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  Mens Sana Monographs
A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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   2011| January-December  | Volume 9 | Issue 1  
    Online since March 8, 2011

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A journey into chaos: Creativity and the unconscious
Nancy C Andreasen
January-December 2011, 9(1):42-53
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77424  PMID:21694961
The capacity to be creative, to produce new concepts, ideas, inventions, objects or art, is perhaps the most important attribute of the human brain. We know very little, however, about the nature of creativity or its neural basis. Some important questions include how should we define creativity? How is it related (or unrelated) to high intelligence? What psychological processes or environmental circumstance cause creative insights to occur? How is it related to conscious and unconscious processes? What is happening at the neural level during moments of creativity? How is it related to health or illness, and especially mental illness? This paper will review introspective accounts from highly creative individuals. These accounts suggest that unconscious processes play an important role in achieving creative insights. Neuroimaging studies of the brain during "REST" (random episodic silent thought, also referred to as the default state) suggest that the association cortices are the primary areas that are active during this state and that the brain is spontaneously reorganising and acting as a self-organising system. Neuroimaging studies also suggest that highly creative individuals have more intense activity in association cortices when performing tasks that challenge them to "make associations." Studies of creative individuals also indicate that they have a higher rate of mental illness than a noncreative comparison group, as well as a higher rate of both creativity and mental illness in their first-degree relatives. This raises interesting questions about the relationship between the nature of the unconscious, the unconscious and the predisposition to both creativity and mental illness.
  24,308 302 5
Brain-mind dyad, human experience, the consciousness tetrad and lattice of mental operations: And further, The need to integrate knowledge from diverse disciplines
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
January-December 2011, 9(1):6-41
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77412  PMID:21694960
Brain, Mind and Consciousness are the research concerns of psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, cognitive neuroscientists and philosophers. All of them are working in different and important ways to understand the workings of the brain, the mysteries of the mind and to grasp that elusive concept called consciousness. Although they are all justified in forwarding their respective researches, it is also necessary to integrate these diverse appearing understandings and try and get a comprehensive perspective that is, hopefully, more than the sum of their parts. There is also the need to understand what each one is doing, and by the other, to understand each other's basic and fundamental ideological and foundational underpinnings. This must be followed by a comprehensive and critical dialogue between the respective disciplines. Moreover, the concept of mind and consciousness in Indian thought needs careful delineation and critical/evidential enquiry to make it internationally relevant. The brain-mind dyad must be understood, with brain as the structural correlate of the mind, and mind as the functional correlate of the brain. To understand human experience, we need a triad of external environment, internal environment and a consciousness that makes sense of both. We need to evolve a consensus on the definition of consciousness, for which a working definition in the form of a Consciousness Tetrad of Default, Aware, Operational and Evolved Consciousness is presented. It is equally necessary to understand the connection between physical changes in the brain and mental operations, and thereby untangle and comprehend the lattice of mental operations. Interdisciplinary work and knowledge sharing, in an atmosphere of healthy give and take of ideas, and with a view to understand the significance of each other's work, and also to critically evaluate the present corpus of knowledge from these diverse appearing fields, and then carry forward from there in a spirit of cooperative but evidential and critical enquiry - this is the goal for this monograph, and the work to follow.
  17,997 142 6
Understanding brain, mind and soul: Contributions from neurology and neurosurgery
Sunil K Pandya
January-December 2011, 9(1):129-149
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77431  PMID:21694966
Treatment of diseases of the brain by drugs or surgery necessitates an understanding of its structure and functions. The philosophical neurosurgeon soon encounters difficulties when localising the abstract concepts of mind and soul within the tangible 1300-gram organ containing 100 billion neurones. Hippocrates had focused attention on the brain as the seat of the mind. The tabula rasa postulated by Aristotle cannot be localised to a particular part of the brain with the confidence that we can localise spoken speech to Broca's area or the movement of limbs to the contralateral motor cortex. Galen's localisation of imagination, reasoning, judgement and memory in the cerebral ventricles collapsed once it was evident that the functional units-neurones-lay in the parenchyma of the brain. Experiences gained from accidental injuries (Phineas Gage) or temporal lobe resection (William Beecher Scoville); studies on how we see and hear and more recent data from functional magnetic resonance studies have made us aware of the extensive network of neurones in the cerebral hemispheres that subserve the functions of the mind. The soul or atman, credited with the ability to enliven the body, was located by ancient anatomists and philosophers in the lungs or heart, in the pineal gland (Descartes), and generally in the brain. When the deeper parts of the brain came within the reach of neurosurgeons, the brainstem proved exceptionally delicate and vulnerable. The concept of brain death after irreversible damage to it has made all of us aware of 'the cocktail of brain soup and spark' in the brainstem so necessary for life. If there be a soul in each of us, surely, it is enshrined here.
