Brian F. O'Donnell, Dean F. Salisbury, Margaret A. Niznikiewicz, Colleen A. Brenner, and Jenifer L. Vohs
Schizophrenia is a disabling psychotic illness that has been associated with alterations in synaptic connectivity and neurotransmission. Since event-related potential (ERP) components are typically generated by the summation of postsynaptic potentials produced by neural populations, these measures are well suited to assess such pathophysiological alterations. This chapter reviews the utility of ERP components in the investigation of the cognitive and neural mechanisms affected by schizophrenia. It focuses on five components: mismatch negativity (MMN), P50 measures of sensory gating, N100 and P300 in the oddball discrimination paradigms, and the N400 component elicited during language processing. These components test key cognitive systems affected by schizophrenia: sensory memory (MMN), sensory processing and inhibition (P50, N1), selective attention and working memory (P300), and semantic processing (N400). These components are discussed with respect to the following issues: (1) cognitive and neural systems indexed by the component, (2) abnormalities in schizophrenia, (3) sensitivity and specificity to schizophrenia, (4) clinical correlates, and (5) relationship to genetic variation. ERP components are well validated biomarkers for schizophrenia which have significant promise in the characterization of genomic and epigenomic factors, pharmacological response in humans and animal models, and the developmental and cognitive expression of the illness.
Michael A. Arbib
The chapter presents the hypothesis that early Homo sapiens were language-ready in the sense that they had brains that could have supported language had it already been developed, but were not yet language-using. Informed by data from comparative neuroprimatology, the approach sees protolanguage emerging from complex recognition and imitation of manual skills via biocultural evolution, while cultural evolution alone supported the emergence of language from protolanguage. This approach supports the view that the Homo sapiens language-ready brain had the more general property of being construction-ready, and that this made possible the emergence of drawing and painting through later cultural evolution.
Absolute pitch (AP) is the ability to identify or categorize musical pitches accurately without an external reference. Although AP is generally thought to be rare, music psychology research in the past few decades has debated on every aspect of the phenomenon. This chapter will review the theories, methods, and findings on AP from the cognitive psychology and neuroscience literature, with the goal of elucidating some of the following controversies on AP: its identification and prevalence, its genetic and environmental origins, its psychological and neural underpinnings, and the degree to which it may be informative as a scientific model of brain function.
The chapter illustrates the historical background, the theoretical ideas, and the empirical findings that make achromatic transparency a central phenomenon in perceptual organization research. Perceived transparency is a case of double-belongingness, consistent with the tendency to minimize the complexity of visual organization at the levels of both form and color. Conditions and effects of achromatic transparency are reviewed, in the perspective of percept-percept coupling. Topological, figural, and photometric conditions are described, taking the episcotister as the reference physical model and the availability of X-junctions in a four-region pattern as the typical image information. Achromatic transparency is also discussed in the context of other layering effects (cast shadows, lightness of opaque surfaces, illumination) and in relation to constancy, depth, and motion.
William J. Davies
This article provides an overview of what shapes the acoustic signals that arrive at the ear. There are three physical processes which are capable of generating audible sound: a vibrating surface, a turbulent fluid, and a rapid pressure change. It is structured as an account of the journey of a sound wave, from first generation, then propagation outdoors, followed by transmission into a building and indoor reverberation to its final reception, perception, and assessment. It throws light on how the signals that arrive at the ear are generated; how environment influences these signals; and how sound is perceived, controlled, and assessed in the environment. It gives information on basic principles, common measurements and current modelling techniques. Finally, it suggests that the external environment is complex and the acoustic signals arriving the ear reflect this complexity by carrying information about their production, their interaction with the environment, and their transmission through it.
Ellyn A. Riley, C. Elizabeth Brookshire, and Diane L. Kendall
Reading is one of the most important cognitive skills an individual can acquire and the process of reading has been debated much in the psycholinguistic, neurolinguistic, and educational literature for many years now. Much of this literature has discussed the process of reading, proposed theoretical models to describe its components, and identification of neuroanatomic underpinnings. In this chapter we have attempted to provide a review of both dual-route and connectionist models of alexia, outline specific types of peripheral and central alexias, provide a brief overview of the neural substrates linked with reading processes, and finally offer diagnostic and treatment strategies.
Pélagie M. Beeson and Kindle Rising
Acquired dysgraphia refers to disorders of spelling or writing due to neurological damage in individuals with normal premorbid literacy skills. Dysgraphia can result from the disruption of central cognitive processes that also support spoken language and reading, so that spelling impairments frequently co-occur with aphasia and acquired alexia. The ability to produce written words can also be affected by damage to peripheral processes necessary to plan and execute the appropriate hand movements for letter generation or typing. In this chapter, we review the cognitive processes that support spelling and writing, and the characteristic dysgraphia syndromes that reflect differential impairment to specific central and peripheral components. We also review assessment procedures for writing and spelling that are structured to clarify the status of component processes and to guide rehabilitation planning. Treatment procedures and sequences are described with a focus on lexical-semantic, phonological, and interactive treatments. The nature and treatment of dysgraphia are illustrated by case examples of global dysgraphia, phonological dysgraphia, and surface dysgraphia.
