Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science

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Online ISSN: 1939-5086
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Article
Human learners, including infants, are highly sensitive to structure in their environment. Statistical learning refers to the process of extracting this structure. A major question in language acquisition in the past few decades has been the extent to which infants use statistical learning mechanisms to acquire their native language. There have been many demonstrations showing infants' ability to extract structures in linguistic input, such as the transitional probability between adjacent elements. This paper reviews current research on how statistical learning contributes to language acquisition. Current research is extending the initial findings of infants' sensitivity to basic statistical information in many different directions, including investigating how infants represent regularities, learn about different levels of language, and integrate information across situations. These current directions emphasize studying statistical language learning in context: within language, within the infant learner, and within the environment as a whole.
 
The impact of emotion and attention on perception. The gratings shown represent the contrast threshold (i.e., the contrast necessary to perform the orientation discrimination task at 82% accuracy) in each condition: (a) fearful face, peripheral cue (b) neutral face, peripheral cue.
A sample item from the Kimchi and Palmer18 test of global–local focus. The task is to match the target figure at the top with the comparison figure at the bottom that is most similar.
The Ebbinghaus Illusion. The circles in the middle of these two figures are the same size, but in their respective contexts, the one on the left looks smaller than the one on the right.
Article
Visual perception and emotion are traditionally considered separate domains of study. In this article, however, we review research showing them to be less separable that usually assumed. In fact, emotions routinely affect how and what we see. Fear, for example, can affect low-level visual processes, sad moods can alter susceptibility to visual illusions, and goal-directed desires can change the apparent size of goal-relevant objects. In addition, the layout of the physical environment, including the apparent steepness of a hill and the distance to the ground from a balcony can both be affected by emotional states. We propose that emotions provide embodied information about the costs and benefits of anticipated action, information that can be used automatically and immediately, circumventing the need for cogitating on the possible consequences of potential actions. Emotions thus provide a strong motivating influence on how the environment is perceived.
 
Article
Age-related declines in vision can have a major impact on the health and well-being of an older population. A review of research on aging and vision indicates that these declines occur at multiple levels of the visual system including optics, sensory processing, and perceptual processing and are not likely due to a systemic change in brain function (e.g., generalized slowing; common cause hypothesis) as a result of normal aging. In addition, declines in sensory and perceptual processing are not due to low-level explanations such as the amount of light that reaches the retina. Declines in visual performance are due to a variety of distinct factors that include spatial integration and difficulty in processing visual information in the presence of noise. Neurophysiological studies suggest that processing declines may be due in part to changes in cortical inhibition mediated by changes in the level of neurotransmitters associated with inhibition. Despite the widespread declines in function with normal aging, recent research suggests that perceptual learning can be used to dramatically improve visual function for older individuals. This research suggests a high degree of plasticity of the visual system among older populations and suggests that perceptual learning is an important tool for the recovery of age-related declines in vision. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:403–410. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1167 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
The goal of this paper is to consider anger from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Five main claims are made: first, reactive aggression is the ultimate behavioral expression of anger and thus we can begin to understand anger by understanding reactive aggression. Second, neural systems implicated in reactive aggression (amygdala, hypothalamus, and periaqueductal gray; the basic threat system) are critically implicated in anger. Factors such as exposure to extreme threat that increase the responsiveness of these systems, should be (and are in the context of posttraumatic stress disorder), associated with increased anger. Third, regions of frontal cortex implicated in regulating the basic threat system, when dysfunctional (e.g., in the context of lesions) should be associated with increased anger. Fourth, frustration occurs when an individual continues to do an action in the expectation of a reward but does not actually receive that reward, and is associated with anger. Individuals who show impairment in the ability to alter behavioral responding when actions no longer receive their expected rewards should be (and are in the context of psychopathy) associated with increased anger. Fifth, someone not doing what another person wants them to do (particularly if this thwarts the person's goal) is frustrating and consequently anger inducing. The response to such a frustrating social event relies on the neural architecture implicated in changing behavioral responses in nonsocial frustrating situations. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:65–74. doi: 10.1002/wcs.154 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. This article is a U.S. Government work, and as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.
 
Article
Depression is a prevalent and impairing psychiatric disorder that affects how we feel and how we think about ourselves and the world around us. Cognitive theories of depression have long posited that various thought processes are involved in the development, maintenance, and recurrence of depressive episodes. Contemporary research has utilized experimental procedures to examine cognitive processes in depressed individuals as well as the nature of the relation of these processes to the emotion dysregulation that is central to the disorder. For example, investigators have assessed the ways in which depression alters aspects of information processing, including attention and perception, interpretation, and memory processes; this research has generated relatively consistent findings. In addition, researchers have attempted to identify and elucidate the cognitive mechanisms that may link these biases in information processing to emotion dysregulation in depression. These mechanisms include inhibitory processes and deficits in working memory, ruminative responses to negative mood states, and the inability to use positive and rewarding stimuli to regulate negative mood. Results of these investigations converge on the formulation that depression is associated with increased elaboration of negative information, difficulties in cognitive control when processing this information, and difficulties disengaging from this information. Research examining cognitive aspects of depression not only enhances our understanding of this common and costly disorder, but also has implications for the treatment of depression and for future investigations of the biological foundations of this disorder. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:301–313. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1177 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
The present article reviews the effects of changing the background context on performance in associative learning tasks in humans and animals. The findings are complementary and consistent over animal conditioning (Pavlovian and instrumental learning) and human predictive learning and memory paradigms. In many cases, a context change after learning can have surprisingly little disruptive influence on performance. Extinction, or retroactive interference treatments more generally, are more context-specific than the initial learning. Contexts become important if the participant is exposed to any of several treatments that involve prediction error, which may serve to increase attention to the context. Contexts also become important if they are given predictive or informational value. Studies of instrumental (operant) learning are further consistent with the idea that the context might also influence affordances that support voluntary actions. Context switch effects are not universal, but mainly occur when certain attention and perception processes can come into play.
 
