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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Cognitive Psychology

Experimental Cognitive Psychology And Its Applications edited by Alice F. Healy (Decade of Behavior: American Psychological Association, APA) The study of cognition has experienced rapid growth in the last decade. This topic is fundamental both to the science of psychology and to its applications to real-world problems. Yet there has traditionally been a huge gap between basic research and practice in this area. Experimental Cognitive Psychology and Its Applications aims to bridge this gap by bringing together a group of distinguished experimental psychologists who show how their findings can be applied in daily life.

Chapters cover key areas of cognitive psychological research including learning, memory, information processing, discourse, and knowledge representation. The contributors show how basic research in these areas can be applied to mathematical problem solving, task requirements during training, cross-cultural investigations of intelligence, the investigation of recall, and the improvement in educational methods.

This volume honors three distinguished faculty members from the University of Colorado at Boulder who have recently retired from teaching at the university: Lyle Boume, Walter Kintsch, and Thomas Landauer. Throughout their careers, these pioneers have done basic research on a wide range of topics in experimental cognitive psychology and have made important contributions to our practical understanding. This book will appeal to experimental psychologists; practitioners involved in training, education, and testing; and students and researchers interested in the core issues of human cognition.

The primary purpose of this volume is to bring together contributions by some of the most significant contemporary experimental psychologists working in cognition, including the areas of learning, memory, information processing, discourse, and knowledge representation. They share their perspectives and their recent research findings so that these ideas and results can be integrated for use by practitioners in the field, including those in training, education, and testing. Such integration should also be of value to students and other researchers concerned with the core issues of human cognition.

A secondary purpose of this volume is to serve as a triple Festschrift in honor of three distinguished faculty members from the University of Colorado (CU) who are recently retired from teaching at the university: Lyle Bourne, Walter Kintsch, and Thomas Landauer. All three of these individuals through-out their careers have done basic research on a wide range of topics in experi­mental cognitive psychology. In recent years all three have made important contributions to the understanding of learning, memory, information process­ing, discourse, and knowledge representation, and findings from these studies have direct practical implications for training, education, and testing. In the case of Lyle Bourne, his research has most recently focused on the long-term retention and transfer of knowledge and skills with applications concerning military and industrial training. In the case of Walter Kintsch, his most recent research has been largely on text comprehension with applications concerning the teaching of reading and writing. Finally, in the case of Thomas Landauer, his recent research has been on the representation of knowledge, with applications concerning educational testing.

The primary chapter authors are all eminent contemporary experimental psychologists and theorists in the core areas within cognitive psychology. Each of them has his or her own program of empirical research that, like those of the honorees, has had a significant practical impact on everyday life. Thus, the contributors present summaries of their basic research programs with a focus on the applications of their findings.

The study of cognition has experienced rapid growth in the last decade. This topic is fundamental both to the science of psychology and to its applications to real-world problems. However, there has traditionally been a huge gap between the basic research findings in this area and practice in the field. There, thus, remains a crucial need to bridge from the laboratory to the real world. This volume brings together individuals who not only have a distinguished record as experimental psychologists but also have tried to show how their findings can be applied in the field.


Tuning the Mind: Connecting Aesthetics to Cognitive Science edited by Ruth Katz, Ruth Hacohen (Transaction) The Arts in Mind: Pioneering Texts of a Coterie of British Men of Letters edited by Ruth Katz, Ruth Hacohen (Transaction) Tuning the Mind: Connecting Aesthetics to Cognitive Science edited by Ruth Katz, Ruth Hacohen (Transaction) grew out of an insight that the cognitive studies that have become so central to contemporary discourse owe an unacknowledged debt to eighteenth-century deliberations on how art, and especially music, is processed by the mind. We realized from the outset that to explore this intellectual turn would require an in­terdisciplinary effort to mobilize the entire cultural spectrum that affected these deliberations. We soon discovered that what came to fruition towards the end of the eighteenth century had started as far back as the end of the sixteenth century, and was not fully recognized by the initiators themselves. Indeed, it is only with hindsight, once modem art no longer needs justification and cognitive studies are thriving that the position of these deliberations in intellectual history can be properly assessed.

