January 12 , 2010
Veronica is the subject pool TA. Professor Ristic has allowed us to participate either
in a 1 or 2-hour experiment to get bonuses added to our final grade (1% per hour of
research, maximum 2%). Dont forget that you must write a 1-page report afterwards.
Instead, you can read two articles posted on the website and critique them. You need
to submit two reports if you do this.
You may want to sign up fast because timeslots disappear quickly.
You have to request an account. Hold down control/apple to select more than one
course if you are part of more than one course.
Everything is due at midnight on April 14 .
More information is available on WebCT.
This is not a requirement and done on a voluntary basis.
Do not email the teacher about the subject pool; you will not receive a response.
Last time when we started discussions, when we started discussing the concept of
introspection, many people started getting up and leaving. When we start
discussions, this does not mean that the class is done. Do NOT start leaving.
Students must contact the TAs with questions about what is going to be on exams,
course-related questions, etc. They have posted their office hours.
* Today we are dealing with methods, which is chapter 2 in our book.
Last class we traced the historical concepts of how cognitive psychology became, the
cognitive revolution and all that. Today we are dealing with cognitive neuroscience. Cognitive science did not stop
changing, and another major change came in about 1990 in the form of what we call
cognitive neuroscience today. It is a marriage between cognitive science and
neuroscience. The term was apparently coined in a NYC cab, where Michael Gazzaniga,
a neuroscientist and the founder of this field, was taking a cab with George Miller, a
cognitive psychologist, one of the guys in the cognitive revolution. They started talking
about relations between brain and behaviour and thought this was a very interesting idea,
and called it cognitive neuroscience.
That same year the Cognitive Neuroscience Society was born. Today it has more than
2,000 members. They hold annual meetings, and this year they will be in Montreal.
Every year, lots and lots of research have been done. Since these two decades, the field
has really exploded and became a prominent paradigm in the study of cognition. This is
why our textbook has cognitive neuroscience as methods for cognition. This is very new;
typically the other books would not have this. They would have something called
interdisciplinary methods, but not framed under cognitive neuroscience.
The methods of cognitive neuroscience started to be fueled by advances in technology.
The aim of cognitive neuroscience is to relate brain and behaviour. Before very recently
(1990), we could not look at live brain function and could only look at post-mortem
brains and analyze the tissues. We had an explosion of methods that allow us to image
live, healthy brain function. This is how this field exploded, because all of a sudden it
was possible to look at healthy cognitive functions and how they are being represented in
Cognitive Neuroscience marriage between cognitive science and neuroscience. There are two key principles that it adheres to:
1. Interdisciplinary methodology. This means that it draws multiple fields
together to get its methods. Research and findings and conclusions are only as
good as your methods are. Every method has its limitation, and when you use
methods from different sciences you can actually make conclusions about
different things and rely on different strengths of different methods. Using
several different methods to support your conclusion or to study a certain
phenomena is called convergent methods. Convergent means that if you have a
finding, and you can actually demonstrate it using several types of methods; that
means that it is convergent methodology and that strengthens your findings. If
you can only demonstrate something particular method and everything else fails,
then that finding becomes questionable. This is one of the major strengths of
cognitive neuroscience, the fact that it relies on interdisciplinary methodology.
This gives us all kinds of possibilities of studying different aspects of cognition.
2. This one is more fundamental. Cognition = brain. If we go back to our box (see
Lecture 2), in cognitive neuroscience it is the brain, which does all the processing.
It links brain function with behaviour. This view also has historical roots. This is
one of the major premises and assumptions that you have to take. Throughout
history there have been different views on whether cognition or mind equals the
brain, whether they are the same thing or a different thing, and how they interact.
One of the earliest concepts in trying to understand brain and behaviour is
(Teacher): What is phrenology? (Student 1): You study peoples head shapes to find out whats going on in there.
(Teacher): Why study shape and peoples heads?
(Student 2): They thought that bumps on the skull corresponded to parts of the brain.
(Student 3): It corresponds to more important parts of the brain.
(Student 4): Each function is localized to a different area of the brain.
(Teacher): All of you are correct.
Phrenology is discredited today. It is surprising to the teacher to see Alan (one of the
authors of the textbook) writing about phrenology in the cognitive neuroscience chapter,
because it has been one of the harsh criticisms made about cognitive psychology and its
methods. What phrenology really did is they thought that human functions were localized
to portions of the brain. The more developed the function, they thought that a bigger part
of the brain would control it and that this would manifest as bumps on the skull. They
measured skull circumference and developed a sort of mapping to show where is what
in the human brain. This is Gall, Franz Joseph Gall. Even though this is discredited, the
idea that cognitive functions can be localized in the brain is central to cognitive
neuroscience, is that we could actually find a correspondence between a certain function
an a brain part.
Not everyone prescribed to this way of thinking. People such as Franz in 1800 did
experiments on animals. The idea is that if cognitive functions are localized in the brain,
removing this part of the brain will remove a particular function. It didnt actually work
that way. He ablated large parts of animal brain, and it turned out that they could still do
the mazes and perform cognitive functions. This proposed that cognitive functions are not
localized functionally but that the brain functions as a whole. Remember Karl Lashley