Psychology 262

              Neuropsychology of Mind 

                    Spring - 2011

Books and Readings

Office Hours




I. Thinking about Thinking

Are animals conscious?

Is intellectual aptitude more closely related to brain structure or experience?

Is cultural behavior unique to humans or does it have a biological heritage?

Do men and women have the capacity to think in the same way?

Is brain organization largely genetic or experientially based?

Can thought be independent of the body?

Is mind a unity or a compilation of independent processes?

Is our consciousness independent of our language?

Can we find commonalities in the Eastern and Western approaches to consciousness?

Is consciousness unique to the human brain or can it be created in machines?


A. How do we define mind and consciousness?

                        1. awareness

                        2. introspection and reflection

            B. How does consciousness emerge from a brain/body?

                        1. defining the problem

                        2. assembling an explanation   

            C. Organism and environment

                        1. where is the “I”?

                                    -Descartes- Interaction of Mind and Body

How do we distinguish between things that pertain to the soul and things that pertain to the body?

In what ways is the soul different from the body?

How did Descartes deduce the function of the pineal gland?


                                   -Sacks- Chapter 12

What was pathological about Mr. Thompson's behavior?

What "mind" activities could be considered in working order?

What does Sacks suggest is the relationship between our identity and our personal narrative?

What lessons are to be learned about our own identity?

Why does Sacks assert that Thompson lost his soul? What would you conjecture are the properties of soul he is referring to? How might that relate to the concept of soul used by Descartes?

What helped Thompson re-assert his being in the world?



Jan 20 - Jan 25  (Dr. Goldberg - Jan 27)

II. Origins of Mind

            A. Origins of sensing and acting

                        1. simple forms of behavior

                        2. communication between cells

                        3. reflexes and interneurons

            B. Evolution of the nervous system

                        1. adaptations and increasing complexity

            C. Origins of minds, perceptions, and affect

                        1. the simplest form of mind

                        2. consciousness and the evolution of sensory organs

                        3. perceptions and new behaviors                            

                                    -Newman and Hartline – The Infrared “Vision” of Snakes

Describe the functional adaptations that permit pit vipers to localize prey.

What major anatomical adaptations permit pit vipers to localize infrared radiation?

What adaptations in brain structure accompany structural  anatomical adaptations?

Describe the anatomical organization of the optic tectum.

What are "or" cells, "and" cells and "infrared depressed" cells? What are their functions?

What is the significance of visual and infrared integration?

Relate to Descartes view that animals are automatons (robots).

                                    -  Deisseroth- Controlling the Brain with Light

What is the limitations of viewing psychiatric disorders as chemical imbalances and altered levels of neurotransmitters?

What are opsin genes? What is the function of the proteins they produce?

Define the term optogenetics.

What is tranfection? What is the role of a promoter?

What is an optrode?

What is the consequence of optogenetic stimulation of hypocretin cells?

How can this technology be applied to treatment of depression and substance abuse?

Describe the ethical implications of optogenetics.

                                    - Laureys - Eyes Open, Mind Shut

How does a vegetative state illustrate the dissociation between the two main components of consciousness?

What brain areas are less active during vegetative states?

What signs in functional neuroimaging indicates a transition from a vegetative to a minimally conscious state?

Could this research help answer questions about animal consciousness? How?

­                                    -Sacks – Chapter 18

Describe the sensory changes that occurred to Stephen D.

How did the sensory alterations impact his behavior?

Comment on the title of this reading? Is this potential in all of us?

 Are there parallels between Stephen D.'s olfactory reactions and the pit viper's sensitivity to infrared radiation?



