we proceed to conjecture that rational responses (e.g., pondering) to social dilemmas are those that strike a balance between internal and external considerations in the process of belief formation. Fourth, because the asymmetric resting state activity blocks those who suffer with depression from accessing and processing potentially positive stimuli from the external world, the capacity for rational, analytic response—hence, problem-solving—is constrained. Fifth, it follows that, although there might be conditions for which suffering should be endured rather than pharmacologically alleviated, depression is not one of those. Indeed, in view of the effects of the asymmetric resting state pattern, it is unlikely that depressive rumination would have been useful even for ancestral populations. (shrink)
Kripke presented one of the most influential modal arguments against psycho-physical identities. His argument as exemplied by the identity of pain and its respective neural correlates will be analysed in detail. It shall be argued that his reasoning relies on an implausible conception of introspection implying an implausible conception of mental phenomena such as pain. His account does not consider possible interaction of pain and attention as well as the interaction of pain with other psychological factors. Theoretical and empirical evidences (...) for a dierent account of pain, which represent a challenge for Kripke's argument, will be discussed. (shrink)
Objective: The dopamine hypothesis is one of the most influential theories of the neurobiological background of schizophrenia (SCZ). However, direct evidence for abnormal dopamine-related subcortical-cortical circuitry disconnectivity is still lacking. The aim of this study was therefore to test dopamine-related substantia nigra (SN)-based striato-thalamo-cortical resting-state functional connectivity (FC) in SCZ. Method: Based on our a priori hypothesis, we analyzed a large sample resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) dataset from first-episode drug-naïve SCZ patients (n = 112) and healthy controls (n (...) = 82) using the SN as the seed region for an investigation of striato-thalamo-cortical FC. This was done in the standard band of slow frequency oscillations and then in its subfrequency bands (Slow4 and Slow5). Results: The analysis showed in SCZ: (1) reciprocal functional hypo-connectivity between SN and striatum, with differential patterns for Slow5 and Slow4; (2) functional hypo-connectivity between striatum and thalamus, as well as functional hyper-connectivity between thalamus and sensorimotor cortical areas, specifically in Slow4; (3) correlation of thalamo-sensorimotor functional hyper-connectivity with psychopathological symptoms. Conclusions: We demonstrate abnormal dopamine-related SN-based striato-thalamo-cortical FC in slow frequency oscillations in first-episode drug-naive SCZ. This suggests that altered dopaminergic function in the SN leads to abnormal neuronal synchronization (as indexed by FC) within subcortical-cortical circuitry, complementing the dopamine hypothesis in SCZ on the regional level of resting-state activity. (shrink)
Time is an essential feature in bipolar disorder (BP). Manic and depressed BP patients perceive the speed of time as either too fast or too slow. The present article combines theoretical and empirical approaches to integrate phenomenological, psychological, and neuroscientific accounts of abnormal time perception in BP. Phenomenology distinguishes between perception of inner time, ie, self-time, and outer time, ie, world-time, that desynchronize or dissociate from each other in BP: inner time speed is abnormally slow (as in depression) or fast (...) (as in mania) and, by taking on the role as default-mode function, impacts and modulates the perception of outer time speed in an opposite way, ie, as too fast in depression and too slow in mania. Complementing, psychological investigation show opposite results in time perception, ie, time estimation and reproduction, in manic and depressed BP. Neuronally, time speed can be indexed by neuronal variability, ie, SD. Our own empirical data show opposite changes in manic and depressed BP (and major depressive disorder [MDD]) with abnormal SD balance, ie, SD ratio, between somatomotor and sensory networks that can be associated with inner and outer time. Taken together, our combined theoretical-empirical approach demonstrates that desynchronization or dissociation between inner and outer time in BP can be traced to opposite neuronal variability patterns in somatomotor and sensory networks. This opens the door for individualized therapeutic “normalization” of neuronal variability pattern in somatomotor and sensory networks by stimulation with TMS and/or tDCS. (shrink)
Disorders of consciousness (DoC)—that is, unresponsive wakefulness syndrome/vegetative state and minimally conscious state—are debilitating conditions for which no reliable markers of consciousness recovery have yet been identified. Evidence points to the GABAergic system being altered in DoC, making it a potential target as such a marker.
