May 19, 2009

Neuroscience Meets Psychoanalysis

books,memory,neuroscience,web resource — alice @ 1:29 am

From the Dana Foundation: Dr. Pierre Magistretti and Dr. Francois Ansermet spoke with Dana Foundation Chairman William Safire about their book, Biology of Freedom: Neural Plasticity, Experience, and the Unconscious, and the bridge between neuroscience and psychoanalysis. The event took place on November 14, 2007 at the Dana Center in Washington, DC. 

Click here for the audio archive.

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May 3, 2009

Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic

bookreview,books — alice @ 11:46 pm


Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic


Reviewed by Alice Kim

From grade school onwards, I was taught that science follows a linear process.  The practice of science was equated to the scientific method.  During my undergraduate career I had the opportunity to get involved in research through independent research course projects, as well as summer student research programs.  Throughout these experiences I started to sense that there may be more to the practice of science than the scientific method that I was taught in school.  Now as a graduate student, I’m more aware of the ambiguity and passion that complements the objectivity and logic ingrained in the practice of science.  In his book Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic, Dr. Frederick Grinnell describes the practice of science, embracing the role of intuition and passion, as well as logic and objectivity, in the path to discovery.  Importantly, throughout his book Grinnell highlights the fact that scientists begin their work with particular interests and commitments.  He recognizes that the hegemonic views of society are not filtered out from the practice of science.  Instead, he emphasizes that the everyday practice of science seeks truth (small “t”) as we currently understand things, not Truth (capital “T”) that further experience cannot change.

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Understanding Consciousness, 2nd Edition

books,phenomenology,philosophy,theory — alice @ 10:51 pm


Authored by Max Velmans

Understanding Consciousness, 2nd Edition provides a unique survey and evaluation of consciousness studies, along with an original analysis of consciousness that combines scientific findings, philosophy and common sense. Building on the widely praised first edition, this new edition adds fresh research, and deepens the original analysis in a way that reflects some of the fundamental changes in the understanding of consciousness that have taken place over the last 10 years.

The book is divided into three parts; Part one surveys current theories of consciousness, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. Part two reconstructs an understanding of consciousness from first principles, starting with its phenomenology, and leading to a closer examination of how conscious experience relates to the world described by physics and information processing in the brain. Finally, Part three deals with some of the fundamental issues such as what consciousness is and does, and how it fits into to the evolving universe. As the structure of the book moves from a basic overview of the field to a successively deeper analysis, it can be used both for those new to the subject and for more established researchers.

Understanding Consciousness tells a story with a beginning, middle and end in a way that integrates the philosophy of consciousness with the science. Overall, the book provides a unique perspective on how to address the problems of consciousness and as such, will be of great interest to psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists and other professionals concerned with mind/body relationships, and all who are interested in this subject.

2009, 408 pp, paperback and hardback
ISBN: 978-0-415-42516-2

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February 9, 2009

Outliers: The Story of Success

books — alice @ 12:58 am

Why do some people succeed far more than others? Martin Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point and Blink, tackles this question in his latest book Outliers.  Gladwell argues that the true story of success is much more complex than the story that is typically told about extremely successful people – one that centers on ambition and intelligence.  Click here for the table of contets.

Click here if you’re interested in knowing the most surprising pattern that Gladwell uncovered in his book, how he thinks Outliers compare to Blink and The Tipping Point and more.

Click here for a related article on genius by Gladwell in The New Yorker.

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January 8, 2009

Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power, and Personhood

books — alice @ 3:20 pm

Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power, and Personhood
Cambridge University Press (December 28, 1998)
236 pages

Book summary by Alice Kim

In Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power, and Personhood, Rose questions some of our contemporary certainties about the kinds of people we take ourselves to be, with the aim of  helping to develop alternative ways in which we might begin to think of ourselves. He problematizes our contemporary regime of the self by examining some of the processes through which this regulative ideal of the self has been invented.  A central argument of Rose’s book is that this regime of the self is often localized in distinct practices with particular presuppositions about the subjects that inhabit them and thus this regime of the self is more heterogeneous than is often allowed.   

