Cognitive Neuroscience

Michael Gazzaniga was the first to come up with the name of cognitive neuroscience however it was the Sloan Foundation which was the first to create the field (Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000). The first realm of study for this newly established discipline was something that we have already seen before, language (Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000). What is beautiful about this field of discipline is that we can truly see a resolution between two fields of thought. “This merger has given rise to the new field of cognitive neuroscience—the attempt to combine the techniques and experimental approaches of the brain sciences with those of the behavioral sciences so as to examine the biological bases of higher cognitive function” (Cowan, Harter, & Kandel, 2000, p.349). This field originates in the 1980s but it is easy to see why and how this is at the forefront of psychology and why I have chosen this to conclude the study of localization and neurosurgery (Cowan, Harter, & Kandel, 2000).

Credit is given to the approaches by Watson, Skinner and Throndike for their methods of studying behavior through strictly experimental means (Cowan, Harter, & Kandel, 2000). The 1960s, however, was the time in which cognitive psychology was born in a world dominated by the behaviorist point of view by Noam Chomsky and others (Cowan, Harter, Kandel, 2000).

The methodology which sets this field apart from others is quite unique. Lesion and ablations studies aside, the implementation of electrode based research with animals propelled the field forward (Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000). While research mainly consisted of senasation & perception and motor controls at first, it later evolved into other areas of study (Cowan, Harter, & Kandel, 2000). In the 1970s, this technology allowed for a more precise method for studying the importance of sections of the brain through awake-animal testing in which behaviors were studied (Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000). As mentioned earlier, Ed Evarts was the first to implement this method of studying behavior and the brain through his work with monkeys (Cowan, Harter, & Kandel, 2000). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) have been important to this field of study however they limit the ability to localize function to one millimeter increments on the surface of the brain (Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000). However, this has led to a general knowledge of functioning not previously available.

A side from language, one of the most benefited areas of discovery has come from the visual system and attention (Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000). Through imaging and electrodes, regions of the occipital lobe have been recognized for their roles in color, motion and other visual processing (Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000). In 1990, Posner and Peterson (as cited in Posner & DiGirolamo, 2000) found that attention is processed and directed from the parietal lobe. Cognitive neuroscience is certainly at the forefront of psychological investigation and has been the grand accumulation of studies regarding localization and neural plasticity. Since this is where the horizon is in regards to the brain and the definitive resolution of many problems regarding perspective that came before, then this is where this section will end.


Cowan, W.M., Harter, D.H. & Kandel, E.R. (2000). The emergence of modern                                     neuroscience: Some implications for neurology and psychiatry. Annual Review of                 Neuroscience, 23, 343 – 391. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.23.1.343

Posner, M.I. & DiGirolamo, G.J.(2000). Cognitive neuroscience: Origins and promise.                      Psychological Bulletin, 126(6), 873 – 889. doi: 10.I037//0033-2909.126.6.873

By Travis Bice

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