Chapter 2: The Neural Basis for Cognition
Capgras Syndrome: An initial Example
The Prinicple Structures of the Brain
Capgras Syndrome: An initial example
In this chapter, we lay a foundation regarding the brain and methods used to study the
We begin with an example of a bizarre syndrome that results from brain damage
Patients with Capgras syndrome are able to recognize family and friends but believe
that these people are not who they appear to be, that they are imposters.
One hypothesis about Capgras syndrome is that it stems from two different facial
recognition systems in the brain:
o A more cognitive system that underlies perceptual recognition is intact
o However, a more emotional system that underlies the feeling of familiarity is
Takes the facial features and associates them with something
An individual with Capgras Syndrome will not feel that
emotion attachment to the person in question.
o To evaluate this hypothesis, we can also consider evidence from
neuroimaging, methods that permit researchers to take high quality, three-
dimensional images of the living brain.
The brain damage associated with Capgras syndrome involves the amygdala, an
almond-shaped structure that is important for emotional processing.
o Hard to be damaged in this area without dying
o Can be damaged by a tumor, underdeveloped, a head injury
Another damaged region is the right prefrontal cortex, a region at the front of the
brain important for reasoning.
o problems of the amygdala can happen separate from the problems with the
prefrontal lobe; however, in combination capgras is very common
Hypothesis testing in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience complement
For instance, based on Capgras syndrome, researchers might then hypothesize that
the amygdala is important for other aspects of emotional memory:
o Remembering emotional events in one’s life
Might have trouble with remembering the emotional events in ones life o Making decisions that rest on emotional evaluations of the options
Have trouble with using emotions in the process of decision making
The Principal Structures of the Brain
The simplest fact illustrated by Capras syndrome is that different parts of the brain
perform different jobs
Researchers began to realize this in the nineteenth century by studying the cognition
and behavior of patients with lesions to the brain.
Phineas Gage was one such famous patient. In 1848, an explosion during the
construction of a railway sent a tamping iron through his frontal lobe, resulting in a
variety of cognitive emotional changes.
o Unable to make emotional connects, was very erratic
o Did not however have any problems with Capgras.
The study of people with brain lsions also helps us learn about the functions of these
brain regions in healthy people
This approach is referred to as the localization of function
o Children who experience some damage are able to localize functions that
would be found in the opposite side of the brain when that region is missing
where it should be.
Even for seemingly simple cognitive tasks, multiple regions of the brain are involved.
o For the identification of people as we know and the emotional aspects of
relationships with people
The hindbrain sits directly atop the spinal cord. damage to this area typically
resulted in death in the past
o Controls rhythms of the heart and breathing
o Regulates levels of alertness
o Includes the cerebellum, which coordinates movements and balance, in
addition to more recently discovered sensory and cognitive roles
The midbrain sits above the hindbrain.
o Coordinates movement, especially eye movement
o Includes parts of the auditory pathways
o Regulates the experienc