MIND

ADVENTURES IN BEHAVIORAL NEUROLOGY—OR—WHAT NEUROLOGY CAN TELL US ABOUT HUMAN NATURE

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http://vimeo.com/79409201

"So here is something staring you in the face, an extraordinary syndrome, utterly mysterious, where a person wants his normal limb removed. Why does this happen? There are all kinds of crazy theories about it including Freudian theories. One theory asserts, for example, that it's an attention seeking behavior. This chap wants attention so he asks you to remove his arm. It doesn't make any sense. Why does he not want his nose removed or ear removed or something less drastic? Why an arm? It seems a little bit too drastic for seeking attention."

ADVENTURES IN BEHAVIORAL NEUROLOGY — OR — WHAT NEUROLOGY CAN TELL US ABOUT HUMAN NATURE

[2.21.12]

So here is something staring you in the face, an extraordinary syndrome, utterly mysterious, where a person wants his normal limb removed. Why does this happen? There are all kinds of crazy theories about it including Freudian theories. One theory asserts, for example, that it's an attention seeking behavior. This chap wants attention so he asks you to remove his arm. It doesn't make any sense. Why does he not want his nose removed or ear removed or something less drastic? Why an arm? It seems a little bit too drastic for seeking attention.

V.S. RAMACHANDRAN, M.D., PH.D., Is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and distinguished professor with the Psychology Department and the Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute. Ramachandran's early research was on visual perception but he is best known for his work in Neurology. His most recent book is The Tell-Tale Brain. 

V.S. Ramachandran's Edge Bio Page


Adventures In Behavioral Neurology—Or—What Neurology Can Tell Us About Human Nature

[V.S. RAMACHANDRAN:] I'm interested in all aspects of the human mind, including aspects of the mind that have been regarded as ineffable or mysterious. The way I approach these problems is to look at patients who have sustained injury to a small region in the brain, a discipline called Behavioral Neurology or Cognitive Neuroscience these days.

Let me tell you about the problem confronting us. The brain is a 1.5 kilogram mass of jelly, the consistency of tofu, you can hold it in the palm of your hand, yet it can contemplate the vastness of space and time, the meaning of infinity and the meaning of existence. It can ask questions about who am I, where do I come from, questions about love and beauty, aesthetics, and art, and all these questions arising from this lump of jelly. It is truly the greatest of mysteries. The question is how does it come about?

 

THE EVOLVED SELF-MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

[12.5.11]

I'm now thinking about a larger issue still. If placebo medicine can induce people to release hidden healing resources, are there other ways in which the cultural environment can "give permission" to people to come out of their shells and to do things they wouldn't have done in the past? Can cultural signals encourage people to reveal sides of their personality or faculties that they wouldn't have dared to reveal in the past? Or for that matter can culture block them? There's good reason to think this is in fact our history.

NICHOLAS HUMPHREY has held posts at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and is now School Professor Emeritus at the LSE. He is a theoretical psychologist, internationally known for his work on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness. His most recent book is Soul Dust.

Nicholas Humphrey's Edge Bio Page

THE REALITY CLUB: Geoffrey Miller


THE EVOLVED SELF-MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

[NICHOLAS HUMPHREY:] I was asked to write an essay recently for "Current Biology" on the evolution of human health. It's not really my subject, I should say, but it certainly got me thinking. One of the more provocative thoughts I had is about the role of medicine. If human health has changed for the better in the late stages of evolution, this has surely had a lot to do with the possibility of consulting doctors, and the use of drugs. But the surprising thing is that, until less than 100 years ago, there was hardly anything a doctor could do that would be effective in any physiological medicinal way—and still the doctor's ministrations often "worked". That's to say, under the influence of what we would today call placebo medicine people came to feel less pain, to experience less fever, their inflammations receded, and so on.

Now, when people are cured by placebo medicine, they are in reality curing themselves. But why should this have become an available option late in human evolution, when it wasn't in the past.

The Architecture of Motivation EdgeMaster Class 2011

[10.5.11]

 

Recent research concerning the welfare of others, etc. affects not only how to think about certain emotions, but also overturns how most models of reciprocity and exchange, with implications about how people think about modern markets, political systems, and societies. What are these new approaches to human motivation?

LEDA COSMIDES is a Professor of Psychology and Co-director (with John Tooby) of Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Leda Cosmides's Edge Bio Page


In July, Edge held its annual Master Class in Napa, California on the theme: "The Science of Human Nature".  In the six week period that began September 12th, we are publishing the complete video, audio, and texts:  Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman on the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking; Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak on the evolution of cooperation; Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on the history of violence; UC-Santa Barbara evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides on the architecture of motivation; UC-Santa Barbara neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga on neuroscience and the law; and Princeton religious historian Elaine Pagels on The Book of Revelation.

For publication schedule and details, go to Edge Master Class 2011: The Science of Human Nature.


THE ARCHITECTURE OF MOTIVATION

[LEDA COSMIDES:] Early on as undergraduates, and quite independently, John and I became besotted with two revolutions that were happening. One was the revolution in evolutionary biology, which was showing the sort of thing that Martin was talking about. It was showing us that you could actually have formal models of the evolution of behavior, which was just a marvelous thing. We learned about that. It was like the scales falling from your eyes, it was fantastic.