In response to the question how should one do the history of the self? Rose proposes an approach termed ‘the genealogy of subjectification’, which takes the individualized, interiorized, totalized, and psychologized understanding of what it is to be human as the site of a historical problem, not as a basis for a historical narrative.  Further, he argues for a particular approach to the history of psychology that helps us think about the conditions under which what we take for truth and reality has been established.  He refers to this approach as ‘critical history’.  According to Rose, critical history reveals the fragility of things that seems solid and the contingency of things that seem necessary.  Its aim is not to predetermine judgment, but to make judgment possible.  Rose claims that psychology, and all the psy knowledges, have contributed significantly to the reorganization of the practices and techniques that have linked authority to subjectivity over the past century and that psychology is a profoundly social science, where even the most ‘individualistic’ experts of psychology must be connected into the social field.

Rose proposes the concept of techne to think about the characteristic ways that psychology has entered into a range of ‘human technologies’ – practices seeking certain outcomes in terms of human conduct such as reform, education, or cure.  He argues that psychological modes of thought and action have come to underpin a range of diverse practices for dealing with persons and conduct that were previously thought of and legitimated in other ways.  He also examines the links between social psychology and democracy, claiming that social psychology written in the 1930′s through to the 1950′s makes frequent references to democracy. According to Rose, to rule citizens democratically means ruling them through their freedoms, choices, and their solidarities and that social psychology is constitutively linked to democracy, as a way of organizing, exercising, and legitimizing political power.

Rose concludes his book by proposing that psy has played a key role in the ‘folds’ through which we have come to relate to ourselves and that analyses of these psychological ‘foldings’ help us understand how we have been brought to recognize ourselves as subjects of ‘freedom’.  According to Rose, we seek to govern the psychological being under the regulative ideal of freedom, which is “an ideal that imposes as many burdens, anxieties, and divisions as it inspires projects of emancipation, and in the name of which we have come to authorize so many authorities to assist us in the project of being free from any authority but our own” (p. 197).


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November 17, 2008

BOOK: Frontiers of consciousness — The Chichele lectures

books,reviews,theory — thomasr @ 10:31 am

Frontiers of ConsciousnessIn recent years consciousness has become a significant area of study in the cognitive sciences. The ‘Frontiers of Consciousness‘ is a major interdisciplinary exploration of consciousness. The book stems from the Chichele lectures held at All Souls College in Oxford, and features contributions from a ‘who’s who’ of authorities from both philosophy and psychology. The result is a truly interdisciplinary volume, which tackles some of the biggest and most impenetrable problems in consciousness.

The book includes chapters considering the apparent explanatory gap between science and consciousness, our conscious experience of emotions such as fear, and of willed actions by ourselves and others. It looks at subjective differences between two ways in which visual information guides behaviour, and scientific investigation of consciousness in non-human animals. It looks at the challenges that the mind-brain relation presents for clinical practice as well as for theories of consciousness. The book draws on leading research from philosophy, experimental psychology, functional imaging of the brain, neuropsychology, neuroscience, and clinical neurology.

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February 7, 2008

From Monkey Brain to Human Brain: A Fyssen Foundation Symposium

books — alice @ 12:07 am

Edited by Stanislas Dehaene, Jean-René Duhamel, Marc D. Hauser and Giacomo Rizzolatti

The extraordinary overlap between human and chimpanzee genomes does not result in an equal overlap between human and chimpanzee thoughts, sensations, perceptions, and emotions; there are considerable similarities but also considerable differences between human and nonhuman primate brains. From Monkey Brain to Human Brain uses the latest findings in cognitive psychology, comparative biology, and neuroscience to look at the complex patterns of convergence and divergence in primate cortical organization and function.

