Cortex and Mind: Unifying Cognition by Joaquin M. Fuster

By Joaquin M. Fuster

This publication offers a different synthesis of the present neuroscience of cognition through one of many world's specialists within the box. The tenet to this synthesis is the guiding principle that the whole thing of our wisdom is encoded through kin, and therefore through connections, in neuronal networks of our cerebral cortex. Cognitive networks strengthen by way of adventure on a base of generally dispersed modular cellphone assemblies representing ordinary sensations and events. As they strengthen cognitive networks manage themselves hierarchically by means of order of complexity or abstraction in their content material. simply because networks intersect profusely, sharing commong nodes, a neuronal meeting anyplace within the cortex will be a part of many networks, and for that reason many goods of data. All cognitive features encompass neural transactions inside and among cognitive networks. After reviewing the neurobiology and structure of cortical networks (also named cognits), the writer undertakes a scientific examine of cortical dynamics in all the significant cognitive functions--perception, reminiscence, cognizance, language, and intelligence. during this research, he uses a wide physique of proof from various methodologies, within the mind of the human in addition to the nonhuman primate. the result of his interdisciplinary undertaking is the emergence of a structural and dynamic order within the cerebral cortex that, although nonetheless sketchy and fragmentary, mirrors with awesome constancy the order within the human brain.

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The main reason for their separate discussion is the compelling assumption of different neural mechanisms for each, even though they are closely entwined with one another. To wit, perception is part of the acquisition and retrieval of memory; memory stores information acquired by perception; language and memory depend on each other; language and logical reasoning are special forms of cognitive action; attention serves all the other functions; intelligence is served by all; and so on. In conclusion, for reasons of methodology, temporal or spatial order needs to be analyzed separately for each function.

Based on the evidence of early plasticity, O'Leary (1989) argues that the cortex is initially entirely uniform and becomes differentiated exclusively by input (the tabula rasa model). This view is contradicted, however, by recent studies that demonstrate the interplay of genetic and environmental factors in all stages of cortical development. ) In the human neocortex, by the end of the second trimester of gestation, neuron generation seems to have been completed. Afterward, however, cortical neurons continue to grow in size.

There are reasons to suspect that, in general, the pruning of excess elements may actually be accompanied by the development of larger, probably more computationally effective synapses, axons, and dendrites. In any case, it can be reasonably argued that the so-called enriched environment of experimental studies simply provides the normal inputs that the brains of "control" animals do not have. In this light, sensory stimulation would restore the permissive conditions of normal genetic development.

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