The nature of “the self” has been one of the central problems in philosophy and more recently in neuroscience. This raises various questions: Can we attribute a self to animals? Do animals and humans share certain aspects of their core selves, yielding a trans-species concept of self? What are the neural processes that underlie a possible trans-species concept of self? What are the developmental aspects and do they result in various levels of self-representation? Drawing on recent literature from both human (...) and animal research, we suggest a trans-species concept of self that is based upon what has been called a “core-self” which can be described by self-related processing as a specific mode of interaction between organism and environment. When we refer to specific neural networks, we will here refer to the underlying system as the “core-SELF.” The core-SELF provides primordial neural coordinates that represent organisms as living creatures—at the lowest level this elaborates interoceptive states along with raw emotional feelings while higher medial cortical levels facilitate affective-cognitive integration . Developmentally, SRP allows stimuli from the environment to be related and linked to organismic needs, signaled and processed within core-self structures within subcorical-cortical midline structures that provide the foundation for epigenetic emergence of ecologically framed, higher idiographic forms of selfhood across different individuals within a species. These functions ultimately operate as a coordinated network. We postulate that core SRP operates automatically, is deeply affective, and is developmentally and epigenetically connected to sensory-motor and higher cognitive abilities. This core-self is mediated by SCMS, embedded in visceral and instinctual representations of the body that are well integrated with basic attentional, emotional and motivational functions that are apparently shared between humans, non-human mammals, and perhaps in a proto-SELF form, other vertebrates. Such a trans-species concept of organismic coherence is thoroughly biological and affective at the lowest levels of a complex neural network, and culturally and ecologically molded at higher levels of neural processing. It allows organisms to selectively adapt to and integrate with physical and social environments. Such a psychobiologically universal, but environmentally diversified, concept may promote novel trans-species studies of the core-self across mammalian species. (shrink)
Searle suggests biological naturalism as a solution to the mind-brain problem that escapes traditional terminology with its seductive pull towards either dualism or materialism. We reconstruct Searle's argument and demonstrate that it needs additional support to represent a position truly located between dualism and materialism. The aim of our paper is to provide such an additional argument. We introduce the concept of "autoepistemic limitation" that describes our principal inability to directly experience our own brain as a brain from the first-person (...) perspective. The neglect of the autoepistemic limitation leads to inferences from epistemic properties to ontological features - we call this "epistemic-ontological inference." Searle attempts to avoid such epistemic-ontological inference but does not provide a sufficient argument. Once the autoepistemic limitation is considered, epistemic-ontological inference can be avoided. As a consequence, one can escape traditional terminology with its seductive pull towards either dualism or materialism. (shrink)
In philosophy, the criteria for personhood (PH) at a specific point in time (synchronic), and the necessary and sufficient conditions of personal identity (PI) over time (diachronic) are traditionally separated. Hence, the transition between both timescales of a person's life remains largely unclear. Personal habits reflect a decision-making (DM) process that binds together synchronic and diachronic timescales. Despite the fact that the actualization of habits takes place synchronically, they presuppose, for the possibility of their generation, time in a diachronic sense. (...) The acquisition of habits therefore rests upon PI over time; that is, the temporal extension of personal decisions is the necessary condition for the possible development of habits. Conceptually, habits can thus be seen as a bridge between synchronic and diachronic timescales of a person's life. In order to investigate the empirical mediation of this temporal linkage, we draw upon the neuronal mechanisms underlying DM; in particular on the distinction between internally and externally guided DM. Externally guided DM relies on external criteria at a specific point in time (synchronic); on a neural level, this has been associated with lateral frontal and parietal brain regions. In contrast, internally guided DM is based on the person's own preferences that involve a more longitudinal and thus diachronic timescale, which has been associated with the brain's intrinsic activity. Habits can be considered to reflect a balance between internally and externally guided DM, which implicates a particular temporal balance between diachronic and synchronic elements, thus linking two different timescales. Based on such evidence, we suggest a habit-based neurophilosophical approach of PH and PI by focusing on the empirically-based linkage between the synchronic and diachronic elements of habits. By doing so, we propose to link together what philosophically has been described and analyzed separately as PH and PI. (shrink)
