Cultural neuroscience is set to flourish in the next few years. As the field develops, it is necessary to reflect on what is meant by ‘culture’ and how this can be translated for the laboratory context. This article uses the example of the adolescent brain to discuss three aspects of culture that may help us to shape and reframe questions, interpretations and applications in cultural neuroscience: cultural contingencies of categories, cultural differences in experience and cultural context of neuroscience research. The last few years have seen a sudden increase in the study of adolescence as a period of both structural and functional plasticity, with new brain-based explanations of teenage behaviour being taken up in education, policy and medicine. However, the concept of adolescence, as an object of behavioural science, took shape relatively recently, not much more than a hundred years ago and was shaped by a number of cultural and historical factors. Moreover, research in anthropology and cross-cultural psychology has shown that the experience of adolescence, as a period of the lifespan, is variable and contingent upon culture. The emerging field of cultural neuroscience has begun to tackle the question of cultural differences in social cognitive processing in adults. In this article, I explore what a cultural neuroscience can mean in the case of adolescence. I consider how to integrate perspectives from social neuroscience and anthropology to conceptualize, and to empirically study, adolescence as a culturally variable phenomenon, which, itself, has been culturally constructed.
adolescence; culture; context; brain development; neuroscience; anthropology
Anthropologists have become increasingly interested in embodiment—that is, the ways that socio-cultural factors influence the form, behavior and subjective experience of human bodies. At the same time, social cognitive neuroscience has begun to reveal the mechanisms of embodiment by investigating the neural underpinnings and consequences of social experience. Despite this overlap, the two fields have barely engaged one another. We suggest three interconnected domains of inquiry in which the intersection of neuroscience and anthropology can productively inform our understanding of the relationship between human brains and their socio-cultural contexts. These are: the social construction of emotion, cultural psychiatry, and the embodiment of ritual. We build on both current research findings in cultural neuroscience and ethnographic data on cultural differences in thought and behavior, to generate novel, ecologically informed hypotheses for future study. In addition, we lay out a specific suggestion for operationalizing insights from anthropology in the context of cultural neuroscience research. Specifically, we advocate the development of field studies that use portable measurement technologies to connect individual patterns of biological response with socio-cultural processes. We illustrate the potential of such an approach with data from a study of psychophysiology and religious devotion in Northeastern Brazil.
brain; ethnography; emotion; ritual; cultural psychiatry
In a large (250 registrants) general education lecture course, neuroscience principles were taught by two professors as co-instructors, starting with simple brain anatomy, chemistry, and function, proceeding to basic brain circuits of pleasure and pain, and progressing with fellow expert professors covering relevant philosophical, artistic, marketing, and anthropological issues. With this as a base, the course wove between fields of high relevance to psychology and neuroscience, such as food addiction and preferences, drug seeking and craving, analgesic pain-inhibitory systems activated by opiates and stress, neuroeconomics, unconscious decision-making, empathy, and modern neuroscientific techniques (functional magnetic resonance imaging and event-related potentials) presented by the co-instructors and other Psychology professors. With no formal assigned textbook, all lectures were PowerPoint-based, containing links to supplemental public-domain material. PowerPoints were available on Blackboard several days before the lecture. All lectures were also video-recorded and posted that evening. The course had a Facebook page for after-class conversation and one of the co-instructors communicated directly with students on Twitter in real time during lecture to provide momentary clarification and comment. In addition to graduate student Teaching Assistants (TAs), to allow for small group discussion, ten undergraduate students who performed well in a previous class were selected to serve as discussion leaders. The Discussion Leaders met four times at strategic points over the semester with groups of 20–25 current students, and received one credit of Independent Study, thus creating a course within a course. The course grade was based on weighted scores from two multiple-choice exams and a five-page writing assignment in which each student reviewed three unique, but brief original peer-review research articles (one page each) combined with expository writing on the first and last pages. A draft of the first page, collected early in the term, was returned to each student by graduate TAs to provide individual feedback on scientific writing. Overall the course has run three times at ful or near enrollment capacity despite being held at an 8:00 AM time slot. Student-generated teaching evaluations place it well within the normal range, while this format importantly contributes to budget efficiency permitting the teaching of more required small-format courses (e.g., freshman writing). The demographics of the course have changed to one in which the vast majority of the students are now outside the disciplines of neuroscience or psychology and are taking the course to fulfill a General Education requirement. This pattern allows the wide dissemination of basic neuroscientific knowledge to a general college audience.