                    Feb 1 - Feb 3 - Feb 8


III. Structures of Mind

            A. Origins and structures of the vertebrate nervous system

                        1. layers of the brain

                        2. the cerebral cortex

                            a. parietal-temporal-occipital association area

                                  -topographic maps

                            b. limbic association area

                            c. prefrontal association area

                                  - role in working memory

                                  - role in separating past and future

                             d. significance of the two hemispheres

            B. Modern studies of brain function

                            - significance of phrenology and issue of brain/mind

                            - identification of Broca's and Wericke's area

                        1. association of functions with different brain regions

                             - consequences of prefrontal injury

                                    -distractibility and confabulation

                             -prefrontal role in strategy, motivation, selective attention, social judgment

                        2. specializations of the cerebral hemispheres

                              - what the sodium amytal test can reveal

                              - the specializations of serial and parallel processing

                              - the necessity of cross-talk

                        3. imaging the activity of the brain


                                    - MacNeilage - Origins of the Left and Right Brain

Explain the view that hemispheric specialization reflects the special evolutionary status of humans.

What is the radically different hypothesis favored by the authors of this study?

Relate top-down and bottom-up to the left and right hemisphere.

What appears to be the specialization of the right hemisphere in simple vertebrates?

What evidence suggests that apes have a hand preference?

What evidence is there that the left hemisphere is specialized for communication in animals?

How is the left hemisphere linked to non-vocal communication in primates?

How is feeding connected to vocalizing and communication?

What is the evidence that the right hemisphere evolved to detect unexpected stimuli?

How is the right hemisphere linked to the evolution of emotional responding?

What is the relationship between hemispheric specialization and the detection of social stimuli?

How is global responding linked to right hemisphere specialization?

How does the left hemisphere become specialized for categorization?



                                    -Sacks – Chapter 9

Why is sometimes difficult to discover the deficits aphasics have?

What might be enhanced in aphasics?

In what are aphasics like dogs?

Contrast tonal agnosia with aphasia.

How did Emily D. compensate for her agnosia?

Why are normals fooled by Reagan but not the brain damaged?


Feb 10 - Feb 15

IV. Primate Brain

            A. The question of animal consciousness

                      - social behavior in dolphins

                      - "intentionality" in parrots

                      - having a "theory of mind"

                      - danger of anthropomorphisms

                            -underestimating associative learning

                     - many "conscious" activities are ubiquitous in mammalian brain

                     - concept of self in primates

            B. Transitions from monkeys to hominids

                        1. upright posture

                                - also associated with tools, sexual division of labor (dimorphism), prolonged childhood, social networks

                        2. larger brains

                               -600-700 ccs of homo habilis - crude tools (2 million years)

                               - 900-1100 ccs- homo erectus - tools, shelters, base camps, migration out of Africa (1.5 - 2.5 million)

                               -1400 ccs - homo sapiens emerging between 300,000 and 100,000 years ago - vocal tract

                                       - evidence for small group living

                        3. stages in hominid emergence

                                       -punctuated evolution and environmental cooling

           C. Origins of human intelligence

                              -evidence for early development of Broca/Wernicke areas

                              - increase in frontal lobe size

                        1. episodic intelligence

                                - Donald's continuum

                                       - episodic - apes and australopithecines

                                       - mimetic - Homo erectus

                                       - mythic - archaic humans

                                        - theoretic - modern humans

                                 - episodic - living in present- single events and sequences of episodes, memory for complex social relationships

                                            - lack of theory of mind     


                            - Pollard - What Makes Us Human  

How similar is chimpanzee DNA to ours?

How have determined what sequences are responsible for the shaping of humans?

What is HAR1? In what types of cells is it found? What role does in play in brain development?

What is HAR1 a code for?

What is the consequence of having a FOXP2 mutation?

What is the ASPM gene associated with?


                            - de Waal - How Animals Do Business


What was the view of human nature held by those in classical economics?

Identify the basic human economic tendencies.

Describe the interactions of Bias and Sammy.

What is meant by the term "reciprocal altruism"? Identify a variety of potential underlying mechanisms.

What is meant by the term "marketplace of services"?

What is biological market theory? How does it account for cheating?

Why does the rejection of unequal pay go against the assumptions of traditional economics?

