The general structure of Steels & Belpaeme's (S&B's) central premise is appealing. Theoretical stances that focus on one type of mechanism miss the fact that multiple mechanisms acting in concert can provide convergent constraints for a more robust capacity than any individual mechanism might achieve acting in isolation. However, highlighting the significance of complex constraint interactions raises the possibility that some of the relevant constraints may have been left out of S&B's own models. Although abstract modeling can help clarify issues, (...) it also runs the risk of oversimplification and misframing. A more subtle implication of the significance of interacting constraints is that it calls for a close relationship between theoretical and empirical research. (shrink)
The stratification in depth of chromatically homogeneous overlapping figures depends on a minimization rule which assigns the status of being “in front” to the figure that requires the formation of shorter modal contours. This rule has been proven valid also in birds, whose visual neuroanatomy is radically different from that of other mammals, thus suggesting an example of evolutionary convergence toward a perceptual universal. [Shepard].
I suggest that a communicative context that has the potential to establish and maintain a shared advantage of behavioral lateralization should be identified in the domain of sexual selection, specifically in the interactions that individuals exploit to assess the fitness of potential mates.
Cognitive neuroscience has come to be viewed as the flagship of the cognitive sciences and is transforming our understanding of the nature of mind. In this paper we survey several research fields in cognitive neuroscience (lateralization, neuroeconomics, and cognitive control) and note that they are making rapid progress on fundamental issues. Lateralization research is developing a comparative framework for evolutionary analysis, and is identifying individual- and population-level factors that favor brain asymmetries. Neuroeconomics is creating a research framework for studying valuation (...) mechanisms in the brain that allows investigation of more complex phenomena than traditional reward paradigms. And cognitive control research has cast light on the mechanisms of task learning and top-down control that enable fluid goal-directed behavior in complex situations. Reasons for the success of cognitive neuroscience are varied: technical advances (e.g., in molecular genetics and imaging) are part of the story, but the more important factors have to do with the power of integrating a bottom-up mechanistic approach with larger functional and evolutionary perspectives. The incorporation of a bottom-up component differentiates cognitive neuroscience from the multidisciplinary ambitions of classical cognitive science, which suffered from having limited access to mechanisms. (shrink)
The World Health Organization defined COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, due to the spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in all continents. Italy had already witnessed a very fast spread that brought the Government to place the entire country under quarantine on March 11, reaching more than 30,700 fatalities in 2 months. We hypothesized that the pandemic and related compulsory quarantine would lead to an increase of anxiety state and protective behaviors to avoid infections. We aimed to investigate (...) whether protective behaviors might have been enhanced or limited by anxiety and emotional reactions to previous experience of stressful conditions. We collected data from 618 Italian participants, by means of an online survey. Participants were asked to rate their level of worry for the pandemic, and to complete two questionnaires measuring the anxiety level: the state-trait anxiety inventory and the Pre-traumatic stress reaction checklist. Finally, the respondents were also asked to report about their compliance with protective behaviors suggested to avoid the spread of the virus. Results show that respondents with higher levels of worry reported higher levels of anxiety and pre-traumatic reactions, with positive correlations among the three measurements, and that higher frequency of the three protective behaviors were put in place by respondents with higher levels of worry. Moreover, regression analysis showed that worry for COVID-19 was most predicted by age, anxiety levels, and Pre-traumatic stress. These results could be interpreted in an evolutionary framework, in which the level of worry leads persons to become more cautious maximizing long-term survival at the cost of short-term dysregulation. (shrink)