Cees van Leeuwen
Visual perception requires parallel processing of distributed information. To achieve true parallelism, in which multiple patterns can be processed simultaneously, dynamic synchronization in ongoing, oscillatory brain activity plays a crucial role. On a large time scale, it can help create and maintain an optimal brain connectivity structure that is clustered, modular, and connected. Over a range of shorter time scales, dynamic synchrony is instrumental in coordinating and controlling the flow of information in the brain. Dynamic synchronization modulates in a pulsed manner the receptivity of sensory systems, the effectivity of neural communication and the binding of visual stimulus information. Collectively, these processes control communication in the brain and determine what we experience.
Emergence of Higher Cognitive Functions: Reorganization of Large-Scale Brain Networks During Childhood And Adolescence
Pedro M. Paz-Alonso, Silvia A. Bunge, and Simona Ghetti
In the present chapter, we first provide an overview of neurodevelopmental changes in brain structure and function, which have implications for the development of higher cognitive functions as well as for other areas of research within developmental cognitive neuroscience. Second, we highlight neuroimaging evidence regarding the development of working memory and cognitive control processes, and the main neural mechanisms and brain networks supporting them. Third, we review behavioral and neuroimaging research on the development of memory encoding and retrieval processes, including episodic memory and mnemonic control. Finally, we summarize important current and future directions in the study of the neurocognitive mechanisms supporting the development of higher cognitive functions, noting that multidisciplinary approaches, different level of analyses, and longitudinal designs are needed to shed further light on the emergence and trajectories of these functions over development.
V.S. Ramachandran and David Brang
Synaesthesia has been described as a perceptual experience in which a stimulus presented through one modality will spontaneously evoke a sensation experienced in an unrelated modality. While synaesthesia can occur in response to drugs, sensory deprivation, or brain damage, research has largely focused on individuals with the heritable trait, amounting to roughly 4% of the population. These experiences typically occur from increased connectivity between associated modalities, and synaesthesia is known to be involuntary, automatic, and stable over time. Furthermore, research suggests all individuals show similar cross-modal interactions to those of synaesthetes, begging the question of how different developmental synaesthesia is from acquired, drug-induced, and even sub-threshold synaesthetic associations in the normal population. This review examines the physiological basis of synaesthesia as well as the impact of learning, then works to draw parallels with synaesthesia and other similar phenomena, and closes with our current understanding of hereditary in synaesthesia and directions for future research.
Derya Sargin, Chen Yan, and Sheena Josselyn
Fear is an important emotion; remembering fearful events/places/stimuli is key for survival. However, dysregulation of fear may underlie the etiology of several psychiatric diseases. Inappropriate storage and/or recall of fearful events can lead to maladaptive fear behaviors and physiological responses that contribute to emotional disorders. Much research has provided insights into the neural processes mediating the formation of fear memories. In addition, some new research has begun to provide insights into how fear memories may be weakened. A more thorough understanding of the molecular, cellular, and circuit basis of the formation and storage of fear memories may one day provide insights into how we can rid ourselves of aberrant fear memories associated with psychopathological responses.
David A. Washburn, Michael J. Beran, and J. David Smith
Demonstrations of animal memory were among the earliest experimental results obtained in psychology, but investigations of whether animals show metacognitive competencies are relatively new. Such investigations require innovative paradigms in which uncertainty can be created and empirically validated, methods by which nonverbal organisms can indicate their recognition of confidence or uncertainty, and systematic inquiry to determine whether such responses are externally, associatively generated or are subjective and metacognitive. This third point requires particular attention to balance competing considerations like anthropomorphism, parsimony, and interpretive errors, such as being too inclined to infer analogous mechanisms, or conversely to reject real demonstrations of animal metamemory by holding them to different evidentiary standards than is human metacognition. The results from numerous attempts to address these challenges are reviewed, yielding the overall conclusion that the capacity for metamemory and metacognition has been demonstrated at least by some animals in ways that defy low-level associative interpretation.
