According to the prevailing paradigm in social-cognitive neuroscience, the mental states of individuals become shared when they adapt to each other in the pursuit of a shared goal. We challenge this view by proposing an alternative approach to the cognitive foundations of social interactions. The central claim of this paper is that social cognition concerns the graded and dynamic process of alignment of individual minds, even in the absence of a shared goal. When individuals reciprocally exchange information about each other's (...) minds processes of alignment unfold over time and across space, creating a social interaction. Not all cases of joint action involve such reciprocal exchange of information. To understand the nature of social interactions, then, we propose that attention should be focused on the manner in which people align words and thoughts, bodily postures and movements, in order to take one another into account and to make full use of socially relevant information. (shrink)
We describe the case of a 46-year-old male who could perform certain rule-induction tasks without awareness of the operative rules after surviving nonaccidental carbon monoxide poisoning. We tested the performance of SC on a series of rule-induction tasks at three stages in his recovery: when he was unable to solve a picture discrimination task, when he could succeed on rules that were based on physical features of the task stimuli , but not on rules that were more abstract in nature, (...) and when he managed to solve both kinds of rules and could verbalize them. The focus of this paper is the differential pattern of performance in the latter two stages. Near-perfect scoring on control tasks suggested that this pattern could not be attributed to either verbal or memory deficits. We offer an explanation in terms of a dissociation between conscious and unconscious modes of information-processing. (shrink)
The approach adopted by Posner & Raichle in this book, with its strong emphasis on the cognitive level of description, is ideally suited to the study of psychotic illnesses. However, their discussion of depression and schizophrenia is based on a very small number of studies and involves ad hoc arguments derived largely from neuroanatomy. Their conclusions are almost certainly wrong.