After phrenology : neural reuse and the interactive brain by Michael L. Anderson

By Michael L. Anderson

The machine analogy of the brain has been as generally followed in modern cognitive neuroscience as used to be the analogy of the mind as a suite of organs in phrenology. simply because the phrenologist may insist that every organ needs to have its specific functionality, so modern cognitive neuroscience is dedicated to the idea that every mind quarter should have its primary computation. In After Phrenology, Michael Anderson argues that to accomplish a completely post-phrenological technological know-how of the mind, we have to re-examine this dedication and devise another, neuroscientifically grounded taxonomy of psychological functionality.

Anderson contends that the cognitive roles performed by way of every one quarter of the mind are hugely a variety of, reflecting various neural partnerships proven below diverse situations. He proposes quantifying the useful homes of neural assemblies by way of their dispositional trends really than their computational or information-processing operations. Exploring larger-scale matters, and drawing on facts from embodied cognition, Anderson develops an image of pondering rooted within the exploitation and extension of our early-evolving capability for iterated interplay with the area. He argues that the multidimensional method of the mind he describes deals an improved healthy for those findings, and a extra promising street towards a unified technology of minded organisms.

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Excitement over the discovery of the fusiform face area (Kanwisher, McDermott, & Chun 1997) was quickly tempered when it was discovered that the area also responded to cars, birds, and other stimuli (Gauthier et al. 2000; Grill-Spector, Sayres, & Ress 2006; Hanson & Schmidt 2011; Rhodes et al. 2004). The ensuing debates over the “real” function of these areas have still not been resolved, and in light of these results researchers have started to question the boundaries between psychological domains once thought separate and distinct, such as perception and cognition (Anderson, Richardson, & Chemero 2012; Barsalou 1999, 2008) and cognition and emotion (Pessoa 2008, 2012).

Given that this effect in finger gnosis is likely a result of the underlying physical/spatial distribution of the nerves in the hand and the way the information is processed in the brain (and is therefore likely to obtain in many sensory systems), the fact that it is also observed in an apparently abstract functional domain such as magnitude comparison is all the more striking. In light of the independent evidence for the circuit sharing between part of the fingersense system and part of the number-processing system, the persistence of a distance effect across these domains appears to reflect the influence of stable functional characteristics of the shared circuit.

Where evolutionary psychology and embodied cognitive science part company is in their understanding of what those traces will look like and where to find them. In particular, evolutionary psychology has adopted a methodological focus on the challenges posed by the environment of selection (Buss 2005), which has in turn led many researchers in this area to spotlight the efficiency of individual algorithmic and heuristic solutions to those problems. One result of this focus had been the acceptance of a version of faculty psychology exemplified in the “adaptive toolbox” model of mind (Gigerenzer & Selten 2002), a framework also sometimes known as “massive modularity” (Carruthers 2006).

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