What role does emotion play in cooperation?


            D. The great apes: selves and others

                        1. socialization and other skills among the chimps

                        2. developing a concept of self

                        3. awareness of the mental states of others

                                    -Gallup – Can Animals Empathize?

How did the mirror test serve to change Gallup's mind? What seems to accompany self-awareness?

What is the mirror test and what species pass it? What conclusions were drawn about monkeys and gorillas?

What dramatic transitions occur in humans after 18-24 months of age?

Explain the inter-relationship between self-awareness, consciousness and mind.

Describe the experiments that reveal cognitive empathy in chimpanzees.

How might the frontal lobes be involved in self-awareness?

What is the difference between the positions of Gallup and Povinelli?

What is the alternative hypothesis to chimps following a gaze to figure out what you are looking at? How did Povinelli test this alternate hypothesis?

What does Povinelli mean by his "lower level" model?

What did the delayed self-recognition test in children reveal?

What is meant by "kinesthetic" self-concept? What might be its evolutionary basis?






Feb 17 - Feb 22 - Feb 24


V. Hominid mind

           - tracking the changes between Homo erectus and modern humans (2 million to 100,000 years ago)

            A. The mimetic intelligence of early hominids

                  - jaw and face musculature supporting expressiveness and vocalization

                  - presence of mimetic intelligence - pre-linguistic children, languageless adults

                  - mimetic intelligence underlies the learning of music, crafts and sports

                  - includes ability to produce conscious, represenational images that can underlie intentional acts

                  - perhaps involved in knowledge of group hierarchical structure and role acting in children

                  - group mimesis is ritual

                  - mimetic ideas serve to order and "encapsulate" episodic elements of mind - it also can re-order events  


 -Video and Lovejoy – The Origin of Man

Why does Lovejoy reject tool use as the primary determinant of early hominization?

Why did bipedality emerge in the hominid fossil record? What are its disadvantages?

What are the physiological correlates of longevity?

Describe the parental investment of the chimpanzee.

What are the strategies primates use to depress environmentally induced mortality?

What are the two primary causes of infant mortality in the chimpanzee?

Why does monogamous pair bonding favor feeding divergence?

Why might be the evolutionary origin of male "carrying" behavior?

What is the relationship between carrying and the development of material culture?

How does male parenting contribute to a K reproduction strategy?

What is the consequence of the hidden ovulation for human copulatory behavior?

What are epigamic features? How are they related to mating strategies?

Why are old world monkeys so successful?

What does Lovejoy claim to be "the cause" of hominid evolution?

What is the advantage of a bifocal group over a matrifocal group?

What is the hominid character system?




            B. Kinesic communication

                  -  importance of body language - role in parallel processing

                  -  movement and posture as an "organ" of social behavior

                        1. social cohesion and body language

                              - posture as group mind

                              - complementary body language- group laughter


 -Brown - The Neuroscience of Dance   

What is meant by a "kinesthetic map"? What area of the brain is associated with that map?

What role does the cerebellum play in dance?

What is meant by the "low road" hypothesis? What does this say about the role of non-conscious processes in dance?

What are "imitation circuits"?  What does this suggest about the function of cortical representation?

How does dance relate to the gestural theory of language?            


            C. Origins of language

                              - distinctions between primate and human vocalizations

                              - language excels at organizing categories

                              - episodic thought organizes behavior while mimetic can control long-term projects

                                        -incorporates social procedure and ritual / language and thought growing in parallel

                        1. internal narrative

                                - talking to oneself and as an extension of between individual conversation

                        2. language as an adaptation

                                - language as a grooming substitute

                                - language permits articulation of rules of social structure

                        3. evolution of brain structures supporting language

                               - Broca's area may evolved to control mouth and tongue movements but then co-opted for other activities

                               - centers controlling mimetic systems may start to control Broca/Wernicke

                        4. language and the evolutionary tree

                               - language may have appeared in several different forms in different branches of the tree                                   

                 D. The emergence of modern humans

                        1. evidence for the out-of-Africa hypotheses

                        2. co-evolution of humans and their tools

                        3. the origins of mythic intelligence

                        4. what caused the transition to upper Paleolithic culture?                     

