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William Hirstein

William Hirstein
Eiledon Inc.

Doctor of Philosophy

About

65
Publications
51,588
Reads
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3,181
Citations
Introduction
Consciousness, aesthetic experience, responsibility, self-deception, confabulation, executive processes, the misidentification syndromes.
Additional affiliations
September 1999 - present
Elmhurst College
Position
  • Professor (Full)
September 1994 - August 1997
University of California, San Diego
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (65)
Article
Full-text available
The patient with Capgras' syndrome claims that people very familiar to him have been replaced by impostors. I argue that this disorder is due to the destruction of a representation that the patient has of the mind of the familiar person. This creates the appearance of a familiar body and face, but without the familiar personality, beliefs, and thou...
Book
Full-text available
Can consciousness and the human mind be understood and explained in sheerly physical terms? Materialism is a philosophical/scientific theory, according to which the mind is completely physical. This theory has been around for literally thousands of years, but it was always stymied by its inability to explain how exactly mere matter could do the ama...
Article
Full-text available
Neuroscience can relate to ethics and normative issues via the brain’s cognitive control network. This network accomplishes several executive processes, such as planning, task-switching, monitoring, and inhibiting. These processes allow us to increase the accuracy of our perceptions and our memory recall. They also allow us to plan much farther int...
Chapter
U.S. criminal courts have recently moved toward seeing juveniles as inherently less culpable than their adult counterparts, influenced by a growing mass of neuroscientific and psychological evidence. In support of this trend, we argue that the criminal law's notion of responsible agency requires both the cognitive capacity to understand one's actio...
Book
Full-text available
This file contains the Table of Contents and Chapter 1 of the book Responsible Brains: Neuroscience, Law, and Human Culpability.
Article
Full-text available
The cases that Doris chronicles of confabulation are similar to perceptual illusions in that, while they show the interstices of our perceptual or cognitive system, they fail to establish that our everyday perception or cognition is not for the most part correct. Doris's account in general lacks the resources to make synchronic assessments of respo...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter we will argue that the capacities necessary to moral and legal agency can be understood as executive functions in the brain. Executive functions underwrite both the cognitive and volitional capacities that give agents a fair opportunity to avoid wrongdoing: to recognize their acts as immoral and/or illegal, and to act or refrain fro...
Article
Full-text available
Child soldiers, who often appear to be both victims and perpetrators, present a vexing moral and legal challenge: how can we protect the rights of children while seeking justice for the victims of war crimes? There has been little stomach, either in domestic or international courts, for prosecuting child soldiers—but neither has this challenge been...
Chapter
Full-text available
Recent evidence points to widespread underconnectivity in autistic brains owing to deviant white matter, the fibers that make long connections between areas of the cortex. Subjects with autism show measurably fewer long-range connections between the parietal and prefrontal cortices. These findings may help shed light on the current debate in the co...
Chapter
Full-text available
The first well-publicized success of the neuroscience revolution was Damasio’s (1995) case history of a man referred to as EVR, who began to show signs of psychopathy following surgery to remove a brain tumor above the orbits of his eyes. Since then, the neuroscience of psychopathy and sociopathy has steadily moved forward to begin to identify what...
Chapter
The first well-publicized success of the neuroscience revolution was Damasio’s (1995) case history of a man referred to as EVR, who began to show signs of psychopathy following surgery to remove a brain tumor above the orbits of his eyes. Since then, the neuroscience of psychopathy and sociopathy has steadily moved forward to begin to identify what...
Article
Full-text available
One of the final obstacles to understanding consciousness in physical terms concerns the question of whether conscious states can exist in posterior regions of the brain without active connections to the brain's prefrontal lobes. If they can, difficult issues concerning our knowledge of our conscious states can be resolved. This paper contains a li...
Article
Full-text available
[This is a response to a target article by Bullot and Reber.] Although the art-historical context of a work of art is important to our appreciation of it, it is our knowledge of that history that plays causal roles in producing the experience itself. This knowledge is in the form of memories, both semantic memories about the historical circumstanc...
Article
Full-text available
The psychological literature now differentiates between two types of psychopath: successful (with little or no criminal record) and unsuccessful (with a criminal record). Recent research indicates that earlier findings of reduced autonomic activity, reduced prefrontal grey matter, and compromised executive activity may only be true of unsuccessful...
Article
We consider a number of syndromes incorporating paradoxical phenomena that lie at the boundary between neurology and psychiatry. Amongst the phenomena we examine are Cotard's Syndrome (belief that one is dead/dying), Capgras Syndrome (belief that a personally familiar person has been replaced by an imposter), and Apotemnophilia (desire to have a li...
Article
Full-text available
According to several current theories, executive processes help achieve various mental actions such as remembering, planning and decision-making, by executing cognitive operations on representations held in consciousness. I plan to argue that these executive processes are partly responsible for our sense of self, because of the way they produce the...
Article
When laws or legal principles mention mental states such as intentions to form a contract, knowledge of risk, or purposely causing a death, what parts of the brain are they speaking about? We argue here that these principles are tacitly directed at our prefrontal executive processes. Our current best theories of consciousness portray it as a worksp...
Chapter
We all confabulate on occasion. This chapter examines the phenomenon of confabulation, especially as it applies to personal memories.
Article
This article focuses on aspects of the neuroscience and psychology of memory related to memory errors, the processes by which we form and recon- struct memories, as well as the conscious retrieval of memories. We examine two neurological syn- dromes in which patients report false memories, Korsakoff's syndrome and aneurysm of the ante- rior communi...
Article
Full-text available
Todd Feinberg's personal significance theory offers a coherent and unified explanation for the misidentification syndromes, such as Capgras syndrome, as well as certain body-image disorders, such as asomatognosia and somatoparaphrenia. This reply offers several criticisms directed toward sharpening the theory. First, personal significance is still...
Chapter