Catherine E. Barrett and Larry J. Young
Many psychiatric illnesses, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), schizophrenia, and depression, are characterized by impaired social cognition and a compromised ability to form social relationships. Although drugs are currently available to treat other symptoms of these disorders, none specifically target the social deficits. In order to develop pharmacotherapies to enhance social functioning, particularly for ASD where social impairment is a core symptom, we must first understand the basic neurobiology underlying complex social behaviors. The socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) has been a remarkably useful animal model for exploring the neural systems regulating complex social behaviors, including social bonding. Prairie voles form enduring social bonds between mated partners, or pair bonds, and display a biparental familial structure that is arguably very similar to that of humans. Here we discuss the neural systems underlying social bonding in prairie voles, including the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin, opioids, dopaminergic reward and reinforcement, and stress-related circuitry, as well as the susceptibility of social functioning to early life experiences. We highlight some of the remarkable parallels that have been discovered in humans, and discuss how research in prairie voles has already led to novel therapies to enhance social functioning in ASD.
Acalculia is an acquired disorder of number and/or calculation skills following cerebral damage (Henschen, 1919) which affects about 20% of patients with left hemisphere injury. The inability to use numbers can be very incapacitating as it interferes with several everyday activities such as shopping and using bank accounts and telephones (Butterworth, 1999; Dehaene, 1997). After introducing the main cognitive and anatomical features of the normal number system, this chapter will discuss the main historical and contemporary achievements in the neuropsychology of number cognition. These achievements concern: understanding that the number system is fractionated in distinct subcomponents; characterizing the relation between number and other cognitive skills; defining the role of the brain regions that cause number and calculation disorders or that allow maintenance of residual number skills; and identifying tools for the assessment and the possible rehabilitation of acalculia.
R. A. Bjork
In this prologue, I comment on key events in the history of research on metamemory and on my own reactions to those events—beginning with the now-famous research on feeling-of-knowing judgments carried out by Joe Hart 50 years ago when Joe and I were both graduate students at Stanford University. After speculating on why mainstream memory researchers, me in particular, were slow to realize the importance of research on metacognitive processes, even after John Flavell and Henry Wellman had provided an elegant definition of the field during the 1970s, I discuss the events and dynamics that ultimately made it clear that understanding metacognitive processes is a critical component of understanding human learning and memory processes more broadly.
Melvin J. Yap and David A. Balota
Visual word recognition is an integral aspect of reading. Although readers are able to recognize visually presented words with apparent ease, the processes that map orthography onto phonology and semantics are far from straightforward. In the present chapter, we discuss the cognitive processes that skilled readers use in order to recognize and pronounce individual words. After a historical overview of the broad theoretical developments in this rich field, we provide a description of methods and a selective review of the empirical literature, with an emphasis on how the recognition of an isolated word is modulated by its lexical- and semantic-level properties and by its context. Finally, we briefly consider some recent approaches and analytic tools in visual word recognition research, including megastudies, analysis of response time distributions, and the important role of individual differences.
Visual word recognition is traditionally viewed as a process of activating a lexical representation stored in long-term memory. Although this activation framework has been valuable in guiding research on visual word recognition and remains the dominant force, an alternative framework has emerged in the last decade. The Bayesian Reader framework, proposed by Norris (2006, 2009; Norris & Kinoshita, 2012a), regards the decision processes involved in a task as integral to explaining visual word recognition, and its central tenet is that human readers approximate optimal Bayesian decision-makers operating on noisy perceptual input. This chapter focuses on two issues fundamental to visual word recognition—the role of word frequency, and the representation of letter order—and describes how the Bayesian Reader framework provides a principled account of the recent findings related to these issues that are challenging to the activation framework.
Elizabeth R. Schotter and Keith Rayner
In this chapter we discuss the movements of the eyes during reading: how they support and reveal the reading process. We start by describing basic facts about eye movements. We then describe some factors that account for variability in eye movement variables and then discuss some important methodological paradigms (namely gaze-contingent display change paradigms) that have contributed to our knowledge about eye movements and cognitive processing in reading. In particular, these paradigms have been used to study what types of information readers obtain from a word before they look directly at it. We review what we have learned from experiments using these paradigms. We also discuss the issue of eye movement control in reading (i.e., what determines where the eyes move and how long they linger on a particular word) and describe several studies demonstrating that eye movement control in reading is determined directly by ongoing cognitive process.