  13,647 210 1
Mind-body dualism: A critique from a health perspective
Neeta Mehta
January-December 2011, 9(1):202-209
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77436  PMID:21694971
Philosophical theory about the nature of human beings has far reaching consequences on our understanding of various issues faced by them. Once taken as self-evident, it becomes the foundation on which knowledge gets built. The cause of concern is that this theoretical framework rarely gets questioned despite its inherent limitations and self-defeating consequences, leading to crisis in the concerned field. The field, which is facing crisis today, is that of medicine, and the paradigmatic stance that is responsible for the crisis is Cartesian dualismͿa view that mind and body are essentially separate entities. This paper discusses Cartesian dualism in the context of the practice of medicine. Focusing more closely on how disease, health and treatment are defined through this position, the paper builds up its critique by throwing light on its accomplishments, limitations and self-defeating consequences. The paper also seeks to understand why this dualism is still alive despite its disavowal from philosophers, health practitioners and lay people.
  10,908 175 4
Science, names giving and names calling: Change NDM-1 to PCM
Ajai R Singh
January-December 2011, 9(1):294-319
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77446  PMID:21694981
A journal editor recently apologised for publishing a 2010 paper in which authors designated an enzyme as New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) and its related gene blaNDM-1 after a city, New Delhi. This name had raised an outcry in India, with health authorities, media and medical practitioners demanding New Delhi be dropped from the name. The name was actually first given in another 2009 paper, whose corresponding author remains the same as the 2010 paper. There is a tradition of eponymous names in science. But those found derogatory to races, groups, cities, and countries have been changed. For example, "Mongolism" was changed to Down's syndrome; "Australia" antigen to HBsAg; "Mexican" Swine flu to H1N1; "GRID" (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and 4H-Disease (Haitians, Homosexuals, Haemophiliacs and Heroin Users Disease) to AIDS. It is necessary that NDM-1 also be changed to a name based on scientific characteristics. NDM-1 must be changed to PCM (plasmid-encoding carbapenem-resistant metallo-β-lactamase). It is also necessary to review the tradition of naming organisms, diseases, genes, etc. after cities, countries and races. Often, such names giving amounts to names calling. It needs to be discarded by scientists in all new names giving from now on. "Geographical" and "racial" names giving must be replaced by "scientific" names giving. Journal editors must ensure that such scientific names giving is laid down as standard guideline in paper submissions. All such names still in currency need to be phased out by replacing them with names based on scientific characteristics, or in honour of their pioneering scientist/s or institutions. The lead author of the above 2010 paper has said he was not consulted about the final draft and did not agree with the conclusions of the paper. To ensure that corresponding authors do not ride roughshod over co-authors, and lead and other authors do not backtrack on papers, editors must ensure written concurrence of all authors, especially the lead author, to the final draft of a paper and include this in their guidelines for paper submissions.
  10,459 240 6
Freudian theory and consciousness: A conceptual analysis
Avinash De Sousa
January-December 2011, 9(1):210-217
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77437  PMID:21694972
This paper aims at taking a fresh look at Freudian psychoanalytical theory from a modern perspective. Freudian psychology is a science based on the unconscious (id) and the conscious (ego). Various aspects of Freudian thinking are examined from a modern perspective and the relevance of the psychoanalytical theory of consciousness is projected. Do psychoanalysis and the unconsciousness have something to teach us about consciousness? Approaching Freud from a historical, psychoanalytical, anthropological and sociological perspective, we need to look at how Freudian theory may contribute to a better understanding of consciousness. We also need to look at psychoanalytical psychotherapy and its contribution to a better understanding of body-mind dualism and consciousness as a whole. Ego psychology is considered in the present day context and it is synthesized with various psychological studies to give us a better understanding of consciousness.