Several chapters examine the use of modern technologies to study primate brains, analyzing the potentials and the limitations of neuroimaging as well as genetic and computational approaches. These methods, which can be applied identically across different species of primates, help to highlight the paradox of nonlinear primate evolution — the fact that major changes in brain size and functional complexity resulted from small changes in the genome. Other chapters identify plausible analogs or homologs in nonhuman primates for such human cognitive functions as arithmetic, reading, theory of mind, and altruism; examine the role of parietofrontal circuits in the production and comprehension of actions; analyze the contributions of the prefrontal and cingulate cortices to cognitive control; and explore to what extent visual recognition and visual attention are related in humans and other primates.

The Fyssen Foundation is dedicated to encouraging scientific inquiry into the cognitive mechanisms that underlie animal and human behavior and has long sponsored symposia on topics of central importance to the cognitive sciences.

2005, 418 p, cloth

ISBN-10: 0-262-04223-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-04223-9

Table of Contents and Sample Chapters

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February 6, 2008

The Hidden Sense: Synesthesia in Art and Science

books — alice @ 11:19 pm

Authored by Cretien van Campen

What does it mean to hear music in colors, to taste voices, to see each letter of the alphabet as a different color? These uncommon sensory experiences are examples of synesthesia, when two or more senses cooperate in perception. Once dismissed as imagination or delusion, metaphor or drug-induced hallucination, the experience of synesthesia has now been documented by scans of synesthetes’ brains that show “crosstalk” between areas of the brain that do not normally communicate. In The Hidden Sense, Cretien van Campen explores synesthesia from both artistic and scientific perspectives, looking at accounts of individual experiences, examples of synesthesia in visual art, music, and literature, and recent neurological research.

Van Campen reports that some studies define synesthesia as a brain impairment, a short circuit between two different areas. But synesthetes cannot imagine perceiving in any other way; many claim that synesthesia helps them in daily life. Van Campen investigates just what the function of synesthesia might be and what it might tell us about our own sensory perceptions. He examines the experiences of individual synesthetes–from Patrick, who sees music as images and finds the most beautiful ones spring from the music of Prince, to the schoolgirl Sylvia, who is surprised to learn that not everyone sees the alphabet in colors as she does. And he finds suggestions of synesthesia in the work of Scriabin, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Nabokov, Poe, and Baudelaire.

What is synesthesia? It is not, van Campen concludes, an audiovisual performance, a literary technique, an artistic trend, or a metaphor. It is, perhaps, our hidden sense–a way to think visually; a key to our own sensitivity.

2007, 208 p, cloth

ISBN-10: 0-262-22081-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-22081-1

Table of Contents and Sample Chapters

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January 22, 2008

New books for SCR review

bookreview,books — thomasr @ 7:00 am

Dear all,

As recently announced, we now present a list of books that are approved for review at the Science & Consciousness Review. If you are interested in reviewing a particular book (or a book not listed here), please send us (thomasr AT drcmr DOT dk) a note with your full name, mailing address, affiliation, motivation for reviewing the book, and the expected deadline for your review submission.

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January 15, 2008

The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World

books — alice @ 3:01 am

Authored by Owen J. Flanagan

If consciousness is the “hard problem” in mind science–explaining how the amazing private world of consciousness emerges from neuronal activity–then the “really hard problem,” writes Owen Flanagan in this provocative book is explaining how meaning is possible in the material world. How can we make sense of the magic and mystery of life naturalistically, without an appeal to the supernatural? How do we say truthful and enchanting things about being human if we accept the fact that we are finite material beings living in a material world, or, in Flanagan’s description, short-lived pieces of organized cells and tissue? Flanagan’s answer is both naturalistic and enchanting. We all wish to live in a meaningful way, to live a life that really matters, to flourish, to achieve eudaimonia–to be a “happy spirit.” Flanagan calls his “empirical-normative” inquiry into the nature, causes, and conditions of human flourishing eudaimonics. Eudaimonics, systematic philosophical investigation that is continuous with science, is the naturalist’s response to those who say that science has robbed the world of the meaning that fantastical, wishful stories once provided.Flanagan draws on philosophy, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and psychology, as well as on transformative mindfulness and self-cultivation practices that come from such nontheistic spiritual traditions as Buddhism, Confucianism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, in his quest. He gathers from these disciplines knowledge that will help us understand the nature, causes, and constituents of well-being and advance human flourishing. Eudaimonics can help us find out how to make a difference, how to contribute to the accumulation of good effects–how to live a meaningful life.