Though the brain and its neuronal states have been investigated extensively, the neural correlates of mental states remain to be determined. Since mental states are experienced in first-person perspective and neuronal states are observed in third-person perspective, a special method must be developed for linking both states and their respective perspectives. We suggest that such method is provided by First-Person Neuroscience. What is First-Person Neuroscience? We define First-Person Neuroscience as investigation of neuronal states under guidance of and on orientation to (...) mental states. An empirical example of such methodological approach is demonstrated by an fMRI study on emotions. It is shown that third- and first-person analysis of data yield different results. First-person analysis reveals neural activity in cortical midline structures during subjective emotional experience. Based on these and other results neural processing in cortical midline structures is hypothesized to be crucially involved in generating mental states. Such direct linkage between first- and third-person approaches to analysis of neural data allows insight into the "point of view from within the brain", that is what we call the First-Brain Perspective. In conclusion, First-Person Neuroscience and First-Brain Perspective provide valuable methodological tools for revealing the neuronal correlate of mental states. (shrink)
Differential diagnosis of motor symptoms, for example, akinesia, may be difficult in clinical neuropsychiatry. Symptoms may be either of neurologic origin, for example, Parkinson's disease, or of psychiatric origin, for example, catatonia, leading to a so-called “conflict of paradigms.” Despite their different origins, symptoms may appear more or less clinically similar. Possibility of dissociation between origin and clinical appearance may reflect functional brain organisation in general, and cortical-cortical/subcortical relations in particular. It is therefore hypothesized that similarities and differences between Parkinson's (...) disease and catatonia may be accounted for by distinct kinds of modulation between cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical relations. Catatonia can be characterized by concurrent motor, emotional, and behavioural symptoms. The different symptoms may be accounted for by dysfunction in orbitofrontal-prefrontal/parietal cortical connectivity reflecting “horizontal modulation” of cortico-cortical relation. Furthermore, alteration in “top-down modulation” reflecting “vertical modulation” of caudate and other basal ganglia by GABA-ergic mediated orbitofrontal cortical deficits may account for motor symptoms in catatonia. Parkinson's disease, in contrast, can be characterized by predominant motor symptoms. Motor symptoms may be accounted for by altered “bottom-up modulation” between dopaminergic mediated deficits in striatum and premotor/motor cortex. Clinical similarities between Parkinson's disease and catatonia with respect to akinesia may be related with involvement of the basal ganglia in both disorders. Clinical differences with respect to emotional and behavioural symptoms may be related with involvement of different cortical areas, that is, orbitofrontal/parietal and premotor/motor cortex implying distinct kinds of modulation – “vertical” and “horizontal” modulation, respectively. Key Words: Bottom-up modulation; catatonia; horizontal modulation; Parkinson's disease; top-down modulation; vertical modulation. (shrink)
The James–Lange theory considers emotional feelings as perceptions of physiological body changes. This approach has recently resurfaced and modified in both neuroscientific and philosophical concepts of embodiment of emotional feelings. In addition to the body, the role of the environment in emotional feeling needs to be considered. I here claim that the environment has not merely an indirect and thus instrumental role on emotional feelings via the body and its sensorimotor and vegetative functions. Instead, the environment may have a direct (...) and non-instrumental, i.e., constitutional role in emotional feelings; this implies that the environment itself in the gestalt of the person–environment relation is constitutive of emotional feeling rather than the bodily representation of the environment. Since the person–environment relation is crucial in this approach, I call it the relational concept of emotional feeling. After introducing the relational concept of emotional feeling, the present paper investigates the neurophilosophical question whether current