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Trends in Cognitive Sciences

Jennifer M Windt, Tore Nielsen, Evan Thompson
Consciousness is often said to disappear in deep, dreamless sleep. We argue that this assumption is oversimplified. Unless dreamless sleep is defined as unconscious from the outset there are good empirical and theoretical reasons for saying that a range of different types of sleep experience, some of which are distinct from dreaming, can occur in all stages of sleep. We introduce a novel taxonomy for describing different kinds of dreamless sleep experiences and suggest research methods for their investigation...
October 17, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Randolph F Helfrich, Robert T Knight
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) provides the structural basis for numerous higher cognitive functions. However, it is still largely unknown which mechanisms provide the functional basis for flexible cognitive control of goal-directed behavior. Here, we review recent findings that suggest that the functional architecture of cognition is profoundly rhythmic and propose that the PFC serves as a conductor to orchestrate task-relevant large-scale networks. We highlight several studies that demonstrated that oscillatory dynamics, such as phase resetting, cross-frequency coupling (CFC), and entrainment, support PFC-dependent recruitment of task-relevant regions into coherent functional networks...
October 12, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
George L Malcolm, Iris I A Groen, Chris I Baker
To interact with the world, we have to make sense of the continuous sensory input conveying information about our environment. A recent surge of studies has investigated the processes enabling scene understanding, using increasingly complex stimuli and sophisticated analyses to highlight the visual features and brain regions involved. However, there are two major challenges to producing a comprehensive framework for scene understanding. First, scene perception is highly dynamic, subserving multiple behavioral goals...
October 11, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Sepideh Sadaghiani, Andreas Kleinschmidt
The most salient electrical signal measured from the human brain is the α-rhythm, neural activity oscillating at ∼100ms intervals. Recent findings challenge the longstanding dogma of α-band oscillations as the signature of a passively idling brain state but diverge in terms of interpretation. Despite firm correlations with behavior, the mechanistic role of the α-rhythm in brain function remains debated. We suggest that three large-scale brain networks involved in different facets of top-down cognitive control differentially modulate α-oscillations, ranging from power within and synchrony between brain regions...
October 1, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Isabelle Peretz
The past decade of research has provided compelling evidence that musical engagement is a fundamental human trait, and its biological basis is increasingly scrutinized. In this endeavor, the detailed study of individuals who have musical deficiencies is instructive because of likely neurogenetic underpinnings. Such individuals have 'congenital amusia', an umbrella term for lifelong musical disabilities that cannot be attributed to intellectual disability, lack of exposure, or brain damage after birth. Key points are reviewed here that have emerged during recent years regarding the neurobiology of the disorder, focusing on the importance of recurrent processing between the right inferior frontal cortex and the auditory cortex for conscious monitoring of musical pitch, and how this relates to developmental cognitive disorders in general...
September 29, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Noah D Goodman, Michael C Frank
Understanding language requires more than the use of fixed conventions and more than decoding combinatorial structure. Instead, comprehenders make exquisitely sensitive inferences about what utterances mean given their knowledge of the speaker, language, and context. Building on developments in game theory and probabilistic modeling, we describe the rational speech act (RSA) framework for pragmatic reasoning. RSA models provide a principled way to formalize inferences about meaning in context; they have been used to make successful quantitative predictions about human behavior in a variety of different tasks and situations, and they explain why complex phenomena, such as hyperbole and vagueness, occur...
September 28, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Libby Jenke, Scott A Huettel
Voter choice is one of the most important problems in political science. The most common models assume that voting is a rational choice based on policy positions (e.g., key issues) and nonpolicy information (e.g., social identity, personality). Though such models explain macroscopic features of elections, they also reveal important anomalies that have been resistant to explanation. We argue for a new approach that builds upon recent research in cognitive science and neuroscience; specifically, we contend that policy positions and social identities do not combine in merely an additive manner, but compete to determine voter preferences...
September 26, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Sashank Pisupati, Lital Chartarifsky, Anne K Churchland
Katz and colleagues demonstrate that inactivating the primate lateral intraparietal area (LIP) spares visual motion decisions, even though these same decisions strongly modulate LIP neurons. This work is the latest addition to an intense effort spanning sensory modalities, animals, and techniques to understand which structures comprise the circuits responsible for interpreting sensory signals to make decisions.
