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Archive for August, 2007

textbook.gifWhile we’re still at books news from the Brainethics duo, here is another new thingy:

The excellent new textbook entitled “Cognition, Brain and Consciousness”, edited by Bernard Baars and Nicole Gage, is finally out from Academic Press. It’s a highly readable book, rich in illustrations and examples. Judging from the reviews it has received so far, it’s going to be a popular book.

I participated in writing the two chapters on brain imaging methods, one on the “surface intro level”, and another more in-depth description of methods (an appendix). In a similar vein, other authors have contributed to both an easy introduction as well as more in-depth discussions, making the book accessible to both a broad audience as well as an update to those already in the field of cognitive neuroscience (I learnt a lot by reading other author’s chapters).

-Thomas

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fogk1.jpgWe are back in business after a two months hiatus. I apologize for the lack of posting, but both Thomas and I have been working on a number of projects that haven’t left us much time for thinking about Brainethics stuff. But we are back now, although we are probably not going to be able to post more than once or twice per week. In the meantime we have reached the 100.000 hit mark. Naturally, such a puny number is not going to impress John Hawks and his ilk, but we are pretty happy!

One of the things I myself have been working on is a book called Følelser og kognition, or Emotion and Cognition. It is in Danish, so if you are one of the more than 5 billion human beings that cannot understand this curious Germanic language you can skip the following paragraphs. Together with my co-editor Thomas Wiben Jensen I have been working on this book for more than 2 years but now it is finally being published. The official publication date is October 1, but you can already order it from the publisher’s homepage.

Our main goal in putting out this book has been to introduce a non-neuroscience audience to our rapidly advancing understanding of how emotion and cognition interact to produce many forms of human behavior. Examples include decision-making, social cognition, economics, moral cognition, and aesthetic behavior, all topics we have written about often here at the blog. The initial surprise was the realization that input from brain structures thought to subserve emotion was necessary for decision-making to proceed in a normal fashion. But recently it has become clear that cognition also modulates emotional processing in important regards. For instance the perception of emotional faces appear to be influenced by top-down modulation, as described in this review paper by Lisa Feldman Barret et al. in the recent issue of Trends in Cognitive Sciences. In fact, emotion-cognition interaction is such a hot topic that TICS has started a special series of papers on it.

Since Følelser og kognition is intended to introduce readers to the area of emotion-cognition research it deals more in elementary topics than in cutting edge research. It is composed of two parts, the first containing 5 chapters written by leading Danish neuroscientists providing a basic introduction to the neurobiology of emotion. The second part, then, contains chapters demonstrating how emotion interacts with cognition to produce social cognition – including Theory of Mind – consciousness, and art and film experience. We would have liked to include chapters specifically on neuroeconomics and moral cognition, but when we first started putting the book together we couldn’t find any Danish authors working in these areas. Since then this has changed.

When the book hits the bookstores, and we start getting any feedback I will post more about the reactions to the book. Also, Thomas Wiben and I will appear at this year’s Bogforum – an annual Danish book faire – on November 17, where we will be interviewed by journalist Jan Skøt. Stay tuned for more information about that.

-Martin

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