  9,672 160 1
Consciousness, cognition and the cognitive apparatus in the vedānta tradition
R Balasubramanian
January-December 2011, 9(1):54-78
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77427  PMID:21694962
A human being is a complex entity consisting of the Self (also known as Consciousness), mind, senses and the body. The Vedānta tradition holds that the mind, the senses and the body are essentially different from the Self or Consciousness. It is through consciousness that we are able to know the things of the world, making use of the medium of the mind and the senses. Furthermore, the mind, though material, is able to reveal things, borrowing the light from consciousness. From the phenomenological point of view, we have to answer the following questions: how does one know the mind/the mental operations/the cogitations of the mind? Does the mind know itself? Is it possible? There is, again, the problem of the intentionality of consciousness. Is consciousness intentional? According to Vedānta, consciousness by its very nature is not intentional, but it becomes intentional through the mind. The mind or the ego is not part of the consciousness; on the contrary, it is transcendent to consciousness. It is difficult to spell out the relation between consciousness and the mind. How does consciousness, which is totally different from the mind, get related to the mind in such a way that it makes the latter capable of comprehending the things of the world? The Vedānta tradition provides the answer to this question in terms of the knower-known relation. Consciousness is pure light, self-luminous by its very nature, that is, although it reveals other objects, it is not revealed by anything else. When Sartre describes it as nothingness, bereft of even ego, it is to show that it is pure light revealing objects outside it.
  9,076 153 -
John locke on personal identity
Namita Nimbalkar
January-December 2011, 9(1):268-275
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77443  PMID:21694978
John Locke speaks of personal identity and survival of consciousness after death. A criterion of personal identity through time is given. Such a criterion specifies, insofar as that is possible, the necessary and sufficient conditions for the survival of persons. John Locke holds that personal identity is a matter of psychological continuity. He considered personal identity (or the self) to be founded on consciousness (viz. memory), and not on the substance of either the soul or the body.
  8,174 97 -
Recent advances in brain physiology and cognitive processing
Alfredo Pereira Jr, Maria Alice Ornellas Pereira, Fábio Augusto Furlan
January-December 2011, 9(1):183-192
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77434  PMID:21694969
The discovery of participation of astrocytes as active elements in glutamatergic tripartite synapses (composed by functional units of two neurons and one astrocyte) has led to the construction of models of cognitive functioning in the human brain, focusing on associative learning, sensory integration, conscious processing and memory formation/retrieval. We have modelled human cognitive functions by means of an ensemble of functional units (tripartite synapses) connected by gap junctions that link distributed astrocytes, allowing the formation of intra- and intercellular calcium waves that putatively mediate large-scale cognitive information processing. The model contains a diagram of molecular mechanisms present in tripartite synapses and contributes to explain the physiological bases of cognitive functions. It can be potentially expanded to explain emotional functions and psychiatric phenomena.
  6,301 177 3
Sickness and healing and the evolutionary foundations of mind and minding
Horacio Fabrega Jr
January-December 2011, 9(1):159-182
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77433  PMID:21694968
Disease represents a principal tentacle of natural selection and a staple theme of evolutionary medicine. However, it is through a small portal of entry and a very long lineage that disease as sickness entered behavioural spaces and human consciousness. This has a long evolutionary history. Anyone interested in the origins of medicine and psychiatry as social institution has to start with analysis of how mind and body were conceptualised and played out behaviourally following the pongid/hominin split and thereafter. The early evolution of medicine provides a template for clarifying elemental characteristics of mind and minding. Sickness and healing in chimpanzees represents an early manifestation of (ethno) medicine, termed a behavioural tradition, which is found played out in routines of helping, caring, and healing as well as other social behaviours. Chimpanzees seem to know they are sick since they resort to self-medication when exhibiting signs and symptoms of disease. Also, they help those exhibiting physical and cognitive disability. Among hominins, awareness of consequences and implications of sickness and coping with them represented an important feature of human consciousness and a major factor in the origins of vaunted human abilities involving language, cognition, and culture as we know them. A philosophical examination of the early evolution of sickness and healing provides a window into an understanding of evolving human capacities such as self-awareness, awareness and implications of suffering, theory of mind, altruism, conceptual grasp of sickness and healing and morality.
