In a majority of situations the normal adult maintains posture or moves without consciously monitoring motor activity. Posture and movement are usually close to automatic; they tend to take care of themselves, outside of attentive regard. One's body, in such cases, effaces itself as one is geared into a particular intentional goal. This effacement is possible because of the normal functioning of a body schema. Body schema can be defined as a system of preconscious, subpersonal processes that play a dynamic (...) role in governing posture and movement (Head, 1920). There is an important and often overlooked conceptual difference between the subpersonal body schema and what is usually called body image . The latter is most often defined as a conscious idea or mental representation that one has of one's own body (for example, Adame, Radell, Johnson, and Cole, 1991; Gardner and Moncrieff, 1988; Schilder, 1935). Despite the conceptual difference many researchers use the terms interchangeably, leading to both a terminological and conceptual confusion. (shrink)
The notion of an enactive system requires thinking about the brain in a way that is different from the standard computational-representational models. In evolutionary terms, the brain does what it does and is the way that it is, across some scale of variations, because it is part of a living body with hands that can reach and grasp in certain limited ways, eyes structured to focus, an autonomic system, an upright posture, etc. coping with specific kinds of environments, and with (...) other people. Changes to any of the bodily, environmental, or intersubjective conditions elicit responses from the system as a whole. On this view, rather than representing or computing information, the brain is better conceived as participating in the action. (shrink)
We are defined by our faces. They give identity but, equally importantly, reveal our moods and emotions through facial expression. So what happens when the face cannot move? This book is about people who live with Mbius Syndrome, which has as its main feature an absence of movement of the muscles of facial expression from birth.
This paper considers the importance of the body for self-esteem, communication, and emotional expression and experience, through the reflections of those who live with various neurological impairments of movement and sensation; sensory deafferentation, spinal cord injury and Möbius Syndrome. People with severe sensory loss, who require conscious attention and visual feedback for movement, describe the imperative to use the same strategies to reacquire gesture, to appear normal and have embodied expression. Those paralysed after spinal cord injury struggle to have others (...) see them as people rather than as people in wheelchairs and have been active in the disability movement, distinguishing between their medical impairment and the social induced disability others project onto them. Lastly those with Möbius reveal the importance of the face for emotional expression and communication and indeed for emotional experience itself. All these examples explore the crucial role of the body as agent for social and personal expression and self-esteem. (shrink)
Empirical studies of gesture in a subject who has lost proprioception and the sense of touch from the neck down show that specific aspects of gesture remain normal despite abnormal motor processes for instrumental movement. The experiments suggest that gesture, as a linguistic phenomenon, is not reducible to instrumental movement. They also support and extend claims made by Merleau-Ponty concerning the relationship between language and cognition. Gesture, as language, contributes to the accomplishment of thought.
Preprint of Cole, Sacks, and Waterman. 2000. "On the immunity principle: A view from a robot." Trends in Cognitive Science 4 (5): 167, a response to Shaun Gallagher, S. 2000. "Philosophical conceptions of the self: implications for cognitive science," Trends in Cognitive Science 4 (1):14-21. Also see Shaun Gallagher, Reply to Cole, Sacks, and Waterman Trends in Cognitive Science 4, No. 5 (2000): 167-68.
The importance of the face is best understood, it is suggested, from the effects of visible facial difference in people. Their experience reflects the ways in which the face may be necessary for the interpersonal relatedness underlying such 'sharing' mind states as empathy. It is proposed that the face evolved as a result of several evolutionary pressures but that it is well placed to assume the role of an embodied representation of the increasingly refined inner states of mind that developed (...) as primates became more social, and required more complex social intelligence. -/- The consequences of various forms of facial disfigurement on interpersonal relatedness and intersubjectivity are then discussed. These narratives reveal the importance of the face in the development of the self-esteem that seems a prerequisite of being able to initiate, and enter, relationships between people. Such experiences are beyond normal experience and, as such, require an extended understanding of the other: to understand facial difference requires empathy. But, in addition, it is also suggested that empathy itself is supported by, and requires, the embodied expression and communication of emotion that the face provides. (shrink)
Proprioception has been considered, within neuroscience, in the context of the control of movement. Here we discuss a possible second role for this ‘sixth sense’, pleasure in and of movement, homologous with the recently described affective touch. We speculate on its evolution and place in human society and suggest that pleasure in movement may depend not on feedback but also on harmony between intention and action. Examples come from expert movers, dancers and sportsmen, and from those without proprioception due to (...) neurological impairment. Finally we suggest that affective proprioception may help bind our sense of agency with our embodied selves at an emotional level. (shrink)
We review different analytic approaches to narratives by those with psychopathological conditions, and we suggest that the interpretation of such narratives are complicated by a variety of phenomenological and hermeneutical considerations. We summarize an empirical study of narrative distance in narratives by non-pathological subjects, and discuss how the results can be interpreted in two different ways with regard to the issue of dissociation.