2007, 304 pp., 1 illus., cloth

ISBN-10: 0-262-06264-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-06264-0

Table of Contents and Sample Chapters Endorsements

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December 12, 2007

Call for book reviewers

bookreview,books — thomasr @ 5:49 am

SCR is expanding! We now call for people that are interested in reviewing books. Recently published and forthcoming books are often made available to SCR, and we have the opportunity to bring you the latest news on the consciousness book frontier.

There are two ways to suggest a book review. First, SCR will bring the latest book news as explicit “to be reviewed” headlines. Second, you may have a book you want to review (that has not already appeared at SCR). In both cases, please write to SCR and suggest yourself as a reviewer. If you are interested, please send an email to thomasr AT drcmr DOT dk. Please add some information about yourself; your education, affiliation and interests. Students are encouraged to participate!

We look forward to a continuous expansion of SCR as the forum for the review and discussion of the science of consciousness.

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October 21, 2007

Emotion and Consciousness

books — alice @ 2:33 am

Edited by Lisa Feldman Barrett, Paula M. Niedenthal, Piotr Winkielman

Presenting state-of-the-art work on the conscious and unconscious processes involved in emotion, this integrative volume brings together leading psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers. Carefully organized, tightly edited chapters address such compelling questions as how bodily responses contribute to conscious experience, whether “unconscious emotion” exists, how affect is transmitted from one person to another, and how emotional responses are produced in the brain. Bringing a new level of coherence to lines of inquiry that often remain disparate, the book identifies key, cross-cutting ideas and themes and sets forth a cogent agenda for future research.

2007, 420 p., Hardcover and paperback

ISBN-13: 978-1-59385-458-4
ISBN-10: 1-59385-458-7

Reviews Table of Contents  

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August 28, 2007

New books on consciousness

books — thomasr @ 9:53 am

It’s been a while since we announced new books, but here we present some of the most recent titles that should grab your attention.

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June 12, 2007

The Experimental Phenomena of Consciousness: A Brief Dictionary

books — alice @ 11:44 pm

Authored by Talis Bachmann, Bruno Breitmeyer, Haluk Ogmen

Experimental Phenomena of Consciousness is the definitive collection of consciousness phenomena in which awareness emerges as an experimental variable. With its comprehensive yet succinct entries, arranged alphabetically, this dictionary will be a valuable reference tool for libraries and researchers at all levels in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, who are investigating consciousness, cognition, perception, and attention. It will also be an important addition to the reading lists of courses on consciousness and cognition. Most entries include illustrations and a list of references where a more thorough treatment of the topic can be found. The text is supported by a web page that provides dynamic illustrations and other supplemental material. As the first reference book on the topic, Experimental Phenomena of Consciousness will be a valuable tool for undergraduates, graduate students, professional researchers, and anyone who has an interest in the subject of consciousness.

2007, 160 p., Hardcover and paperback

ISBN-10: 0195316908
ISBN-13: 978-0195316902


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February 18, 2007

The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness

books,philosophy — alice @ 10:22 pm

Edited by Max Velmans, Susan L. Schneider

The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness is the most thorough and comprehensive survey of contemporary scientific research and philosophical thought on consciousness currently available. Extensively peer reviewed, its 55 newly commissioned chapters combine state of the art surveys with cutting-edge research. Taken as a whole, these essays by leading lights in the philosophy and science of consciousness create an engaging dialogue and unparalleled source of information regarding this most fascinating and mysterious subject. As the study of the philosophy and science of consciousness becomes ever more popular, this text will be appreciated by readers of philosophy and science alike.

