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Chapter 04 - answers

Further questions for chapter 04 - suggested answers


Q. Look at Figure 4.5 (above) and describe what non-unification and non-integration would look like in cognitive science.

A.  Non-integration would consist of researchers focusing only on their own specialty in any of the three dimensions identified. For example, memory researchers might never look at research about language or attempt to link memory processes to other cognitive processes. Another example would be if information processing at the level of neurons cannot be made relevant to or help explain information processing in cognitive systems or higher levels in general.

Q. Explain why performance on the Wason selection task causes problems for those who think human beings possess domain-general reasoning abilities.

A.  People do poorly on the Wason selection task unless it is translated into more socially salient information. Our reasoning appears to be specific to certain domains (e.g. specific conventions) and does not use domain general rules (like modus tollens) across a wide variety of reasoning situations.

Q. Briefly explain how fMRI works and identify an obstacle to making inferences from fMRI data.

A.  fMRI measures blood oxygenation. Oxygen accumulates in areas of the brain that demand more blood flow (because of task demands). Oxygenated and deoxygenated blood produce different magnetic fields, known as the blood oxygen level dependent contrast (BOLD). BOLD is what is detected and measured by fMRI scanners. One obstacle is that the connection between BOLD and neural activity is still a little unclear. Our best information on this issue comes from research into single neurons, but BOLD measures the firing of groups of neurons (generally speaking). A related problem is that sometimes BOLD will correlate with the local field potential, but sometimes it might instead correlate with average neuronal firing rate.

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