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  1. Introduction to Biopsychology[PSB 4002] Professor Josh Herrington DM 249 305-348-1230 website:

  2. Part 3

  3. Final Exam • 100 points possible • 50 points from textbook and lecture material from now until the end of the semester (equivalent to Midterm #3) • 50 points from the questions already asked on Midterm #1 and Midterm #2

  4. Research on the Origins of Cognitive Development Poses a Unique Challenge • Infants can’t talk and thus can’t tell us what they think, see, or feel (just like other animal infants) • Since we can’t ask them direct questions like we can of older children, researchers have to devise creative ways of presenting questions and inferring meaningful answers from infants

  5. Modern Methods in Cognitive Research • Today we have a variety of different research methods at our disposal for assessing infant perception and cognition • These advances fall into two major categories, psychophysiologicalmethods and behavioral methods • The majority of infant research has been conducted with behavioral methods • However, with the advance of technology, there is an increasing focus on psychophysiological methods of inquiry

  6. Heart-Rate The rate at which the heart beats (beats/min.) changes as a function of stimulation increased HR to fearful stimuli (defensive reaction) decreased HR to interesting stimuli (orienting reaction) HR is employed in studies of selective attention and information processing in infancy if an infant exhibits decreased HR to a stimulus (e.g., a face, a speech sound, a taste) this is interpreted as evidence that infant finds the stimulus interesting and is focusing on it Psychophysiological Methods

  7. Psychophysiological Methods • ERP (event-related potentials) • Electrical potentials reflecting the activity of a population of neurons engaged in a specific task in a particular brain region. • This activity is the sum of millions of neurons. For example, the processing of a visual stimulus in the occipital cortex or the processing of a speech stimulus in the temporal cortex

  8. Behavioral Methods • looking time • head turning • non-nutritive sucking

  9. Looking Measures • Habituation paradigm (visual recovery) • Head turning paradigm

  10. Infant Eye-Tracking

  11. Introduction to Biopsychology[PSB 4002] Professor Josh Herrington DM 249 305-348-1230 website:

  12. Traditional Views of Cognition • Have tended to use a computer metaphor of mind, focused on “information processing” • Have tended to assume that cognition can be understood by focusing on the individual’s internal processes • Have tended to emphasize computation, encoded representations, cognition as passive retrieval of rules, strategies, etc.

  13. “non-cognitive” approaches to cognitive development Contemporary research in neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and robotics suggests that knowledge is embedded in, distributed across, and thus inseparable from non-cognitive processes of perceiving and acting (embodied cognition) The New Approach to Cognition: increasingly viewed as a complex system that includes traditionally “non-cognitive” processes

  14. Nested Domains of Human Development

  15. Embodied Cognition View Emphasizes “relational analysis” : focuses on the complex interplay among brain, body, and environment and how this rich dynamic both constrains and guides cognitive processes

  16. Putting it all together

  17. The Challenge: How does a learner who does not know what there is to learn manage to learn anyway?

  18. scaffolding

  19. Do Other Animals Possess Language?

  20. Speech perception and speech production • Since full-blown language can be studied only in humans, less is known about its anatomy and physiology that is known about most other behaviors. • Several thousand years ago, the Roman physician Galen knew that language was usually represented in the left side of the brain, but little more was known about the neurology of language until the 19th century.

  21. Broca’s Area • In 1861, Paul Broca described a patient that had a great deal of difficulty in producing speech, but his understanding of speech was not affected. • Broca’s area is now known to lie adjacent to the primary motor cortex that controls the lips, tongue, voice box, etc.

  22. Wernicke’s area • In 1874, Carl Wernicke described patients who uttered meaningless sentences (so-called “word salad”) and seemed to not understand what he or she was being told. • This led to the discovery of Wernicke’s area, which for most people is located in the left hemisphere of the cortex (like Broca’s area). • The existence of such specific deficits implies a specification of function within the language regions of the cortex. (remember the importance of “necessary but not sufficient” to prevent confusion about the concept of distributed control)

  23. The motor production of speech • Speech involves manipulation and control of the diaphragm, lungs, muscles of the thorax (which blow air up the windpipe), the vocal cords, the chest, throat, mouth, nose and head cavities (which serve as resonators), and the tongue, lips, palate, and teeth, which together produce and modify vowels and consonants