It began in the late Renaissance with the attempt to render art more expressive. In music, with which we are most familiar, it in­volved the quest for the lost formulae of the Greeks who allegedly knew how to use music to heighten the power of words. Whether real or feigned archaeologists, those engaged in the quest identified new declamatory forms for effective song speech, from which dra­matic music and related forms have emerged. This, of course, was not rediscovery, but invention, from which a semantics of musical expression gradually sprouted. Over a period then, the systematic marriage of words and music branded music with meaning, while music endowed words with affective specificity. This had consequences for "pure" instrumental music.

What had taken place in music, we came to realize, had occurred in painting and poetry as well, although in less conspicuous ways. This is why music, in fact, became more and more emblematic for the arts in general, for it best exemplified what they all tried to achieve. It is explicated in the tale which narrates how musica replaced pictura in the Horatian paradigm of ut pictura poesis.

Whereas modern science in the early seventeenth century affected all of the arts, it revealed central epistemological difficulties in mu­sic that concern art in general. The new scientific discoveries, as is well known, displaced music from the honored place it had occupied in the quadrivium; this, however, was only symptomatic of a broader change that had taken place in the theory of knowledge. It is not that music's numerology was no longer believed to contain artistic truth, but that music was no longer considered able to dis­close the secrets of world harmony. The Platonic conception which maintained that "a sameness of idea" pervaded all spheres of cre­ation from the spiritual to the material and from the rational to the sensual, had become suspect. The recognition that only what is com­mensurable can be part of scientific theory, delegitimized old con­nections between the physical and the metaphysical, or in the case of music, between acoustic quantities and emotional qualities. At the same time, however, this skepticism brought about more careful differentiations between varied mental faculties. Thus, the crisis that could have devastated the arts, and especially music, gave rise to new insights concerning the intricate processing of mental qualities.

By the eighteenth century, writers could examine anew the role of the arts within a general theory of knowledge. This was made possible not only because the phenomena to be observed had by then come into being but also because new conceptions dealing with mental incommensurabilities had been refined. In this state of affairs, those equipped with the philosophical tools forged by both rationalists and empiricists, could treat the old aesthetic queries with new rigor.

Tracing this development, the first chapter of the book deals with the ascendance of epistemological queries concerning artistic quali­ties and tries to isolate their historical moment. We emphasize that questions were asked in all of the arts, and that they were equally related to the rise of expression as an artistic desideratum and to recognition that the immediacy achieved through artistic illusion is neither quantifiable, nor self-understood.

Awareness that the artist is the creator of artistic expression and the one who guarantees its immediacy emerged at the same time. This is the stage at which rhetoric joined poetics in presenting new ways of creating and of understanding the arts. In this new concep­tual space Descartes's analysis of the habitual vs. innate elements in emotional behaviour looms large. Many later theories of art took the lead from Descartes. However, Marin Mersenne, Descartes's contemporary and friend, made the first modern attempt to connect ar­tistic expression and metaphorical activation, and more specifically, musical movement with emotional behaviour.

Whereas the first chapter concentrates primarily on new aesthetic conceptions in the field of music, the second chapter attempts to show that in painting and literature as well, a new agenda was being formulated in the course of the seventeenth century. There was a decline in preoccupation with content-the ideas or objects repre­sented by the work of art-which had assured its communicative value and standing until that time. Gradually it became clear that the power of art does not reside in the objects it represents or imitates, but rather in the creative modalities specific to each artistic medium, which influences its messages. The main part of this chapter ex­plains how these new ideas connect with different modes of "musicalization."