Benjamin Margolin Rottman
This chapter provides an introduction to how humans learn and reason about multiple causal relations connected together in a causal structure. The first half of the chapter focuses on how people learn causal structures. The main topics involve learning from observations versus interventions, learning temporal versus atemporal causal structures, and learning the parameters of a causal structure including individual cause-effect strengths and how multiple causes combine to produce an effect. The second half of the chapter focuses on how individuals reason about the causal structure, such as making predictions about one variable given knowledge about other variables, once the structure has been learned. Some of the most important topics involve reasoning about observations versus interventions, how well people reason compared to normative models, and whether causal structure beliefs bias reasoning. In both sections the author highlights open empirical and theoretical questions.
Deborah Chen Pichler and Elena Koulidobrova
Research interest in sign L21 sign acquisition is growing, fueled by dramatic increases in sign language learning (Welles, 2004). Researchers ask to what extent typical L2 patterns apply to hearing students learning an L2 in a new modality, or M2 (second modality)-L2 learners. M2 acquisition may pose unique challenges not observed in typical (unimodal) L2 acquisition. At the same time, co-speech gestures and emblems could potentially be exploited to facilitate M2-L2 acquisition of sign language. Additionally, examination of acquisition of a second signed language by individuals with a signed L1, or M1 (first modality)-L2 learners, provides further opportunity to test “typical” patterns of L2 acquisition that have been established almost exclusively on the basis of hearing spoken second-language acquisition. This chapter summarizes the small but growing literature on L2 sign acquisition for both M1 and M2 learners, exploring some of the intriguing research questions offered by L2 sign research.
Dario D. Salvucci
ACT-R is a computational cognitive architecture intended to represent and simulate human thoughts and behaviors. It posits a declarative knowledge base with an associated computational account of memory recall and decay, and a procedural knowledge base with condition-action production rules representing procedural skill in performing task actions. By developing computational models using ACT-R, researchers can more rigorously explore the workings of the mind by predicting cognitive, perceptual, and motor behavior, and by comparing this behavior quantitatively to human behavior in the same tasks. ACT-R can also be used to generate quantitative predictions of behavior (e.g., on a human-computer interface) and infer a person’s underlying cognitive state for the duration of a task. ACT-R has played a central role in many research and applied efforts and now serves as a central repository of cognitive theory to which a community of cognitive researchers can contribute and from which they can benefit.
David B. Kaber
Gillian Rhodes and David A. Leopold
Facial appearance changes with age and health affecting skin color as well as facial and head hair. Yet somehow the brain is able to see past shared structure and dynamic deformations to focus on subtle details that distinguish one face from another. This article argues that the brain takes an efficient approach to this problem using prior knowledge about the structure of faces in its analysis. It employs intrinsic norms to focus on subtle variations in the shared face configuration that differentiate one face from another. The study reviews evidence that the brain uses multiple norms to extract face identity that these norms are shaped by visual experience, and that norm-based coding is well-suited to meeting the challenges of image-based face perception mentioned above. By encoding faces with reference to stored perceptual norms the visual system can focus on what is unique to each individual, allowing for the discrimination of thousands of faces despite their similarity.
Susan R. Goldman and Catherine E. Snow
The demands of literacy tasks change appreciably after students have mastered the basics of reading words accurately and with reasonable automaticity. At about age 10 reading becomes a tool for acquiring information, understanding a variety of points of view, critiquing positions, and reasoning. The results of international and US assessments show that many students who succeed at early reading tasks struggle with these new developmental challenges, focusing attention on the instructional needs of adolescent readers. Commonly used approaches to comprehension instruction in the postprimary grades, such as teaching reading comprehension strategies, do not adequately respond to the multiple challenges adolescent readers face. One such challenge is the need to acquire discipline-specific ways of reading, writing, and thinking, often from teachers who are themselves insufficiently aware of how reading literature differs from reading science or history. We argue that appropriate attention in instruction to discipline-specific literacy practices, to maintaining an authentic purpose for assigned literacy tasks, and to the role of focused discussion as a central element in teaching comprehension would improve reading outcomes and would revolutionize current theories about the nature of reading comprehension.
Kathleen S. Arnos and Arti Pandya
Genetic factors are believed to account for more than half of all cases of congenital or early-onset moderate to profound deafness. The identification of several dozen genes for deafness, one of which accounts for a high proportion of all childhood deafness, has enabled the identification of the exact cause of deafness in many children through genetic testing. Parents, family members, deaf and hard-of-hearing adults, as well as health care and educational professionals often are unaware of the exact process and goals of genetic evaluation and may have questions about the usefulness of genetic testing. Sensitive and appropriate genetic evaluation and testing, coupled with appropriate interpretation and information through genetic counseling, can be invaluable to many families. Health professionals and those who work with deaf children in educational and service settings play an important role in helping parents and family members understand the value of a genetic evaluation and making referrals to genetics professionals.