  24. Language Emerges as a Complex System • does not depend on any single ability (for example, requires both speech perception and speech production) • emerges from skills and “developmental resources” that interact over long periods of time (beginning prenatally) • language acquisition requires a social and language environment where adults scaffold and promote language development in infants and children

  25. Prenatal Learning of Prosody • mothers read a story aloud to their fetuses twice a day during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy • after the infants were born, they heard a tape recording of the familiar story versus a novel story that differed in prosody • the test stories were read by both the mother and by an unfamiliar woman

  26. Newborns Prefer the Familiar Story • results showed that regardless of who read the story, newborns preferred to listen to the familiar story • infants showed their preference in a nonnutritive sucking procedure, by sucking more often in order to hear the familiar story • even in utero, fetuses are able to learn about the prosody of language and the unique intonation patterns that characterize one story versus another • these findings support the idea that during the last weeks of gestation, fetuses are hearing and learning about the sounds and prosody of their native language, primarily by regular exposure to their mother’s voice

  27. Introduction to Biopsychology[PSB 4002] Professor Josh Herrington DM 249 305-348-1230 website:

  28. scaffolding

  29. The Tragic Case of “Genie” suggested to many that there must be a “critical period” for language acquisition

  30. Consciousness

  31. Some Big Questions • How do brain processes result in conscious states? • Is consciousness localized in certain regions of the brain or is it a global phenomenon? • If it is confined to certain brain regions, which ones?

  32. Big Questions (Cont.) • What is the right level for explaining consciousness? Is it the level of neurons and synapses, or do we have to go to higher functional levels such as neuronal maps or networks of neurons? • Might we even have to go beyond the boundaries of the brain?

  33. Big Questions (Cont.) • Can we explain consciousness with existing theories or do we need some revolutionary new theoretical concepts to explain it? • What is “it”?

  34. A Working Definition of CONSCIOUSNESS: • Consciousness consists of inner, qualitative, subjective states and processes of awareness. • In other words – being aware of being aware

  35. Consciousness… • Consciousness, so defined, begins when we wake in the morning from sleep and continues until we fall asleep again, die, go into a coma, or otherwise become “unconscious” • It includes all of the enormous variety of the awareness we think of as characteristic of our waking life

  36. It includes everything from: • playing chess • trying to remember your aunt’s phone number • arguing about politics • or just wishing you were somewhere else • feeling a pain • perceiving objects visually • states of anxiety or depression • working out crossword puzzles

  37. Being Consciousness • This “being consciousness” is at one level easy to observe by others • When we are not conscious, our bodies collapse, our eyes roll up in their orbits, our brain waves become large, slow, and regular.

  38. Being Consciousness (Cont.) • While these outerphysical signs of consciousness are pretty clear for all to see, it is our inner (cognitive, emotional, perceptual; reflective) life that counts most for us and what we would like to better understand • How does it happen?

  39. Being Someone • Even though we take it for granted, one thing we will need to understand is why and how we all experience ourselves as “being someone” • For example, at this moment you all have the impression that it is you who is hearing this lecture. And it is you who is forming thoughts about it.

  40. Introduction to Biopsychology[PSB 4002] Professor Josh Herrington DM 249 305-348-1230 website:

  41. Midterm # 3 • Friday, APRIL 5th • 50 multiple choice questions • Study guide and sample test questions by Wednesday, March 27th

  42. The Self • Our daily experience makes us think that we are “someone” who is experiencing the world • We commonly refer to this phenomenon by speaking of the “self ”

  43. Consciousness • For humans, consciousness is always tied to an individual, first-person perspective: “I” “me” “mine”

  44. A big question: • how far does consciousness go? • which species have it and which don’t?

  45. Primary (Core) Consciousness • The ability to build a multimodal scene based on several different sources of concurrent information. • Does not necessarily contain any self-referential aspect - it lives in the present (“here” and “now”), tied to the succession of events in real time.

  46. Biological functions of brain structures which support core consciousness appear to overlap… (even though they are widely distributed in the brain):

  47. regulating homeostasis and signaling body structure and state participating in processes of attention participating in the processes of wakefulness and sleep participating in the processes of emotion and feeling participating in the learning process

  48. Primary or Core Consciousness • The function or usefulness of core consciousness seems related to the maintenance and regulation of the biological self (yes, homeostasis)