Article
Quantity or numerosity is one of the basic properties of our environment. Humans and animals both have the neural representation of quantity or ‘number sense’. The ability to extract and to manipulate numbers is closely related to our various cognitive functions such as the capacity of working memory, mathematical achievement, and texture perception. Evidence shows that the sense of number is not a unitary mechanism but rather a composition of two distinct processes; enumeration and estimation. The review examines how numerosity is represented in the visual domain and its relation to different modes of attention. Enumeration or counting permits an exact representation of a distinct number of objects, with an awareness of each object achieved through focal deployment of attention to each object serially. On the other hand, estimation involves an approximation of the number of different items or a sense of ensemble statistics, achieved through fast deployment of distributed attention over a set of objects as a whole. In this overview we suggest that a focused attention mode is more suitable for enumeration, whereas a distributed attention mode is better for estimation. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 634–638 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.136 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Examples of cell types with spatial tuning in the hippocampus and in parahippocampal cortices. The left column displays data from each cell type during exploration of an open field arena. Within this column, the spatial selectivity of each cell type is shown by plotting the location of each spike (in red) onto the trajectory of the animal (in black). The central panels are color-coded firing rate maps of the same arena with high firing rates in red and low firing rates in blue. Finally, the right panels are polar plots showing firing rate as a function of the head direction of the animal during exploration in the environment. The right columns indicate in which regions each spatially tuned cell type is found. Grid cells fire in multiple spatial locations that form a triangular ‘grid’ of the environment. Grid cells are found in the presubiculum, parasubiculum, and all layers of the medial entorhinal cortex. Head-direction cells fire throughout the environment but only when the animal is facing a specific direction. Head-direction cells are found in the presubiculum, parasubiculum, and layers III, V, and VI of the medial entorhinal cortex. Conjunctive cells fire in a triangular grid pattern only when the animal is facing a specific direction. Similar to head-direction cells, conjunctive cells are found in the presubiculum, parasubiculum and layers III, V, and VI of the medial entorhinal cortex. Boundary/border cells fire when the animal is located at a specific distance from a wall in the environment. These cells are found in the subiculum (not shown), presubiculum, parasubiculum, and all layers of the medial entorhinal cortex. Place cells generally fire in a single or few locations within the environment, independent of the animal's head direction in the open field. These cells are found in the dentate gyrus, CA3, and CA1 of the hippocampus.
Feedforward and parallel models of place cell firing. (a) Feedforward models. Top to bottom: Models of place cells have shown how place cell firing fields could arise from the feedforward influence of grid cells with different spatial scales and spatial phases.[57, 60] Models of grid cells have shown how grid cell firing fields could arise from integrating head-direction inputs in combination with either oscillatory interference or attractor dynamics within entorhinal cortex.[60, 61, 64] Models have shown how head-direction cells could arise from input from angular velocity cells. (b) Possible parallel networks contributing to spatial processing. In addition to the feedforward circuit shown in (a), parallel systems through the entorhinal cortex are shown. For example, place cells in the hippocampus may arise from the inputs of boundary cells in the medial entorhinal cortex, as proposed by the model of boundary vector cells.[32, 33] These boundary vector cells may arise from visual features coding the distance and angle to boundaries in the environment. On the right, odor and object responses found in the hippocampus may arise from representations of odors and objects coded in the lateral entorhinal cortex. In addition to feedforward influences, feedback connections from the hippocampus to the entorhinal cortex may play an important role in updating and aligning the representations of locations by grid cells and boundary vector cells, as well as in updating the context of odor and object responses.
Main connections between rodent higher association cortices. The parahippocampal region includes the perirhinal and postrhinal cortices, the medial and lateral areas of the entorhinal cortex, the pre- and parasubiculum, and the hippocampal formation includes dentate gyrus, CA3, CA1, subiculum. Extrinsic connections with other areas in the neocortex and thalamus are also represented. The arrows indicate strong to moderate connections between regions based on anatomical studies using retrograde and anterograde tracers (see Refs [78-81]). In the hippocampal system, regions highlighted in red contain large proportions of spatially modulated cells such as place cells in the hippocampus and grid cells, head-direction cells, and boundary cells in parahippocampal regions. In the postrhinal cortex, cells with a broad spatial selectivity were described.[82] The neocortical regions are defined as in Ref [79]. Neocortical regions project to parahippocampal cortices, in particular to the postrhinal and perirhinal cortices in a relatively segregated way: cingulate, parietal, occipital, and temporal regions provide input to the postrhinal cortex while temporal, frontal, insular, and piriform regions project to the perirhinal cortex. Both postrhinal and perirhinal cortices give rise to strong backprojections to their neocortical afferent regions. Classically, efferent connections from the postrhinal and perirhinal cortices were described to target the medial and lateral subdivisions of the entorhinal cortex, respectively. However, the postrhinal cortex also projects to the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC), but to a lesser extent than to the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), and the perirhinal cortex targets both LEC and MEC in a similar way. Connections are also found between postrhinal and perirhinal cortex as well as between MEC and LEC. In addition, the postrhinal cortex and MEC are strongly interconnected with the pre- and parasubiculum, which receive projections mainly from the thalamus. Projections from MEC and LEC provide the main cortical input to the hippocampus. These projections, which form the perforant path, arise from the superficial layers of the entorhinal cortex (layer II and III) and are topologically organized. Layer II projects to the dentate gyrus and CA3 while layer III projects to CA1. In the dentate gyrus and CA3, projections from MEC and LEC converge to the same neurons. However, in CA1 and the subiculum, there is a clear segregation of medial and lateral inputs in the transverse axis: MEC projects predominantly to proximal CA1, which connects to the distal subiculum, and LEC projects predominantly to distal CA1, which connects to the proximal subiculum (proximal and distal indicate relative proximity to CA3). MEC and LEC also project directly to their respective target regions in the subiculum (not depicted). CA1 and subiculum reciprocate the connections with MEC and LEC and target the deep layers (V and VI). The subiculum receives the main output of the hippocampal system and projects to the thalamus and the neocortex. In addition, projections from the entorhinal cortex to the hippocampus are organized along its longitudinal axis such that the dorsal band of the entorhinal cortex projects to dorsal part of the hippocampus (blue) and the ventral band of the entorhinal targets ventral regions of the hippocampus (green). At every level of the hippocampal system, there are strong backprojections to the afferent regions. Even in the hippocampus, the unidirectional polysynaptic circuit (dentate gyrus to CA3 to CA1) has been reconsidered based on evidence of projections from CA3 to the dentate and from CA1 to CA3 (not depicted). Roman numerals refer to cortical layers.
Article
The brain is able to construct internal representations that correspond to external spatial coordinates. Such brain maps of the external spatial topography may support a number of cognitive functions, including navigation and memory. The neuronal building block of brain maps are place cells, which are found throughout the hippocampus of rodents and, in a lower proportion, primates. Place cells typically fire in one or few restricted areas of space, and each area where a cell fires can range, along the dorsoventral axis of the hippocampus, from 30 cm to at least several meters. The sensory processing streams that give rise to hippocampal place cells are not fully understood, but substantial progress has been made in characterizing the entorhinal cortex, which is the gateway between neocortical areas and the hippocampus. Entorhinal neurons have diverse spatial firing characteristics, and the different entorhinal cell types converge in the hippocampus to give rise to a single, spatially modulated cell type - the place cell. We therefore suggest that parallel information processing in different classes of cells - as is typically observed at lower levels of sensory processing - continues up into higher level association cortices, including those that provide the inputs to hippocampus.
 