For most people a sense of self includes an embodied component: when describing our selves we describe those aspects of our physical bodies which can be easily codified: height, hair colour, sex, eye colour. Even when we consider ourselves we tend not to consider our intellectual cognitive characteristics but our describable anatomy. Wittgenstein's dictum, ‘the human body is the best picture of the human soul’, is relevant here but I would like to go further: the body-part we feel most embodied (...) in is our face, even though it is difficult to describe and so forms little part of how we describe ourselves to others. (shrink)
Did protolanguage users use discrete words that referred to objects, actions, locations, etc., and then, at some point, combine them; or on the contrary did they have words that globally indexed whole semantic complexes, and then come to divide them? Our answer is: early humans were forming language units consisting of global and discrete dimensions of semiosis in dynamic opposition. These units of thinking-for-speaking, or ‘growth points’ (GPs) were, jointly, analog imagery (visuo-spatio-motoric) and categorically-contrastive (-emic) linguistic encodings. This discrete-global duality (...) was a new mode of embodied cognition that enabled thinking and acting in new ways: the dawn of protolanguage. Where did this mode of cognition come from? We have some suggestions based on the hypothesis that gestures gained the power to orchestrate actions, manual and vocal, with significances other than those of the actions themselves, giving rise to cognition framed in the proposed dual terms. Note, however, our proposal is not one of the ‘gesture-first’ theories of language origins. Such theories predict what did not evolve: a language of pantomime; rather than what did evolve: an integrated system of synchronized gestures and spoken forms. GP theory is an account of the cognition underlying such an integrated system. A scenario for the evolutionary selection of this cognitive mode is ‘Mead’s Loop’, a model in which one’s cognition is enriched by one’s own gestures, insofar as they are objects in social interactions. (shrink)
This paper focuses our attention on a few principles that guide great universities. I want to suggest that the United States has not distinguished itself particularly well in preventing episodes of repression and attempts to silence dissent at universities, nor has it produced an extraordinary number of courageous leaders over the past seventy-five years who have come forward to defend the principles of academic freedom. While the US has never reached the level of repression that Germany felt in the 1930s, (...) nor that which was felt by Soviet geneticists at roughly the same time during the Lysenko years, we have nonetheless done significant damage to our system of higher learning because we have failed to understand fully the role that academic freedom and free inquiry play in creating the knowledge that societies depend on for their social and economic, as well as humanistic, progress. (shrink)
Although Arbib's extension of the mirror-system hypothesis neatly sidesteps one problem with the “gesture-first” theory of language origins, it overlooks the importance of gestures that occur in current-day human linguistic performance, and this lands it with another problem. We argue that, instead of gesture-first, a system of combined vocalization and gestures would have been a more natural evolutionary unit.
To what extent is imagination dependent on embodied experience? In attempting to answer such questions I consider the experiences of those who have to come to terms with altered neurological function, namely those with spinal cord injury at the neck. These people have each lost all sensation and movement below the neck. How might these new ways of living affect their imagination?
