More than a century ago, the British psychiatrist Alfred Kinsey observed that there was an innate difference between humans and animals.
In the words of his colleague, Emile Durkheim, “A mind of the first rank, with the ability to reason.”
But in recent decades, a new understanding of the brain has taken hold, and a new term has entered the vocabulary: the neuro-cognitive model.
“The term neuro- or cognitive” refers to an understanding of mental states in which a person or organism processes information in a way that differs from that of a biological or physical brain.
“Neuro” refers in part to the concept of the mind, as opposed to the biological brain, which is the main organ that is considered to be responsible for thinking.
“It’s a new science,” said James R. Soderberg, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California, Irvine.
“There is a very strong correlation between how neuro is understood and how we feel.”
For example, there is a strong relationship between neurocognition and empathy.
Neurocognitions are based on the idea that the brain is more than just a machine to process information.
The brain is a complex network of nerve cells, the neurons that control movement and sensory input, and the areas of the nervous system that are responsible for emotions, behaviour, and cognitive function.
In the early 20th century, researchers began to understand that this network of neurons could be thought of as a system, with parts of the network performing specific tasks.
For example, certain areas of a brain are associated with certain kinds of movement, while others are associated to certain types of thinking.
Scientists in the 20th and early 21st centuries began to develop models of the neural circuits in which certain areas perform certain types to produce certain kinds to produce different kinds of behaviour.
“It’s the same thing,” Soderbogen said.
For example in humans, the right hemisphere of the brains cortex is responsible for processing language, while the left hemisphere is responsible to process emotional processing.
However, as the term “neuro-cognitivism” has taken on meaning in recent years, the focus has shifted to understanding the way that certain regions of the cortical network work.
The theory is that these areas are involved in the “mental representation” of the world, or how our mental states are represented in the brain.
For instance, in a typical brain, people may have a set of neurons in the left-hemisphere cortex that encode an image or a picture of a person, which may be represented by a neuron in the right-hemispheric cortex.
But when these neurons fire, a computer program may then learn to represent the image or picture in a new way, as a new representation of the image.
The researchers have also been able to show that the “memory” of these new representations is similar to the old representations, in that it is an information processing process that relies on the way the neurons fire.
The latest research from the US National Institutes of Health has shown that when researchers place people in a brain scanner and ask them to perform an episodic memory task, the “neurons that fire” during this task are different from the neurons in other parts of a human brain.
This “memory network” is called the “frontal cortex” or the “inner working memory”.
Scientists have also shown that the same networks are involved when the person performs a series of tasks that involve learning.
“The frontal cortex is part of the learning process,” said Soderbos.
In this work, the scientists looked at a series a tasks in which people had to learn a set number of sentences, then a sequence of sentences that had to be repeated.
They found that the frontal cortex was activated when the participants were asked to learn sentences that contained new words and phrases.
The next step was to see how the activation patterns changed when the tasks involved complex, word-finding tasks.
The researchers then compared the activation pattern to the activation of the frontal areas during a number of other tasks, including word searches, in which the participants had to locate the words they were asked.
In both tasks, the frontal regions were more active when participants were presented with more complex, language-based information, including anagrams and pictures of people.
The frontal areas were also activated when participants had the task repeated, but only when the task involved more words, pictures, or sounds.
These findings have been published in the journal PLoS ONE.
This research is important because they have shown that certain parts of brain are involved with different types of mental processes, and that these processes can be influenced by changes in the activity of specific regions of brain, said Sederbos.
“This is a key step in understanding the evolution of human brain development and how our brains evolved to perform cognitive functions.”
This research was supported by the National Institutes on Aging (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Medical Research Council (MH-12078