  6,254 137 1
The neuroendocrine system and stress, emotions, thoughts and feelings
George E Vaillant
January-December 2011, 9(1):113-128
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77430  PMID:21694965
The philosophy of mind is intimately connected with the philosophy of action. Therefore, concepts like free will, motivation, emotions (especially positive emotions), and also the ethical issues related to these concepts are of abiding interest. However, the concepts of consciousness and free will are usually discussed solely in linguistic, ideational and cognitive (i.e. "left brain") terms. Admittedly, consciousness requires language and the left-brain, but the aphasic right brain is equally conscious; however, what it "hears" are more likely to be music and emotions. Joy can be as conscious as the conscious motivation produced by the left-brain reading a sign that says, "Danger mines!!" However, look in the index of a Western textbook of psychology, psychiatry or philosophy for positive emotions located in the limbic system. Notice how discussion of positive spiritual/emotional issues in consciousness and motivation are scrupulously ignored. For example, the popular notions of "love" being either Eros (raw, amoral instinct) or agape (noble, non-specific valuing of all other people) miss the motivational forest for the trees. Neither Eros (hypothalamic) nor agape (cortical) has a fraction of the power to relieve stress as attachment (limbic love), yet until the 1950s attachment was neither appreciated nor discussed by academic minds. This paper will point out that the prosocial, "spiritual" positive emotions like hope, faith, forgiveness, joy, compassion and gratitude are extremely important in the relief of stress and in regulation of the neuroendocrine system, protecting us against stress. The experimental work reviewed by Antonio Damasio and Barbara Fredrickson, and the clinical example of Alcoholics Anonymous, will be used to illustrate these points.
  6,161 201 1
Meditation and the brain: Attention, control and emotion
Gabriel José Corrêa Mograbi
January-December 2011, 9(1):276-283
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77444  PMID:21694979
Meditation has been for long time avoided as a scientific theme because of its complexity and its religious connotations. Fortunately, in the last years, it has increasingly been studied within different neuroscientific experimental protocols. Attention and concentration are surely among the most important topics in these experiments. Notwithstanding this, inhibition of emotions and discursive thoughts are equally important to understand what is at stake during those types of mental processes. I philosophically and technically analyse and compare results from neuroimaging studies, produced by leading authorities on the theme, dealing with two types of meditation: "one-pointed concentration" and "compassion meditation". Analysing "one-pointed concentration", I show the differences between novice and expert meditation practitioners in terms of brain activity and connectivity, considering the relationship among increased attention and concentration and decreased activity in areas related to discursive thought and emotion. Analysing "compassion meditation", I show the importance of the limbic circuitry in emotion sharing. I follow the same strategy of comparing novice and expert meditation practitioners. The conclusion establishes a common structure to those different ways of dealing with emotion during meditation.
  6,062 216 2
The relationship between creativity and mental disorder in an African setting
O Olugbile, MP Zachariah
January-December 2011, 9(1):225-237
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77439  PMID:21694974
Background: There has for some time now been recognition that there was a relationship between exceptional creative talent and mental disorder. The works of Andreasen (2008) and others in this area have been very significant. However, most of the research has been carried out in USA and Europe. Very little has come out of Africa on the subject. Aim : To survey the beliefs of different groups within an African society, concerning the possibility of a relationship between creative talent and mental disorder. To assess creativity within a community of people with a formal diagnosis of mental disorder. Materials and Methods: Some of the mythology of the Yoruba was examined for content, concerning the behaviour of certain notable individuals and the existence of psychopathology based on modern-day criteria. The beliefs of members of the general public and mental health professionals concerning the existence of a relationship between creative talent and psychopathology were surveyed using a questionnaire designed for the project. A sample of patients with formal diagnoses of affective disorder or schizophrenia drawn from two units, the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Yaba, were assessed for 'Creativity.' Results : Although there are notable 'eccentric' figures in local mythology, the overwhelming majority of the people surveyed do not believe there is any relationship between creativity and mental illness. They however believe that engaging in creative activities helps the mentally ill to recover from illness. The mental health professionals, who were clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, had a significant minority who believed that a relationship does exist, and they also strongly assert that creative activity has a therapeutic effect for the mentally ill. A survey of in-patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and affective disorder failed to show a significant difference in the creativity of the two populations, as measured by the originality score of the Rorschach scale. The survey of patients is inconclusive, based on small sample size (ten patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, ten with bipolar affective disorder.). The linkage between formal mental disorder is only recognised by a significant minority of mental health professionals. A significant proportion of the population believe that creative activity aids recovery from mental illness. More research is required into this important subject in Africa.
  4,806 144 -
What should be the roles of conscious states and brain states in theories of mental activity?