The striatum. Ventromedial areas are colored green and dorsolateral areas are colored blue in the coronal view.
Striatum response to monetary rewards is modulated by the social context. (a) In a card guessing task,[14] participants are more excited to receive monetary rewards when they are shared with a friend compared to a stranger or computer. (b) Striatum activity increases for monetary gains compared to losses. (c) Striatum activity (from region circled in part b) to monetary gains is greater when sharing the rewards with a friend. (Reprinted with permission from Ref [54]. Copyright 2012 Society for Neuroscience)
Article
In the highly social life of humans, rewards that are sought and experienced are intertwined with social relationships and interactions between people. Just as we value non-social rewards such as food or money, we also value social outcomes (e.g., praise from a superior). We use social information to evaluate and form expectations of others and to make decisions involving others. Here we review research demonstrating how the neural circuitry of reward, particularly the striatum, is also involved in processing social information and making decisions in social situations. This research provides an understanding of the neural basis for social behavior from the perspective of how we evaluate social experiences and how our social interactions and decisions are motivated. We review research addressing the common neural systems underlying evaluation of social and non-social rewards. The human striatum, known to play a key role in reward processing, displays signals related to a broad spectrum of social functioning, including evaluating social rewards, making decisions influenced by social factors, learning about social others, cooperating, competing, and following social norms.
 
Article
The large size and complex organization of the human brain makes it unique among primate brains. In particular, the neocortex constitutes about 80% of the brain, and this cortex is subdivided into a large number of functionally specialized regions, the cortical areas. Such a brain mediates accomplishments and abilities unmatched by any other species. How did such a brain evolve? Answers come from comparative studies of the brains of present-day mammals and other vertebrates in conjunction with information about brain sizes and shapes from the fossil record, studies of brain development, and principles derived from studies of scaling and optimal design. Early mammals were small, with small brains, an emphasis on olfaction, and little neocortex. Neocortex was transformed from the single layer of output pyramidal neurons of the dorsal cortex of earlier ancestors to the six layers of all present-day mammals. This small cap of neocortex was divided into 20-25 cortical areas, including primary and some of the secondary sensory areas that characterize neocortex in nearly all mammals today. Early placental mammals had a corpus callosum connecting the neocortex of the two hemispheres, a primary motor area, M1, and perhaps one or more premotor areas. One line of evolution, Euarchontoglires, led to present-day primates, tree shrews, flying lemurs, rodents and rabbits. Early primates evolved from small-brained, nocturnal, insect-eating mammals with an expanded region of temporal visual cortex. These early nocturnal primates were adapted to the fine branch niche of the tropical rainforest by having an even more expanded visual system that mediated visually guided reaching and grasping of insects, small vertebrates, and fruits. Neocortex was greatly expanded, and included an array of cortical areas that characterize neocortex of all living primates. Specializations of the visual system included new visual areas that contributed to a dorsal stream of visuomotor processing in a greatly enlarged region of posterior parietal cortex and an expanded motor system and the addition of a ventral premotor area. Higher visual areas in a large temporal lobe facilitated object recognition, and frontal cortex, included granular prefrontal cortex. Auditory cortex included the primary and secondary auditory areas that characterize prosimian and anthropoid primates today. As anthropoids emerged as diurnal primates, the visual system specialized for detailed foveal vision. Other adaptations included an expansion of prefrontal cortex and insular cortex. The human and chimpanzee-bonobo lineages diverged some 6-8 million years ago with brains that were about one-third the size of modern humans. Over the last two million years, the brains of our more recent ancestors increased greatly in size, especially in the prefrontal, posterior parietal, lateral temporal, and insular regions. Specialization of the two cerebral hemispheres for related, but different functions became pronounced, and language and other impressive cognitive abilities emerged.
 
Article
Categorization is a process that spans all of development, beginning in earliest infancy yet changing as children's knowledge and cognitive skills develop. In this review article, we address three core issues regarding childhood categorization. First, we discuss the extent to which early categories are rooted in perceptual similarity versus knowledge-enriched theories. We argue for a composite perspective in which categories are steeped in commonsense theories from a young age but also are informed by low-level similarity and associative learning cues. Second, we examine the role of language in early categorization. We review evidence to suggest that language is a powerful means of expressing, communicating, shaping, and supporting category knowledge. Finally, we consider categories in context. We discuss sources of variability and flexibility in children's categories, as well as the ways in which children's categories are used within larger knowledge systems (e.g., to form analogies, make inferences, or construct theories). Categorization is a process that is intrinsically tied to nearly all aspects of cognition, and its study provides insight into cognitive development, broadly construed. WIREs Cogn Sci 2011 2 95–105 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.96 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
In a snapshot, a scene consists of things, but across time, the world consists of processes. Some are cyclical, for example, trees changing foliage through the seasons, surfaces getting wet and drying out; others are unidirectional, for example, fruit ripening and then decaying, or dust accumulating on surfaces. Chemical and physical properties of objects provide them with specific surface patterns of colors and textures. When endogenous and exogenous forces alter these colors and textures over time, the ability to identify these changes from appearances can have great utility in judging the composition, state, and history of objects. This short review presents thoughts on studying visual inferences of the properties of materials and their changes, including how to acquire calibrated images of time-varying materials, how to model time-varying appearance changes, how to measure observers' identification abilities, and how to parse out the perceptual qualities that help or hinder in recognizing materials and their states. For instance, if color information is removed, observers do significantly worse at recognizing materials and their changes, especially for organic materials. The role of color in object and scene recognition is still being debated, so elucidating color's role in material identification may also help to resolve the wider issue. This review introduces material change as an object of study in human perception and cognition, because the visual traces of changes are integral components of material and object identity. Visually based judgments of materials share the property of propensity with mental inferences, and conscious or unconscious visual imagery may play a role in setting expectancies for object shapes and properties.
 
