chapter  7
18 Pages

The Brain as the Locus of Cognitive Controls on Action

WithKarl H. Pribram

Psychology has made great strides over the past century and a half in providing experimental observations in an area of inquiry that hitherto had been the exclusive domain of philosophical analysis. However, the science of psychology is now beset with the difficulty of organizing its data into a coherent body of knowledge. This lack of organization becomes a critical factor when the results of neurobehavioral experiments are reported: The relationship of brain organization to mind as adduced from the effects of brain recordings, lesions, and excitations must be framed coherently to be communicated. Yet, in my own work for example, I have completed some 30 experiments on the functions of the frontal cortex in as many years in order to obtain some idea of what might have been the effects of the human lobotomy procedures-only to find that these effects can be couched in the language of motivation and emotion, decision theory, operant reinforcement theory, or the paradigms used by experimentalists interested in attention, cognitive learning, memory, or even perception. Now it is certainly possible that perhaps all psychological processes are influenced by the frontal lobe of the brain, but if this is so, there should still be a way of systematically reporting how. For an understanding of mechanism one must at least have some rudimentary idea of what one is searching a mechanism for-in short, what is the relationship among emotion, motivation, decision, reinforcement, attention, cognitive learning, memory, and perception?