                 E. Evolutionary psychology- the search for a universal mind

                        1. genetic arguments for an evolved psychology

                        2. evolution of cooperation

                        3. evidence from cross-cultural studies

                        4. listing and evaluating human universals

                 F. The evolution of ideas and customs

                        1. the concept of memes

                        2. evolution of memes

                                    - Blackmore – The Power of Memes

What is the limitation of Darwinian theory for understanding human evolution?

Describe the analogy between genes and memes.

What are "viral" memes?

Describe humans as meme machines. How does that change our conception of  ourselves?

How do memes set us apart from the rest of the animal world?

How do memes account for brain size?

How are memes related to the ability to imitate?

Explain language as designed by memetic competition and meme-gene co-evolution.

How has memetic evolution affected technology?

How does Plotkin use the concept of justice to argue against Blackmore's thesis?




Mar 1 – Mar 3 - Mar 8

 VI. Plastic Mind

        -accounting for the uniqueness of each human brain

            A. An outline of brain development

                    - the embryonic events in brain development

                    -  plasticity as a way to deal with a rapidly changing environment

          B. Origins of plasticity

                    - limitations on what genes prescribe

                    - meaning of "use it or lose it"

                    - consequences of a degraded early social environment 

                        1. a hierarchy of developmental circuits from innate to learned

                                - role of deep brain circuits in shaping cortical circuits

                                - four levels of construction

                                     gene instruction

                                     prenatal hormonal and chemical environment

                                     gene/sensory interaction

                                     gene/ns/social interaction



            C. The wiring of developing brains

                     - growth cones

                        1. pathways to the cerebral cortex

                                - thalamic-cortical projections

                        2. functional plasticity in the formation of cortical areas

                                - competition for cortical sites

                                - visual activation in Braille - synesthesia

                        3. plasticity in forming the visual cortex

                                - altering neurodevelopment - eyelid suturing experiments                                -

                        4. experience guides the formation of successful connections

                                 -vertical line environments

                                 - doing much with very little- consequences of major neural damage in infants


                              -Di Franza - Hooked from the First Cigarette

What is the conventional wisdom among physicians as to why people get addicted to nicotine?

What are the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal?

What was the observation that caused DiFranza to believe that nicotine addiction can occur much more rapidly than previously thought?

What is Di Franza's new hypothesis?

Conjecture how DiFranza's approach to addiction relates to understanding addiction as a "mental" or "psychological" problem.

What is the rate of smoking at which the symptoms of addiction first begin to occur?

What is the function of the craving-generation system?

What is the function of the craving-inhibition system?

How does nicotine influence activity in this system?

What happens when the effects of nicotine wear off?

What is the implications of the rapid "up-regulation" of the nicotine receptors in the rat studies?

What is meant by "abstinence-related brain adaptation"? How would this be reflected in a smoker's brain?



               D. Adult brains can change their nerve connections

                        1. expansion and contraction of cortical areas

                        2. cortical plasticity and the phantom limb phenomenon

                        - Ramachandran- Chasing the Phantom

Why would a neurologist conclude that God is a cartographer?

Describe Mirabelle's perception of her phantom limbs.

What caused pain in John?

From what is your body image derived?

Why does "learned" paralysis occur?

In what sense is pain an opinion? Why doesn't an imagined clench fist produce pain?

How does the nature/nurture issue impact our understanding of phantoms?

Why does Ramachandran argue that your body is a phantom?

            E. Social experience can alter brain structure

                        1. limits of brain plasticity

            F. Memory is a form of brain plasticity

                        1. long-term memory

                        2. models of recognition and memory

                        3. procedural memory

                        4. olfactory memories

-Sacks: Chapters  2

Speculate on what would be left of the self without memory.

