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Letter from Michael S. Gazzaniga to Joshua Lederberg

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  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


TO: Joshua Lederberg, President * THE ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY YORK, NEW YORK 10021 30 January 1979 FROM: George A. Miller RE: Cognitive Neuroscience During our conversation on Friday, 26 January 1979, you re- quested a memorandum summarizing what I told you about cognitive ' neuroscience. I hope the following will cover the major substan- tive points discussed with you and with Rodney Nichols. Although a succinct definition of cognitive neuro- remains to be written, the intention is to bring cognitive psychology together with certain parts of neuroscience, in the hope of discovering neurophysiological correlates of cogni- tive functions in man. I tend to think of it as the branch of physiological psychology concerned with higher mental processes in human beings. Cns should differ from neuropsychology, which has developed a testing function that provides for neurologists and neurosurgeons much the same psychometric information that clinical psychologists have long provided to psychiatrists. of perception, Cns should develop theories memory, attention, preference, language, and prob- lem solving that: (a) are adequate to account for experimental data from normal human subjects; (b) are consistent with clinical observations of neurological patients; data obtainable with animals; (c) relate to any comparable (d) suggest prosthetic devices ex- ploiting advances in artificial intelligence. Examples. Lacking an a priori definition, ens will probably de- velop around the study of particular types of neurological patients. Examples of syndromes of interest for cognitive psychology are the following. Amnesia. There is a characteristic loss of memory, both retrograde and anterograde, associated with CVA. Neuropsycholo- gists have developed techniques for probing the scope and density of such amnesias. Cns would be concerned to relate those observa- tions to current theories of learning, memory, and forgetting in normal people. Of

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