After Phrenology: How to Study the Brain by Michael L. Anderson

By Michael L. Anderson

The pc analogy of the brain has been as broadly followed in modern cognitive neuroscience as was once the analogy of the mind as a suite of organs in phrenology. simply because the phrenologist might insist that every organ should have its specific functionality, so modern cognitive neuroscience is dedicated to the idea that every mind sector should have its basic computation. In After Phrenology, Michael Anderson argues that to accomplish a completely post-phrenological technology of the mind, we have to reconsider this dedication and devise an alternative, neuroscientifically grounded taxonomy of psychological function.

Anderson contends that the cognitive roles performed via each one sector of the mind are hugely quite a few, reflecting assorted neural partnerships demonstrated lower than diversified situations. He proposes quantifying the useful homes of neural assemblies by way of their dispositional traits instead of their computational or information-processing operations. Exploring larger-scale concerns, and drawing on proof from embodied cognition, Anderson develops an image of pondering rooted within the exploitation and extension of our early-evolving skill for iterated interplay with the area. He argues that the multidimensional method of the mind he describes bargains a stronger healthy for those findings, and a extra promising street towards a unified technological know-how of minded organisms.

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Extra info for After Phrenology: How to Study the Brain

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Whatever the correct history, this clearly represents another set of cases of functional reuse not explained by conceptual metaphor theory or concept empiricism. If we assume the foregoing is sufficient to establish the existence of at least some cases of neural reuse that cannot be accounted for by these theoretical frameworks alone, the question naturally arises as to whether these anomalous cases should be dealt with by post-hoc elaborations of these theories (and/or by generating one or a few similarly specific theories) or whether this is a situation that calls for a global theory of reuse that supersedes and at least partially subsumes these existing frameworks.

For a simple case, consider the Love Is War mapping taken from Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 1999). When employing this metaphorical mapping, people use their understanding of war—of how to interpret events and how to respond to them—to guide their thinking about love: one fights for a partner, makes advances, fends off suitors, or embarks on a series of conquests. Similarly, the Life Is a Journey mapping allows people to leverage their extensive experience and competence in navigating the physical world in order to facilitate planning for life more generally: we plan a route, overcome obstacles, set goals, and reach milestones.

This has suggested to many that social cognition—understanding the actions and intentions of others—could involve simulating our own behaviors, a notion that attracted even more widespread interest after the discovery of mirror neurons (Decety & Grèzes 1999; Gallese et al. 1996; Gallese & Goldman 1998; Rizzolati et al. 1996). The trouble for concept empiricism and conceptual metaphor theory is that the logic governing the reuse of resources for multiple purposes is quite different in this case.

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