Donelson E Dulany
January-December 2011, 9(1):93-112
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77429  PMID:21694964
Answers to the title's question have been influenced by a history in which an early science of consciousness was rejected by behaviourists on the argument that this entails commitment to ontological dualism and "free will" in the sense of indeterminism. This is, however, a confusion of theoretical assertions with metaphysical assertions. Nevertheless, a legacy within computational and information-processing views of mind rejects or de-emphasises a role for consciousness. This paper sketches a mentalistic metatheory in which conscious states are the sole carriers of symbolic representations, and thus have a central role in the explanation of mental activity and action-while specifying determinism and materialism as useful working assumptions. A mentalistic theory of causal learning, experimentally examined with phenomenal reports, is followed by examination of these questions: Are there common roles for phenomenal reports and brain imaging? Is there defensible evidence for unconscious brain states carrying symbolic representations? Are there interesting dissociations within consciousness?
  4,723 117 -
The concept of thinking: A reappraisal of Ryle's work
Nilanjan Das
January-December 2011, 9(1):260-267
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77442  PMID:21694977
In The Concept of Mind, Ryle's official position seems to be that mental acts cannot be intrinsically private. In The Concept of Mind as well as his later work on thinking, Ryle views thinking as an activity that terminates in a thought, which is a state of being prepared for a performance. Thinking is characterised by what Ryle calls intention-parasitism; for it is, insofar as its underlying motive is concerned, parasitic on the final performance which will take place later. Ryle shows that acts of thinking, owing to their intention-parasitism, can be described in a tactical idiom, with reference to the final performance for which it was intended. However, this framework of intention-parasitism is not adequate to describe all instances of thinking in all their aspects, which therefore remain inextricably private. The task of this paper is to accommodate such privacy within the theoretical framework suggested in The Concept of Mind.
  4,642 110 -
Free will, freedom of choice and frontotemporal lobar degeneration
Daniel A Drubach, Alejandro A Rabinstein, Jennifer Molano
January-December 2011, 9(1):238-250
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77440  PMID:21694975
The question whether human beings have free will has been debated by philosophers and theologians for thousands of years. More recently, neuroscientists have applied novel concepts and tools in neuroscience to address this question. We submit that human beings do have free will and the physiological substrate for its exercise is contained within neural networks. We discuss the potential neurobiology of free will by exploring volitionally initiated motor activity and the behavioural-response to a stimulus-response paradigm. We also submit that the exercise of free will can be affected in patients with the certain neurological disorders such as the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia. Clinicopathological correlation in patients with this disorder provides an opportunity to further elucidate the neural substrate for this fundamental human attribute. We also discuss the clinical correlates of the loss of free will in this population, which is a source of significant distress to patients, significant others and care givers.
  4,343 125 3
Bridging the gap between philosophers of mind and brain researchers: The example of addiction
Christian Perring
January-December 2011, 9(1):193-201
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77435  PMID:21694970
Philosophers and psychologists have long tried to understand people's irrational behaviour through concepts such as weakness of will, compulsion and addiction. The scientific basis of the project has been greatly enhanced by advances in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. However, some philosophers have also been critical of the more general conclusions drawn by the scientists. This is especially true when scientific researchers start making claims that go to philosophical issues, such as free will and responsibility. Conversely, some scientists have been critical of philosophical approaches for not understanding the results of recent research. I examined some of the recent history of scientific claims about addiction, and the rise of the claims from scientists to have shown that addiction is a brain disease and that addictive behaviour is compulsive. Given the well-confirmed evidence that addicts can modulate their behaviour in response to rewards, punishments and context, it is clear that according to normal definitions of compulsivity the behaviour of addicts is not typically compulsive, suggesting that neuroscientists are making an error in their interpretation of data. Since philosophers have expertise in making distinctions between different kinds of action and categorising them as free, weak-willed and compulsive, we will achieve a better interpretation of the neuroscience of addiction when taking this philosophical work into account. Conversely, given the status of science in the modern world, philosophers have to grapple with the latest neuroscientific discoveries and show the compatibility of their philosophical theories with the data for their approaches to maintain credibility.
