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Criticality as a signature of healthy neural systems: multi-scale experimental and computational studies

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889195039 Year: Pages: 139 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-503-9 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-03 13:02:24
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Since 2003, when spontaneous activity in cortical slices was first found to follow scale-free statistical distributions in size and duration, increasing experimental evidences and theoretical models have been reported in the literature supporting the emergence of evidence of scale invariance in the cortex. Although strongly debated, such results refer to many different in vitro and in vivo preparations (awake monkeys, anesthetized rats and cats, in vitro slices and dissociated cultures), suggesting that power law distributions and scale free correlations are a very general and robust feature of cortical activity that has been conserved across species as specific substrate for information storage, transmission and processing. Equally important is that the features reminiscent of scale invariance and criticality are observed at scale spanning from the level of interacting arrays of neurons all the way up to correlations across the entire brain. Thus, if we accept that the brain operates near a critical point, little is known about the causes and/or consequences of a loss of criticality and its relation with brain diseases (e.g. epilepsy). The study of how pathogenetical mechanisms are related to the critical/non-critical behavior of neuronal networks would likely provide new insights into the cellular and synaptic determinants of the emergence of critical-like dynamics and structures in neural systems. At the same time, the relation between the impaired behavior and the disruption of criticality would help clarify its role in normal brain function. The main objective of this Research Topic is to investigate the emergence/disruption of the emergent critical-like states in healthy/impaired neural systems.

What levels of explanation in the behavioural sciences?

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889195978 Year: Pages: 91 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-597-8 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-03-10 08:14:32
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Complex systems are to be seen as typically having multiple levels of organization. For instance, in the behavioural and cognitive sciences, there has been a long lasting trend, promoted by the seminal work of David Marr, putting focus on three distinct levels of analysis: the computational level, accounting for the What and Why issues, the algorithmic and the implementational levels specifying the How problem. However, the tremendous developments in neuroscience knowledge about processes at different scales of organization together with the complexity of today cognitive theories suggest that there will hardly be only three levels of explanation. Instead, there will be many different degrees of commitments corresponding to the different granularities - from high-level (behavioural) models to low-level (neural and molecular) models of the cognitive research program. For instance, Bayesian approaches, that are usually advocated for formalizing Marr's computational level and rational behaviour, have even been adopted to model synaptic plasticity and axon guidance by molecular gradients. As a result, we can consider the behavioural scientist as dealing with models at a multiplicity of levels. The purpose of this Research Topic in Frontiers in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology is to promote an approach to the role of the levels and explanation and models which is of interest for cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, psychologists, behavioural scientists, and philosophers of science.

Models of Reference

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889451609 Year: Pages: 243 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-160-9 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2017-08-28 14:01:09
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To communicate, speakers need to make it clear what they are talking about. Referring expressions play a crucial part in achieving this, by anchoring utterances to things. Examples of referring expressions include noun phrases such as “this phenomenon”, “it” and “the phenomenon to which this Topic is devoted”. Reference is studied throughout the Cognitive Sciences (from philosophy and logic to neuro-psychology, computer science and linguistics), because it is thought to lie at the core of all of communication. Recent years have seen a new wave of work on models of referring, as witnessed by a number of recent research projects, books, and journal Special Issues. The Research Topic “Models of Reference” in Frontiers in Psychology is a new milestone, focusing on contributions from Psycholinguistics and Computational Linguistics. The articles in it are concerned with such issues as audience design, overspecification, visual perception, and variation between speakers.