The third chapter discusses the conditions which made music a paradigm for the other arts. Of course, from the point of view of mimesis, music was always problematic. In order to fathom its pe­culiar cognitive nature, it had to be connected, paradoxically, to meanings existing outside its own precincts. The primary and most important step in this direction involved an understanding of the potential for turning musical messages into "fictive" ones, namely, into messages occurring within a fictional space, operatic or other­wise. It was realized that music lacks a simple referent; it creates a new world of signifieds, which are well articulated and correlated. This fictive world of expression came into being with the creation of a hierarchical musical grammar-the grammar of tonal harmony­which served as a frame of reference for musical coherence. In the course of its formulation, musical language appropriated meanings by attaching them to well-defined musical components. Once these connections had become established, there emerged the possibility of their elaboration and manipulation in ways unique to music. On this basis, the development of instrumental music, liberated from the need for textual explication, was made possible. With the elabo­ration of the so called classical style, music's "possible world" was further enriched by a new resource: musical time became entangled with narrative time, to create a unique temporal experience.

How does such a symbolic system, which defies translation of any kind, act cognitively? It is instructive to note that while musical language was coming into being ways of thinking had developed which could deal with this question philosophically. Thus it hap­pened that music, among other "natural languages," became the test­ing ground for plausible hypotheses concerning the working of the mind. The fourth chapter discusses the major outlines of this devel­opment, from Descartes to Condillac and Vico.

A group of British thinkers of the eighteenth century looms large in our book, because they perceived these phenomena in all their complexity. Moreover, they developed methods to address those components of consciousness, which are relevant to the processing of art-symbols in a manner enabling further developments along similar lines. By combining the Aristotelian conception of art as a kind of "making," with the Platonic conception of coherence as a primary aesthetic criterion, the British thinkers, we argue in the fifth chapter, created a new space for discussion, where the "qualities" of consciousness and the "modalities" of the artistic media (to use Cassirer's terminology) could be examined in their interrelationship. According to this group of British men of letters, the reciprocal rela­tionship between "qualities" and "modalities," though dependent on their inherent dictates, initiate a continuous process of metaphori­cal exchange. The full comprehension of this process, they argued, must take into account cultural conditions and the changes they undergo. The medium does not forever remain bound to its initial message, nor is a given message forever limited to one medium only, as Lessing had argued.

If we are in the position to move beyond the thoughts of indi­vidual thinkers to the intellectual coherence of the British group as a whole it is because from our vantage point we observe how their ideas have been transformed, nowadays, into a unified conceptual system, which highlights the contribution of the arts and in particu­lar music to theories of knowledge. Like Gadamer, we see no valid­ity in isolating ourselves from our own time. Quite the contrary, it enables us to become fully aware of the basic premises of our con­sciousness. It is by means of this consciousness, we learn from Gadamer, that we are in a position to fully appreciate the signifi­cance of earlier historical moments that fostered the consciousness with which we are endowed.

However, as is well known, there are many ways of being part of a given historical moment, depending on different cultural codes, and on formulated as well as covert desiderata. The sixth chapter shows how the French and the Germans dealt differently with the questions that preoccupied the British, each nation in accordance with its own past tradition and tendencies. Rather than deny the value of their contributions to the analysis of the problems which emerged, it is perhaps their contributions, especially that of the Ger­mans, that explain why the British contribution has been hidden for so long.

The concluding chapter repeats the main thesis adumbrated in earlier chapters, according to which the discussions dealt with in the book were necessary for the emergence of abstract art on the one hand, and of basic hypotheses concerning the mind, on the other. Thus, a basic problem which was clarified in the British delibera­tions on art concerned the relationship between process and coher­ence as related to construction or representation, which is influenced by that which is being processed, that is, by concrete sensual ele­ments. This involves the question of modes of symbolization, which carry along their own systems of meaning and decoding, leaving a basic theoretical question pertaining to the relationship between per­ception and cognition still unresolved.

So much for Tuning the Mind: Connecting Aesthetics to Cognitive Science. In The Arts in Mind: Pioneering Texts of a Coterie of British Men of Letters edited by Ruth Katz, Ruth Hacohen (Transaction), which is the companion to this volume, we introduce a selection from the writings of the British thinkers, from Shaftesbury to Smith, in a manner easier for the modern reader to understand. The texts are accompanied by our interpretative annotations. Until now the British thinkers have not gained the honor they fully deserve, and their theories have only been partially discussed from the point of view of their inner coherence. Hopefully, our notes will enable the modern reader to follow the line of argumentation of these writers as well as to examine the rigor of our own arguments in the first part of the book.