Article
Nearly forty years ago, social psychologists began applying the information processing framework of cognitive psychology to the question of how humans understand and represent knowledge about themselves and others. This approach gave rise to the immensely successful field of social cognition and fundamentally changed the way in which social psychological phenomena are studied. More recently, social scientists of many stripes have turned to the methods of cognitive neuroscience to understand the neural basis of social cognition. A pervasive finding from this research is that social knowledge, be it about one's self or of others, is represented in the medial prefrontal cortex. This review focuses on the social cognitive neuroscience of self and person knowledge in the medial prefrontal cortex. We begin with a brief historical overview of social cognition, followed by a review of recent and influential research on the brain basis of self and person knowledge. In the latter half of this review we discuss the role of familiarity and similarity in person perception and of spontaneous processes in self and other referential cognition. Throughout, we discuss the myriad ways in which the social cognitive neuroscience approach has provided new insights into the nature and structure of self and person knowledge.
 
Article
Events are central elements of human experience. Formally, they can be individuated in terms of the entities that compose them, the features of those entities, and the relations amongst entities. Psychologically, representations of events capture their spatiotemporal location, the people and objects involved, and the relations between these elements. Here, we present an account of the nature of psychological representations of events and how they are constructed and updated. Event representations are like images in that they are isomorphic to the situations they represent. However, they are like models or language in that they are constructed of components rather than being holistic. Also, they are partial representations that leave out some elements and abstract others. Representations of individual events are informed by schematic knowledge about general classes of events. Event representations are constructed in a process that segments continuous activity into discrete events. The construction of a series of event representations forms a basis for predicting the future, planning for that future, and imagining alternatives. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 608–620 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.133 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Example of a face-like stimulus (left) that is preferred over a non-face stimulus (right) by infants.
Article
This article reviews the development of the face-processing system from birth, during infancy and through childhood, until it becomes the sophisticated system observed in adults. We begin by discussing the following major theoretical issues concerning the development of face expertise: (1) nature versus nurture or the role of experience in face processing, (2) level of processing (i.e., global, basic, subordinate, individual) and expertise, and (3) type of processing (i.e., holistic, configural, featural). This general overview will be followed by a closer examination of individual studies that investigate the development of face processing. These studies will include a review of (1) development of differential processing of faces and objects, (2) development of differential processing of faces of different species, (3) developmental changes in processing facial identity, and (4) developmental changes in the categorization of faces. Our review of the developmental literature reveals early competence in face-processing abilities with infants presenting a preference for face stimuli and facial discrimination using featural, configural, and holistic cues. This early competence is then later refined as evidenced by age-related changes throughout childhood. Some of the refinements are likely due to the development of general cognitive abilities, whereas some others may be face-specific. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 666–675 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.146 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
The forkhead box P2 gene, designated FOXP2, is the first gene implicated in a speech and language disorder. Since its discovery, many studies have been carried out in an attempt to explain the mechanism by which it influences these characteristically human traits. This review presents the story of the discovery of the FOXP2 gene, including early studies of the phenotypic implications of a disruption in the gene. We then discuss recent investigations into the molecular function of the FOXP2 gene, including functional and gene expression studies. We conclude this review by presenting the fascinating results of recent studies of the FOXP2 ortholog in other species that are capable of vocal communication. WIREs Cogn Sci 2013, 4:547–560. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1247 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
The proportion of children who improved when given a lesson in conservation (left graph, Ref 10) or mathematical equivalence (right graph, Ref 11), as a function of the child's status as a matcher (white bars) or mismatcher (blue bars) prior to the lesson. The lesson was administered by the experimenter. (Based on data from Refs 10 and 11.)
The number of problems children solved correctly after a lesson in mathematical equivalence, as a function of the mismatches the child produced on the pretest and during the lesson: no mismatches at all, mismatches only during the lesson, mismatches on the pretest and throughout the lesson. None of the children had solved any problems correctly on the pretest. The lesson was administered by a teacher who had observed the child explain to the experimenter the solutions he or she gave to the pretest problems. (Adapted from , Ref 26.)
The number of different mathematical equivalence problem-solving strategies mismatching and matching children had in their repertoires, classified according to the modality in which the strategy was produced: uniquely in speech, in both speech and gesture (not necessarily in the same response), uniquely in gesture. (Based on data from Ref 27.)
Regression lines relating performance on the 4-week follow-up to performance on the immediate posttest, as a function of the modality children were told to use when expressing the equalizer strategy during the lesson: in speech alone (β = 0.33, ns); in speech and gesture (β = 0.92, p < 0.0001); in gesture alone (β = 0.80, p < 0.0001). (Adapted from , Ref 41.)
The proportion of short and long word lists that children (left graph) or letter lists that adults (right graph) remembered while simultaneously explaining how they solved a math problem and either gesturing or not gesturing while doing so. Children remembered more one- and three-word lists while gesturing than while not gesturing. Adults showed a ceiling effect on the two-letter lists, but remembered more six-letter lists while gesturing than when not gesturing. (Adapted from , Ref 45.)
Article
When people talk, they move their hands—they gesture. Although these movements might appear to be meaningless hand waving, in fact they convey substantive information that is not always found in the accompanying speech. As a result, gesture can provide insight into thoughts that speakers have but do not know they have. Even more striking, gesture can mark a speaker as being in transition with respect to a task—learners who are on the verge of making progress on a task routinely produce gestures that convey information that is different from the information conveyed in speech. Gesture can thus be used to predict who will learn. In addition, evidence is mounting that gesture not only presages learning but also can play a role in bringing that learning about. Gesture can cause learning indirectly by influencing the learning environment or directly by influencing learners themselves. We can thus change our minds by moving our hands. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 595–607 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.132 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
Perceptual learning is defined as long-term improvement in perceptual or sensory systems resulting from repeated practice or experience. As the number of perceptual learning studies has increased, controversies and questions have arisen regarding divergent aspects of perceptual learning, including: (1) stages in which perceptual learning occurs, (2) effects of training type, (3) changes in neural processing during the time course of learning, (4) effects of feedback as to correctness of a subject's responses, and (5) double training. Here we review each of these aspects and suggest fruitful directions for future perceptual learning research. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:293–299. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1175 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
As the number of neuroimaging studies that investigate psychological phenomena grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to integrate the knowledge that has accrued across studies. Meta-analyses are designed to serve this purpose, as they allow the synthesis of findings not only across studies but also across laboratories and task variants. Meta-analyses are uniquely suited to answer questions about whether brain regions or networks are consistently associated with particular psychological domains, including broad categories such as working memory or more specific categories such as conditioned fear. Meta-analysis can also address questions of specificity, which pertains to whether activation of regions or networks is unique to a particular psychological domain, or is a feature of multiple types of tasks. This review discusses several techniques that have been used to test consistency and specificity in published neuroimaging data, including the kernel density analysis (KDA), activation likelihood estimate (ALE), and the recently developed multilevel kernel density analysis (MKDA). We discuss these techniques in light of current and future directions in the field. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
The concept of similarity, or a sense of ‘sameness’ among things, is pivotal to theories in the cognitive sciences and beyond. Similarity, however, is a difficult thing to measure. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) is a tool by which researchers can obtain quantitative estimates of similarity among groups of items. More formally, MDS refers to a set of statistical techniques that are used to reduce the complexity of a data set, permitting visual appreciation of the underlying relational structures contained therein. The current paper provides an overview of MDS. We discuss key aspects of performing this technique, such as methods that can be used to collect similarity estimates, analytic techniques for treating proximity data, and various concerns regarding interpretation of the MDS output. MDS analyses of two novel data sets are also included, highlighting in step-by-step fashion how MDS is performed, and key issues that may arise during analysis. WIREs Cogn Sci 2013, 4:93–103. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1203 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article.
 
