Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Mind and Brain

Mind and Brain: A Critical Appraisal of Cognitive Neuroscience

William R. Uttal
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 528
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Mind and Brain
    Book Description:

    Cognitive neuroscience explores the relationship between our minds and our brains, most recently by drawing on brain imaging techniques to align neural mechanisms with psychological processes. InMind and Brain, William Uttal offers a critical review of cognitive neuroscience, examining both its history and modern developments in the field. He pays particular attention to the role of brain imaging--especially functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)--in studying the mind-brain relationship. He argues that, despite the explosive growth of this new mode of research, there has been more hyperbole than critical analysis of what experimental outcomes really mean. WithMind and Brain, Uttal attempts a synoptic synthesis of this substantial body of scientific literature. Uttal considers psychological and behavioral concerns that can help guide the neuroscientific discussion; work done before the advent of imaging systems; and what brain imaging has brought to recent research. Cognitive neuroscience, Uttal argues, is truly both cognitive and neuroscientific. Both approaches are necessary and neither is sufficient to make sense of the greatest scientific issue of all: how the brain makes the mind.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29890-2
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xx)
    Raymond S. Nickerson

    Everyone knows that the brain is in the head and that the mind is the product of the brain—no brain, no mind; malfunctioning brain, defective mind. But reflection on this unique organ—this “enchanted loom,” or “great raveled knot,” to use Sherrington’s (1942) colorful metaphors—prompts many questions. Why, for example, is the brain all “scrunched up” in one spot within the skull? Might there not be some advantages to having it distributed throughout the body, as the nervous system, as a whole, is? Distributed systems work perfectly well in the world of computers, even without any centralized control...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-48)

    In the past decade and a half important new developments in instrumentation capable of studying the functioning brain have appeared. These devices, most notably positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) but also now including such exotic tools as magnetoencephalography, now unquestionably make it possible to study the anatomy and physiology of the brain (among other organ systems) better than ever before. There is no question that brain imaging devices represent one of the most important diagnostic and scientific developments of all time. Human suffering has been alleviated to a degree because of these devices in a...

  7. 2 Sensation
    (pp. 49-90)

    I now turn to the first topics in this review of cognitive neuroscience—sensation and perception. This pair of topics is characterized by the mental and neural responses to well-defined physical stimuli. Unlike the study of higher-order cognitive processes such as attention, it is relatively easy to control the stimulus conditions in sensory research. Furthermore, it is logically much simpler to evaluate the effect of such stimuli since a sensory experience is typically anchored to well-defined physical dimensions and units.

    For reasons that have more to do with the sheer bulk of the material that has been published in this...

  8. 3 Perception
    (pp. 91-140)

    For almost a century and a half, neuroscientists had been attempting to define which areas of the brain serve as the primary and immediate receiving areas for the several perceptual modalities. It is here, it has generally been assumed, that the transition from sensory information transmission begins to change to the representation of perceptual experiences. And it is to this latter topic—perception—mainly concerned with central nervous mechanisms (as opposed to those peripheral ones emphasized in the previous chapter) to which I now turn.

    Over the years it has been difficult to distinguish between the meanings of the words...

  9. 4 Emotion and Affect
    (pp. 141-176)

    The psychological study of learning is enhanced by its advantage of having very simple and quantifiable independent variables—the number of trials or the passage of time—and solid behavioral dependent variables—the changes in behavior that result from manipulation of those independent variables. The psychological study of sensory and perceptual processes enjoys the advantage of being solidly anchored to the parameters of the physical stimulus world in a similar way. The study of emotions, however, is one of those subfields of psychology that are beset by some of the most fundamental barriers to understanding cognitive processes. Like attention, the...

  10. 5 Learning and Memory
    (pp. 177-228)

    Learning is a generic term for a diverse number of different cognitive processes. Its simplest and broadest definition can be encapsulated as: learning is a change in the state of a system produced by experience and reflected in behavior. Learning must be distinguished from similar behavioral changes produced by growth, maturation, or development, each of which can mimic the effects of experience. Obviously this diffuse term includes an enormous array of behavioral changes ranging from psychomotor skills such as learning to ride a bicycle to learning one’s multiplication tables to learning how to think logically. That which we call learning...

  11. 6 Attention
    (pp. 229-266)

    When one studies learning, there are clear-cut operational parameters that help us to design and carry out empirical research studies. These parameters permit us to determine the behavioral transformations that occur with experience and, in some cases, to correlate neurological processes with these changes. The independent variable—experience—can be readily controlled by regulating the number of learning trials or the duration of the training period. The effects of learning are also easily measured by any one of a number of performance tests, including such old standbys as “percentage correct” and “reaction time.”

    As our focus changes to attention, however,...

  12. 7 Consciousness and Other High-Level Cognitive Processes
    (pp. 267-312)

    If there were difficulties and uncertainties regarding the neural nature of attention, learning, or emotion, they are greatly exacerbated when we turn to those elusive phenomena referred to as “higher cognitive processes.” As a result of the most extreme kind of inaccessibility (higher cognitive processes can go on in the total absence of any kind of behavior), these phenomena are certainly the most theoretically intractable issues in our search for understanding of what our brains are doing when we cogitate, think, or make decisions. This chapter is aimed at an examination of the progress that has been made in studying...

  13. 8 Applications
    (pp. 313-362)

    Cognitive neuroscience, as discussed throughout this book, is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing fields of scientific biology. Impressive developments have been made in the study of the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. For obvious reasons, philosophical as well as technical, the possible application of such powerful modern technologies as the fMRI to the study of the brain has generated an enormous amount of interest. Because the brain is the organ of the mind, the link between the two seems self-evident. As a result the association of the brain mechanisms associated with cognitive processes promises to be...

  14. 9 Conclusions and a New Brain Metaphor
    (pp. 363-380)

    Throughout this book, I discuss a number of individual experiments and describe their findings and results. None of these experiments, no matter how elegantly conceived or precisely executed, however, is of any particular importance. If any one of them, including the classic iconic studies, had never been conducted, another example of the same phenomenon would surely have taken its place and eventually made the same point. Collectively, on the other hand, experiments carry us forward to an ever-changing conception of the mind-brain relationship and to a constant reformulation of the current nature of cognitive neuroscience.

    In this final chapter I...

  15. Afterword
    (pp. 381-382)
    Michelle Sams

    It has long been accepted that the brain performs an integral function in all facets of human behavior, and understanding the mind-brain connection has been a key focus in all of the human sciences, from philosophy to psychology to biology. Recent advances in neuroscience, especially in neuroimaging, have fueled a resurgence of interest and a flurry of research activity in this topic area. There are now a wide range of disciplines that have added a “neuro” focus, ranging from computational neuroscience to neural engineering to neuroeconomics. Just about every area of psychology now seems to have a “neuro” branch of...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 383-406)
  17. References
    (pp. 407-454)
  18. Name Index
    (pp. 455-470)
  19. Subject Index
    (pp. 471-497)