Reward; addiction; relapse; craving; body weight regulation; analgesia; empathy; behavioral economics; fMRI
Cultural neuroscience is an emerging research discipline that investigates cultural variation in psychological, neural and genomic processes as a means of articulating the bidirectional relationship of these processes and their emergent properties. Research in cultural neuroscience integrates theory and methods from anthropology, cultural psychology, neuroscience and neurogenetics. Here, we review a set of core theoretical and methodological challenges facing researchers when planning and conducting cultural neuroscience studies, and provide suggestions for overcoming these challenges. In particular, we focus on the problems of defining culture and culturally appropriate experimental tasks, comparing neuroimaging data acquired from different populations and scanner sites and identifying functional genetic polymorphisms relevant to culture. Implications of cultural neuroscience research for addressing current issues in population health disparities are discussed.
cultural neuroscience; cultural psychology; neuroscience; molecular genetics; gene × environment interaction; culture–gene co-evolution
Cognitive neuroscience and clinical psychology have long been considered to be separate disciplines. However, the phenomenon of brain plasticity in the context of a psychological intervention highlights the mechanisms of brain compensation and requires linking both clinical cognition and cognitive psychophysiology. A quantifiable normalization of brain activity seems to be correlated with an improvement of the tic symptoms after cognitive behavioral therapy in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). This article presents broad outlines of the state of the current literature in the field of GTS. We present our clinical research model and methodology for the integration of cognitive neuroscience in the psychological evaluation and treatment of GTS to manage chronic tic symptoms.
PMID: 24795782 CAMSID: cams3293
In this article, we argue that a combined anthropology/neuroscience field of enquiry can make a significant and distinctive contribution to the study of the relationship between culture and the brain. This field, which can appropriately be termed as neuroanthropology, is conceived of as being complementary to and mutually informative with social and cultural neuroscience. We start by providing an introduction to the culture concept in anthropology. We then present a detailed characterization of neuroanthropology and its methods and how they relate to the anthropological understanding of culture. The field is described as a humanistic science, that is, a field of enquiry founded on the perceived epistemological and methodological interdependence of science and the humanities. We also provide examples that illustrate the proposed methodological model for neuroanthropology. We conclude with a discussion about specific contributions the field can make to the study of the culture–brain nexus.
neuroanthropology; brain; culture; humanistic science
Cultural neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field of research that investigates interrelations among culture, mind and the brain. Drawing on both the growing body of scientific evidence on cultural variation in psychological processes and the recent development of social and cognitive neuroscience, this emerging field of research aspires to understand how culture as an amalgam of values, meanings, conventions, and artifacts that constitute daily social realities might interact with the mind and its underlying brain pathways of each individual member of the culture. In this article, following a brief review of studies that demonstrate the surprising degree to which brain processes are malleably shaped by cultural tools and practices, the authors discuss cultural variation in brain processes involved in self-representations, cognition, emotion and motivation. They then propose (i) that primary values of culture such as independence and interdependence are reflected in the compositions of cultural tasks (i.e. daily routines designed to accomplish the cultural values) and further (ii) that active and sustained engagement in these tasks yields culturally patterned neural activities of the brain, thereby laying the ground for the embodied construction of the self and identity. Implications for research on culture and the brain are discussed.
culture; self; brain; independence/interdependence
Successful human social interaction depends on our capacity to understand other people's mental states and to anticipate how they will react to our actions. Despite its importance to the human condition, the exact mechanisms underlying our ability to understand another's actions, feelings, and thoughts are still a matter of conjecture. Here, we consider this problem from philosophical, psychological, and neuroscientific perspectives. In a critical review, we demonstrate that attempts to draw parallels across these complementary disciplines is premature: The second-person perspective does not map directly to Interaction or Simulation theories, online social cognition, or shared neural network accounts underlying action observation or empathy. Nor does the third-person perspective map onto Theory-Theory (TT), offline social cognition, or the neural networks that support Theory of Mind (ToM). Moreover, we argue that important qualities of social interaction emerge through the reciprocal interplay of two independent agents whose unpredictable behavior requires that models of their partner's internal state be continually updated. This analysis draws attention to the need for paradigms in social neuroscience that allow two individuals to interact in a spontaneous and natural manner and to adapt their behavior and cognitions in a response contingent fashion due to the inherent unpredictability in another person's behavior. Even if such paradigms were implemented, it is possible that the specific neural correlates supporting such reciprocal interaction would not reflect computation unique to social interaction but rather the use of basic cognitive and emotional processes combined in a unique manner. Finally, we argue that given the crucial role of social interaction in human evolution, ontogeny, and every-day social life, a more theoretically and methodologically nuanced approach to the study of real social interaction will nevertheless help the field of social cognition to evolve.