Article
Reading is a complex skill involving the orchestration of a number of components. Researchers often talk about a ‘model of reading’ when talking about only one aspect of the reading process (e.g., models of word identification are often referred to as ‘models of reading’). Here, we review prominent models that are designed to account for (1) word identification, (2) syntactic parsing, (3) discourse representations, and (4) how certain aspects of language processing (e.g., word identification), in conjunction with other constraints (e.g., limited visual acuity, saccadic error) guide readers' eyes. Unfortunately, it is the case that these various models addressing specific aspects of the reading process seldom make contact with models dealing with other aspects of reading. Thus, for example, the models of word identification seldom make contact with models of eye-movement control, and vice versa. Although this may be unfortunate in some ways, it is quite understandable in other ways because reading itself is a very complex process. We discuss prototypical models of aspects of the reading process in the order mentioned above. We do not review all possible models but rather focus on those we view as being representative and most highly recognized. WIREs Cogn Sci 2010 1 787–799 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Spectrographic representation of four variants of the sentence, ‘Jazz and swing fans like fast music’. (a) Natural speech; (b) sine-wave speech; (c) noiseband vocoded speech; and (d) speech–music chimera.
Article
Classic research on the perception of speech sought to identify minimal acoustic correlates of each consonant and vowel. In explaining perception, this view designated momentary components of an acoustic spectrum as cues to the recognition of elementary phonemes. This conceptualization of speech perception is untenable given the findings of phonetic sensitivity to modulation independent of the acoustic and auditory form of the carrier. The empirical key is provided by studies of the perceptual organization of speech, a low-level integrative function that finds and follows the sensory effects of speech amid concurrent events. These projects have shown that the perceptual organization of speech is keyed to modulation; fast; unlearned; nonsymbolic; indifferent to short-term auditory properties; and organization requires attention. The ineluctably multisensory nature of speech perception also imposes conditions that distinguish language among cognitive systems. WIREs Cogn Sci 2013, 4:213-223. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1213.
 
Article
Understanding infant development is one of the greatest scientific challenges of contemporary science. A large source of difficulty comes from the fact that the development of skills in infants results from the interactions of multiple mechanisms at multiple spatio-temporal scales. The concepts of "innate" or "acquired" are not any more adequate tools for explanations, which call for a shift from reductionist to systemic accounts. To address this challenge, building and experimenting with robots modeling the growing infant brain and body is crucial. Systemic explanations of pattern formation in sensorimotor, cognitive and social development, viewed as a complex dynamical system, require the use of formal models based on mathematics, algorithms and robots. Formulating hypothesis about development using such models, and exploring them through experiments, allows us to consider in detail the interaction between many mechanisms and parameters. This complements traditional experimental methods in psychology and neuroscience where only a few variables can be studied at the same time. Furthermore, the use of robots is of particular importance. The laws of physics generate everywhere around us spontaneous patterns in the inorganic world. They also strongly impact the living, and in particular constrain and guide infant development through the properties of its (changing) body in interaction with the physical environment. Being able to consider the body as an experimental variable, something that can be systematically changed in order to study the impact on skill formation, has been a dream to many developmental scientists. This is today becoming possible with developmental robotics.
 
