Mind and Brain: A Critical Appraisal of Cognitive Neuroscience

September 28, 2012
Author:
William R. Uttal
Publisher:
The MIT Press (8/26/2011)

Cognitive neuroscience explores the relationship between our minds and our brains, most recently by drawing on brain imaging techniques to align neural mechanisms with psychological processes. In Mind and Brain, William Uttal offers a critical review of cognitive neuroscience, examining both its history and modern developments in the field.

He pays particular attention to the role of brain imaging–especially functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)–in studying the mind-brain relationship. He argues that, despite the explosive growth of this new mode of research, there has been more hyperbole than critical analysis of what experimental outcomes really mean. With Mind and Brain, Uttal attempts a synoptic synthesis of this substantial body of scientific literature.

After an introductory discussion, he turns to his main theme: what neuroscience and psychology have contributed to each other. He considers specific empirical findings in such fields as sensation, perception, emotion and affect, learning and memory, and consciousness. For each field, he considers psychological and behavioral concerns that can help guide the neuroscientific discussion; work done before the advent of imaging systems; and what brain imaging has brought to recent research. Cognitive neuroscience, Uttal argues, is truly both cognitive and neuroscientific. Both approaches are necessary and neither is sufficient to make sense of the greatest scientific issue of all: how the brain makes the mind.