mentalizing; online/offline social cognition; second-person perspective; simulation; social interaction; social neuroscience; stimulus independent thoughts; theory-theory
Neuroscience has become prevalent in recent years; nevertheless, its value in the examination of psychological and philosophical phenomena is still a matter of debate. The examples reviewed here suggest that neuroscientific tools can be significant in the investigation of such complex phenomena. In this article, we argue that it is important to study concepts that do not have a clear characterization and emphasize the role of neuroscience in this quest for knowledge. The data reviewed here suggest that neuroscience may (1) enrich our knowledge; (2) outline the nature of an explanation; and (3) lead to substantial empirical and theoretical discoveries. To that end, we review work on hedonia and eudaimonia in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. These studies demonstrate the importance of neuroscientific tools in the investigation of phenomena that are difficult to define using other methods.
happiness; hedonia; eudaimonia; fMRI; philosophy of neuroscience; neurophilosophy
Explanations of psychological phenomena seem to generate more public interest when they contain neuroscientific information. Even irrelevant neuroscience information in an explanation of a psychological phenomenon may interfere with people’s abilities to critically consider the underlying logic of this explanation. We tested this hypothesis by giving naïve adults, students in a neuroscience course, and neuroscience experts brief descriptions of psychological phenomena followed by one of four types of explanation, according to a 2 (good explanation vs. bad explanation) × 2 (without neuroscience vs. with neuroscience) design. Crucially, the neuroscience information was irrelevant to the logic of the explanation, as confirmed by the expert subjects. Subjects in all three groups judged good explanations as more satisfying than bad ones. But subjects in the two nonexpert groups additionally judged that explanations with logically irrelevant neuroscience information were more satisfying than explanations without. The neuroscience information had a particularly striking effect on nonexperts’ judgments of bad explanations, masking otherwise salient problems in these explanations.
The appearance of developmental cognitive neuroscience (DCN) in the socioeconomic status (SES) research arena is hugely transformative, but challenging. We review challenges rooted in the implicit and explicit assumptions informing this newborn field. We provide balanced theoretical alternatives on how hypothesized psychological processes map onto the brain (e.g., problem of localization) and how experimental phenomena at multiple levels of analysis (e.g., behavior, cognition and the brain) could be related. We therefore examine unclear issues regarding the existing perspectives on poverty and their relationships with low SES, the evidence of low-SES adaptive functioning, historical precedents of the “alternate pathways” (neuroplasticity) interpretation of learning disabilities related to low-SES and the notion of deficit, issues of “normativity” and validity in findings of neurocognitive differences between children from different SES, and finally alternative interpretations of the complex relationship between IQ and SES. Particularly, we examine the extent to which the available laboratory results may be interpreted as showing that cognitive performance in low-SES children reflects cognitive and behavioral deficits as a result of growing up in specific environmental or cultural contexts, and how the experimental findings should be interpreted for the design of different types of interventions—particularly those related to educational practices—or translated to the public—especially the media. Although a cautionary tone permeates many studies, still, a potential deficit attribution—i.e., low-SES is associated with cognitive and behavioral developmental deficits—seems almost an inevitable implicit issue with ethical implications. Finally, we sketch the agenda for an ecological DCN, suggesting recommendations to advance the field, specifically, to minimize equivocal divulgation and maximize ethically responsible translation.
