The Other Side of Dr. Xeno's Brain

It's me, Dr. Xeno. Here are lecture notes and ideas for my work teaching physical and cognitive development across the lifespan (HDEV 3101) at the Department of Human Development at CSU, East Bay. This content is often referred to as mind-brain, mind body connection, brain and behavior; but it is really about the knowledge derived from the related fields of neurology, neuropsychology, neuroscience and cognitive science. Sometimes I just write about my kids or bike racing. Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


One of the mind-brain's key features is it's ability to interconnect a range of processes within it's present time frame as well as interconnecting activities and content across time. We experience this as 'spatiotemporal integration.' Much brain tissue and activity is about this type of 'association' of information rather than specific or direct sensory or motor processing. Lack of integration leads to a lack of cohesiveness in our mental/cognitive worlds/experiences. While specific (modular) cognitive activities can lead or disrupt integrative experience, holistic (molar) operations such as consciousness, emotional processing (or powerful retrieval experiences) are more likely to set the tone for integration or cohesive mental experience. When successful, this is a seamless, tacit process.

What needs to be integrated?
1. Various cognitive activities (content and process); orientation, attention, sensation-perception, visuospatial function, cognitive mapping, memory function, language processing, prosody, emotion, planning and other executive functions. AND basic body control/monitoring.
2. Various levels of brain functions (triune brain; vertical integration in columns)
3. Hemispheres of the brain (lateral integration; corpus callosum)

Evidence/pathways to integration
1. Self; sense of self may result from the recursive nature of ALL neural processing. It's always happening to YOUR neural pathways and the activity shifts always resemble to ones before and after closely. It's a placeholder, or perhaps a canvas, or a major landmark by which to measure and compare all experience.

2. Theory of mind; requires some meta-cogition and meta-memory. What we know about our own cognitive/memory function. Building a theory of mind requires that we have the ability to place ourselves in their position and imagine what they would hear/feel/etc.

3. Response flexibility - consider alternative responses and select the best suited response set. Opposite is 'stimulus bound' behavior. The ultimate executive function.

4. Narrative - sequential descriptions of people and events that condense numerous experiences in generalizations and contrasting stories. Narrative process attempts to make meaning of the world and one's own mind on it's various states.

5. Intelligence? Requires some degree of integration of various functions to solve problems.

What is lack of integration?
Disintegration? Lack of cohesive experience. Lack of the above 4 items? Some terms for lack of various functions:
Psychopathological dissociation - shizophrenia (split or broken mind) vs. multiple personality disorder.

Can result from structural or functional brain problems.