Oxford Handbook of Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience

Oxford University Press
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The Oxford Handbook of Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience is a seminal reference work in the burgeoning field of developmental behavioral neuroscience, which has emerged in recent years as an important sister discipline to developmental psychobiology. This handbook, part of the Oxford Library of Neuroscience, provides an introduction to recent advances in research at the intersection of developmental science and behavioral neuroscience, while emphasizing the central research perspectives of developmental psychobiology. Contributors to the Oxford Handbook of Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience are drawn from a variety of fields, including developmental psychobiology, neuroscience, comparative psychology, and evolutionary biology, demonstrating the opportunities to advance our understanding of behavioral and neural development through enhanced interactions among parallel disciplines. In a field ripe for collaboration and integration, the Oxford Handbook of Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience provides an unprecedented overview of conceptual and methodological issues pertaining to comparative and developmental neuroscience that can serve as a roadmap for researchers and a textbook for educators. Its broad reach will spur new insights and compel new collaborations in this rapidly growing field.
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About the author

Mark S. Blumberg is the F. Wendell Miller Professor of Psychology at the University of Iowa. He is the author of three books and more than eighty journal articles and book chapters on a wide variety of subjects. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Behavioral Neuroscience. John H. Freeman is Professor of Psychology at the University of Iowa. He is the author of more than sixty journal articles and currently serves as Associate Editor of the journal Behavioral Neuroscience. Scott R. Robinson is Associate Professor of Psychology and head of the Laboratory for Comparative Ethogenesis at the University of Iowa. He has authored more than 100 journal articles and chapters on various subjects in ethology and developmental psychobiology. He has also edited one book on fetal behavioral development.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 10, 2009
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Pages
784
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ISBN
9780198042969
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Cognitive Psychology & Cognition
Science / Life Sciences / Neuroscience
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A proposal for a fully post-phrenological neuroscience that details the evolutionary roots of functional diversity in brain regions and networks.

The computer analogy of the mind has been as widely adopted in contemporary cognitive neuroscience as was the analogy of the brain as a collection of organs in phrenology. Just as the phrenologist would insist that each organ must have its particular function, so contemporary cognitive neuroscience is committed to the notion that each brain region must have its fundamental computation. In After Phrenology, Michael Anderson argues that to achieve a fully post-phrenological science of the brain, we need to reassess this commitment and devise an alternate, neuroscientifically grounded taxonomy of mental function.

Anderson contends that the cognitive roles played by each region of the brain are highly various, reflecting different neural partnerships established under different circumstances. He proposes quantifying the functional properties of neural assemblies in terms of their dispositional tendencies rather than their computational or information-processing operations. Exploring larger-scale issues, and drawing on evidence from embodied cognition, Anderson develops a picture of thinking rooted in the exploitation and extension of our early-evolving capacity for iterated interaction with the world. He argues that the multidimensional approach to the brain he describes offers a much better fit for these findings, and a more promising road toward a unified science of minded organisms.

The saying "It's a jungle out there" refers to a competitive environment in which you'd better hone your skills if you hope to survive. And you'd better do what you can to keep a roof over your head, food in your belly, a leaf on your loins, and a mate who'll help pass on your genes to the next generation of jungle Jims and Janes. Distinguished professor and cognitive psychologist David Rosenbaum takes this metaphor of surviving in the wild and applies it to the competitive arena within the brain. He argues that the overarching theory of biology, Darwin's theory, should be the overarching theory of cognitive psychology, the science of mental functioning. He explores this new and intriguing idea by showing how neural elements compete and cooperate in a kind of inner jungle, where only the fittest survive. Competition within your brain does as much to shape who you are as the physical and figurative competition you face externally. Just as the jungle night seethes with noisy creatures beckoning their mates, issuing their warnings, and settling their arguments, you might have trouble falling asleep at night because the thoughts in your head are fighting for their chance at survival. Rosenbaum's pursuit of this bold idea explains why we are shaped into who we are, for better or worse, because we are the hosts of inner battlefields. Written in a light-hearted tone and with reference to hypothetical neural "creatures" making their way in a tough environment, Rosenbaum makes cognitive psychology and his theory easy to understand and exciting to ponder. Rather than rely on the series of disconnected phenomena and collection of curiosities that often constitute cognitive psychology, It's a Jungle in There provides a fascinating way to place all cognitive phenomena under one flourishing tree.
A study that goes beyond the debate over functional specialization to describe the ways that emotion and cognition interact and are integrated in the brain.