Article
Simulation plays a significant role in human cognition. This article reviews evidence for a simulational account of mind reading. Drawing on findings in developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience, it shows that mind reading involves the imitation, copying, or reexperience of the mind reading target's mental processes. The article also introduces evidence for simulational accounts of episodic memory and prospection. It identifies relevant similarities between mind reading, memory, and prospection as well as independent evidence for a role for simulation in memory. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Second language acquisition (SLA) is a field that investigates child and adult SLA from a variety of theoretical perspectives. This article provides a survey of some key areas of concern including formal generative theory and emergentist theory in the areas of morpho-syntax and phonology. The review details the theoretical stance of the two different approaches to the nature of language: generative linguistics and general cognitive approaches. Some results of key acquisition studies from the two theoretical frameworks are discussed. From a generative perspective, constraints on wh-movement, feature geometry and syllable structure, and morphological development are highlighted. From a general cognitive point of view, the emergence of tense and aspect marking from a prototype account of inherent lexical aspect is reviewed. Reference is made to general cognitive learning theories and to sociocultural theory. The article also reviews individual differences research, specifically debate on the critical period in adult language acquisition, motivation, and memory. Finally, the article discusses the relationship between SLA research and second language pedagogy. Suggestions for further reading from recent handbooks on SLA are provided. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 277–286 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.106 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
This review piece looks at how children acquire various elements of linguistic meaning. It considers issues in the acquisition of word meaning, argument structure, tense and aspect, and quantification and scope. For each of these areas, it considers the problems they pose for the acquisition process in general, reviews basic findings from the field of acquisition, and identifies outstanding questions in the field. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
This article reviews current approaches to first language acquisition, arguing in favor of the theory that attributes to the child an innate knowledge of universal grammar. Such knowledge can accommodate the systematic nature of children's non-adult linguistic behaviors. The relationships between performance devices (mechanisms for comprehension and production of speech), non-linguistic aspects of cognition, and child grammars are also discussed. WIREs Cogn Sci 2011 2 47-54 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.95 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
This review addresses questions of what should be assessed in language acquisition, and how to do it. The design of a language assessment is crucially connected to its purpose, whether for diagnosis, development of an intervention plan, or for research. Precise profiles of language strengths and weaknesses are required for clear definitions of the phenotypes of particular language and neurodevelopmental disorders. The benefits and costs of formal tests versus language sampling assessments are reviewed. Content validity, theoretically and empirically grounded in child language acquisition, is claimed to be centrally important for appropriate assessment. Without this grounding, links between phenomena can be missed, and interpretations of underlying difficulties can be compromised. Sensitivity and specificity of assessment instruments are often assessed using a gold standard of existing tests and diagnostic practices, but problems arise if that standard is biased against particular groups or dialects. The paper addresses the issues raised by the goal of unbiased assessment of children from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, especially speakers of non-mainstream dialects or bilingual children. A variety of new approaches are discussed for language assessment, including dynamic assessment, experimental tools such as intermodal preferential looking, and training studies that assess generalization. Stress is placed on the need for measures of the process of acquisition rather than just levels of achievement. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Children acquire a mature language system and sometimes this system differs from that of their parents. This is a significant part of language change and understanding acquisition is key to understanding this kind of change in people's internal grammars. I outline one approach to language acquisition, based on children finding cues expressed in the input they are exposed to. This enables us to understand historical change in grammars: change in external language sometimes triggers a new internal grammar as cues come to be expressed differently. Work on language variation, acquisition, and change converges, and these three areas are mutually dependent; empirical work in one area may enrich understanding more generally, opening the way to new kinds of empirical work. Seen this way, language is a complex system and language change can be treated productively in the context of complexity science. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
The computational approach to syntactic acquisition can be fruitfully pursued by integrating results and perspectives from computer science, linguistics, and developmental psychology. In this article, we first review some key results in computational learning theory and their implications for language acquisition. We then turn to examine specific learning models, some of which exploit distributional information in the input while others rely on a constrained space of hypotheses, yet both approaches share a common set of characteristics to overcome the learning problem. We conclude with a discussion of how computational models connects with the empirical study of child grammar, making the case for computationally tractable, psychologically plausible and developmentally realistic models of acquisition. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:205-213. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1154 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has quickly grown into one of the most important tools for studying brain function, especially in humans. Despite its prevalence, we still do not have a clear picture of what exactly the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal represents or how it compares to the signals obtained with other methods (e.g., electrophysiology). We particularly refer to single neuron recordings and electroencephalography when we mention 'electrophysiological methods', given that these methods have been used for more than 50 years, and have formed the basis of much of our current understanding of brain function. Brain function involves the coordinated activity of many different areas and many different cell types that can participate in an enormous variety of processes (neural firing, inhibitory and excitatory synaptic activity, neuromodulation, oscillatory activity, etc.). Of these cells and processes, only a subset is sampled with electrophysiological techniques, and their contribution to the recorded signals is not exactly known. Functional imaging signals are driven by the metabolic needs of the active cells, and are most likely also biased toward certain cell types and certain neural processes, although we know even less about which processes actually drive the hemodynamic response. This article discusses the current status on the interpretation of the BOLD signal and how it relates to neural activity measured with electrophysiological techniques. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:75-86. doi: 10.1002/wcs.153 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
An essential facet of adaptive and versatile behavior is the ability to prioritize actions in response to dynamically changing circumstances. The field of potential actions afforded by a situation is shaped by many factors, such as environmental demands, past experiences, and prepotent tendencies. Selection among action affordances can be driven by deliberate, intentional processes as a product of goal-directed behavior and by extraneous stimulus–action associations as established inherently or through learning. We first review the neurocognitive mechanisms putatively linked to these intention-driven and association-driven routes of action selection. Next, we review the neurocognitive mechanisms engaged to inhibit action affordances that are no longer relevant or that interfere with goal-directed action selection. Optimal action control is viewed as a dynamic interplay between selection and suppression mechanisms, which is achieved by an elaborate circuitry of interconnected cortical regions (most prominently the pre-supplementary motor area and the right inferior frontal cortex) and basal ganglia structures (most prominently the dorsal striatum and the subthalamic nucleus). WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 174–192 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.99For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
Visual attention is the set of mechanisms by which relevant visual information is selected while irrelevant information is suppressed, thus allowing the observer to function in a world made up of nearly infinite visual information. Recently, those who habitually play video games have been documented to outperform novices in a variety of visual attentional capabilities, including attention in space, in time, and to objects. Training studies have established similar improvements in groups of nongamers given experience playing these video games. Critically, not all video games seem to have such a beneficial effect on attention; it seems that fast-paced, embodied visuo-motor tasks that require divided attention (tasks commonly found in popular action games like Halo) have the greatest effect. At the core of these action video game-induced improvements appears to be a remarkable enhancement in the ability to efficiently deploy endogenous attention. The implications of such an enhancement are relevant to a variety of real-world applications, such as work force training, rehabilitation of clinical populations, and improvement of traditional educational approaches. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 222-230 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.116 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Are conscious decisions or intentions ever among the causes of corresponding intentional actions? This article provides conceptual background for an examination of this question, including a discussion of the nature of decisions, intentions, and actions and a sketch of a model of conscious deciding. It also examines evidence that conscious decisions and intentions sometimes play a role in producing corresponding actions. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
The phrase perception and action is used widely but in diverse ways in the context of the relationship between perceptual and motor processes. This review describes and integrates five perspectives on perception and action which rely on both neurophysiological and behavioral levels of analysis. The two visual systems view proposes dissociable but interactive systems for conscious processing of objects/space and the visual control of action. The integrative view proposes tightly calibrated but flexible systems for perception and motor control in spatial representation. The embodied view posits that action underlies perception, involving common coding or motor simulation systems, and examines the relationship between action observation, imitation, and the understanding of intention. The ecological view emphasizes environmental information and affordances in perception. The functional view defines the relationship between perception, action planning, and semantics in goal-directed actions. Although some of these views/approaches differ in significant ways, their shared emphasis on the importance of action in perception serves as a useful unifying framework. WIREs Cogn Sci 2010 1 800-810 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Angle discrimination in the blind. (A) Position of the arm of the subject during haptic angle discrimination, relative to the angles (90° angle shown here). Angles were explored with the arm outstretched using the distal phalanx of the index finger for exploration. A single continuous to and fro movement was used to explore the angles, following the sequence abcba (digit shown in the start position a here). (B) Comparison of the performance of blind (n = 14) and sighted subjects (n = 15) in the 2-D angle discrimination task. Logistic functions fitted to the pooled data are shown here, with proportion of correct responses versus Δ angle. (C) Mean discrimination threshold ( ± SEM) in sighted (black) and blind subjects (striped). (Adapted with permission from Ref 67. Copyright 2008 Springer).
Correlation of brain activity with performance. (A) The scattergram shows the individual values extracted for performance in the monaural localization task and CBF values in dorsal extrastriate cortex (closed circles indicate blind subjects; open circles indicate sighted ones). (B) An illustration of the statistical parametric map of the correlation with one of its maximal points (two other occipital foci were found but are not shown here). X coordinate is in standardized stereotaxic space. (Adapted with permission from Ref 35. Copyright 2009 PLoS Biology).
Audiovisual interaction in CI users. In the top panel is the illustration of the experimental procedure. Each condition began (A) and ended (C) in a static neutral position. In all audiovisual conditions (B), auditory stimuli (D) were simultaneously presented with a visual stimulus change (color, movement, or video sequence). In the bottom panel are plotted the decreases in performance (%) for each audiovisual condition for both proficient (E) and nonproficient (F) CI users. (Adapted with permission from Ref 194. Copyright 2007 Elsevier).
Article
The human brain has the remarkable ability to adapt to changes in its environment by benefiting from its ‘plastic’ properties. Following brain injury, the amputation of a limb, or the loss of a sensory input such as peripheral blindness, brain circuitry often seems to be able to reorganize itself in order to compensate for the handicap by being recruited to carry out tasks not associated with their prior ‘default’ functioning. The purpose of this review is to illustrate the brain's remarkable ability to adapt to changes in its environment, particularly when it is faced with a sensory loss. Two excellent models to study this phenomenon are provided by blind and deaf individuals. In both cases, studies have shown that they appear to compensate for the loss of sensory input with enhanced abilities in their remaining senses. These behavioral modifications are often coupled with changes in cerebral processing, generally in the form of crossmodal recruitment of deaffarented primary and secondary sensory areas. We will also discuss the possible mechanisms underlying these changes and whether the functional topography of these regions present in unimpaired individuals is preserved in blindness and deafness. The notion of a critical period for plastic changes will also be discussed and its importance will be shown to be twofold. On the one hand, the functional relevance of crossmodal processing appears to decrease as a function of the age of onset of the deficiency. On the other hand, the more cortical reorganization takes place, the less likely brain areas will be able to process input from its original sensory modality. This is especially important for deaf individuals as auditory input can now be restored thanks to cochlear implants. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
Research on affect and emotion has recently been informed by novel methods and theories in cognitive neuroscience. This perspective, known as affective neuroscience, has the potential to dramatically improve our understanding of fundamental processes of emotion. In this article, we review the major neural systems involved in emotion and consider the computational properties of these regions. Specifically, we consider affect systems associated with the representation of predicted and experienced affective states, the cortical re-representation of body states, and the role of reflection in generating and maintaining emotional episodes. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 656–665 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.145For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
 