And then, the second revolution that we became both besotted with was the cognitive revolution, where it looked like you really could have this method of thinking about the mind that was rigorous and would allow you to really understand the connection between the informational environment people were in and what they actually did.

But there was a problem with the meeting of the two of them. One of the problems was that a lot of the most interesting theories in evolutionary biology were about motivation. But at the same time, when the cognitive revolution came along, the study of motivation almost disappeared. It had been a topic in behaviorism, actually, but then the cognitive revolution came and you just didn't hear much about motivation anymore.

We became very interested in the question of how can you think about motivation in a way that's both evolutionary—that takes advantage of these evolutionary theories about behavior—and that's at the same time computational? What would it mean to have a computational approach to motivation? To think about what kinds of computational elements are necessary to think about motivation.

 

THE MARVELS AND THE FLAWS OF INTUITIVE THINKING: Edge Master Class 2011

[9.12.11]

The power of settings, the power of priming, and the power of unconscious thinking, all of those are a major change in psychology. I can't think of a bigger change in my lifetime. You were asking what's exciting? That's exciting, to me.

DANIEL KAHNEMAN is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Princeton University; Recipient, the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences; Author, Thinking Fast and Slow (forthcoming, October 25, 2011). 

Daniel Kahneman's Edge Bio Page 


In July, Edge held its annual Master Class in Napa, California on the theme: "The Science of Human Nature".  In the six week period that began September 12th, we are publishing the complete video, audio, and texts:  Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman on the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking; Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak on the evolution of cooperation; Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on the history of violence; UC-Santa Barbara evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides on the architecture of motivation; UC-Santa Barbara neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga on neuroscience and the law; and Princeton religious historian Elaine Pagels on The Book of Revelation.

For publication schedule and details, go to Edge Master Class 2011: The Science of Human Nature.



THE MARVELS AND THE FLAWS OF INTUITIVE THINKING

The marvels and the flaws that I'll be talking about are the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking. It's a topic I've been thinking about for a long time, a little over 40 years. I wanted to show you a picture of my collaborator in this early work. What I'll be trying to do today is to sort of bring this up-to-date. I'll tell you a bit about the beginnings, and I'll tell you a bit about how I think about it today.

 

This is Amos Tversky, with whom I did the early work on judgment and decision-making. I show this picture in part because I like it, in part because I like very much the next one. That's what Amos Tversky looked like when the work was being done. I have always thought that this pairing of the very distinguished person, and the person who is doing the work tells you something about when good science is being done, and about who is doing good science. It's people like that who are having a lot of fun, who are doing good science.

We focused on flaws of intuition and of intuitive thinking, and I can tell you how it began. It began with a conversation about whether people are good intuitive statisticians or not. There was a claim at the University of Michigan by some people with whom Amos had studied, that people are good intuitive statisticians. I was teaching statistics at the time, and I was convinced that this was completely false. Not only because my students were not good intuitive statisticians, but because I knew I wasn't. My intuitions about things were quite poor, in fact, and this has remained one of the mysteries, and it's one of the things that I'd like to talk about today — what are the difficulties of statistical thinking, and why is it so difficult.

NEUROSCIENCE AND JUSTICE EDGE MASTER CLASS 2011

[7.16.11]

 

Asking the fundamental question of modern life. In an enlightened world of scientific understandings of first causes, we must ask: are we free, morally responsible agents or are we just along for the ride?

MICHAEL GAZZANIGA is a Neuroscientist; Professor of Psychology & Director, SAGE Center for the Study of Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Human; The Ethical Brain; and Who's In Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (forthcoming, November 11th).

Michael Gazzaniga's Edge Bio Page


[1:00:39 minutes]


In July, 2011 Edge convened The Science of Human Nature: The Edge Master class 2011 in Napa, California. We are pleased to pubish the complete video, texts, and downloadable MP3 audio of the six classes:  Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman on The Marvels and Flaws of Intuitive Thinking; Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak on The Evolution of Cooperation;  Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on The History of Violence;  UC-Santa Barbara evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides on The Architecture of Motivation; UC-Santa Barbara neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga on Neuroscience and Justice; and (to come) Princeton religious historian Elaine Pagels on The Book of Revelation.

Click here for the Edge "Event" page for Edge Master Class 2011: The Science of Human Nature.


NEUROSCIENCE AND JUSTICE

[MICHAEL GAZZANIGA:] What I'm going to do is talk about neuroscience and how it may impact justice. I had to give a talk recently to judges and lawyers, but it really is the same talk you would give anybody. It is a summary of four years of effort that I've put into this MacArthur Law and Neuroscience project.

How that came about is there was a meeting in New York of lawyers, philosophers, neuroscientists, and psychologists. They met four or five years ago to talk about whether one should study the topic of law and neuroscience. I left the room to go to the bathroom or something, I came back and they said, okay, you're directing it. So don't leave the room when these things are going on because you get saddled with surprises!

