Much of the current imaging literature either denies the existence of wakeful non-mental imagers, views non-imagers motivationally as 'repressors' or 'neurotic', or acknowledges them but does not fully incorporate them into their models. Neurobiologists testing for imaging loss seem to assume that visual recognition, describing objects, and free-hand drawing require the forming of conscious images. The intuition that 'the psyche never thinks without an image.... the reasoning mind thinks its ideas in the form of images' (Aristotle) has a long tradition (...) in philosophical psychology, from Aristotle through the British empiricists to the British-empiricist-inspired introspection paradigm of Titchener. The massive shift in early experimental psychology to the introspective-antagonistic paradigm of Watson's behaviourism, may have sprung from the contrary intuition that no one thinks in mental images. In both cases, people seemed to assume that what is in one's own mind is in everybody's mind. A third, mediating, intuition - that some people do not think with conscious mental imagery -- seems to be confirmed by empirical studies on many levels. From the early imagery interviews of Francis Galton through many modern surveys, including my own, a consistent diversity of self-reports on ones own mental imagery abilities suggests that some 2-5% of people are very poor- or non-visual- imagers who, yet, maintain normal visual recognition abilities. Comparable estimates have been made in auditory and other imagery modalities. (shrink)
As an explicit organizing metaphor, memory aid, and conceptual framework, the prefrontal cortex may be viewed as a five-member ‘Executive Committee,’ as the prefrontal-control extensions of five sub-and-posterior-cortical systems: the ‘Perceiver’ is the frontal extension of the ventral perceptual stream which represents the world and self in object coordinates; the ‘Verbalizer’ is the frontal extension of the language stream which represents the world and self in language coordinates; the ‘Motivator’ is the frontal cortical extension of a subcortical extended-amygdala stream which (...) represents the world and self in motivational/emotional coordinates; the ‘Attender’ is the frontal cortical extension of a subcortical extended-hippocampal stream which represents the world and self in spatiotemporal coordinates and directs attention to internal and external events; and the ‘Coordinator’ is the frontal extension of the dorsal perceptual stream which represents the world and self in body- and eye-coordinates and controls willed action and working memory. This tutorial review examines the interacting roles of these five systems in perception, working memory, attention, long - term memory, motor control, and thinking. (shrink)
To define 'consciousness' is to describe its uses and deter-mine its boundaries, essential nature, and mechanisms. I distinguish between 'normal waking consciousness'; altered forms of waking consciousness underlying trance, absorption, hypnosis, dissociation, meditative states, drug states, and out of body experiences; and REM/dreaming and slow-wave/deep sleep - examining them by the basic characteristics and mechanisms of normal waking conscious-ness: cortical arousal, qualitative experiences, first-person subjectiv-ity, intentionality, knowing objects and self, interaction with external and inner world, united field, and reflective consciousness.
When the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness is finally written, it will likely have many of the elements documented in this fine book. My review is relatively detailed because, out of fourteen authors of the eight articles in this book, only four have previously appeared in the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Stanislas Dehaene , The Cognitive Neuroscience of Consciousness Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001, pp. 243 price $40.00 ISBN 0-262-54131-9.
The International Union of Psychological Science ('Union') co-hosted, with the Chinese Psychological Society its 28th International Congress of Psychology ('Congress'). The first Congress was held with the World's Fair in Paris in 1889. In recent decades, they have been held every four years in different parts of the world. The Union has member organizations from 67 nations, representing one half million psychologists. Pretty scary stuff!
Major strands of the history of scientific psychology proposed less mechanistic explanations of behavior than the “series of billiard ball reactions” that Ellis ascribes to them. I tease apart psychological systems based on hedonism and those based on stimulus-response mechanisms-and then tease apart basic hedonism and drive-reduction hedonism, to layout psychological and neuroscientific foundations for the active, dynamic, cognitive, emotive, and "spiritual" dynamics of human nature which Ellis calls us to affirm. I trace these distinctions through the drive-reduction psychoanalysis of (...) Freud, the drive-reduction behaviorism of Hull, and the non-drive-reductive hedonistic system of Skinner. Then I trace the recent neuroscience of reward and punishment circuits and putative narcissistic and altruistic circuits, to conclude that Behaviorism and Neuroscience support broad hedonistic but major non-drive-reduction motivational systems. I affirm Ellis’ contention that emotions are basically “active”, although with some caveats and questions. (shrink)
In the town where Elvis' occurrent consciousness status is periodically asserted, the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness held another great conference. The King of rockabilly did not show, but many stars of consciousness- and related-gigs did, such as Ned Block, Walter Freeman, Bernie Baars, Alva Noë, Dan Dennett, Christof Koch, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Peter Carruthers and Petra Stoerig. Even though this was my fifth ASSC conference I had never heard the famous Freeman nor the devilish Dennett before. There were (...) 21 plenary/ symposium speakers plus 10 workshops, 36 concurrent sessions and 20 posters over four packed days. Great stuff! (shrink)
This was my first 'Tucson-overseas' conference, and I will begin by briefly comparing this series with the (to me) more familiar ASSC and Tucson conferences -- several of which I have reviewed for JCS.
I have suggested that the prefrontal cortex constitutes an ?executive committee? with five streams coming from posterior cortex and subcortical areas to five pre-frontal executive regions, each of which chairs at least one on-going ?sub-committee? and vies with the other executives for taking over central control of conscious attention and willed action. It is through the dynamic interaction of this executive committee that unified conscious experiences and a sense of continuous self-identity are created. There is growing evidence that the amygdala-orbitofrontal (...) brain circuit, in particular, is crucial to impulse control, ?knowledge of good and evil,? personality, personhood, and even ?how X-me made Y-me do something.? There are striking examples of the ways that orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate ?committee members? can stage an insurrection against the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex executive chair. (shrink)