EEG; ERPs; fMRI; neurocognitive processes; neuroimaging; socioeconomic status; theoretical neuroscience
Humans are animals that specialize in thinking and knowing, and our extraordinary cognitive abilities have transformed every aspect of our lives. In contrast to our chimpanzee cousins and Stone Age ancestors, we are complex political, economic, scientific and artistic creatures, living in a vast range of habitats, many of which are our own creation. Research on the evolution of human cognition asks what types of thinking make us such peculiar animals, and how they have been generated by evolutionary processes. New research in this field looks deeper into the evolutionary history of human cognition, and adopts a more multi-disciplinary approach than earlier ‘Evolutionary Psychology’. It is informed by comparisons between humans and a range of primate and non-primate species, and integrates findings from anthropology, archaeology, economics, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, philosophy and psychology. Using these methods, recent research reveals profound commonalities, as well striking differences, between human and non-human minds, and suggests that the evolution of human cognition has been much more gradual and incremental than previously assumed. It accords crucial roles to cultural evolution, techno-social co-evolution and gene–culture co-evolution. These have produced domain-general developmental processes with extraordinary power—power that makes human cognition, and human lives, unique.
cognition; evolution of cognition; cognitive development; social cognition; cultural evolution; human evolution
Neuroethics entails investigations of neurocognitive mechanisms of morality and ethics; and studies and address of the ethical issues spawned by the use of neuroscience and its technologies to investigate cognition, emotion and actions. These two principal emphases, or what have been called “traditions” of neuroethics both mirror traditional bioethical discussions (such as debates about the safety of technological and pharmaceutical advances and ethical implications of new scientific and technological discoveries), and engage discourse about neuroscientific investigations of (proto-moral and moral) cognition, emotions and behaviors, and what such findings may mean for human beliefs and conduct - from the individual to the political levels.
Given the growth, range, and rapid maturation of the field of neuroethics we provide an iterative, four-part document that affords a repository of international papers, books, and chapters that address the field in overview, and present discussion(s) of more particular aspects and topics of neuroethics. This first installment lists reviews and overviews of the discipline, and broad summaries of basic developments and issues of the field.
To systematically survey the neuroethics literature, searches were performed by accessing 11 databases, 8 additional literature depositories, and 4 individual journal searches using indexing language for National Library of Medicine (NLM) Medical Subject Heading databases. Searches and assurance against overlapping coverage were conducted using the RefWorks citation management program.
Overview, review and reflections upon the history and multicultural perspectives of neuroethics were obtained and relevant listings from international journals, books, and book chapters are provided. Part I will be followed by three installments that will address a): the neuroscience of morality and ethics, including discussions of free will, and personal autonomy; b) “second tradition neuroethics”, to include specific ethical issues in neuroscience; clinical neuroethics; and c) neuroethics education/training; neuroethics and society; neuroethics and law; neuroethics and policy; and international neuroethics.
Neuroethics; Neuroscience; Neurobioethics; Bioethics; Ethics; Bibliography
The field of neuroscience is generating increased public appetite for information about exciting brain research and discoveries. As stewards of the discipline, together with FUN and others, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) embraces public outreach and education as essential to its mission of promoting understanding of the brain and nervous system. The Society looks to its members, particularly the younger generation of neuroscientists, to inspire, inform and engage citizens of all ages, and most importantly our youth, in this important endeavor.
Here we review SfN programs and resources that support public outreach efforts to inform, educate and tell the story of neuroscience. We describe the important role the Brain Awareness campaign has played in achieving this goal and highlight opportunities for FUN members and students to contribute to this growing effort. We discuss specific programs that provide additional opportunities for neuroscientists to get involved with K-12 teachers and students in ways that inspire youth to pursue further studies and possible careers in science. We draw attention to SfN resources that support outreach to broader audiences.
Through ongoing partnerships such as that between SfN and FUN, the neuroscience community is well positioned to pursue novel approaches and resources, including harnessing the power of the Internet. These efforts will increase science literacy among our citizens and garner more robust support for scientific research.
Public Education; Brain Awareness Week (BAW); Neuroscience Core Concepts; NERVE; Neuroscientist-Teacher-Partner Program; Science Olympiad; International Brain Bee; Wikipedia
Dreaming is still a mystery of human cognition, although it has been studied experimentally for more than a century. Experimental psychology first investigated dream content and frequency. The neuroscientific approach to dreaming arose at the end of the 1950s and soon proposed a physiological substrate of dreaming: rapid eye movement sleep. Fifty years later, this hypothesis was challenged because it could not explain all of the characteristics of dream reports. Therefore, the neurophysiological correlates of dreaming are still unclear, and many questions remain unresolved. Do the representations that constitute the dream emerge randomly from the brain, or do they surface according to certain parameters? Is the organization of the dream’s representations chaotic or is it determined by rules? Does dreaming have a meaning? What is/are the function(s) of dreaming? Psychoanalysis provides hypotheses to address these questions. Until now, these hypotheses have received minimal attention in cognitive neuroscience, but the recent development of neuropsychoanalysis brings new hopes of interaction between the two fields. Considering the psychoanalytical perspective in cognitive neuroscience would provide new directions and leads for dream research and would help to achieve a comprehensive understanding of dreaming. Notably, several subjective issues at the core of the psychoanalytic approach, such as the concept of personal meaning, the concept of unconscious episodic memory and the subject’s history, are not addressed or considered in cognitive neuroscience. This paper argues that the focus on singularity and personal meaning in psychoanalysis is needed to successfully address these issues in cognitive neuroscience and to progress in the understanding of dreaming and the psyche.