Studies of perception have focussed on sensation, though more recently the perception of action has, once more, become the subject of investigation. These studies have looked at acute experimental situations. The present paper discusses the subjective experience of those with either clinical syndromes of loss of movement or sensation (spinal cord injury, sensory neuronopathy syndrome or motor stroke), or with experimental paralysis or sensory loss. The differing phenomenology of these is explored and their effects on intention and agency discussed. It (...) is shown that sensory loss can have effects on the focussing of motor command and that for some a sense of agency can return despite paralysis. (shrink)
The present paper considers the processing of facial information from a personal and narrative aspect, attempting to address the effects that deficits in such processing have on people¿s perceptions of themselves and of others. The approach adopted has been a narrative and mainly subjective one, entering the experience of several subjects with facial problems to tease out the interactions between their facial problems and their relations with others. The subjects are those with blindness, either congenital or acquired, autism, Moebius syndrome (...) (the congenital absence of facial expression), Bell¿s palsy and facial disfigurement. From these biographical experiences the effect of facial problems on people¿s perception of self and their social existence is explored. Facial information processing is being examined to brilliant effect scientifically: the effects of problems in the system on individuals¿ self esteem may be informed, in part, by a clinical, descriptive approach. (shrink)
Traditionally, what we are conscious of in self-consciousness is something non-corporeal. But anti-Cartesian philosophers argue that the self is as much corporeal as it is mental. Because we have the sense of proprioception, a kind of body awareness, we are immediately aware of ourselves as bodies in physical space. In this debate the case histories of patients who have lost their sense of proprioception are clearly relevant. These patients do retain an awareness of themselves as corporeal beings, although they hardly (...) feel their bodies . They can initiate movements, and with the help of visual feedback learn to control them. It is shown that the traditional view of the self as immaterial is not supported by these cases. But the argument against this view has to be amended. It relies too much on bodily sensations, and misses the importance of active self-movement. (shrink)
Behrendt & Young's (B&Y's) novel “unifying model” of hallucinations, although comprehensive, fails to incorporate research into the possible role of 5-HT2A receptors in the mode of action of novel “atypical” antipsychotic drugs (which treat hallucinations effectively), and into the role of such receptors, which are located in thalamocortical circuits, in mediating drug-induced hallucinations.
This paper introduces the background to the debate addressed by the papers of this Special Issue of Pragmatics & Cognition. Starting with a definition of consciousness it traces some ways in which the term is applied; from clinical medicine, where it relates somewhat crudely to responsiveness to external stimuli, to more cognitive and philosophical aspects such as higher order consciousness and its content. It then discusses the relation of consciousness to brain anatomy, the neural correlates of consciousness, and its possible (...) evolution. In the meeting which forms the basis for Frith's core paper, Christof Koch also made important contributions, here précised. A discussion of the origins of consciousness in relation to the top-down and bottom-up models brought to the fore follows suit. (shrink)
The potential to instrumentalize drug use based upon the detection of very many different drug states undoubtedly exists, and such states may play a role in psychiatric and many other drug uses. Nevertheless, nonaddictive drug use is potentially more parsimoniously explained in terms of sensation seeking/impulsivity and drug expectations. Cultural factors also play a major role in nonaddictive drug use.
In these seventeen essays, distinguished senior scholars discuss the conceptual issues surrounding the idea of freedom of inquiry and scrutinize a variety of obstacles to such inquiry that they have encountered in their personal and professional experience. Their discussion of threats to freedom traverses a wide disciplinary and institutional, political and economic range covering specific restrictions linked to speech codes, the interests of donors, institutional review board licensing, political pressure groups, and government policy, as well as phenomena of high generality, (...) such as intellectual orthodoxy, in which coercion is barely visible and often self-imposed. As the editors say in their introduction: "No freedom can be taken for granted, even in the most well-functioning of formal democracies. Exposing the tendencies that undermine freedom of inquiry and their hidden sources and widespread implications is in itself an exercise in and for democracy.". (shrink)
What is like to live without touch or movement/position sense? The only way to understand the importance of these senses, so familiar we cannot imagine their absence, is to ask someone in that position. Ian Waterman lost them below the neck over forty years ago, though pain and temperature perception and his peripheral movement nerves were unaffected. Without proprioceptive feedback and touch the movement brain was disabled. Completely unable to move, he felt disembodied and frightened. Then, slowly, he taught himself (...) to dress, eat and walk by thinking about each movement and with visual supervision. In Losing Touch, the narrative moves between biography and scientific research, theatre, documentary and zero gravity. The book is the result of nearly 30 years close collaboration between author and subject. (shrink)