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Consciousness, Perception, And Short-Term Memory, Henry F. Shevlin 2016 The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Consciousness, Perception, And Short-Term Memory, Henry F. Shevlin

All Graduate Works by Year: Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Dissertation Abstract: Consciousness, Perception, and Short-Term Memory

When we engage in almost any perceptual activity – recognizing a face, listening out for a phone-call, or simply taking in a sunset – information must be briefly stored and processed in some form of short-term memory. For philosophers attempting to develop an empirically grounded account of perception and conscious experience, it is therefore crucial to engage with scientific theories of the kinds of short-term memory mechanisms that underlie our moment-to-moment retention of information about the world. To that end, in this dissertation I review recent scientific evidence for a new form of rapid but ...


Observational Assessment Of Empathy In Parent-Child Verbal Exchanges And Their Influence On Child Behavior, Patty Carambot 2016 The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Observational Assessment Of Empathy In Parent-Child Verbal Exchanges And Their Influence On Child Behavior, Patty Carambot

All Graduate Works by Year: Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Empathy, the ability to both experientially share in and understand others’ thoughts, behaviors, and feelings, is vital for human adaptation. Deficits in empathy development have implications across the lifespan for the development of prosocial behavior, social functioning, mental health disorders, and risk for antisocial behavior (e.g., Guajardo, Snyder, & Petersen, 2009; Moreno, Klute & Robinson, 2008). In light of these societal and individual burdens, it is imperative to foster and strengthen the development of this ability early in life to prevent or ameliorate such negative outcomes. This type of prevention can take a variety of forms, but parent and child verbal exchanges and modeling are often the most direct methods after two years of age (e.g., Moreno et al., 2008). The aim of this research was to inform the development of a system to naturalistically assess empathy development via home-based observation of mothers and their children’s verbal exchanges.

The proposed system, iEAR-Empathy in Parent-Child Interactions (iEAR-EPIC), is a verbal coding system to code for verbal behaviors empirically demonstrated to foster empathy development, as well as behaviors found to indicate empathy development. The development of the iEPIC was theoretically informed by Preston and de Waal’s (2002) Perception Action Mechanism (PAM) model of empathy, a neurocognitive-emotional model of empathy. This model demonstrates empathy as a maturing system in which emotional and cognitive understanding develop in tandem through brain-environment interactions. However, the iEPIC also accounts for the interplay between parents and neurocognitive emotional processes, and thus captures the parallel, increasingly interactive, development of cognitive and emotional abilities from infancy onward in the context of a parent-child dyad.

To develop and test the iEPIC, an ethnically diverse subsample of 84 mothers and their 2 to 6-year-old children were recruited from a large, northeastern, urban, public university. After consenting, mother-child dyads were recorded for a 4-hour period during the dyad’s evening routine (5-9p.m.), using a two-minutes on, 10 seconds off protocol, resulting in 28 2-minute clips (56 minutes total) per dyad. Recordings were transcribed and reviewed, and then 4 pairs of coders were trained in the iEPIC coding system, and then coded the dyad recordings for behaviors comprising the proposed iEPIC assessment system.

The iEPIC observational assessment system consists of 5 codes for each parent and child: Reflection (R), Exploring Emotion and State (EES), Emotion and State Description (ESD), and Empathic Understanding and Concern (EUC), as well as Neutral verbalizations (N; non-study-related verbalizations). The EES, ESD, and EUC each have levels of complexity, with higher levels expected to occur more frequently in older children (e.g., 4 years and older).

There were several purposes of the current study: 1) assess inter-rater reliability for the iEPIC coding system 2) determine if ...


Cognitive Dissonance Or Contrast?, Thomas R. Zentall 2016 University of Kentucky

Cognitive Dissonance Or Contrast?, Thomas R. Zentall

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

According to Festinger (1957), cognitive dissonance occurs when one’s behavior or belief is inconsistent with another belief and one modifies one of the beliefs in an attempt to reduce the dissonance. In nonhuman animals, we have examined a version of human cognitive dissonance theory called justification of effort, according to which the value of reward following more difficult tasks increases, presumably to justify (to oneself or to others) performing the more difficult task. We have examined the justification of effort effect in animals and found a pattern similar to the one in humans but we propose a simpler underlying ...


Evolutionary Continuity Of Personhood, Anne Benvenuti 2016 University of Winchester

Evolutionary Continuity Of Personhood, Anne Benvenuti

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Rowlands applies the two organizing ideas of the Lockean concept of personhood — mental life and unity — to animals as potential persons. Especially valuable in this context is his descriptive phenomenology of pre-reflective self-awareness as a fundamental form of mental life that necessarily entails unity. Rowland describes certain fundamentals of mental experience that exist across species boundaries, challenging assumptions of early modern philosophers regarding the definition of human personhood and affirming the principle of evolutionary continuity. This opens the door to a broader and deeper set of questions, related to whether we should continue to attempt to apply to other animals ...