The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and The Mind's Hidden Complexities by Gilles Fauconnier, Mark Turner (Basic) (PAPERBACK) A long-awaited synthesis that marks a major turning point in cognitive science. Until recently, cognitive science focused on such mental functions as problem solving, grammar, and pattern--the functions in which the human mind most closely resembles a computer. But humans are more than computers: we invent new meanings, imagine wildly, and even have ideas that have never existed before. Today the cutting edge of cognitive science addresses precisely these mysterious, creative aspects of the mind.

The Way We Think is a landmark analysis of the imaginative nature of the mind. Conceptual blending is already widely known in research laboratories throughout the world; this book, written to be accessible to both lay readers and interested scientists, is its definitive statement. Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner show that conceptual blending is the root of the cognitively modern human mind, and that conceptual blends themselves are continually combined and reblended to create the rich mental fabric in which we live.

The Way We Think shows how this blending operates; how it is affected by (and gives rise to) language, identity, culture, and invention; and how we imagine what could be and what might have been. The result is a bold and exciting new view of how the mind works.

Conceptual blending, the basis of this book, is basically the ability of the mind to take two different concepts, form a cognitive link between them and produce a third new concept that is a blending together of the first two (very similar to the thesis, antithesis and synthesis concepts). This ability is what has allowed the human species to move beyond simple logic into creative thinking. It is what has allowed us to excel in arts, develop religious thought, create a language and engage in many other activities that required insight and intuitive thinking. The Way We Think provides detailed analysis of this blending and how it not only has affected our past but also how it affects us today.

Cognition: Exploring the Science of the Mind (Second Edition) by Daniel Reisberg (Norton) presents current topics and issues in clear, lively prose that is accessible to students. With Cognition, students see where ideas originate, how they are evaluated, and how theories evolve through experimentation. The new Second Edition has been completely redesigned and includes new pedagogy to make the book even more student friendly. Over 600 new citations, as well as revisions to every chapter, bring the text to the forefront of its field. Major updates include a new chapter on the brain and cognition, an expanded emphasis on visual perception, a completely reconceived chapter on memory errors and gaps, and a thorough updating of the chapters on judgment, decision making, and reasoning.

Strengthened Coverage of Neuroscience
The Second Edition includes an engaging new chapter on neuroscience entitled "The Brain and Cognition." While laying out the basics of neuroanatomy and neurochemistry, Professor Reisberg uses Capgras syndrome as a multipage case study to demonstrate how neuroscientists study the brain and they have learned about its operating principles. Other key neuroscientific updates include coverage of the executive functions and the role they play in guiding behavior.

New Coverage of Visual Perception
Vision has become one of the hottest fields in cognitive psychology. Many scholars stress the notion that we each play a highly active role in perceiving and constructing our visual world. In response, the Second Edition incorporates new ideas regarding the visual sensory system, as well as research concerning how we perceive and construct our visual world.

Updated Chapter on Memory
While emphasizing how accurate memory usually is, Professor Reisberg discusses the diverse factors that can lead to memory errors, even those caused by normally reliable mechanisms.

New Research on Judgment, Decision Making, and Reasoning
Major updates include alternative explanations of our ability to judge and reason from the evolutionary perspective; coverage of new research on inattention blindness; and expanded coverage of new theories of decision making, including process-oriented theories.

Cognition provides a good introduction to the core issues facing cognitive psychology. He presents with clarity the crucial experiments that have shaped questions and research regarding pattern recognition, categorization, problem solving, language, and especially memory. Most importantly he is not content to give only one view, but offers alternatives which the interested reader may seek out. The chapters on memory are some of the strongest, as are the topics on judgment and decision making. Psycholinguistics is given only one chapter, but that is to be expected since that field merits its own book

The Foundations of Cognitive Science by Joao Branquinho (Oxford University Press) (PAPERBACK) is a set of thirteen new essays on key topics in this lively interdisciplinary field, by a stellar international line‑up of authors. Philosophers, psychologists, and neurologists here come together to investigate such fascinating subjects as consciousness; vision; rationality; arti­ficial life; the neural basis of language, cognition, and emotion; and the rela­tions between mind and world, for instance our representation of numbers and space. Anyone interested in the exploration of the human mind will enjoy this book.