Intrinsic motivations and open-ended development in animals, humans, and robots

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889193721 Year: Pages: 350 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-372-1 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General) --- Psychology
Added to DOAB on : 2015-11-19 16:29:12
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The aim of this Research Topic for Frontiers in Psychology under the section of Cognitive Science and Frontiers in Neurorobotics is to present state-of-the-art research, whether theoretical, empirical, or computational investigations, on open-ended development driven by intrinsic motivations. The topic will address questions such as: How do motivations drive learning? How are complex skills built up from a foundation of simpler competencies? What are the neural and computational bases for intrinsically motivated learning? What is the contribution of intrinsic motivations to wider cognition? Autonomous development and lifelong open-ended learning are hallmarks of intelligence. Higher mammals, and especially humans, engage in activities that do not appear to directly serve the goals of survival, reproduction, or material advantage. Rather, a large part of their activity is intrinsically motivated - behavior driven by curiosity, play, interest in novel stimuli and surprising events, autonomous goal-setting, and the pleasure of acquiring new competencies. This allows the cumulative acquisition of knowledge and skills that can later be used to accomplish fitness-enhancing goals. Intrinsic motivations continue during adulthood, and in humans artistic creativity, scientific discovery, and subjective well-being owe much to them. The study of intrinsically motivated behavior has a long history in psychological and ethological research, which is now being reinvigorated by perspectives from neuroscience, artificial intelligence and computer science. For example, recent neuroscientific research is discovering how neuromodulators like dopamine and noradrenaline relate not only to extrinsic rewards but also to novel and surprising events, how brain areas such as the superior colliculus and the hippocampus are involved in the perception and processing of events, novel stimuli, and novel associations of stimuli, and how violations of predictions and expectations influence learning and motivation. Computational approaches are characterizing the space of possible reinforcement learning algorithms and their augmentation by intrinsic reinforcements of different kinds. Research in robotics and machine learning is yielding systems with increasing autonomy and capacity for self-improvement: artificial systems with motivations that are similar to those of real organisms and support prolonged autonomous learning. Computational research on intrinsic motivation is being complemented by, and closely interacting with, research that aims to build hierarchical architectures capable of acquiring, storing, and exploiting the knowledge and skills acquired through intrinsically motivated learning. Now is an important moment in the study of intrinsically motivated open-ended development, requiring contributions and integration across a large number of fields within the cognitive sciences. This Research Topic aims to contribute to this effort by welcoming papers carried out with ethological, psychological, neuroscientific and computational approaches, as well as research that cuts across disciplines and approaches.

The frontiers of clinical research on transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in Neuropsychiatry

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889192878 Year: Pages: 210 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-287-8 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychiatry --- Medicine (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-10 11:59:07
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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation intervention that induces changes in cortical activity and excitability according to the parameters of stimulation. TDCS effects have been reported since the 1800s with the development of the galvanic cell, although more systematic research has been conducted only from 1950-1970 and then from 1998 onwards. At the present time, most tDCS studies have been conducted in healthy volunteers, proving the properties of tDCS as a technique that induces long-lasting, polarity-dependent changes on specific brain areas. In addition, some studies have applied tDCS in selected neuropsychiatric samples, as to investigate its therapeutic effects, obtaining mixed albeit mostly positive results. Using tDCS in clinical practice could bring enormous gains for the treatment of several neuropsychiatric disorders, as tDCS is a portable, non-expensive and straightforward therapy, being therefore a putative candidate as an add-on or substitutive therapy for pharmacological treatments. However, there is still a gap between tDCS basic and clinical research, as it is still unknown whether and how the potent neuromodulatory effects observed after one tDCS session can be carried over for several weeks; therefore proving that tDCS is also a reliable clinical tool. In addition, another gap is observed in tDCS translational research, as results obtained from experimental animal models might not be fully generalizable to neuropsychiatric disorders in humans. Thus, advancing basic and experimental tDCS research as well as tailoring the optimal parameters of stimulation represents the frontiers of tDCS use in neuropsychiatry. In this special edition, our aim is to gather studies that contribute to the proposal of using tDCS for the treatment and investigation of neuropsychiatric disorders. Desired studies include (but are not limited to) the following topics: (1) clinical trials using tDCS as a treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders. (2) original studies investigating optimal parameters for daily tDCS stimulation. (3) safety and tolerability of tDCS, including reports of unexpected and serious adverse effects. (4) comprehensive reviews of putative mechanisms of action of tDCS for neuropsychiatric disorders. (5) translational research, testing different protocols of stimulation in experimental animals. (6) modeling tDCS studies, including studies testing different tDCS devices and montages. (7) studies of cost-efficacy analysis. (8) development of appropriate study designs for tDCS. (9) development of novel employments of tDCS, such as portable, safe devices that allow domestic utilization. (10) development of more precise and focal tDCS devices. To conclude, our ultimate aim is to host studies that contribute to bridge findings from basic and experimental tDCS research with clinical practice, therefore accelerating tDCS use as a novel arsenal for treating neuropsychiatric disorders.

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