neuroimaging data on human emotion processing and anatomical connectivity are empirically better compatible with the “relational” or the “embodied” concept of emotional feeling. These data lend support to the empirical assumption that neural activity in subcortical and cortical midline regions code the relationship between intero- and exteroceptive stimuli in a relational mode, i.e. their actual balance, rather than in a translational mode, i.e., by translating extero- into interoceptive stimulus changes. Such intero-exteroceptive relational mode of neural coding may have implications for the characterization of emotional feeling with regard to phenomenal consciousness and intentionality. I therefore conclude that the here advanced relational concept of emotional feeling may be considered neurophilosophically more plausible and better compatible with current neuroscientific data than the embodied concept as presupposed in the James–Lange theory and its modern neuroscientific and philosophical versions. (shrink)
Emotional feeling can be defined as the affective constituent of emotions representing a subjective experience such as, for example, feeling love or hate. Several recent neuroimaging studies have focused on this affective component of emotions thereby aiming to characterise the underlying neural correlates. These studies indicate that the orbitomedial prefrontal cortex is crucially involved in the processing of emotional feeling. It is the aim of this paper to analyse the extent to which the present state of the art in neuroscience (...) enables emotional feeling to be related to specific brain regions. In the first step, methodological and theoretical problems in the investigation of emotional feeling will be discussed leading to the characterisation of a “twofold gap.” This gap represents (a) the theoretical difficulties encountered in transforming vivid subjective experience into a theoretical psychological concept, and (b) the problems of implementing such a concept by performing empirical studies. Based on these considerations we suggest approaches for future empirical studies. In the second step, a group of functional neuroimaging studies focusing on the affective constituent of emotions will be discussed in detail with regard to the theoretical problems outlined in the first step. (shrink)
Emotion theories in present philosophical discussion propose different models of relationship between feeling and appraisal. The multicomponent model considers appraisal as separate component and distinguishes it from feeling and physiological body changes thus presupposing what may be called 'disembodied' and 'disembedded' appraisal as representational. The recently emerged concept of enactment, in contrast, argues that appraisal is closely linked to feeling and physiological body changes presupposing what can be called 'embodied' and 'embedded' appraisal as relational. The aim of the paper is (...) to investigate which concept of appraisal, the 'disembedded' or the 'embedded' one, is better compatible with current neuroimaging data on emotion processing and thus neurophilosophically more tenable. The 'disembodied' and 'disembedded' concept implies distinct and independent brain regions underlying feeling and appraisal whereas 'embodied' and 'embedded' appraisal implies overlapping and dependent brain regions. Recent neuroimaging studies demonstrate that medial and lateral prefrontal cortical regions are involved in both feeling and appraisal and that there seems to be reciprocal modulation between these regions. Though preliminary, these data suggest that feeling and appraisal are associated with different patterns of neural activity across overlapping and interdependent brain regions. I therefore conclude that current neuroscientific evidence is rather in favor of the 'embodied' and 'embedded' concept of appraisal as relational than the one of 'disembodied' and 'disembedded' appraisal as representational that is presupposed in current multicomponent theories of emotions. (shrink)
The term ``neurophilosophy'' is often used either implicitly or explicitly for characterizing the investigation of philosophical theories in relation to neuroscientific hypotheses. The exact methodological principles and systematic rules for a linkage between philosophical theories and neuroscientific hypothesis, however, remain to be clarified. The present contribution focuses on these principles, as well as on the relation between ontology and epistemology and the characterization of hypothesis in neurophilosophy. Principles of transdisciplinary methodology include the `principle of asymmetry', the `principle of bi-directionality' and (...) the `principle of transdisciplinary circularity'. The `principle of asymmetry' points to an asymmetric relationship between logical and natural conditions. The `principle of bi-directionality' claims for the necessity of bi-directional linkage between natural and logical conditions. The `principle of transdisciplinary circularity' describes systematic rules for mutual comparison and cross-conditional exchange between philosophical theory and neuroscientific hypotheses. The relation between ontology and epistemology no longer is determined by ontological presuppositions i.e. ``ontological primacy''. Instead, there is correspondence between different `epistemological capacities' and different kinds of ontology which consecutively results in ``epistemic primacy'' and ``ontological pluralism''. The present contribution concludes by rejecting some so-called `standard-arguments' including the `argument of circularity', the `argument of categorical fallacy', the `argument of validity' and the `argument of necessity'. (shrink)