What types of activities would animate Jimmy?

Describe behaviors that would indicate that Jimmy was locked in the past.

What aspects of Jimmy's intellect were intact?

What is Korsakov's syndrome?

Describe Jimmy's reaction to his brother.

Characterize Jimmy's involvement in life.

Explicate Sack's observation that Jimmy was lost in extensional time but organized in intentional time.

What was the philosophical lesson learned by Sacks?

What happens when a Korsakov patient goes back home?



            G. The sexual brain-plasticity induced by hormones

                        1. hormonal influences on behavior

                        2. hormonal influences on visuospatial skills


                        -Kinsley - The Maternal Brain

How does the focus of behavior change in motherhood?

What behaviors appear to be regulated by estrogen and progesterone?

What and where is the medial preoptic area?

Where else in the course to we run into the Triune Brain model?

What is the evidence that newborn pups are rewarding to the mother? What might be the role of endorphins and oxytocin?

What is the role of the mPOA in attention and motivation?

How does pregnancy impact foraging?

How is the hippocampus affected by estrogen?

How might cortisol affect the behavior of human mothers?

How is multi-tasking measured in animals?







Mar 10 - Mar 22 - Mar 24

VII. Minds and selves

            A. Stages in the development of human selves

                     - lack of qualitative differences between human and primate brains

                     - our unique cognitive attributes must be built from available circuitry

                     - between 9 and 24 mos 150% of synaptic complexity - 48 mos - metabolic activity has peaked

                     - frontal lobes develop until 25 years of age

                         Rizzolatti - Mirrors in the Mind

Why are mirror neurons linked to the comprehension of the actions of others?

How are mirror neurons linked to the imagining of movement?

How are these neurons linked to the comprehension of goals?
How are these neurons linked to emotional perception?

                     - the human child as natural scientist

                     - between 3 and 4, the ability to ascribe minds to others- ability may integrate four systems

                     - autism as mind blindess?

                        1. effects of rich versus impoverished environments

                               - classic animal studies

                               - the effects of impoverishment

                     Teicher- Wounds that Won’t Heal: The Neurobiology of Child Abuse

What is meant by the statement that early childhood abuse was once considered a "software" problem?

Describe the "borderline personality disorder (BPD)."

What limbic system areas are implicated in BPD. What might early maltreatment be doing to these areas?

Describe the documented changes that arise out of child abuse.

Have all researchers arrived at the same conclusion after imaging the hippocampus? How might the observational inconsistencies be resolved?

How has the impact of cortical organization on abuse been investigated? What observations have been made?

Discuss the involvement of the cerebellar vermis.

In what sense might the changes due to stress be adaptive? Describe the behavioral alterations that might arise.

                        2. the role of language  

                                    - language exposure from attentive adult as a predictor of intelligence 

                                    - language in its role in social communication

                                    - story telling and the mythic personality

                                    - our creation of imaginary worlds                        

            B. The cerebral hemispheres as selves

                                    - implications of split brain insights

            C. Self-boundaries

                                     -self and the continuous sensing of body space

                                     - anosognosia and denial                     


            D. Selves as modular constructions

                        1. the example of musical intelligence

                        2. how many selves to a customer?


                          -Sacks – Video - Musical Minds

            E. Selves, genes, and environments

                        1. framing the issue of nature and nurture

                        2. physical environments and selves

                        3. cultural influences on self

            F. The relativity of thought systems

                       -Sacks – An Anthropologist on Mars

Describe some of Grandin's childhood symptoms.

Describe some of Grandin's adult patterns of behavior. Describe her social interaction skills.

How did Grandin use cognitive processes when interpersonal skills failed.

Describe her squeeze machine. What benefits did Grandin receive from it?

What might be the origin of her sensitivity to animals? How might this sensitivity impacted her design of animal slaughter techniques?