Aesthetic experience includes more than mere perception. Some forms of aesthetic perception may grow out of our visual system's natural preferences for certain forms and shapes over others. Use of the human face in artworks takes advantage of our brains' processes for interpreting faces and their emotions. Artists, sometimes deliberately, take adva...
Chapter
Full-text available
Introduction What is confabulation? It may be preferable to start with an example since the natural starting point – a definition of the term 'confabulation' – is still a dif-ficult and controversial topic. 'I was at the office, doing the year-end inven-tory', a former office worker might reply, when asked about what he did yesterday, even though h...
Chapter
This chapter presents an account that, if correct, brings the misidentification syndromes and asomatognosia into line with the rest of the confabulation syndromes by showing how they also fall under the two-factor theory. We build large, detailed representations of the minds of those close to us. These representations are exquisitely sensitive to c...
Book
Full-text available
When people confabulate, they make a false claim that they honestly believe is true. The book contains countless fascinating examples of confabulatory behaviour - people falsely recalling events from their childhood, the subject who was partially blind but insisted he could see, the amputee convinced that he retained all his limbs, to the patient w...
Chapter
Full-text available
This is the introduction to a multi-disciplinary collection of articles about confabulation, which can be roughly defined as repeatedly making false claims without intent to deceive.
Article
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P e r c e i v i n g O t h e r s a n d T h e i r M i n d s : R e s p o n s e t o M c G e e r F olk psychology is a naturally occurring psychological theory that we learn implic-itly, and then apply to each other in order to understand, explain and predict our behavior. If folk psychology is a theory, its theoretical entities are beliefs, desires, th...
Article
This article examines the neurobiological aspects of confabulations. It explains that confabulation is a false memory report and that to confabulate is to make unintentionally an ill-grounded, and hence probably false, claim that one should know is ill-grounded. Confabulation is caused by damage to some perceptual or mnemonic process in the posteri...
Article
Full-text available
Contrary to the widely-held view that our conscious states are necessarily private (in that only one person can ever experience them directly), in this paper I argue that it is possible for a person to directly experience the conscious states of another. This possibility removes an obstacle to thinking of conscious states as physical, since their a...
Book
An introductory cognitive science text, with a philosophical focus
Article
Full-text available
Patients with Wernicke's or expressive aphasia are able to produce fluent speech, however, this speech may be complete gibberish sounds and totally incomprehensible, or even when comprehensible to a degree is often laced with severe errors and abnormalities such as verbal and phonemic paraphasias and neologisms. Furthermore, patient's with Wernicke...
Article
Full-text available
Wszyscy chc¹ zrozumieae sztukê. Dlaczego nie próbuj¹ zrozumieae œpiewu ptaków? Pablo Picasso 1. Wstêp Gdyby marsjañski etolog przyby³ na Ziemiê i przyjrza³ siê nam, lu-dziom, by³by zaskoczony wieloma aspektami natury ludzkiej, wœród któ-rych sztuka — nasza sk³onnoœae do tworzenia oraz czerpania przyjemnoœci z malarstwa i rzeŸby — nale¿y na pewno do...
Book
Some neurological patients exhibit a striking tendency to confabulate -- to construct false answers to a question while genuinely believing that they are telling the truth. A stroke victim, for example, will describe in detail a conference he attended over the weekend when in fact he has not left the hospital. Normal people, too, sometimes have a t...
Article
Full-text available
Videnskaben om kunsten En neurologisk teori om den aestetiske oplevelse "Alle ønsker at forstå kunsten. Hvorfor ikke forsøge at forstå fuglens sang?" – Pablo Picasso Hvis en etolog fra Mars skulle finde på at lande på jorden og give sig til at observere os menne-sker, ville mange dele af den menneskelige natur forbløffe ham, men naeppe nogen mere e...
Book
A brief introduction to the philosophical views of Paul and Patricia Churchland
Article
Full-text available
Several recent lines of inquiry have pointed to the amygdala as a potential lesion site in autism. Because one function of the amygdala may be to produce autonomic arousal at the sight of a significant face, we compared the responses of autistic children to their mothers' face and to a plain paper cup. Unlike normals, the autistic children as a who...
Book
A brief introduction to the philosophical views of John R. Searle
Article
Full-text available
Cases in which people are self-deceived seem to require that the person hold two contradictory beliefs, something which appears to be impossible or implausible. A phenomenon seen in some brain-damaged patients known as confabulation (roughly, an ongoing tendency to make false utterances without intent to deceive) can shed light on the problem of se...
Article
Full-text available
We present a theory of human artistic experience and the neural mechanisms that mediate it. Any theory of art (or, indeed, any aspect of human nature) has to ideally have three components. (a) The logic of art: whether there are universal rules or principles; (b) The evolutionary rationale: why did these rules evolve and why do they have the form t...
Article
Full-text available
Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and ‘qualia’. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in tha...
Article
Full-text available
Almost everyone who has a limb amputated will experience a phantom limb--the vivid impression that the limb is not only still present, but in some cases, painful. There is now a wealth of empirical evidence demonstrating changes in cortical topography in primates following deafferentation or amputation, and this review will attempt to relate these...
Article
Full-text available
Patients with Capgras syndrome regard people whom they know well such as their parents or siblings as imposters. Here we describe a case (DS) of this syndrome who presents several novel features. DS was unusual in that his delusion was modality-specific: he claimed that his parents were imposters when he was looking at them but not when speaking to...
Article
Full-text available
Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and 'qualia'. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in tha...
Thesis
Thesis (M.A.)--University of New Mexico, 1987. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [59]-63). An examination of John Searle's "Chinese Room" argument against the idea that computers can have mental states, such as understanding, or other intentional states, such as seeing, believing, or deciding.
Article
Full-text available
The airborne microwave remote sending measurements obtained by the Langley Research Center in support of the 1979 Sea-Ice Radar Experiment (SIRE) in the Beaufort and Bering Seas are discussed. The remote sensing objective of SIRE was to define correlations between both active and passive microwave signatures and ice phenomena assocated with practic...
Article
Full-text available
Microwave remote sensing measurements were cataloged for active and passive instruments in support of the 1979 Greenland Remote Sensing Experiment. Instruments used in this field experiment include the stepped frequency microwave radiometer (4 to 8 GHz) and the airborne microwave scatterometer (14.6 GHz). The microwave signature data are inventorie...