2007, 768 p., 41 illustrations, Hardcover and paperback

ISBN-10: 1405120193
ISBN-13: 978-1405120197

Reviews Table of Contents

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January 13, 2007

Mind Hacks

books,cognitive neuroscience — alice @ 12:20 pm

Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain (Hacks)
by Tom Stafford, Matt Webb

The brain is a fearsomely complex information-processing environment–one that often eludes our ability to understand it. At any given time, the brain is collecting, filtering, and analyzing information and, in response, performing countless intricate processes, some of which are automatic, some voluntary, some conscious, and some unconscious. Cognitive neuroscience is one of the ways we have to understand the workings of our minds. It’s the study of the brain biology behind our mental functions: a collection of methods–like brain scanning and computational modeling–combined with a way of looking at psychological phenomena and discovering where, why, and how the brain makes them happen. Want to know more? Mind Hacks is a collection of probes into the moment-by-moment works of the brain. Using cognitive neuroscience, these experiments, tricks, and tips related to vision, motor skills, attention, cognition, subliminal perception, and more throw light on how the human brain works. Each hack examines specific operations of the brain. By seeing how the brain responds, we pick up clues about the architecture and design of the brain, learning a little bit more about how the brain is put together. Mind Hacks begins your exploration of the mind with a look inside the brain itself, using hacks such as “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Turn On and Off Bits of the Brain” and “Tour the Cortex and the Four Lobes.” Also among the 100 hacks in this book, you’ll find:

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January 2, 2007

Time and memory

books,memory — alice @ 10:50 am

Issues in Philosophy and Psychology (Consciousness and Self-Consciousness Series, 1)
by Christoph Hoerl (Editor), Teresa McCormack (Editor)

The capacity to represent and think about time is one of the most fundamental and least understood aspects of human cognition and consciousness. This book throws new light on central issues in the study of the mind by uniting, for the first time, psychological and philosophical approaches dealing with the connection between temporal representation and memory. Fifteen specially written essays by leading psychologists and philosophers investigate the way in which time is represented in memory, and the role memory plays in our ability to reason about time. They offer insights into current theories of memory processes and of the mechanisms and cognitive abilities underlying temporal judgments, and draw out fundamental issues concerning the phenomenology and epistemology of memory and our understanding of time. The chapters are arranged into four sections, each focused on one area of current research: Keeping Track of Time, and Temporal Representation; Memory, Awareness and the Past; Memory and Experience; Knowledge and the Past: The Epistemology and Metaphysics of Time. A general introduction gives an overview of the topics discussed and makes explicit central themes which unify the different philosophical and psychological approaches.

2001, 440 p., Hardcover and paperback

ISBN-10: 0198250363
ISBN-13: 978-0198250364
You can read the book introduction here (PDF) Table of contents Search inside this book

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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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February 7, 2006

Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?

books — thomasr @ 8:47 am

Our intuition tells us that we, our conscious selves, cause our own voluntary acts. Yet scientists have long questioned this; Thomas Huxley, for example, in 1874 compared mental events to a steam whistle that contributes nothing to the work of a locomotive. New experimental evidence (most notable, work by Benjamin Libet and Daniel Wegner) has brought the causal status of human behavior back to the forefront of intellectual discussion. This multidisciplinary collection advances the debate, approaching the question from a variety of perspectives.

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Beyond the learning curve: The construction of mind

books — thomasr @ 7:40 am

This new book takes the view that learning is a major influence on the nature of the processes and representations that fill our minds. Beyond the Learning Curve is a thought provoking and challenging new text for students and researchers in the cognitive sciences.

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