The present volume brings together thirteen new essays dealing with a wide variety of important topics in the foundations of the fascinating multi­disciplinary field of studies currently known as Cognitive Science. The pur­pose of this Introduction is to provide the reader with a synoptic view of the territory covered by the book, especially the main issues and problems addressed, and to give an outline of the central contributions made by each chapter to their discussion. It is expected that this will help readers, particu­larly those less familiar with the area, to be able to discern a background of shared theoretical concerns and general assumptions behind the diversity of topics and approaches displayed by the contributed chapters. Given the controversial nature of most issues in the foundations of cognitive science, it could hardly be expected from a description of the territory that it be theoretically neutral; however, we have tried as much as possible to stay close to a set of methodological claims that are very often seen as consensual.

The multi‑disciplinary character of the area is clearly reflected in the volume, as witnessed by the fact that a large number of the academic disciplines usually regarded as engaged in the enterprise of cognitive science are represented herein. Indeed, even though some of the chapters (e.g. chapter 5) are somehow hybrid and could thus be seen as falling within more than one discipline, a natural way of sorting them out in that respect is as follows: neuroscience (chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7), linguistics (chapter 10), philosophy (chapters 1, 2, 8, 9, 11, and 13), and psychology (chapters 3 and 12), Of course, the relative predominance of philosophy on this list stems from the relative predominance of matters eminently foundational throughout the book, matters having to do with general questions concerning the relations that hold among the principal protagonists of the story about human cogni­tion: mind, brain, language, world, and action.

It is worth mentioning at this point that, besides sharing a subject (broadly conceived), a common feature of the chapters in this volume is the fact that early versions of them were presented at the Lisbon International Conference on the Foundations of Cognitive Science at the End of the Century. Most people who had the chance to attend the Lisbon meeting in May 1998 would very likely refer to it as a memorable event, not only because of the friendli­ness of the environment and other traits of the same kind, but mostly on the basis of a feeling that something rather like a "meeting of minds" happened a there on the occasion, among the several researchers contributing to the present collection. Indeed, the lively and cooperative discussion and exchange of views that marked most of the conference sessions, as well as the genuinely interdisciplinary dimension of the debates, very often generated real insight into some of the most interesting and difficult issues in the foundations of cognitive science. Although some of these aspects are extremely hard to capture in print, it is not unreasonable to think that what happened in the meeting has had some sort of benign bearing upon the final versions of the essays here included.


Cambridge University Press

$17.95, paper, 205 pages, references, index, diagrams



Meaning in everyday thought and language is constructed at lightning speed. We are not conscious of the staggering complexity of the cognitive operations that drive our simplest behavior. Fauconnier examines a central component of meaning construction: the maps that link mental spaces. A deep result of the research shows how the same principles operate at the highest levels of scientific, art and literary thought, and at the lower levels of elementary understanding and sentence meaning. Some key cognitive operations analogical mappings, conceptual integration and blending, dish management, induction, and recursion. The analyses are based on a rich array of attested data in ordinary language, humor, action and design, science, and narratives. Phenomena that receive attention include counterfactuals; time, tense, and mood; opacity; metaphor; fictive motion; grammatical constructions; and quantification over cognitive domains.

This book will appeal to students, faculty, and researchers concerned with cognitive science, linguistics, and psychology and philosophy.

"The problem of how people construct meaning in thought and language is at the heart of research in the cognitive sciences. Gilles Fauconnier has written a profound book that beautifully demonstrates how meaning constructions underlie many aspects of grammar, ordinary discourse, and everyday cognition. He provides clear analyses of how mappings both within and between domains provide the foundation for many of the ways we think, act, and communicate. This work should be read and closely studied by cognitive scientists from all disciplines. It is cognitive linguistics at its best!" - Raymond Gibbs, University of California, Santa Cruz

1. Mappings
2. Mental-Space Connections
3. Tense and Mood
4. Analogical Counterfactuals
5. Matching
6. Blends

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