dream; neurophysiological correlates of dreaming; dream functions; unconscious; personal meaning; neuroimaging; psychoanalysis
Social neuroscience has been enormously successful and is making major contributions to fields ranging from psychiatry to economics. Yet deep and interesting conceptual challenges abound. Is social information processing domain specific? Is it universal or susceptible to individual differences and effects of culture? Are there uniquely human social cognitive abilities? What is the “social brain,” and how do we map social psychological processes onto it? Animal models together with fMRI and other cognitive neuroscience approaches in humans are providing an unprecedented level of detail and many surprising results. It may well be that social neuroscience in the near future will give us an entirely new view of who we are, how we evolved, and what might be in store for the future of our species.
Although the field of neuroscience is booming, a challenge for researchers in mental health disciplines is the integration of basic research findings into applied clinical approaches leading to effective therapies. Recently the National Institute of Mental Health called for translational research grants to encourage collaboration between neuroscientists and mental health professionals. In order for this “clinical neuroscience” to emerge and thrive, an important first step is the provision of appropriate course offerings so that future neuroscience researchers and mental health practitioners will have a common neurobiological base from which to make informed decisions about the most efficacious treatments for mental illnesses. Accordingly, an integrative course, Clinical Neuroscience, was developed to address these issues. After reviewing the historical origins of this emerging discipline, students are exposed to fundamental overviews of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, and neural development before approaching the neurobiological components of several disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, depression, Tourette’s syndrome, drug abuse, obsessive compulsive disorder). Finally, the maintenance of mental health is emphasized as topics such as psychoneuroimmunology, coping with stress, and eating regulation are discussed. Important themes emphasized in this course include (1) the consideration of only empirically based evidence, (2) the view that mental illness represents a disruption of neurobiological homeostasis, (3) the acknowledgement that, because the brain is a plastic organ, the clinical relevance of environmental and behavioral influences is difficult to overestimate, and (4) the recognition of the value of ecologically relevant animal models in the investigation of various aspects of mental illness. Because of the importance of stress maintenance in mental health, exercises have been developed to increase students’ awareness of their own coping strategies. Finally, several books and movies are incorporated to provide additional points of view of the topics discussed in the course.
clinical neuroscience; neurobiological homeostasis; stress response; mental illness
In the midst of on-going hype about the power and potency of the new brain sciences, scholars within “Critical Neuroscience” have called for a more nuanced and sceptical neuroscientific knowledge-practice. Drawing especially on the Frankfurt School, they urge neuroscientists towards a more critical approach—one that re-inscribes the objects and practices of neuroscientific knowledge within webs of social, cultural, historical and political-economic contingency. This paper is an attempt to open up the black-box of “critique” within Critical Neuroscience itself. Specifically, we argue that limiting enactments of critique to the invocation of context misses the force of what a highly-stylized and tightly-bound neuroscientific experiment can actually do. We show that, within the neuroscientific experiment itself, the world-excluding and context-denying “rules of the game” may also enact critique, in novel and surprising forms, while remaining formally independent of the workings of society, and culture, and history. To demonstrate this possibility, we analyze the Optimally Interacting Minds (OIM) paradigm, a neuroscientific experiment that used classical psychophysical methods to show that, in some situations, people worked better as a collective, and not as individuals—a claim that works precisely against reactionary tendencies that prioritize individual over collective agency, but that was generated and legitimized entirely within the formal, context-denying conventions of neuroscientific experimentation. At the heart of this paper is a claim that it was precisely the rigors and rules of the experimental game that allowed these scientists to enact some surprisingly critical, and even radical, gestures. We conclude by suggesting that, in the midst of large-scale neuroscientific initiatives, it may be “experiment”, and not “context”, that forms the meeting-ground between neuro-biological and socio-political research practices.