Article
As we grow older, we gain knowledge and experience greater emotional balance, but we also experience memory loss and difficulties in learning new associations. Which cognitive abilities decline, remain stable or improve with age depends on the health of the brain and body as well as on what skills are practiced or challenged in everyday life. Recent research provides a growing understanding of the relationship between physical and cognitive changes across the life span and reveals ways to increase mental sharpness and avoid cognitive decline. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
Childhood amnesia refers to the inability of children and adults to recall events that took place during their infancy and early childhood. Freud originally coined the term on the basis of clinical interviews; subsequent empirical investigations have confirmed many of Freud's original observations, but not his explanation for the phenomenon. Consistent with Freud's view, childhood amnesia is not a unitary phenomenon, but rather consists of at least two separate phases. In this article, we review the evidence for a two-stage phenomenon and highlight some of the major developmental changes that might contribute to each phase. We reject Freud's repression explanation and argue instead that a comprehensive theory of childhood amnesia will require an understanding of neurological, cognitive, language, and social development. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 136-145 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.107 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Analogical mapping is a core process in human cognition. A number of valuable computational models of analogy have been created, capturing aspects of how people compare representations, retrieve potential analogs from memory, and learn from the results. In the past 25 years, this area has progressed rapidly, fueled by strong collaboration between psychologists and Artificial Intelligence (AI) scientists, with contributions from linguists and philosophers as well. There is now considerable consensus regarding the constraints governing the mapping process. However, computational models still differ in their focus, with some aimed at capturing the range of analogical phenomena at the cognitive level and others aimed at modeling how analogical processes might be implemented in neural systems. Some recent work has focused on modeling interactions between analogy and other processes, and on modeling analogy as a part of larger cognitive systems. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 266-276 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.105 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Functional neuroimaging techniques are used widely in cognitive neuroscience to investigate aspects of functional specialization and functional integration in the human brain. Functional integration can be characterized in two ways, functional connectivity and effective connectivity. While functional connectivity describes statistical dependencies between data, effective connectivity rests on a mechanistic model of the causal effects that generated the data. This review addresses the conceptual and methodological basis of established techniques for characterizing effective connectivity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. In particular, we focus on dynamic causal modeling (DCM) of fMRI data and emphasize the importance of model selection procedures and nonlinear mechanisms for context-dependent changes in connection strengths. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
Once considered a uniquely human attribute, brain asymmetry has been proved to be ubiquitous among non-human animals. A synthetic review of evidence of animal lateralization in the motor, sensory, cognitive, and affective domains is provided, together with a discussion of its development and possible biological functions. It is argued that investigation of brain asymmetry in a comparative perspective may favor the link between classical neuropsychological studies and modern developmental and evolutionary biology approaches. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 146–157 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.100 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
Imitation of actions is widespread in the animal kingdom, but the mental capacities thereby implied vary greatly according to the adaptive function of copying. Behavioral synchrony in social species has many possible benefits, including minimizing predation risk and using food resources optimally, but can be understood by the simple cognitive mechanism of response facilitation by priming. Imitation can send a social message, either one of short-term meshing or group identity. Where the imitative match is opaque, as in neonatal imitation, the correspondence problem may imply an innate system of behavior matching; but in other cases, no more than priming may be involved, although there are persistent suggestions that great ape imitation implies empathic abilities. Imitation in the service of learning new skills by following another's example can be divided into contextual imitation (when to employ a familiar action, and to what problem) and production imitation (learning of new skills by imitation). Cognitively, the former requires little more than response facilitation, whereas production imitation needs at least the ability to extract the statistical regularities of repeated action and to incorporate the result into hierarchical program construction. Among our close relatives, only the great apes show much evidence of production imitation of actions, along with the ability to selectively imitate the most rational components of what they observe. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
Pavlov and Thorndike pioneered the experimental study of animal learning and provided psychologists with powerful tools to unveil its underlying mechanisms. Today's research developments and theoretical analyses owe much to the pioneering work of these early investigators. Nevertheless, in the evolution of our knowledge about animal learning, some initial conceptions have been challenged and revised. We first review the original experimental procedures and findings of Pavlov and Thorndike. Next, we discuss critical research and consequent controversies which have greatly shaped animal learning theory. For example, although contiguity seemed to be the only condition that is necessary for learning, we now know that it is not sufficient; the conditioned stimulus (CS) also has to provide information about the occurrence of the unconditioned stimulus (US). Also, animals appear to learn different things about the same stimuli when circumstances vary. For instance, when faced with situations in which the meaning of a CS changes, as in the case of acquisition and later extinction, animals seem to preserve the original knowledge (CS-US) in addition to learning about the new conditions (CS-noUS). Finally, we discuss how parallels among Pavlovian conditioning, operant conditioning, and human causal judgment suggest that causal knowledge may lie at the root of both human and animal learning. All of these empirical findings and theoretical developments prove that animal learning is more complex and intricate than was once imagined. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Perception processes can be investigated at the physical (concerning the stimulation from the environment to the receptors), physiological (the processes taking place in the neural system), and psychological (the 'sense' of perception, the outcome produced by the physical stimulation and the physiological processes) level. The present paper focuses on visual perception, mainly from a psychological level of investigation, and revises comparative literature, highlighting both similarities and differences in the visual structures and functions in different animal classes. For this purpose, the structure of the current eyes is described in a comparative perspective, as well as perceptual organization and object recognition processes, color perception, three-dimensional structuring of the image, and motion perception. Finally, the literature about comparative susceptibility to various visual illusions will be discussed, as illusory perception has been revealed to be a most useful tool to unveil the perceptual algorithms shared by the different species. In spite of major differences between animal species in the structures in charge of perception and in the adaptations to specific ecological niches, experimental data presented here will lead to the conclusion that a number of basic perceptual principles of organization and functioning are shared between species. WIREs Cogn Sci 2011 2 106-116 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.97 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Animals exhibit species-typical adaptations of behavior and may suffer stress in captivity if they are prevented from performing these patterns of behavior. This article considers whether these particular 'needs' rely on cognitive processes or are performed without complex cognition despite their appearance of behavioral complexity. Emotion and cognition in animals are also discussed, particularly whether animals can feel emotions and, if so, what ranges of emotions they might feel. Cognitive capacities that would contribute to suffering include empathy with the suffering of others, memories of negative events and suffering in anticipation of future events. Cognitive bias of individual animals toward positive or negative feelings is related to dominance of the left or right hemisphere, respectively. These biases might be reflected in the animal's preferred limb to pick up food. Hence, limb preference could be a useful measure of cognitive bias. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a cognitive condition that, it is suggested, might involve dominance of the right hemisphere. This debilitating condition is experience-dependent and not infrequently seen in animals in captivity. In conclusion, it is argued that there is an obvious need for more research on cognition as it relates to animal welfare and as a basis for changing legislature to protect animals from suffering. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Twelve years on from Suddendorf and Corballis's mental time travel (MTT) hypothesis, the debate as to whether episodic cognition is unique to humans remains unresolved. In this article, we review the evidence for mental time travel in nonhuman animals and the empirical methods used in this field. Investigation of episodic-like memory has been dominated by ‘What–Where–When’ paradigms, with limited success outside of food-caching corvids, and with only scrub-jays meeting Clayton and colleagues' more specific description of the underlying mnemonics. The recent emergence of an ‘unexpected question’ paradigm tapping recall of unattended aspects of episodes provides a promising new avenue for future studies. Falsification of the Bischof–Köhler hypothesis, that acting to satisfy a future motivational state is beyond the scope of nonhuman animals, has been the ‘holy grail’ of animal future planning research, spawning a plethora of studies. We argue that although the criterion proposed by this hypothesis provides a test for an explicit representation of a future time, it does nothing to get at whether planning for this future is mediated by semantic or episodic processes. WIREs Cogn Sci 2010 1 915–930 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website
 