Present discussions in philosophy of mind focuson ontological and epistemic characteristics ofmind and on mind-brain relations. In contrast,ontological and epistemic characteristics ofthe brain have rarely been thematized. Rather,philosophy seems to rely upon an implicitdefinition of the brain as "neuronal object''and "object of recognition'': henceontologically and epistemically distinct fromthe mind, characterized as "mental subject'' and"subject of recognition''. This leads to the"brain-paradox''. This ontological and epistemicdissociation between brain and mind can beconsidered central for the problems of mind andmind-brain relations that have yet (...) to beresolved in philosophy. The brain itself hasnot been thematized epistemically andontologically, leading to a "brain problem''.The epistemic and ontological dissociationbetween brain and mind presupposes an"isolated'' picture of the brain, characterizedby context-independence (i.e. "isolation'' frombody and environment). We can describe thisview as an extrinsic relationship betweenbrain, body and environment. However, based onrecent empirical findings about body image andphantom sensations, we can no longer considerthe brain as context-independent or "isolated''from its bodily and environmental context.Instead, the brain must be considered"embedded''. Within the context of 'embeddment',brain and bodily/environmental context seemmutually to determine each other, and hence bereciprocally dependent on each other. We candescribe this as an intrinsic relationshipbetween brain, body and environment.Defining the brain as "embedded'' undermines theepistemic and ontological dissociation betweenbrain and mind and consequently resolves the"brain-paradox''. This resolution sheds novellight on problems of mind and mind-brainrelations by relativizing both. It is thereforeconcluded that philosophy should thematizeontological and epistemic characteristics ofthe brain, thereby taking into account the"brain problem'' and developing a "philosophy ofthe brain''. This approach not only opens a newfield in philosophy but also extends the focusof empirical investigation in the neurosciencesto take into account the intrinsic relationshipbetween brain, body and environment. (shrink)
Ethical questions have traditionally been approached through conceptual analysis. Inspired by the rapid advance of modern brain imaging techniques, however, some ethical questions appear in a new light. For example, hotly debated trolley dilemmas have recently been studied by psychologists and neuroscientists alike, arguing that their findings can support or debunk moral intuitions that underlie those dilemmas. Resulting from the wedding of philosophy and neuroscience, neuroethics has emerged as a novel interdisciplinary field that aims at drawing conclusive relationships between neuroscientific (...) observations and normative ethics. A major goal of neuroethics is to derive normative ethical conclusions from the investigation of neural and psychological mechanisms underlying ethical theories, as well as moral judgments and intuitions. The focus of this article is to shed light on the structure and functioning of neuroethical arguments of this sort, and to reveal particular methodological challenges that lie concealed therein. We discuss the methodological problem of how one can—or, as the case may be, cannot—validly infer normative conclusions from neuroscientific observations. Moreover, we raise the issue of how preexisting normative ethical convictions threaten to invalidate the interpretation of neuroscientific data, and thus arrive at question-begging conclusions. Nonetheless, this is not to deny that current neuroethics rightly presumes that moral considerations about actual human lives demand empirically substantiated answers. Therefore, in conclusion, we offer some preliminary reflections on how the discussed methodological challenges can be met. (shrink)
Merker argues that subcortical regions are sufficient for the constitution of consciousness as “immediate, unreflective experience” as distinguished from self-consciousness. My point here is that Merker neglects the differentiation between pre-reflective self-awareness and reflective self-consciousness. Pre-reflective self-awareness allows us to immediately and unreflectively experience our self, which functionally may be mediated by what I call self-related processing in subcortical regions. (Published Online May 1 2007).