The idea that a specific brain circuit constitutes the emotional brain (and its corollary, that cognition resides elsewhere) shaped thinking about emotion and the brain for many years. Recent behavioral, neuropsychological, neuroanatomy, and neuroimaging research, however, suggests that emotion interacts with cognition in the brain. In this book, Luiz Pessoa moves beyond the debate over functional specialization, describing the many ways that emotion and cognition interact and are integrated in the brain.

The amygdala is often viewed as the quintessential emotional region of the brain, but Pessoa reviews findings revealing that many of its functions contribute to attention and decision making, critical components of cognitive functions. He counters the idea of a subcortical pathway to the amygdala for affective visual stimuli with an alternate framework, the multiple waves model. Citing research on reward and motivation, Pessoa also proposes the dual competition model, which explains emotional and motivational processing in terms of their influence on competition processes at both perceptual and executive function levels. He considers the broader issue of structure-function mappings, and examines anatomical features of several regions often associated with emotional processing, highlighting their connectivity properties. As new theoretical frameworks of distributed processing evolve, Pessoa concludes, a truly dynamic network view of the brain will emerge, in which "emotion" and "cognition" may be used as labels in the context of certain behaviors, but will not map cleanly into compartmentalized pieces of the brain.

In most respects, Abigail and Brittany Hensel are normal American twins. Born and raised in a small town, they enjoy a close relationship, though each has her own tastes and personality. But the Hensels also share a body. Their two heads sit side-by-side on a single torso, with two arms and two legs. They have not only survived, but have developed into athletic, graceful young women. And that, writes Mark S. Blumberg, opens an extraordinary window onto human development and evolution. In Freaks of Nature, Blumberg turns a scientist's eye on the oddities of nature, showing how a subject once relegated to the sideshow can help explain some of the deepest complexities of biology. Why, for example, does a two-headed human so resemble a two-headed minnow? What we need to understand, Blumberg argues, is that anomalies are the natural products of development, and it is through developmental mechanisms that evolution works. Freaks of Nature induces a kind of intellectual vertigo as it upends our intuitive understanding of biology. What really is an anomaly? Why is a limbless human a "freak," but a limbless reptile-a snake-a successful variation? What we see as deformities, Blumberg writes, are merely alternative paths for development, which challenge both the creature itself and our ability to fit it into our familiar categories. Rather than mere dead-ends, many anomalies prove surprisingly survivable-as in the case of the goat without forelimbs that learned to walk upright. Blumberg explains how such variations occur, and points to the success of the Hensel sisters and the goat as examples of the extraordinary flexibility inherent in individual development. In taking seriously a subject that has often been shunned as discomfiting and embarrassing, Mark Blumberg sheds new light on how individuals-and entire species-develop, survive, and evolve.
Why do we grow up to look, act, and feel as we do? Through most of the twentieth century, scientists and laypeople answered this question by referring to two factors alone: our experiences and our genes. But recent discoveries about how genes work have revealed a new way to understand the developmental origins of our characteristics. These discoveries have emerged from the new science of behavioral epigenetics--and just as the whole world has now heard of DNA, "epigenetics" will be a household word in the near future. Behavioral epigenetics is important because it explains how our experiences get under our skin and influence the activity of our genes. Because of breakthroughs in this field, we now know that the genes we're born with don't determine if we'll end up easily stressed, likely to fall ill with cancer, or possessed of a powerful intellect. Instead, what matters is what our genes do. And because research in behavioral epigenetics has shown that our experiences influence how our genes function, this work has changed how scientists think about nature, nurture, and human development. Diets, environmental toxins, parenting styles, and other environmental factors all influence genetic activity through epigenetic mechanisms; this discovery has the potential to alter how doctors treat diseases, and to change how mental health professionals treat conditions from schizophrenia to post-traumatic stress disorder. These advances could also force a reworking of the theory of evolution that dominated twentieth-century biology, and even change how we think about human nature itself. In spite of the importance of this research, behavioral epigenetics is still relatively unknown to non-biologists. The Developing Genome is an introduction to this exciting new discipline; it will allow readers without a background in biology to learn about this work and its revolutionary implications.
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