Can findings from psychology and cognitive neuroscience about the neural mechanisms involved in decision-making tell us anything useful about the commonly-understood mental phenomenon of making voluntary choices? Two philosophical objections are considered. First, that the neural data is subpersonal, and so cannot enter into illuminating explanations of personal-level phenomena like voluntary action. Secondly, that mental properties are multiply realized in the brain in such a way as to make them insusceptible to neuroscientific study. The chapter argues that both objections would be weakened by the discovery of empirical generalizations connecting subpersonal properties with personal-level phenomena. It gives three case studies that furnish evidence to that effect. It argues that the existence of such interrelations is consistent with a plausible construal of the personal-subpersonal distinction. Furthermore, there is no reason to suppose that the notion of subpersonal representation relied on in cognitive neuroscience illicitly imports personal-level phenomena like consciousness or normativity, or is otherwise explanatorily problematic.
Donielle Johnson, Carrie Allison, and Simon Baron-Cohen
We begin this chapter with a review of the history of synaesthesia and a comparison of what we consider to be either genuine or inauthentic manifestations of the phenomenon. Next, we describe the creation and development of synaesthetic consistency tests and explore reasons why assessing consistency became the most widely used method of confirming the genuineness of synaesthesia. We then consider methodologies that demonstrate synaesthesia's authenticity by capitalizing on properties other than consistency. Finally, we discuss how together, consistency tests and other methodologies are helping researchers determine prevalence and elucidate the mechanisms of synaesthesia.
The scientific origins of synaesthesia began in the early 19th century. This chapter discusses research between 1812 (the first known convincing account of synaesthesia) and 1920 (a comprehensive study by Raymond H. Wheeler). During this period many articles and books were published, most of which are unknown today by the average synaesthesia scientist. What results do these studies offer? What were their early hypotheses about the origins, congenitally, variants, prevalence, associations and consistency of synaesthesia? What were their important statistical findings? What questionnaires and bibliographies did they generate?
Synaesthesia's Renaissance comments on attitudes and developments in synaesthesia research during the 20th century, focusing in particular on the last three decades when the greatest change took place. During the last century, reaction to the phenomenon varied by group. Synesthetes were gratified to learn that their experience was bona fide and had a scientific name. Laypersons were fascinated and clamored to know more. Well-known psychologists published on it early in the century, but then academia became hostile. After 1940 synesthesia was dismissed as merely subjective and unsuited to respectable scientific inquiry. For decades critics insisted that synesthesia was neither a real perception nor a brain phenomenon. Though put to rest by century's end, an attitude of disbelief can still be encountered.
In the concluding chapter of this handbook, I consider some of the wider challenges that research into synaesthesia faces. I start with a brief overview of the first 200 years of synaesthesia research. I then go on to consider the issue of how synaesthesia might be defined and the kinds of phenomena that could fall under that umbrella term. In the second part of the chapter, I consider how science can study a subjective experience, the challenges in identifying the causes and consequences of synaesthesia, and finally some of the wider implications of synaesthesia for understanding the 'normal' mind and brain.