•  2473
    The science of art: A neurological theory of aesthetic experience
    with Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (6-7): 15-41. 1999.
    We present a theory of human artistic experience and the neural mechanisms that mediate it. Any theory of art has to ideally have three components. The logic of art: whether there are universal rules or principles; The evolutionary rationale: why did these rules evolve and why do they have the form that they do; What is the brain circuitry involved? Our paper begins with a quest for artistic universals and proposes a list of ‘Eight laws of artistic experience’ -- a set of heuristics that artists…Read more
  •  2124
    Three laws of qualia: what neurology tells us about the biological functions of consciousness
    with Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 4 (5-6): 429-457. 1997.
    Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and ‘qualia’. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in that they possess three functional characteristics, which we state in the form of ‘three laws of qualia’. First, they are irrevocable: I cannot simply de…Read more
  •  1421
    Autonomic responses of autistic children to people and objects
    with Portia Iversen and V. S. Ramachandran
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 268 1883-1888. 2001.
    Several recent lines of inquiry have pointed to the amygdala as a potential lesion site in autism. Because one function of the amygdala may be to produce autonomic arousal at the sight of a significant face, we compared the responses of autistic children to their mothers’ face and to a plain paper cup. Unlike normals, the autistic children as a whole did not show a larger response to the person than to the cup. We also monitored sympathetic activity in autistic children as they engaged in a wide…Read more
  •  1181
    [This download contains the introductory chapter.] People confabulate when they make an ill-grounded claim that they honestly believe is true, for example in claiming to recall an event from their childhood that never actually happened. This interdisciplinary book brings together some of the leading thinkers on confabulation in neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and philosophy.
  •  837
    [This download contains the Table of Contents and Chapter 1]. I argue here that the claim that conscious states are private, in the sense that only one person can ever experience them directly, is false. There actually is a way to connect the brains of two people that would allow one to have direct experience of the other's conscious, e.g., perceptual states. This would allow, for instance, one person to see that the other had deviant color perception (which was masked by correct linguistic prac…Read more
  •  826
    The emerging neuroscience of psychopathy will have several important implications for our attempts to construct an ethical society. In this article we begin by describing the list of criteria by which psychopaths are diagnosed. We then review four competing neuropsychological theories of psychopathic cognition. The first of these models, Newman’s attentional model, locates the problem in a special type of attentional narrowing that psychopaths have shown in experiments. The second and third, Bla…Read more
  •  695
    Self-deception and confabulation
    Philosophy of Science 67 (3). 2000.
    Cases in which people are self-deceived seem to require that the person hold two contradictory beliefs, something which appears to be impossible or implausible. A phenomenon seen in some brain-damaged patients known as confabulation (roughly, an ongoing tendency to make false utterances without intent to deceive) can shed light on the problem of self-deception. The conflict is not actually between two beliefs, but between two representations, a 'conceptual' one and an 'analog' one. In addition, …Read more
  •  678
    Child Soldiers, Executive Functions, and Culpability
    International Criminal Law Review 16 (2): 258-286. 2016.
    Child soldiers, who often appear to be both victims and perpetrators, present a vexing moral and legal challenge: how can we protect the rights of children while seeking justice for the victims of war crimes? There has been little stomach, either in domestic or international courts, for prosecuting child soldiers—but neither has this challenge been systematically addressed in international law. Establishing a uniform minimum age of criminal responsibility would be a major step in the right direc…Read more
  •  653
    [This download includes the table of contents and chapter 1.] When we praise, blame, punish, or reward people for their actions, we are holding them responsible for what they have done. Common sense tells us that what makes human beings responsible has to do with their minds and, in particular, the relationship between their minds and their actions. Yet the empirical connection is not necessarily obvious. The “guilty mind” is a core concept of criminal law, but if a defendant on trial for murder…Read more
  •  571
    The Misidentification Syndromes as Mindreading Disorders
    Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 15 (1-3): 233-260. 2010.
    The patient with Capgras’ syndrome claims that people very familiar to him have been replaced by impostors. I argue that this disorder is due to the destruction of a representation that the patient has of the mind of the familiar person. This creates the appearance of a familiar body and face, but without the familiar personality, beliefs, and thoughts. The posterior site of damage in Capgras’ is often reported to be the temporoparietal junction, an area that has a role in the mindreading system…Read more
  •  397
    On the Criminal Culpability of Successful and Unsucessful Psychopaths
    with Katrina L. Sifferd
    Neuroethics 6 (1): 129-140. 2013.
