Rethinking the cognitive revolution from a neural perspective: How overuse/misuse of the term ‘cognition’ and the neglect of affective controls in behavioral neuroscience could be delaying progress in understanding the BrainMind

Department of Psychology and J.P. Scott Center for Neuroscience, Mind and Behavior, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43402, USA.
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews (Impact Factor: 8.8). 02/2011; 35(9):2026-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.02.008
Source: PubMed


Words such as cognition, motivation and emotion powerfully guide theory development and the overall aims and goals of behavioral neuroscience research. Once such concepts are accepted generally as natural aspects of the brain, their influence can be pervasive and long lasting. Importantly, the choice of conceptual terms used to describe and study mental/neural functions can also constrain research by forcing the results into seemingly useful 'conceptual' categories that have no discrete reality in the brain. Since the popularly named 'cognitive revolution' in psychological science came to fruition in the early 1970s, the term cognitive or cognition has been perhaps the most widely used conceptual term in behavioral neuroscience. These terms, similar to other conceptual terms, have potential value if utilized appropriately. We argue that recently the term cognition has been both overused and misused. This has led to problems in developing a usable shared definition for the term and to promotion of possible misdirections in research within behavioral neuroscience. In addition, we argue that cognitive-guided research influenced primarily by top-down (cortical toward subcortical) perspectives without concurrent non-cognitive modes of bottom-up developmental thinking, could hinder progress in the search for new treatments and medications for psychiatric illnesses and neurobehavioral disorders. Overall, linkages of animal research insights to human psychology may be better served by bottom-up (subcortical to cortical) affective and motivational 'state-control' perspectives, simply because the lower networks of the brain are foundational for the construction of higher 'information-processing' aspects of mind. Moving forward, rapidly expanding new techniques and creative methods in neuroscience along with more accurate brain concepts, may help guide the development of new therapeutics and hopefully more accurate ways to describe and explain brain-behavior relationships.

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Available from: Jaak Panksepp, Jun 23, 2014
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    • "They have also led to a clash in terms of arguments over the supremacy of one domain versus the other [5]. Cognitive science prevailed for an extended reign, but recently other domains have risen for many reasons, not the least of which revolves around the idea that domain dissociation should be seriously reevaluated [5]. The idea of bridging emotion and cognition has swept through psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry and delivered new ideas about how our rational problem-solving process inherently depends upon emotions and homeostatic states [6] [7] [8]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Integrating research efforts using a cross-domain approach could redefine traditional constructs used in behavioral and clinical neuroscience by demonstrating that behavior and mental processes arise not from functional isolation but from integration. Our research group has been examining the interface between cognitive and emotional processes by studying inhibitory gating. Inhibitory gating can be measured via changes in behavior or neural signal processing. Sensorimotor gating of the startle response is a well-used measure. To study how emotion and cognition interact during startle modulation in the animal model, we examined ultrasonic vocalization (USV) emissions during acoustic startle and prepulse inhibition. We found high rates of USV emission during the sensorimotor gating paradigm and revealed links between prepulse inhibition (PPI) and USV emission that could reflect emotional and cognitive influences. Measuring inhibitory gating as P50 event-related potential suppression has also revealed possible connections between emotional states and cognitive processes. We have examined the single unit responses during the traditional gating paradigm and found that acute and chronic stress can alter gating of neural signals in regions such as amygdala, striatum and medial prefrontal cortex. Our findings point to the need for more cross-domain research on how shifting states of emotion can impact basic mechanisms of information processing. Results could inform clinical work with the development of tools that depend upon cross-domain communication, and enable a better understanding and evaluation of psychological impairment.
    Behavioural Brain Research 05/2014; 276. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2014.05.028 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    • "treatment of mental disorders (Cromwell and Panksepp, 2011; Almada et al., 2013). Neurobiology helps us recalibrate the human wishful thinking we had come to appreciate regarding the " higher " and " lower " of the " conditio humana " imprinted in our (neuro)physiology. "
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    ABSTRACT: A commentary on The third wave of biological psychiatry by Walter, H. (2013). Front. Psychol. 4:582. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00582
    Frontiers in Psychology 03/2014; 5:197. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00197 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "The input and feedback to IFG/AI and back to somatosensory, limbic and sensory/attentional orienting areas as depicted by arrows in Figure 1, fit the consistent implication of IFG/AI activity in somatosensory working memory (e.g., Auksztulewicz et al., 2011), anxiety, and somatic complaints (Paulus and Stein, 2006; Etkin and Wager, 2007; Tops and Boksem, 2011). We suggest that during evolution cognitive control areas have developed that are basically control areas involved in temperament, emotion regulation, and stress responding (Cromwell and Panksepp, 2011), but now also implicated in cognitive task performance. Hence, we think the model in Figure 1 can be applied to temperament, emotion regulation, stress responding, as well as to cognitive control. "
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    ABSTRACT: IN THE PRESENT PAPER, WE REVIEW EVIDENCE FOR OF A MODEL IN WHICH THE INFERIOR FRONTAL GYRUS/ANTERIOR INSULA (IFG/AI) AREA IS INVOLVED IN ELABORATE ATTENTIONAL AND WORKING MEMORY PROCESSING AND WE PRESENT THE HYPOTHESIS THAT THIS PROCESSING MAY TAKE DIFFERENT FORMS AND MAY HAVE DIFFERENT EFFECTS, DEPENDING ON THE TASK AT HAND: (1) it may facilitate fast and accurate responding, or (2) it may cause slow responding when prolonged elaborate processing is required to increase accuracy of responding, or (3) it may interfere with accuracy and speed of next-trial (for instance, post-error) performance when prolonged elaborate processing interferes with processing of the next stimulus. We present our viewpoint that ventrolateral corticolimbic control pathways, including the IFG/AI, and mediodorsal corticolimbic control pathways, including dorsal anterior cingulate cortex areas, play partly separable, but interacting roles in adaptive behavior in environmental conditions that differ in the level of predictability: compared to dorsal feed-forward control, the ventral corticolimbic control pathways implement control over actions through higher responsiveness to momentary environmental stimuli. This latter control mode is associated with an attentional focus on stimuli that are urgent or close in time and space, while the former control mode is associated with a broader, more global focus in time and space. Both control pathways have developed extensively through evolution, and both developed their own "cognitive controls," such that neither one can be properly described as purely "cognitive" or "emotional." We discuss literature that suggests that the role of IFG/AI in top-down control is reflected in cortical rhythms and event-related potentials. Together, the literature suggests that the IFG/AI is an important node in brain networks that control cognitive and emotional processing and behavior.
    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2011; 2:330. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00330 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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