December 31, 2006

Conscious and nonconscious memory related brain activity

Are conscious and nonconscious processes supported by overlapping brain regions? In a recent study, Slotnick and Schacter investigated whether activity, related to visual memory, in early visual regions (BA17 and BA18) is reflective of nonconscious processing. The results of their study suggest that early visual regions (BA17, BA18) are associated with nonconcsious memory, while late visual regions (BA19, BA37) are associated with conscious memory. Click through for abstract. Hubmed.

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Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences — latest issue

cognitive science,journal,phenomenology — thomasr @ 11:15 am

phencover-image-medium.gifA new issue of Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences is out.

Articles include topics such as

  • introspective reports
  • perception and action
  • evolutionary autonomous agents

We here bring the TOCs and links

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Motivation and Emotion — Special issue

emotions,journal — thomasr @ 9:04 am

cover-image-medium.gifThe latest issue of Motivation and Emotion is a special issue on antonomy, volitional motivation and wellness.

The TOC includes:

  • goal motives and well-being
  • autonomy and nondefensiveness
  • Motivational Predictors of Change in Oral Health.
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December 30, 2006

Visuo-spatial consciousness and parieto-occipital EEGs

Which brain areas are involved in visuospatial consciousness? In a recent study by Babiloni and colleagues, subjects performed a visual perception task. Interestingly, these scientists found that visual-evoked potentials at parieto-occipital areas had the same peak latencies for cases of conscious, as well as unconscious, perception. These visual-evoked potentials were located to the occipital (BA 19) and parietal (BA 7) cortices.

Source strength was significantly stronger in consciously, compared to unconsciously, perceived cases at about +300 ms poststimulus. Babiloni and colleagues concluded that these features of the observed parieto-occipital activation might be connected to visuospatial consciousness.

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December 29, 2006

The effort-decision brain circuitry

comparative studies,decision making — thomasr @ 12:32 pm

What are the brain areas responsible for decision making? And is there a difference between easy and hard decisions? In an article in Cerebral Cortex, researchers find that amygdala and prefrontal cortex form an interconnected neural circuit that may mediate effortful decision-making.  Click through for abstract. HubMed.

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Genetic Mechanism Helps Explain Chronic Pain Disorders

genetics,pain,perception — thomasr @ 7:09 am

painbrain.jpegResearchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered that commonly occurring variations of a gene trigger a domino effect in chronic pain disorders. The finding might lead to more effective treatments for temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) and other chronic pain conditions.

Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme that metabolizes neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine and that has been implicated in the modulation of persistent pain, as well as cognition and mood, is regulated by a gene, also called COMT. Previous UNC-led research showed that common genetic variants of this gene are associated with increased pain sensitivity and the likelihood of developing TMJD.

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December 23, 2006

Journal of Phenomenological Psychology: New issues

journal,phenomenology — thomasr @ 4:24 am

jpp.gifDid you know that there is a journal that seeks to combine phenomenology and psychology? Phenomenology is, among other things, described as “an approach to philosophy that takes intuitive experience of phenomena (what presents itself to us in phenomenological reflexion) as its starting point and tries to extract from it the essential features of experiences and the essence of what we experience.”

Two new issues of the Journal of Phenomenological Psychology are now out, and include articles on altruism, the experiences of not belonging and of ambivalence, and on being a couple.
Here, we bring the TOC of both issues.

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December 22, 2006

Inducing a dreamy state

braineletrodes.jpgBrain stimulation provides an interesting tool to study the functions of a given area of the brain. In a study by Vignal et al. published in Brain, artificial stimulation or seizures in specific mesial temporal lobe structures were assessed both in terms of location and phenomenology.

Among the findings, the researchers found that “Forty-five per cent of dreamy states were evoked by stimulation of the amygdala, 37.5% by the hippocampus and 17.5% by the para-hippocampal gyrus.”

Furthermore, they found that their study “demonstrates the existence of large neural networks that produce recall of memories via activation of the hippocampus, amygdala and rhinal cortex.”

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December 21, 2006

Personality and Individual Differences: new issue

journal,personality,self-awareness — thomasr @ 8:33 am

j_persndiff.gifA new issue of Personality and Individual Differences is out. It includes articles on

  • self-injury in female vs. male psychiatric patients
  • self-monitoring style and suggestibility
  • thought suppression
  • memory distortions in self-enhancers.