What does it mean when Grandin is described as having to compute the intentions of others.

What is the allure of science to Grandin?

Describe Grandin's experience with medications.

                        -Ramachandran - Broken Mirrors: A Theory of Autism

What is Frith's theory of autism?

What is the relationship between autism and the perception of intentions?

What are mu waves? How did they differ in autistic children?

How do autistic children tend to respond to metaphors?

How might the mu wave abnormality be corrected?

                        -Sacks: Chapter 21

Describe the world Rebecca loved and could enter?

Why does Sacks describe her as being spiritually complete?

What might be the two wholly different modes of thought, organization or of being?

What did narrative thought provide Rebecca?

Why was the theater the right setting for Rebecca?


                        -Sacks: Chapter 23

Describe the idiot savant characteristics of the twins.

Describe their arithmetical skills.

What is meant by the term "unconscious algorithm"?

What memory skills do they exhibit?

What did Sacks note about their sensitivity to prime numbers?

What might be the relationship between calculating skills and music?

What does Sacks mean when he says the twins have an "iconic" sense of numbers?

What were the consequences of their separation?




Mar 29 - Mar 31 - Apr 5

VIII. Perceiving Mind

            A. Ecology of sensing and acting

                  - perception serves action

                  - the linkage between motion and perception / kitten experiments

            B. Perception focuses on change

                 - receptor activity and change

                 - perception influenced by preceding events

            C. Perception is filtered and directed by many factors

                 - interplay of attention and perception

                 - implication for unconscious awareness

                 - filters and sensors (dichotic listening experiments)   

                        1. distinguishing between sensation and perception

                                 - illusions reveal the distinction between sensation and perception



                                 - touch/hearing - what is happening to me and what is happening out there

                        2. perception of spatial relationships

                                  - perception as a hunch 

                                                -Sacks: Chapter 1  

Describe some of the peculiar behaviors of Dr. P.

Was Dr. P aware of his deficit? What is the implication for the analysis of the phenomenology of consciousness?

What visual stimuli could Dr. P detect? What stimuli could he not?

What was his approach to recognizing faces?

What was computer-like about Dr. P's behavior?

How did his condition affect his visual imagination?

What is meant by visualization of schemata?

How did he compensate for his condition while dressing?

How did his condition affect his painting?                                



            D. Visual systems

                        1. self-experiment: a look at vision and its muscular correlates

                        2. our visual brain

                               - parallel processing in the visual system

                        3. visual information is processed in parallel streams

                        4. form, motion, and color

                        5. the “what” and “where” systems

                        6. visual pathways outside the cortex

                        7. ensembles of cells encode faces and other icons

                        8. information streams flow, forward, backward, and sideways

                                  - re-entrant processes and attention

                        9. a binding process underlies visual perception

                        10. neural correlates of visual consciousness                                      

-DeGelder – Uncanny Sight in the Blind

What was the location of TN's injury?

What evidence was used to demonstrate blind sight?

How does our blind spot illustrate the relationship between seeing and knowing?

What types of physical attributes can people with blind sight detect?

How is sleepwalking like blind sight?

How can blind sight be related to emotional contagion?

What laboratory procedures permit the investigation of blind sight phenomena in the sighted?

What brain structures are implicated in blind sight?


                                      -Ramachandran - Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes

What have been some of the common explanations of synesthesia?

Describe the pop-out test for synesthesia.

What neural area is implicated in number-color synesthesia? Explain.

What does the visual phenomena of crowding reveal about synesthesia?

Do synesthetes see color when looking at Roman numerals? Describe the implications.

What is the significance of area TPO for synesthesia?

What is the relationship between creativity and synesthesia?

What might synesthesia tell us about the evolution of abstraction?