Paul J. Silvia and Katherine N. Cotter
Most aesthetic experiences happen in everyday environments, far from majestic concert halls and museums. This chapter surveys the major lines of research that explore aesthetic experience in mundane “real-world” spaces. We review research on people’s aesthetic experience of (a) other people, especially facial beauty, adornment, and body modification; (b) natural scenes, such as green and blue spaces; (c) the built environment, such as buildings, interior spaces, and urban street art; (d) the near environment of touchable surfaces and objects; (e) music; and (f) the inner world of imagined sounds, images, and stories. The growing study of everyday aesthetics is not a distinct domain of research but rather a perspective on aesthetics that is more intrigued by common, mundane experiences than those that are culturally marked as artistic.
Marta M. Maslej, Joshua A. Quinlan, and Raymond A. Mar
This chapter reviews empirical research on aesthetic responses to stories, organizing our review around characters, plots, worlds or setting, and stylistic choices. We begin by outlining various responses to characters and how they influence us. Next, we discuss emotional, cognitive, and physiological reactions to plot events. We also touch on the confusing appeal of stories that elicit negative emotions, suggesting that they inspire insight. Next, we focus on the worlds in which stories take place, outlining how engagement in story worlds affects enjoyment and story-related beliefs. We also review our tendencies to revisit narrative worlds, and how different worlds map onto different genres. Finally, we discuss how characters, plots, and settings can be portrayed in different ways, based on stylistic choices. We explain how adopting a unique style of presenting stories captures attention and invites reflection and engagement. Lastly, we discuss future challenges and goals facing this field.
Since the beginning of the time when researchers have endeavored to understand and identify giftedness and individual ability, they have been attentive to how individuals differ in their capacity to recognize aesthetic quality—a construct that is frequently referred to as aesthetic sensitivity. In this chapter, I first attempt to clarify what the intricate construct of aesthetic sensitivity refers to—and what it does not. Then, I briefly depict the century-old history of research on the topic. Later, I examine the main challenges that arise from the accurate measurement of aesthetic sensitivity, and the strategies used to face such challenges. Afterwards, I discuss the relations between aesthetic sensitivity and mental ability, as well as with personality. I later discuss the training and development of aesthetic sensitivity. Finally, I review the current limitations of—and propose future directions for—research on the topic.
A thumbnail history of experimental aesthetics is offered, including the influences of the cognitive revolution and evolutionary psychology on aesthetic discourse. In contrast to traditional aesthetic arguments against hedonism, it is noted that modern physiological psychology breathes new life into this formerly discredited notion (“neohedonism”). Historically, musical aesthetics has been dominated by the idea, promulgated by Kant, that there are unique aesthetic pleasures that exist aside from utilitarian pleasures. However, this idea is difficult to reconcile with the arguments of evolutionary psychologists and biologists that the brain mechanisms that generate emotions represent evolved adaptations. It is suggested that cognitive psychology has yet to examine the role of an observer’s attitude or disposition in defining aesthetic experience. That is, a thoroughly cognitive approach to aesthetic experience awaits.
Emily S. Cross and Andrea Orlandi
The embodied simulation account proposed a pivotal role for the body of an observer in the aesthetic perception of artworks. Beginning with this consideration, this chapter briefly outlines evidence from experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience that supports this proposed relationship between the human body and motor knowledge and aesthetic appraisal of action. The chapter focuses on the cognitive processes involved in perceiving a moving body and aesthetic estimation. It also discusses the impact of visuomotor expertise in shaping different levels of action representation and relative hedonistic judgment. While this research field remains somewhat in its naissance, alternative accounts have also been proposed to account for the link between embodiment, expertise, and movement aesthetics, which are also considered here. The chapter concludes with some theoretical and methodological considerations, questions, and perspectives that warrant further attention in future studies to expand existing knowledge on the empirical aesthetics of the human body in action.
How does the brain see and experience dance? Performing arts have captured the attention of empirical aesthetics and neuroaesthetics. In this chapter, the author reviews studies from cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology that have contributed to our understanding of the brain mechanisms for dance perception. The author introduces the concept of sensorimotor aesthetics, the process whereby the observer evokes an internal simulation of the perceived action of a dance performance, during its emotional and aesthetic experience. The author proposes an embodied aesthetics framework, in which the perception of the dancer’s body, the dance movement, and the expressed emotion are significantly influenced by an observer’s prior experience. Finally, the author discusses potential avenues for enhancing interactions between the science and artistic communities in pursuit of a deeper understanding of the aesthetics of dance.