Critical Neuroscience; experiment; critique; the social; sociology of neuroscience; optimally interacting minds; interdisciplinarity
We propose a new play activity intervention program for mothers and children. Our interdisciplinary program integrates four fields of child-related sciences: neuroscience, preschool pedagogy, developmental psychology, and child and maternal psychiatry. To determine the effect of this intervention on child and mother psychosocial problems related to parenting stress and on the children's cognitive abilities, we performed a cluster randomized controlled trial.
Participants were 238 pairs of mothers and typically developing preschool children (ages 4–6 years old) from Wakakusa kindergarten in Japan. The pairs were asked to play at home for about 10 min a day, 5 days a week for 3 months. Participants were randomly assigned to the intervention or control group by class unit. The Parenting Stress Index (PSI) (for mothers), the Goodenough Draw-a-Man intelligence test (DAM), and the new S-S intelligence test (NS-SIT) (for children) were administered prior to and 3 months after the intervention period. Pre–post changes in test scores were compared between the groups using a linear mixed-effects model analysis. The primary outcomes were the Total score on the child domain of the PSI (for child psychosocial problems related to parenting stress), Total score on the parent domain of the PSI (for maternal psychosocial problems related to parenting stress), and the score on the DAM (for child cognitive abilities). The results of the PSI suggested that the program may reduce parenting stress. The results of the cognitive tests suggested that the program may improve the children's fluid intelligence, working memory, and processing speed.
Our intervention program may ameliorate the children's psychosocial problems related to parenting stress and increase their cognitive abilities.
UMIN Clinical Trials Registry UMIN000002265
The BRAIN Initiative aims to break new ground in the scale and speed of data collection in neuroscience, requiring tools to handle data in the magnitude of yottabytes (1024). The scale, investment and organization of it are being compared to the Human Genome Project (HGP), which has exemplified “big science” for biology. In line with the trend towards Big Data in genomic research, the promise of the BRAIN Initiative, as well as the European Human Brain Project, rests on the possibility to amass vast quantities of data to model the complex interactions between the brain and behavior and inform the diagnosis and prevention of neurological disorders and psychiatric disease. Advocates of this “data driven” paradigm in neuroscience argue that harnessing the large quantities of data generated across laboratories worldwide has numerous methodological, ethical and economic advantages, but it requires the neuroscience community to adopt a culture of data sharing and open access to benefit from them. In this article, we examine the rationale for data sharing among advocates and briefly exemplify these in terms of new “open neuroscience” projects. Then, drawing on the frequently invoked model of data sharing in genomics, we go on to demonstrate the complexities of data sharing, shedding light on the sociological and ethical challenges within the realms of institutions, researchers and participants, namely dilemmas around public/private interests in data, (lack of) motivation to share in the academic community, and potential loss of participant anonymity. Our paper serves to highlight some foreseeable tensions around data sharing relevant to the emergent “open neuroscience” movement.
open neuroscience; open science; data sharing; neuroimaging; human genome project; brain initiative; human brain project
Cultural neuroscience provides a new approach for understanding the impact of culture on the human brain (and vice versa) opening thus new avenues for cross-disciplinary collaboration with archaeology and anthropology. Finding new meaningful and productive unit of analysis is essential for such collaboration. But what can archaeological preoccupation with material culture and long-term change contribute to this end? In this article, I introduce and discuss the notion of the brain–artefact interface (BAI) as a useful conceptual bridge between neuroplastisty and the extended mind. I argue that a key challenge for archaeology and cultural neuroscience lies in the cross-disciplinary understanding of the processes by which our plastic enculturated brains become constituted within the wider extended networks of non-biological artefacts and cultural practices that delineate the real spatial and temporal boundaries of the human cognitive map.
Cognitive archaeology; material culture; brain–artefact interface; extended mind; plasticity
Neuromarketing is a multidisciplinary field of research whose aim is to investigate the consumers' reaction to advertisements from a neuroscientific perspective. In particular, the neuroscience field is thought to be able to reveal information about consumer preferences which are unobtainable through conventional methods, including submitting questionnaires to large samples of consumers or performing psychological personal or group interviews. In this scenario, we performed an experiment in order to investigate cognitive and emotional changes of cerebral activity evaluated by neurophysiologic indices during the observation of TV commercials. In particular, we recorded the electroencephalographic (EEG), galvanic skin response (GSR), and heart rate (HR) in a group of 28 healthy subjects during the observation of a series of TV advertisements that have been grouped by commercial categories. Comparisons of cerebral indices have been performed to highlight gender differences between commercial categories and scenes of interest of two specific commercials. Findings show how EEG methodologies, along with the measurements of autonomic variables, could be used to obtain hidden information to marketers not obtainable otherwise. Most importantly, it was suggested how these tools could help to analyse the perception of TV advertisements and differentiate their production according to the consumer's gender.