"Quasi-memories," necessarily presupposing a distinction between an "experiencing" and a "remembering" person, are considered by Parfit and Shoemaker as necessary and/or sufficient criteria for personal identity. However, the concept of "q-memories" is rejected by Schechtman since, according to her, neither "content" and "experience" can be separated from each other in "q-memories" ("principal inseparability") nor can they be distinguished from delusions/confabulations ("principal indistinguishability"). The purpose of the present paper is to demonstrate that, relying on a neurophilosophical approach, both arguments can be (...) rejected. Neuropsychological research shows that "contents" of memories are classified according to the accompanying psychological state such that the same "content" can be classified either as auto- or heterobiographical by the respective "experience." Since "content" and "experience" can be separated from each other, the argument of "principal inseparability" must be rejected on empirical grounds. In addition, as demonstrated in an example of a schizophrenic patient, "q-memories" can be distinguished from delusions/confabulations considering the ability to distinguish between different sources of autobiographical memories as a differential criterion. In conclusion, both arguments by Schechtman against the concept of "q-memories" have to be rejected on the basis of neurophilosophical considerations. Consequently, the concept of "q-memories" can be considered as compatible with current empirical knowledge. (shrink)
The excellent and highly interesting commentaries address the following concerns: (1) neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of catatonia; (2) cognitive-motor deficits in catatonia; (3) conceptual issues; (4) general methodology in neuropsychiatric research; and (5) neurophilosophical implications. The specific problems, issues, and aspects raised by the different commentators are grouped under these categories in Table R1 presented below. These five areas of concern are then discussed in the order listed in the five sections of the Response.
Lewis discusses the dynamic mechanisms of emotional-cognitive integration. I argue that he neglects the self and its neural correlate. The self can be characterized as an emotional-cognitive unity, which may be accounted for by the interplay between anterior and posterior medial cortical regions. I propose that these regions form an anatomical, physiological, and psychological unity, the cortical midline structures (CMSs).
Qualia in the node-point between mind and body: Dilemma of present discussion about the subjectivity of mental states. The present discussion about qualia shows a bewildering variety of different positions. We show implicit assumptions about brain, subject, and qualia of this complex discussion. By means of three assumptions we divide the discussion about qualia into three different positions (proposition, opposition, intermediate solutions). These positions and their exemplaric authors are briefly presented along the lines of the three assumptions. The next step (...) shows how each position solves the dilemma which arises if one relates all three assumptions by eliminating at least one of the three assumptions. Finally, general problems in the discussion of qualia are shown by means of which the dilemma of the relation between brain, subject and qualia may be brought closer to a solution without eliminating one assumption. (shrink)
Context Informed consent is crucial in daily clinical practice and research in medicine and psychiatry. A recent neuroethical investigation explored the psychological factors that are crucial in determining whether or not subjects give consent. While cognitive functions have been shown to play a central role, the impact of empathy and emotions on subjects' decisions in informed consent remains unclear. Objective To evaluate the impact of empathy and emotions on subjects' decision in informed consent in an exploratory study. Design Decisional capacity (...) and informed consent to a subsequent imaging study were evaluated with the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR). Empathy and emotion recognition were measured with the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET) and the Florida Affect Battery (FAB). Setting Psychiatric subjects were recruited from a general psychiatric hospital and a forensic state hospital. Patients A mixed group of 98 healthy men and forensic and non-forensic psychiatric subjects were investigated. Results Both empathy (MET) and emotion recognition (FAB) correlated with MacCAT-CR scores. Higher cognitive empathy and good emotion recognition (compared with low empathy and emotion recognition) were associated with increased decisional capacity and higher rates of refusal to give informed consent. Conclusions This study shows an empirical relationship between decision-making and informed consent, on the one hand, and emotions and empathy on the other. While this study is exploratory and preliminary, the findings of a relationship between informed consent, emotions and empathy raise important neuroethical questions with regard to an emotional-social concept of informed consent and potential clinical implications for testing informed consent. (shrink)