Personality and Individual Differences
Volume 42, Issue 4, Pages 609-810 (March 2007)

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Functional neuroimaging in unconscious states

mri.jpegSteven Laureys and colleagues ask whether functional imaging methods such as fMRI and PET can be used to detect consciousness in individual patients. Recent studies have showed activation patterns in a vegetative patient that are comparable to helahty subjects. One pertinent question is therefore whether we can move from group studies towards individual scans. Here, Laureys et al. still have reservations, saying that “[published] data are insufficient to make recommendations for or against any of the neurorehabilitative treatments in vegetative state and minimally conscious state patients.”

How should functional imaging of patients with disorders of consciousness contribute to their clinical rehabilitation needs? Laureys S, Giacino JT, Schiff ND, Schabus M, Owen AM. 2006 Dec ; 19 (6): 520-527

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December 19, 2006

New issue of Psyche: Rosenberg

journal,reviews,theory — thomasr @ 10:36 am

header-greek.gifA new issue of Psyche is out, focusing on the work of Gregg Rosenberg. It is a special issue focusing on consciousness, causation and the links to the physical structure of the brain.

Rosenberg has a page about the book, with several of the key chapters available online.

In fact, for those wanting a quick overview of his theory, he’s put together some PowerPoint slides which explain the key points in nine easy steps.

The new edition of Psyche examines Rosenberg’s arguments in some detail, as the link between consciousness and brain function, and the causal role of mental phenomena are two of the most important and difficult parts of modern consciousness research (from MindHacks)

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December 17, 2006

The mutation that takes away pain

genetics,pain,perception — thomasr @ 4:34 pm

headache.jpgImagine being unable to feel any pain at all. For a tiny handful of people, that is the reality — and medical researchers have now pinpointed the mutation that removes their ability to perceive painful sensations.The study began when doctors in northern Pakistan examined a remarkable group of related families in which several individuals seem entirely unaffected by pain. Their attention was first attracted by one member of the clan, a locally famous boy who performed street theatre involving walking on burning coals and stabbing his arms with knives.Although it sounds like a party trick, the condition is devastating, as sufferers don’t learn to know their limits. The street-performing boy killed himself on his fourteenth birthday after jumping off a house roof. The researchers studied six of his relatives, aged between 4 and 14 years. All had suffered many cuts and bruises, and injuries to lips and tongue caused by biting themselves; several had fractured bones without noticing.

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New issue of Cognition & Emotion

emotions,journal — thomasr @ 10:09 am

A new issue of Cognition & Emotion is out. It contains articles on emotionally evocative music, emotional intelligence, and gender-by-race emotional differences.

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What was the hobbit?

evolution — thomasr @ 9:59 am

28654_homo_floresiensis.jpgPloS Biology has a very nice feature article on the “hobbit”, aka Homo floresiensis.

From the article:

Who—or what—is Homo floresiensis? The tiny hominid bones, which a joint Australian-Indonesian team unearthed in 2003 on the Indonesian island of Flores, have quickly become as celebrated (and derided) as any find in the tempestuous history of human paleontology. The mystery that shrouds these ancient skeletons, nicknamed hobbits after the diminutive characters in J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels, seems to deepen with every study published. Two main camps have emerged, each certain they can settle the question. But many other paleoanthropologists confess they still have no idea.

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The impact of invisible stimuli


The more clear a stimulus is, the more distracting it can be. Or so you might think. In a recent Science publiation Tsushima et al. report that weak stimuli that are irrelevant to the task being performed—have
a greater impact than strong, easily noticeable distractors.

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December 15, 2006

The rosetta stone of the human mind

books,theory — thomasr @ 1:53 pm

rosetta.jpg Three languages to integrate neurobiology and psychology
Vincenzo R. Sanguineti

The study of the brain-mind complex has been hampered by the dichotomy between objective biological neuroscience and subjective psychological science, based on speculative topographic models and psychodynamics formulations. The two antithetical avenues of research, premises, and dynamic hypotheses, have evolved in a polarization of neuroscience. This is partly responsible for the failure to unravel the transformation of neural events into mental images: how matter becomes imagination, and vice versa. This book illustrates how the simultaneous use of these two approaches enriches the understanding of the neural and mental realms, and adds new dimensions to our perception of neuropsychological events; how the two different scientific metaphors are similar in what they describe; and how the awareness and application of these perspectives are helpful in getting a deeper theoretical grasp on major mental events, better understanding single minds, and formulating a more integrated therapeutic intervention.