Apr 7 - Apr 12


X. Emotional Mind

             - I feel therefore I think

             - inherent difficult in studying emotions

             - RT, emotions and thought 

            A. Defining emotions

                     - autonomic activity

                     - facial expressions/communications               

                     - subjective feelings

                     - the emotional pallette

                     - temperament

                        1. emotions as evolutionary adaptations

                               - affect and evaluation

                               - neuromodulators as a component of neural systems

                        2. emotions and the physical environment

                               - behavioral pre-dispositions - snake detectors and face detectors

                        3. emotions and social exchange

                               - walking archive of ancestral wisdom - investment allocation

                               - the "authenticity" of emotions


            B. Subcortical systems underlying emotions

                       - limbic system

                       - the Kluver-Bucy syndrome

                        1. the autonomic background of emotions

                                - the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems

                        2. brainstem modulation of attention and appetite

                                - neurochemical "spritzers"

                                - serotonin and aggression

                                - dopamine and addiction - differentiating emotion from craving   

                        3. other correlations of chemistry and emotional behavior


                      - Rozin: Towards a Psychology of Food and Eating

What is meant by the concept of preadaptation?

What are some cultural preadaptations in the food domain?

What is the physiological basis of disgust?

What is meant by "core" disgust?

What is "animal-origin" disgust?

What is "interpersonal" disgust?

What  is the relationship of disgust to moral purity?


            C. Higher levels of emotional mind

                        1. emotional mind as a foundation of rational mind

                        2. lateral organization of emotions

                        3. emotional responses can be more rapid than reasoned ones

                        4. central role of the amygdala

                        5. perception of emotional and cognitive pathways


                                    -Damasio- The Somatic Marker Hypothesis

Describe the relationship between reasoning and deciding.

What are the three pieces of knowledge a decider uses?

How does Damasio relate decision making to Descartes' view of human nature?

What are the consequences of deciding well within the personal and social domain?

Distinguish between the "high-neuron" view of decision making and the somatic marker hypothesis.

What is the flaw of rationality as a decision making tool?

Why does Damasio argue that the brain can't use pure reason?

What are somatic markers? How do they reduce alternatives?

How do somatic markers act as a biasing device?

What is will power?

How do somatic markers account for altruism?

How are somatic markers established?

How do external circumstances influence somatic markers?

Why does Damasio believe that the prefrontal cortex is a critical location for somatic markers?

            D. Facial musculature and the communication of emotions

            E. Misapplication of ancestral emotions – the chronic stress response


                                -Zak -  The Neurobiology of Trust



Apr 14 - Apr 19

XI. Linguistic Mind

        - differences between primate and human communication

        - human language "organs" - hierarchical universal grammar/use of metaphor

        - nature/nurture and language

            A. The language instinct

                     - isolated primitive cultures all have very distinct languages but some universal principles

                     - pidgin and creoles

                              - creole features invented by children

                                    - subject-object-verb, plural pronouns, tense and mood regularities                                 

                        1. universal language

                                - deep structure, surface structure and transformational rules

                        2. the case for language as an evolutionary adaptation

                                - debate of resulting from cortical pre-adaptation (Chomsky/Gould) vs. natural selection (Pinker)

                                       - natural selection argument and finger babbling in deaf infants

                                       - amodal, brain based capacity

            B. The learning of language

                       - the argument that we possess robust learning devices - each of us invent language

                        1. genetic determinants of language ability

                                 - some evidence for genetic based impairments

                                 - Williams syndrome and the linguistic module

                        2. language development and brain structure

                                  - left hemisphere- but right hemisphere can take over

                                  - language can be compartmentalized in bilinguals

                                  - general processing features of the left and right hemisphere

                        3. language development as invention

                                  - discovering statistical properties of information

                                  - neural network models

                                 -Lenhoff – Williams Syndrome in the Brain

Describe the predominant features of individuals with Williams syndrome.

Comment on their emotional sensitivity and musical ability.

Describe the genetic basis of the disorder.

What behavioral symptoms can be directly linked to their genetic abnormalities?

Describe the linguistic abilities of people with Williams syndrome.