The exact relationship between qualia and the function of the brain remains elusive. The present approach focuses on the linkage between the neural mechanisms of the brain and the phenomenological and epistemological mechanisms of qualia. It is hypothesized that distinct characteristics of the ventral prefrontal cortical function may be crucial for the generation of these phenomenological and epistemological mechanisms this is reflected in the so-called 'neurophenomenological hypothesis'. The 'phenomenological—qualitative' character of qualia may be related with an early activation in the (...) ventromedial prefrontal cortex . The experience of 'presence' in qualia may be accounted for by a co-activation in both VMPFC and hippocampus and a concurrent deactivation in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate. Past and future temporal dimensions may therefore be integrated within the experience of events, which in turn may account for the phenomenal characteristics of 'presence' and thus 'phenomenal time'. 'Non-structural homogeneity' in the experience of qualia may be accounted for by either 'supramodal character' or 'modality unspecifity' of >the VMPFC. The 'heterogenous' stimuli can therefore be included and integrated within one 'homogenous' event as experienced in qualia. Finally, 'transparency' in the experience of qualia may be related with the 'reciprocal suppression' between VMPFC and VLPFC. Simultaneous cognitive processing during the experience of qualia may be suppressed and may consequently account for their transparent character. Due to several methodological limitations, these 'neurophenomenological hypotheses' must be considered as preliminary. However, they may nevertheless serve as a starting point for the development of a more elaborate neuroscientific hypothesis of qualia in the future. (shrink)
Susan Hurley's impressive article about the shared circuit model (SCM) raises two important issues. First, I suggest that the SCM presupposes relational coding rather than translational coding as neural code. Second, the SCM being the basis for self implies that the self may be characterized as format, relational, and embodied and embedded, rather than by specific and isolated higher-order cognitive contents.
Schizophrenia is a disturbance of the self, of which the attribution of agency is a major component. In this article, we review current theories of the Sense of Agency, their relevance to schizophrenia, and propose a novel framework for future research. We explore some of the models of agency, in which both bottom-up and top-down processes are implicated in the genesis of agency. We further this line of inquiry by suggesting that ongoing neurological activity (the brain’s resting state) in self-referential (...) regions of the brain can provide a deeper level of influence beyond what the current models capture. Based on neuroimaging studies, we suggest that aberrant activity in regions such as the default mode network of individuals with schizophrenia can lead to a misattribution of internally/externally generated stimuli. This can result in symptoms such as thought insertion and delusions of control. Consequently, neuroimaging can contribute to a more comprehensive conceptualization and measurement of agency and potential treatment implications. (shrink)
Current theories of emotion have often excluded emotional feeling from the core of emotion, thereby associating emotional feeling with high order processing. In contrast, we characterize emotional feeling as a basic process that is fundamentally involved in emotional processing. Emotional feeling is further described by the phenomenal features of unity and qualitativeness. Based on recent imaging data, we assume that neural activity in the anterior cortical midline structures is crucial for constituting emotional feeling. The phenomenal feature of unity could be (...) reflected in the connectivity pattern of the aCMS. What phenomenally is described as qualitativeness may correspond to what is psychologically termed valence. (shrink)
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