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Why and how is the self related to the brain midline regions?

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889192656 Year: Pages: 207 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-265-6 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-03 13:02:24
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What the self is and where it comes from has been one of the great problems of philosophy for thousands of years. As science and medicine have progressed this question has moved to also become a central one in psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. The advent of in vivo brain imaging has now allowed the scientific investigation of the self to progress further than ever. Many such imaging studies have indicated that brain structures along the cortical midline are particularly closely related to self-specific processing. This association between cortical midline structures (CMS) and self is reinforced by the involvement of these regions in other self-oriented processes, such as mind-wandering or stimulus valuation. Those midline regions involved in self- processing also overlap with another network, the default mode network, which shows high brain activity during the so-called resting state, indicating that there may be a special relationship between self-processing and intrinsic activity. Although such promising groundwork linking the self and CMS has been carried out, many questions remain. These include: what features of the midline regions lead to their apparent importance in self-processing? How can we appropriately account for confounding factors such as familiarity or task-effects in our experiments? How is the self-related to other features of the mind, such as consciousness? How is our methodology influencing our attempts to link the self and the brain? The purpose of this ebook is to address some of these questions, including opinions, perspectives, and hypotheses about the concept of the self, the relationship between CMS and the self, and the specific function of these brain regions in self-processing. It also includes original research papers describing EEG, fMRI, and behavioral experiments investigating different aspects of the self.

Inner Experiences: Theory, Measurement, Frequency, Content, and Functions

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889197712 Year: Pages: 163 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-771-2 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-04-07 11:22:02
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One fundamental topic of scientific inquiry in psychology is the study of what William James called the 'stream of consciousness', our ongoing experience of the world and ourselves from within—our inner experiences. These internal states (aka "stimulus-independent thoughts") include inner speech, mental imagery, feelings, sensory awareness, internally produced sounds or music, unsymbolized thinking, and mentalizing (thinking about others' mental states). They may occur automatically during mind-wandering (daydreaming) and resting-state episodes, and may focus on one's past, present, or future ("mental time travel" - e.g., autonoetic consciousness). Inner experiences also may take the form of intrusive or ruminative thoughts. The types, characteristics, frequency, content, and functions of inner experiences have been studied using a variety of traditional methods, among which questionnaires, thought listing procedures (i.e., open-ended self-reports), thinking aloud techniques, and daily dairies. Another approach, articulatory suppression, consists in blocking participants' use of verbal thinking while completing a given task; deficits indicate that inner speech plays a causal role in normal task completion. Various thought sampling approaches have also been developed in an effort to gather more ecologically valid data. Previous thought sampling studies have relied on beepers that signal participants to report aspects of their inner experiences at random intervals. More recent studies are exploiting smartphone technology to easily and reliably probe randomly occurring inner experiences in large samples of participants. These various measures have allowed researchers to learn some fundamental facts about inner experiences. To illustrate, it is becoming increasingly clear that prospection (future-oriented thinking) greatly depends on access to autobiographical memory (past-oriented thinking), where recollection of past scenes is used as a template to formulate plausible future scenarios. The main goal of the present Research Topic was to offer a scientific platform for the dissemination of current high-quality research pertaining to inner experiences. Although data on all forms of inner experiences were welcome, reports on recent advances in inner speech research were particularly encouraged. Here are some examples of topics of interest: (1) description and validation of new scales, inventories, questionnaires measuring any form of inner experience; (2) novel uses or improvements of existing measures of inner experiences; (3) development of new smartphone technology facilitating or broadening the use of cell phones to sample inner experiences; (4) frequency, content, and functions of various inner experience; (5) correlations between personality or cognitive variables and any aspects of inner experiences; (6) philosophical or theoretical considerations pertaining to inner experiences; and (7) inner experience changes with age.

Brain Connectivity in Autism

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889192823 Year: Pages: 264 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-282-3 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Neurology
Added to DOAB on : 2015-12-10 11:59:06
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The brain's ability to process information crucially relies on connectivity. Understanding how the brain processes complex information and how such abilities are disrupted in individuals with neuropsychological disorders will require an improved understanding of brain connectivity. Autism is an intriguingly complex neurodevelopmental disorder with multidimensional symptoms and cognitive characteristics. A biological origin for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) had been proposed even in the earliest published accounts (Kanner, 1943; Asperger, 1944). Despite decades of research, a focal neurobiological marker for autism has been elusive. Nevertheless, disruptions in interregional and functional and anatomical connectivity have been a hallmark of neural functioning in ASD. Theoretical accounts of connectivity perceive ASD as a cognitive and neurobiological disorder associated with altered functioning of integrative circuitry. Neuroimaging studies have reported disruptions in functional connectivity (synchronization of activated brain areas) during cognitive tasks and during task-free resting states. While these insights are valuable, they do not address the time-lagged causality and directionality of such correlations. Despite the general promise of the connectivity account of ASD, inconsistencies and methodological differences among studies call for more thorough investigations. A comprehensive neurological account of ASD should incorporate functional, effective, and anatomical connectivity measures and test the diagnostic utility of such measures. In addition, questions pertaining to how cognitive and behavioral intervention can target connection abnormalities in ASD should be addressed. This research topic of the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience addresses “Brain Connectivity in Autism” primarily from cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging perspectives.

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