Contrast Williams syndrome with Down's syndrome.

What is abnormal about their neuroanatomy?

What is the significance of neorcerebellar and frontal function for understanding the syndrome?

What may be the significance of their large planum temporale?

What is abnormal about their EEGs?

How might children with Williams syndrome inspired pixie legends?


            C. Brain mechanisms of language

                        1. multiple language areas in the cortex

                        2. language as accessory to other fundamental brain mechanisms

            D. Metaphor and the construction of language

                                    -Lakoff - Whose Freedom?

According to Lakoff, what is the progressive world view organized around?

What are the roots of progressive values?

How does this world view impact beliefs about the "infrastructure of freedom"?

According to Lakoff. why are conservatives constantly attaching the label of freedom and liberty to their beliefs?

What is the strict father family metaphor?

The father as authority figure often fails? How is the failure seen in behavior?

What are nurturant conservative communities? Where are they found?

What is "in-group" nuturance and "out-group" strictness?


Apr 28 - May 3 - May 5

XII. Conscious mind

            A. The mind/body problem

            B. Can the problem of consciousness be solved?

            C. The machinery of awareness                         


            D. The brain’s time and space: the disappearance of “I”

                        1. plastic representations of time and space

                        2. the futility of asking “where does it all come together?”

                        -Sacks: Chapter 8

Describe the pathology discussed in this reading?

What does it suggest is necessary for consciousness?

            E. Sleep and other altered states of consciousness

                        1. stages of sleep and dreaming

                        2. mystical experience

                        3. humor and laughter

                        -Fischer- A Cartography of the Ecstatic and Meditative States

What are the two continua Fischer refers to?

What dynamics between cortical and subcortical circuits does Fischer describe?

What are some of the "stops" along the perception hallucination continuum?

What is the difference between the ergotropic and the trophotropic systems?

What is the symbolism of the the Three Wise Men sculpture?

What is the significance of the S/M ratio?

What is meant by the term "perception-behavior"?

Describe how reality changes from infancy to adulthood?

Describe some of the constancy changes under psilocybin.

What mental states emerge as one moves along the continuum?

What does Fischer mean when he says space and time contract as we move along the dimension?

In what sense is freedom lost with increased ergotropic arousal?

What is the distinction between the "self " and "I"?

What is the relationship between the perception-meditation continuum and increasing trophotropic arousal?

What is meant by "rebound to superactivity"?
Explain the lake water level analogy. Why does separateness from the world diminish as lake level lowers?

What happens to the distinctiveness of the subjective and objective as we move from the "I"?

Why are symbols and metaphors needed to describe non-I states?

What is the significance of geometric-ornamental-rhythmic structures?

What is meant by state boundaries?

How are multiple existences possible?

                        -Sacks: Chapter 17

Relate this reading to Fischer's theory.

            F. Neural correlates and models of consciousness

                        1. brain structures required for conscious awareness

                        2. generating an apparent “I”

                        3. introspection and the self system

                        4. computer metaphors  

                         -Raichle- The Brain's Dark Energy    

Contrast the energy consumed by the brain's default mode with things done consciously.

What might be the role of the DMN in synchronizing neural activity?

What is misleading about the "subtraction" method in fMI research?

What is the implicatin of thinking of the DMN as a system?

In what sense are low frequency cortical potentials like a conductor's baton?                         

                        -Tononi and Edelman – Consciousness and Complexity

How does the approach of these researchers differ from others?

What two properties of neural activity are emphasized? What is the name of the hypothesis that utilizes these concepts?

What is the significance of have so many possible conscious states?

What is the reference state that is used to compare conscious and unconscious processes?

What is the "process of re-entry"?

What is the "telltale" sign of re-entrant interactions?

Why does a stimulus have to be present for 500 msec to be detected?

What re-entrant events occur during working memory?

Why don't the re-entrant events during epilepsy and slow-wave sleep produce consciousness?

What does Note (52) imply?