In order to understand how brains carry out perceptual and cognitive processes, we need co-ordinated investigations of these tasks at three levels. In addition to studying the cognitive processes of the whole organism, we need to investigate the contributions of specific brain regions and small groups of neurons within those regions. We also need to understand how computations in distinct regions interact to produce cognition and the pathways through which these interactions take place. These questions are most productively answered by taking a multi-level approach, using a variety of experimental techniques that are themselves developing rapidly in power as research tools. About half a century ago, the first micro-electrode recordings of sensory neurons in mammalian visual cortex transformed our thinking about how the brain carries out the job of seeing the world around us. Since that time, the physiology of cognitive processes has come a long way. New techniques have been developed. Old techniques are being deployed in new ways. However, the most spectacular development has been the growth in the range of topics that are now addressed by this discipline. Recording with micro-electrodes is still centre stage, but today neurons can be studied in conscious animals that are looking, learning, remembering and making decisions, and the recordings are beginning to show how these processes work. New techniques like functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain are now making it possible to study cognitive processes as they occur in the human brain. This important new book addresses a range of questions including: Which parts of the human brain analyse colour? How do neurones enable us to decide what we are looking at? How does paying attention to a stimulus change the way neurons process it? How do neurons decide when and where to move our eyes when we are searching for something? Where in the brain are memories stored? How do neurons tell us we have seen something before? What aspect of brain activity is recorded by a brain scanner? The underlying theme of all the papers is to understand the neuronal events and processes that are responsible for the remarkable range of cognitive tasks that can be carried out by primate brains. With contributions from world leaders in the cognitive neurosciences, this is a volume that will be essential reading for students and researchers involved in brain research.
Introduction; 1. Functional measurements of human ventral occipital cortex: retinotopy and colour; 2. The uses of colour vision: behavioural and physiological distinctiveness of colour stimuli; 3. The temporal resolution of neural codes: does response latency have a unique role?; 4. The neural basis of the blood-oxygen-level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging signal; 5. Exploring the cortical evidence of a sensory-discrimination process; 6. Neuronal activity and its links with the perception of multi-stable figures; 7. The role of attention in visual processing; 8. The neural selection and control of saccades by the frontal eye field; 9. Evidence concerning how neurons of the perirhinal cortex may effect familiarity discrimination; 10. The neural basis of episodic memory: evidence from functional neuroimaging; 11. Against memory systems; 12. The prefrontal cortex: categories, concepts and cognition; 13. Role of uncertainty in sensorimotor control