Since "basic neuroscience for judges and lawyers" was exactly the wrong talk for you at 3:00 o'clock this afternoon, let's say "perspectives on basic neuroscience" because the former one reminds you of your high school biology class which most of you probably didn't like.

I'm going to give you the fastest three-minute review of neuroscience. As I said I just gave to the judges of the Second Circuit Court of New York.  Many of you maybe have cases in front of the Second Circuit, and they have a retreat every year up at Lake Sagamore , New York. The idea is: You can't, obviously, for someone who's not in neuroscience, you can't communicate the wealth of neuroscience in a hundred lectures, let alone one, let alone a few minutes. But you can kind of get a feel for it.

I want to take you through that feel and then take that into the question of how is this field of neuroscience going to impact how we think about the law and, more importantly, how we think about justice.

Insight

[7.2.11]

Judgments based on intuition seem mysterious because intuition doesn't involve explicit knowledge. It doesn't involve declarative knowledge about facts. Therefore, we can't explicitly trace the origins of our intuitive judgments. They come from other parts of our knowing. They come from our tacit knowledge and so they feel magical. Intuitions sometimes feel like we have ESP, but it isn't magical, it's really a consequence of the experience we've built up.

INTRODUCTION
By Daniel Kahneman

We are prone to think of the British as snobbish, a label that is rarely used to describe Americans. When it comes to the adjective "applied," however, the tables are turned. The word "applied" does not have any pejorative or diminishing connotation in Britain. Indeed, the Applied Psychology Unit on 15 Chaucer Road in Cambridge was for decades the leading source of new knowledge and new ideas in cognitive psychology. The members of that Unit did not see their applied work as a tax they had to pay to fund their true research. Their interest in the real world and in theory merged seamlessly, and the approach was enormously productive of contributions to both theory and practical applications.

In the US, the word "applied" tends to diminish anything academic it touches. Add the word to the name of any academic discipline, from mathematics and statistics to psychology, and you find lowered status.  The attitude changed briefly during World War II, when the best academic psychologists rolled up their sleeves to contribute to the war effort. I believe it was not an accident that the 15 years following the war were among the most productive in the history of the discipline.  Old methods were discarded, old methodological taboos were dropped, and common sense prevailed over stale theoretical disputes. However, the word "applied" did not retain its positive aura for very long. It is a pity.

Gary Klein is a living example of how useful applied psychology can be when it is done well. Klein is first and mainly a keen observer. He looks at people who are good at their job as they exercise their skills, sometimes in life-and-death situations, and he reports what he sees in clear and eloquent prose.  When you read his descriptions of real experts at work, you feel that it is the job of theorists to accommodate what he has seen – instead of doing what we often do, which is to scan the "real world" (when we think of it at all) for illustrations of our theoretical notions. Many of us in cognitive and social psychology are engaged in the important exercise that Lee Ross has wonderfully described as "bottling phenomena" and our theories are built to fit what we bottle.  Klein himself is a theorist as well as an observer, but his theoretical ideas start from what he does for a living: they are intended to describe and explain a large chunk of behavior in a context that matters. It is instructive to note which of the concepts that are current in academic psychology turn out to be useful to him.

Klein and I disagree on many things. In particular, I believe he is somewhat biased in favor of raw intuition, and he dislikes the very word "bias."  But I am convinced that there should be more psychologists like him, and that the art and science of observing behavior should have a larger place in our thinking and in our curricula than it does at present.  

— Daniel Kahneman

GARY KLEIN is a research psychologist famous for his work in pioneering the field of naturalistic decision making. Among his books are Sources of Power and Intuition.

DANIEL KAHNEMAN,  Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology, Princeton University, is recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics. He is the author of Thinking Fast and Slow.


INSIGHT

[GARY KLEIN:] What's the tradeoff between people using their experience (people using the knowledge they've gained, and the expertise that they've developed), versus being able to just follow steps and procedures?

We know from the literature that people sometimes make mistakes. A lot of organizations are worried about mistakes, and try to cut down on errors by introducing checklists, introducing procedures, and those are extremely valuable. I don't want to fly in an airplane with pilots who have forgot their checklists, and don't have any ways of going through formal procedures for getting the planes started, and handling malfunctions, standard malfunctions. Those procedures are extremely valuable, and I don't doubt any of that. The issue is how does that blend in with expertise? How do people make the tradeoffs when they start to become experts? And does it have to be one or the other? Do people either have to just follow procedures, or do they have to abandon all procedures and use their knowledge and their intuition? I'm asking whether it has to be a duality. I'm hoping that it doesn't and this gets us into the work on system one and system two thinking.

System one is really about intuition, people using the expertise and the experience they've gained. System two is a way of monitoring things, and we need both of those, and we need to blend them, and so it bothers me to see controversies about which is the right one, or are people fundamentally irrational, and therefore they can't be trusted? Obviously system one is marvelous. Danny Kahneman has put it this way, "system one is marvelous, intuition is marvelous but flawed." And system two isn't the replacement for our intuition and for our experience, it's a way of making sure we don't get ourselves in trouble.

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