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Hi David et al, I'm delighted that others are interested. When I got started thinking about the scientific evidence wrt consciousness, it was (a) taboo, and (b) interpreted in very specific ways. For example, a common euphemism was "perception" _ because that was safe. But when you compare cs vs. ucs perception (as in backward masking) you get visual cortex activation with lower amplitude and spread, as shown by Dehaene and colleagues. That tell us something new, and I believe it replicates for audition. (Systematic replications should be much more common). Another problem was circular explanation. "Conscious access" was called "awareness" or "attention to" something. But that explains nothing UNLESS you have an independent source of evidence to break the circularity. Other confusions were rife. The conscious (waking) STATE was confused with consciousness OF something. Visual imagery was not fully recognized until Steve Kosslyn, and so on. Attention was used interchangeably with consciousness. All that has cleared up now, either explicitly, or implicitly, by usage. For example, my impression is that attention is used for voluntary control of access to some conscious content. As in voluntary head movements, but not for spontaneous, unconsciously directed eye movements (most fast eye movements are that). As long as these practical usages are clear, they are good enough to avoid confusion. Recent work coming from animal and human electrophysiogy is fabulous. Buszaki's book is important reading. Invasive e-physiology has 1000x the S/N ratio as scalp recording. Both deep sleep and waking look strikingly different at that resolution. Animal researchers have known that for years, but human e-phys researchers were held back by the ethical constraints of working with humans. Penfield was right. Other methodologies are reaching that kind of spatiotemporal resolution, and have their own pros and cons, of course. Our 2013 Frontiers overview still holds water, mostly. My Scholarpedia article is still mostly up to date. But the frontier is moving fast. It's very exciting. Theorists need to integrate the wealth of evidence, clarify ambiguous usages and confusions, and so on. There are still many of them. I believe our theory writing needs much improvement, with the emphasis on INDUCTIVE thinking. (Some writers seem to think this is a form of math, but that's indefensible empirically). A recent article confused the brainstem nuclei involved with the STATE of consciousness with the mostly cortical regions that support CONTENTS of consciousness, like the ventral visual stream. There is appropriate debate about the region of visual integration (MTL or PFC? or both?). I guess I'm a "corticocentrist," but that does NOT rule out other regions, especially given the long evolutionary history of csns -- at least 200 million years for neocortex. Walter Freeman, our late friend, convinced me that paleocortex (incl hippocampus) has to be involved with gustatory-olfactory consciousness. The work on the anterior insula strongly implicates interoceptive consciousness, as in feelings of nausea. Generalization between species is now much more convincing because we have the human and macaque, plus rodent genome. The avian pallium is now considered to be much like cortex in mammals. So there is a TON of work to do. Each question deserves discussion and debate, based on the best evidence available. I HOPE YOU JOIN !!!!