2007, XIX, 163 p., 18 illus., Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0-387-33644-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-387-33644-2
Written for: Researchers and advanced students in Neuroscience, Cognitive
Table of contents Sample pages

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December 10, 2006

Consciousness: The WebCourse

calendar-event — thomasr @ 12:00 am

January 22 to April 9, 2007
Sponsored by the
University of Arizona
Center for Consciousness Studies
Tucson, Arizona

To register please go to this site

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December 9, 2006

Quantum Mind 2007

calendar-event — thomasr @ 4:21 am

congress_logo_website-kopie_low.jpgQuantum Mind, 2007

University of Salzburg, Natural Science Building, 5020 Salzburg, Austria

17th-20th July

The mechanism by which the brain produces or allows for conscious experience remain enigmatic, causing scientists and philosophers to look to quantum mechanics and quantum field theories to help explain the mystery.

Along these lines, the third in a series of quadrennial conferences on quantum approaches to consciousness – Quantum Mind 2007 – will be held during July 17-21, 2007 at the University of Salzburg, Austria
Conference themes will include:
  • Biological signaling at the Quantum Scale (molecular dynamics, quantum superpositions and entanglement)
  • Classical – Quantum Correspondence
  • Gamma Synchrony Coherence – is it a quantum effect ?
  • Time and Retro-Causation
  • Quantum Logics in the Brain
  • Pan-Protopsychism and Quantum Reality
  • Neuropharmacology and Quantum Mechanics
  • Cosmology and Consciousness
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Toward a Science of Consciousness 2007

calendar-event — thomasr @ 4:08 am


Budapest, Hungary, July 23-26, 2007

Abstract submission deadline: January 15

Registration before April 15: 200 € (students 150 €)
  after April 15: 250 € (students 200 €)
  at the conference: 300 € (students 250 €)

Organizing Committee
George Kampis (Chair, ELTE)
Katalin Mund (Coordinator, ELTE)
Gábor Forrai (U. Miskolc)
Zoltán Jakab (TU Budapest)
Ádám Miklósi (ELTE)
János Tõzsér (ELTE)

Levente Móró (Turku)
Péter Fazekas (London)

International Program Committee
Ivan Havel (Chair, Prague)
John Bickle (Cincinnati)
Axel Cleeremans (Brussels)
Shaun Gallagher (Orlando)
Joseph Goguen (San Diego)
Robert Van Gulick (Syracuse)
Stuart Hameroff (Tucson)
Juraj Hvorecki (Prague)
Howard Robinson (Budapest)
Andreas Roepstorff (Aarhus)
Maxim Stamenov (Sofia)
Dan Zahavi (Copenhagen)
Jordan Zlatev (Lund)

See here for details

Go here for more details in a poster image.

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December 8, 2006

Consciousness without reference

calendar-event — thomasr @ 3:58 am

Consciousness Without Reference – Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Hallucination, Imagination, and Dream
Fifth Düsseldorf Workshop “Philosophy and Cognitive Science”

12 Feb. – 16 Feb. 2007, Düsseldorf, Germany


The workshop will be held predominantly in German Preliminary Programme

  • Mo 10:00-12:00 Dr. M. Werning (Düsseldorf) Das Problem des Bewusstseins aus philosophischer Sicht
  • 3:15-14:30 Das Problem der Missrepräsentation
  • 14:45-16:00 Das Halluzinationsargument
  • Di 10:00-12:00 Prof. Dr. Gaebel (Düsseldorf) Psychiatrie als Fachgebiet und Einführung in die Psychopathologie
  • 13:15-14:00 PD Dr. J. Zielasek (Düsseldorf) Klinisches Beispiel: Schizophrenie
  • 14:00-14:45 Dr. C. Brandt (Bethel) Veränderte Bewusstseinszustände im epileptischen Anfall
  • 5:00-16:00 Dr. J. Cordes (Düsseldorf) Transkranielle Magnetstimulation zur Therapie von Halluzinationen
  • Mi 10:00-12:00 Prof. Dr. T. Kircher (Aachen; angefragt) Funktionelle Bildgebung bei Halluzinationen
  • 13:15-14:45 A. Baumann, MA (Düsseldorf) Stigmatisierung
  • 15:00-16:30 Dr. A. May (Bochum) Fürsorge und Patientenautonomie
  • Do 10:00-12:00 J. Windt, MA (Mainz) Traum und Halluzination
  • 13:15-16:00 Weitere Vorträge zum Thema Traum
  • Fr 10:00-12:00 Dr. M. Werning/PD Dr. J. Zielasek When Self-Consciousness Breaks
  • 13:15-14:30 Dr. M. Werning Imagination und Selbstbewusstsein
  • 14:45-16:00 Plenum Abschlussdiskussion
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