September 26, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Nick Chater, Rebecca F Schwarzlose
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 23, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Andreas Nieder
Zero stands for emptiness, for nothing, and yet it is considered to be one of the greatest achievements of humankind. This review first recapitulates the discovery of the number zero in human history, then follows its progression in human development, traces its evolution in the animal kingdom, and finally elucidates how the brain transforms 'nothing' into an abstract zero category. It is argued that the emergence of zero passes through four corresponding representations in all of these interrelated realms: first, sensory 'nothing'; then categorical 'something'; then quantitative empty sets; and finally the number zero...
September 22, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
J A Scott Kelso
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 16, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Brad Wyble, Garrett Swan, Chloe Callahan-Flintoft
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 9, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Julian Jara-Ettinger, Hyowon Gweon, Laura E Schulz, Joshua B Tenenbaum
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 6, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Sayuri Hayakawa, Albert Costa, Alice Foucart, Boaz Keysar
A growing literature demonstrates that using a foreign language affects choice. This is surprising because if people understand their options, choice should be language independent. Here, we review the impact of using a foreign language on risk, inference, and morality, and discuss potential explanations, including reduced emotion, psychological distance, and increased deliberation.
September 2, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Evan F Risko, Sam J Gilbert
If you have ever tilted your head to perceive a rotated image, or programmed a smartphone to remind you of an upcoming appointment, you have engaged in cognitive offloading: the use of physical action to alter the information processing requirements of a task so as to reduce cognitive demand. Despite the ubiquity of this type of behavior, it has only recently become the target of systematic investigation in and of itself. We review research from several domains that focuses on two main questions: (i) what mechanisms trigger cognitive offloading, and (ii) what are the cognitive consequences of this behavior? We offer a novel metacognitive framework that integrates results from diverse domains and suggests avenues for future research...
August 1, 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Erez Freud, David C Plaut, Marlene Behrmann
The cortical visual system is almost universally thought to be segregated into two anatomically and functionally distinct pathways: a ventral occipitotemporal pathway that subserves object perception, and a dorsal occipitoparietal pathway that subserves object localization and visually guided action. Accumulating evidence from both human and non-human primate studies, however, challenges this binary distinction and suggests that regions in the dorsal pathway contain object representations that are independent of those in ventral cortex and that play a functional role in object perception...
October 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Annett Schirmer, Warren H Meck, Trevor B Penney
Temporal and social processing are intricately linked. The temporal extent and organization of interactional behaviors both within and between individuals critically determine interaction success. Conversely, social signals and social context influence time perception by, for example, altering subjective duration and making an event seem 'out of sync'. An 'internal clock' involving subcortically orchestrated cortical oscillations that represent temporal information, such as duration and rhythm, as well as insular projections linking temporal information with internal and external experiences is proposed as the core of these reciprocal interactions...
October 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Nathan Giles, Hakwan Lau, Brian Odegaard
Recent experiments demonstrate that invisible stimulus features can induce binocular rivalry, indicating the phenomenon may be caused by differences in perceptual signal strength rather than conscious selection processes. Here, we clarify binocular rivalry's role in consciousness research by highlighting a critical difference between two distinct types of visual awareness.
October 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Ophelia Deroy, Charles Spence, Uta Noppeney
Metacognition - the ability to monitor one's own decisions and representations, their accuracy and uncertainty - is considered a hallmark of intelligent behavior. Little is known about metacognition in our natural multisensory environment. To form a coherent percept, the brain should integrate signals from a common cause but segregate those from independent causes. Multisensory perception thus relies on inferring the world's causal structure, raising new challenges for metacognition. We discuss the extent to which observers can monitor their uncertainties not only about their final integrated percept but also about the individual sensory signals and the world's causal structure...
October 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Jennifer L Cook, Jennifer Murphy, Geoffrey Bird
Collaboration leads us to judge our own ability to be more similar to our collaborators and their ability to be more similar to our own, while competition leads us to exaggerate the gap between our abilities. How does this happen and what does it mean?
October 2016: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
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