    The psychological literature now differentiates between two types of psychopath:successful (with little or no criminal record) and unsuccessful (with a criminal record). Recent research indicates that earlier findings of reduced autonomic activity, reduced prefrontal grey matter, and compromised executive activity may only be true of unsuccessful psychopaths. In contrast, successful psychopaths actually show autonomic and executive function that exceeds that of normals, while having no differenc…Read more
  •  295
    The Legal Self: Executive processes and legal theory
    Consciousness and Cognition 20 (1): 151-176. 2011.
    When laws or legal principles mention mental states such as intentions to form a contract, knowledge of risk, or purposely causing a death, what parts of the brain are they speaking about? We argue here that these principles are tacitly directed at our prefrontal executive processes. Our current best theories of consciousness portray it as a workspace in which executive processes operate, but what is important to the law is what is done with the workspace content rather than the content itself. …Read more
  •  293
    [This download contains the Table of Contents and Chapter 1.] This first book-length study of confabulation breaks ground in both philosophy and cognitive science.
  •  284
    Memories of Art
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (2). 2013.
    [This is a response to a target article in BBS]. Although the art-historical context of a work of art is important to our appreciation of it, it is our knowledge of that history that plays causal roles in producing the experience itself. This knowledge is in the form of memories, both semantic memories about the historical circumstances, but also episodic memories concerning our personal connections with an artwork. We also create representations of minds in order to understand the emotions that…Read more
  •  278
  •  276
    Loved Ones Near and Far: Feinberg's Personal Significance Theory
    Neuropsychoanalysis 12 (2): 163-166. 2010.
    This paper examines Todd Feinberg's theory of the misidentification syndromes.
  •  268
    Recent evidence points to widespread underconnectivity in autistic brains owing to deviant white matter, the fibers that make long connections between areas of the cortex. Subjects with autism show measurably fewer long-range connections between the parietal and prefrontal cortices. These findings may help shed light on the current debate in the consciousness literature about whether conscious states require both prefrontal and parietal/temporal components. If it can be shown that people with au…Read more
  •  190
    One of the final obstacles to understanding consciousness in physical terms concerns the question of whether conscious states can exist in posterior regions of the brain without active connections to the brain's prefrontal lobes. If they can, difficult issues concerning our knowledge of our conscious states can be resolved. This paper contains a list of types of conscious states that may meet this criterion, including states of coma, states in which subjects are absorbed in a perceptual task, st…Read more
  •  150
    Mindmelding: Connected Brains and the Problem of Consciousness
    Mens Sana Monographs 6 (1): 110-130. 2008.
    Contrary to the widely-held view that our conscious states are necessarily private (in that only one person can ever experience them directly), in this paper I argue that it is possible for a person to directly experience the conscious states of another. This possibility removes an obstacle to thinking of conscious states as physical, since their apparent privacy makes them different from all other physical states. A separation can be made in the brain between our conscious mental representation…Read more
  •  149
    Confabulation
    In Patrick Wilken, Axel Cleermans & Timothy Bayne (eds.), The Oxford Companion to Consciousness, Oxford University Press. pp. 174-177. 2009.
    When people confabulate, they make an ill-grounded claim that they honestly believe is true, for example recalling an event from their childhood that never actually happened. This interdisciplinary book brings together some of the leading thinkers on confabulation in neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and philosophy
  •  149
    The Paradoxical Self
    with V. S. Ramachandran
    In Narinder Kapur (ed.), The Paradoxical Brain, Cambridge University Press. pp. 94-109. 2011.
  •  141
    Grounding responsibility in something (more) solid
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41. 2018.
    The cases that Doris chronicles of confabulation are similar to perceptual illusions in that, while they show the interstices of our perceptual or cognitive system, they fail to establish that our everyday perception or cognition is not for the most part correct. Doris's account in general lacks the resources to make synchronic assessments of responsibility, partially because it fails to make use of knowledge now available to us about what is happening in the brains of agents.
  •  135
    According to several current theories, executive processes help achieve various mental actions such as remembering, planning and decision-making, by executing cognitive operations on representations held in consciousness. I plan to argue that these executive processes are partly responsible for our sense of self, because of the way they produce the impression of an active, controlling presence in consciousness. If we examine what philosophers have said about the "ego" (Descartes), "the Self" (Lo…Read more
  •  112
    Confabulation
    In Harold Pashler (ed.), Encyclopedia of the mind, Sage Publications. pp. 183-186. 2013.