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Evidence from the Cognitive Sciences

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Presentation on theme: "Evidence from the Cognitive Sciences"— Presentation transcript:

1 Evidence from the Cognitive Sciences
James A. Van Slyke

2 From the Soul to the Brain
Sciences and Human Nature Cognitive Neuroscience Characteristics of the soul linked with particular brain areas No place in the brain specialized for interacting with the soul No “Cartesian Theatre”

3 Thomas Aquinas Three parts of the soul Body Rational
Intellect – Active and Passive Will Animal or Sensitive Locomotion, appetite, sensation, emotion Vegetative Reproduction, nutrition, growth Body

4 Aquinas on the Brain Locomotion Sensation
Motor cortex + pathways to muscles throughout the body Sensation Somatosensory Cortex – directly behind motor cortex

5 Aquinas on the Brain Emotion Amygdala – implicit aspects of emotion
Emotional valence to memories Fight or flight response Cingulate Cortex – emotional attachment Mothering instincts Damage leads to decreases in empathy

6 Aquinas on the Brain Other areas Language – Broca’s and Wernicke’s
Vision – Occipital Lobe Identifying Objects Where? – Parietal Lobe What? – Temporal Lobe Two pathways beginning in the occipital lobe

7 The Famous Case of Phineas Gage
Before accident Intelligent capable worker excellent manager responsible family man upstanding citizen After Accident Maintained his general intelligence Unreliable and capricious Socially Inappropriate Lost his family and fortune


9 Case of Elliott – Damasio
before good husband and father high level job at business firm had attained an enviable social status post surgery, tumor removed in orbital frontal area irresponsible unable to manage his time flawed decision making Divorced; entered unwise marriage lost his job

10 Case of Elliot Laboratory test results maintained superior IQ (WAIS)
flawless memory superior language ability normal on lab tests of financial and ethical decision making normal lab ability to generate solutions to social problems Could predict social consequences

11 Gambling game Test of decisions and consequences
normal individuals develop anticipatory evaluative autonomic response (mini emotional response) first to choosing form the bad deck, and eventually to the thought of so choosing. Differential autonomic reasons develop prior to conscious awareness of the game’s contingencies Elliot was never able to develop a discriminatory anticipation while choosing from the bad decks


13 Theory of Somatic Markers
Experiences with the contingencies of life cause development of anticipatory evaluative (negative or positive) autonomic response which are coupled to knowledge. These autonomic response guides behavioral choices in ways that are often not directly available to consciousness Individuals with orbital frontal brain damage have knowledge de-coupled form the autonomic response system

14 Declarative Memory Processes
Declarative memory: memories available as facts, events, or specific stimuli Where I parked my car this morning People with anterograde amnesia are unable to talk about their experiences following brain damage Nondeclarative memory: stimulus-response and motor memories that control behaviors at an unconscious level How I am able to ride a bicycle 15.14

15 Hippocampal Damage and Amnesia
Severe anterograde amnesia follows bilateral damage to the hippocampus Patient H.M. suffered from severe epilepsy Following surgery, H.M. showed severe anterograde amnesia No retention for events that have occurred since 1953 Can recall events that occurred prior to 1953 H.M.’s amnesia was attributed to hippocampal damage 15.15

16 Hippocampus MRI scan of hippocampus (in red) Hippocampus

17 Cognitive Sciences and the Mind
Neuropsychology of Religious Experiences Brain images of Tibetan Buddhists and Franciscan Nuns Increased activity in frontal lobe and right parietal lobe during meditation Brain is quite active in a specialized way during religious experience

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