  4,032 121 -
Neuroscience and values: A case study illustrating developments in policy, training and research in the UK and internationally
KWM Fulford
January-December 2011, 9(1):79-92
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77428  PMID:21694963
In the current climate of dramatic advances in the neurosciences, it has been widely assumed that the diagnosis of mental disorder is a matter exclusively for value-free science. Starting from a detailed case history, this paper describes how, to the contrary, values come into the diagnosis of mental disorders, directly through the criteria at the heart of psychiatry's most scientifically grounded classification, the American Psychiatric Association's DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). Various possible interpretations of the prominence of values in psychiatric diagnosis are outlined. Drawing on work in the Oxford analytic tradition of philosophy, it is shown that, properly understood, the prominence of psychiatric diagnostic values reflects the necessary engagement of psychiatry with the diversity of individual human values. This interpretation opens up psychiatric diagnostic assessment to the resources of a new skills-based approach to working with complex and conflicting values (also derived from analytic philosophy) called 'values-based practice.' Developments in values-based practice in training, policy and research in mental health are briefly outlined. The paper concludes with an indication of how the integration of values-based with evidence-based approaches provides the basis for psychiatric practice in the twenty-first century that is both science-based and person-centred.
  4,015 133 1
Template for MSM submissions
Ajai R Singh
January-December 2011, 9(1):320-323
  4,005 109 -
Neural basis of decision-making and assessment: Issues on testability and philosophical relevance
Gabriel José Corrêa Mograbi
January-December 2011, 9(1):251-259
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77441  PMID:21694976
Decision-making is an intricate subject in neuroscience. It is often argued that laboratorial research is not capable of dealing with the necessary complexity to study the issue. Whereas philosophers in general neglect the physiological features that constitute the main aspects of thought and behaviour, I advocate that cutting-edge neuroscientific experiments can offer us a framework to explain human behaviour in its relationship with will, self-control, inhibition, emotion and reasoning. It is my contention that self-control mechanisms can modulate more basic stimuli. Assuming the aforementioned standpoints, I show the physiological mechanisms underlying social assessment and decision-making. I also establish a difference between veridical and adaptive decision-making, useful to create experimental designs that can better mimic the complexity of our day-by-day decisions in more ecologically relevant laboratorial research. Moreover, I analyse some experiments in order to develop an epistemological reflection about the necessary neural mechanisms to social assessment and decision-making.
  3,893 118 5
A discussion in the mind brain consciousness group 2010-2011: Let's study the structure that is the Very Raison de etre of our existence
Ajai R Singh, Richard Godwin, Gabriel Mograbi, R Balasubramanian, Veena Garyali
January-December 2011, 9(1):284-293
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77445  PMID:21694980
  3,603 93 2
Call for Papers for MSM 2012 Theme Monograph
Ajai Singh
January-December 2011, 9(1):324-328
  3,441 101 -
The contribution of prefrontal executive processes to creating a sense of self
William Hirstein
January-December 2011, 9(1):150-158
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77432  PMID:21694967
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 impression of an active, controlling presence in consciousness. If we examine what philosophers have said about the "ego" (Descartes), "the Self" (Locke and Hume), the "self of all selves" (William James), we will find that it fits what is now known about executive processes. Hume, for instance, famously argued that he could not detect the self in consciousness, and this would correspond to the claim (made by Crick and Koch, for instance) that we are not conscious of the executive processes themselves, but rather of their results.
  3,386 116 2
From data processing to mental organs: An interdisciplinary path to cognitive neuroscience
Manoj Patharkar
January-December 2011, 9(1):218-224
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77438  PMID:21694973
Human brain is a highly evolved coordinating mechanism in the species Homo sapiens. It is only in the last 100 years that extensive knowledge of the intricate structure and complex functioning of the human brain has been acquired, though a lot is yet to be known. However, from the beginning of civilisation, people have been conscious of a 'mind' which has been considered the origin of all scientific and cultural development. Philosophers have discussed at length the various attributes of consciousness. At the same time, most of the philosophical or scientific frameworks have directly or indirectly implied mind-body duality. It is now imperative that we develop an integrated approach to understand the interconnection between mind and consciousness on one hand and brain on the other. This paper begins with the proposition that the structure of the brain is analogous, at least to certain extent, to that of the computer system. Of course, it is much more sophisticated and complex. The second proposition is that the Chomskyean concept of 'mental organs' is a good working hypothesis that tries to characterise this complexity in terms of an innate cognitive framework. By following this dual approach, brain as a data processing system and brain as a superstructure of intricately linked mental organs, we can move toward a better understanding of 'mind' within the framework of empirical science. The one 'mental organ' studied extensively in Chomskyean terms is 'language faculty' which is unique in its relation to brain, mind and consciousness.
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Preface, MSM 2011

January-December 2011, 9(1):1-5
  3,150 116 -
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