Article
The combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with computational models for a given cognitive process provides a powerful framework for testing hypotheses about the neural computations underlying such processes in the brain. Here, we outline the steps involved in implementing this approach with reference to the application of reinforcement learning (RL) models that can account for human choice behavior during value-based decision making. The model generates internal variables which can be used to construct fMRI predictor variables and regressed against individual subjects' fMRI data. The resulting regression coefficients reflect the strength of the correlation with blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) activity and the relevant internal variables from the model. In the second part of this review, we describe human neuroimaging studies that have employed this analysis strategy to identify brain regions involved in the computations mediating reward-related decision making. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
The processing of sensory information is fundamental to the basic operation of the nervous system. Our nervous system uses this sensory information to gain knowledge of our bodies and the world around us. This knowledge is of great importance as it provides the coherent and accurate information necessary for successful motor control. Yet, all this knowledge is of an uncertain nature because we obtain information only through our noisy sensors. We are thus faced with the problem of integrating many uncertain pieces of information into estimates of the properties of our bodies and the surrounding world. Bayesian approaches to estimation formalize the problem of how this uncertain information should be integrated. Utilizing this approach, many studies make predictions that faithfully predict human sensorimotor behavior. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 419-428 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.125 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
This discussion of archeology of cognition is concerned primarily with the evolutionary emergence of the cognition particular to modern humans but there is an implication for the evolution of cognition among modern humans. Archeological evidence can provide important insights into the evolutionary emergence of human cognition, but theoretical considerations are fundamental in understanding what sorts of cognition there might have been between the ape-like common ancestor and modern humans. Archeology is the only source of evidence for the behavior associated with such theoretical stages. Cognitive archeology, therefore, involves an iterative interaction between theory from outside archeology and more or less direct evidence from the past. This review considers the range of possible evidence from archeology and genetics and summarizes some of the results of analysis of nonhuman primates particularly to assess characteristics of the last common ancestor (LCA) of apes and humans. The history of changes in size and shape of the brain since separation from other apes introduces the need to assess the appropriate cognitive theories to interpret such evidence. The review concentrates on two such approaches: Baddeley's working memory model as interpreted by Coolidge and Wynn, and Barnard's interacting cognitive subsystems as it has been elaborated to define the cognitive conditions for hominins between the LCA and modern people. Most of the rest of the review considers how the evidence from stone tools might be consistent with such theoretical models of cognition. This evidence is consistent with views that modern human behavior only emerged in the last 100,000 years (or so) but it gives an explanation for that in terms of cognition. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Top-cited authors
Jenny R Saffran
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
Carmen Sandi
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Greg Duncan
  • University of California, Irvine
Katherine Magnuson
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
Cinzia Chiandetti
  • University of Trieste