Scientists have increasingly turned to the brain and to neuroscience more generally to further an understanding of social and emotional judgments and behavior. Yet, many neuroscientists (certainly not all) do not consider the role of relational context. Moreover, most have not examined the impact of relational context in a manner that takes advantage of conceptual and empirical advances in relationship science. Here we emphasize that: (1) all social behavior takes place, by definition, within the context of a relationship (even if that relationship is a new one with a stranger), and (2) relational context shapes not only social thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, but also some seemingly non-social thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in profound ways. We define relational context and suggest that accounting for it in the design and interpretation of neuroscience research is essential to the development of a coherent, generalizable neuroscience of social behavior. We make our case in two ways: (a) we describe some existing neuroscience research in three substantive areas (perceiving and reacting to others’ emotions, providing help, and receiving help) that already has documented the powerful impact of relational context. (b) We describe some other neuroscience research from these same areas that has not taken relational context into account. Then, using findings from social and personality psychology, we make a case that different results almost certainly would have been found had the research been conducted in a different relational context. We neither attempt to review all evidence that relational context shapes neuroscience findings nor to put forward a theoretical analysis of all the ways relational context ought to shape neuroscience findings. Our goal is simply to urge greater and more systematic consideration of relational context in neuroscientific research.
relational context; attachment styles; relationship histories; relationship types; relationship character; relationship stages
Technological innovations in neuroscience have opened new windows to the understanding of brain function and the neuronal underpinnings of brain activity in neuropsychiatric disorders and social behavior. Public interest and support for neuroscience research through initiatives like the Decade of the Brain project and increasingly diverse brain-related initiatives have created new interfaces between neuroscience and society. Against this backdrop of dynamic innovation, we set out to examine how different features of neuroscience are depicted in print media. We used the ‘guided news’ function of the LexisNexis Academic database with keyword searches to find news articles published between 1995 and 2004 in major U.S. and U.K. English-language news sources. We performed searches on headlines, lead paragraphs, and body terms to maximize search yields. All articles were coded for overall tone of coverage, details on reported studies, presence of ethical, legal, and social discussion as well as the emerging interpretations of neuroscience – in the form of neuro-essentialism, neuro-realism, and neuro-policy. We found that print media coverage of the use of neurotechnology for diagnosis or therapy in neuropsychiatric disorders was generally optimistic. We also found that, even within articles that were identified as research reports, many did not provide details about research studies. We also gained additional insights into the previously identified phenomena of neuro-essentialism, neuro-realism, and neuro-policy showing some profound impacts of neuroscience on personal identity and policy-making. Our results highlight the implications of transfer of neuroscience knowledge to society given the substantial and authoritative weight ascribed to neuroscience knowledge in defining who we are. We also discuss the impact of these findings on neuroscience and on the respective contributions of the social sciences and the biological sciences in contemporary psychiatry and mental health policy.
Neuroscience; print media; neuroimaging; ethics; functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; neurostimulation; psychiatry; USA; UK
Recent work has given rise to the view that reward-based decision making is governed by two key controllers: a habit system, which stores stimulus-response associations shaped by past reward, and a goal-oriented system that selects actions based on their anticipated outcomes. The current literature provides a rich body of computational theory addressing habit formation, centering on temporal-difference learning mechanisms. Less progress has been made toward formalizing the processes involved in goal-directed decision making. We draw on recent work in cognitive neuroscience, animal conditioning, cognitive and developmental psychology and machine learning, to outline a new theory of goal-directed decision making. Our basic proposal is that the brain, within an identifiable network of cortical and subcortical structures, implements a probabilistic generative model of reward, and that goal-directed decision making is effected through Bayesian inversion of this model. We present a set of simulations implementing the account, which address benchmark behavioral and neuroscientific findings, and which give rise to a set of testable predictions. We also discuss the relationship between the proposed framework and other models of decision making, including recent models of perceptual choice, to which our theory bears a direct connection.