Scientific Method, Anti-Foundationalism, And Public Decision-Making, Kristin Shrader-Frechette 2016 University of New Hampshire

Scientific Method, Anti-Foundationalism, And Public Decision-Making, Kristin Shrader-Frechette

RISK: Health, Safety & Environment

An examination of the legitimacy of attacks on lay assessments of environmental or other technological risk. The case is made that rational policy requires an epistemology in which what we believe about risk is bootstrapped onto how we should act concerning risk.


Darwin’S Empirical Evidence, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone 2016 University of Oregon

Darwin’S Empirical Evidence, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Darwin’s extensive writings may seem antiquated to current thinkers with their predilections for cognitive science, neuroscience, and analytic branches of philosophy. He showed that morphologies are not simply taxonomic distinctions that allow classification into species. They describe living animals, hence morphologies-in-motion: animate forms of life engaged in synergies of meaningful movement, all of which are testimony to animal sentience.


Animal Personhood Is An Evolutionary Issue, James E. King 2016 University of Arizona

Animal Personhood Is An Evolutionary Issue, James E. King

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

The Rowlands target article makes a case, based on John Locke’s metaphysical argument, that personhood can be applied to many species beyond a few nonhuman primates. The problem with this argument is that personhood has an open-ended list of defining attributes and can, at best only be partially applied to nonhuman species. Therefore, a dichotomous distinction cannot be made between qualifying and non-qualifying species. Instead, between-species comparisons must be based on observational and experimental procedures to demonstrate the extent to which human mental attributes are shared with other species. This would allow a more informed view about the appropriateness ...


Ptsd From Childhood Trauma As A Precursor To Attachment Issues, Christy Owen 2016 Counseling

Ptsd From Childhood Trauma As A Precursor To Attachment Issues, Christy Owen

Fidei et Veritatis: The Liberty University Journal of Graduate Research

The past 20 years have been turbulent regarding Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), with conflicting research about its causes, effects, treatment, and prognosis. The current diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 fails to adequately address this disorder. A number of deviant and maladaptive behaviors common amongst children with RAD are not even mentioned in the diagnostic criteria. As such, the diagnostic definition is almost unidentifiable or incompatible with real-life conduct manifestations of the disorder. Rather, this author contends that RAD is foundationally a unique and extreme form of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from Early Childhood Trauma. The child endured unspeakable neglect and ...


How Could Consciousness Emerge From Adaptive Functioning?, Max Velmans 2016 Goldsmiths, University of London

How Could Consciousness Emerge From Adaptive Functioning?, Max Velmans

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

The sudden appearance of consciousness that Reber posits in creatures with flexible cell walls and motility rather than non-flexible cells walls and no motility involves an evolutionary discontinuity. This kind of “miracle” is required by all “discontinuity” theories of consciousness. To avoid miraculous emergence, one may need to consider continuity theories, which accept that different forms of consciousness and material functioning co-evolve but assume the existence of consciousness to be primal in the way that matter and energy are assumed to be primal in physics.


Ecopsychology Revisited: For Whom Do The “Nature” Bells Toll? (In Progress), Jorge Conesa-Sevilla 2016 European Ecopsychology Society

Ecopsychology Revisited: For Whom Do The “Nature” Bells Toll? (In Progress), Jorge Conesa-Sevilla

Jorge Conesa-Sevilla PhD

"[...] A recurring theme in “ecopsychology,” in its present and inchoate form, is the continuation and extension of “spirit” in juxtaposition with other privileged and/or habitually preferred (perhaps even psychologically needed) practices or causes (spirituality-somethings, farcical chemistry or physics, yoga, coopted and partially understood indigenous lore, extreme diets, and various fetishes). That these mostly emotion-laden, unreasoned, and/or idiosyncratic amalgamations are prevalent says more about the psychological needs of the persons espousing these sentiments or beliefs (their hobbies or interests) than about “nature.” Certainly, it is nothing new that humans project their hopes, desperations, and wish-fulfillment thinking onto the shifting ...


“Cellular Basis Of Consciousness”: Not Just Radical But Wrong, Brian Key 2016 The University of Queensland

“Cellular Basis Of Consciousness”: Not Just Radical But Wrong, Brian Key

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Reber (2016) attempts to resuscitate an obscure and outdated hypothesis referred to as the “cellular basis of consciousness” that was originally formulated by the author nearly twenty years ago. This hypothesis proposes that any organism with flexible cell walls, a sensitivity to its surrounds, and the capacity for locomotion will possess the biological foundations of mind and consciousness. Reber seeks to reduce consciousness to a fundamental property inherent to individual cells rather than to centralised nervous systems. This commentary shows how this hypothesis is based on supposition, false premises and a misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. The cellular basis of consciousness ...


The Person And The Self As Social Accomplishment, Leslie Irvine 2016 University of Colorado Boulder

The Person And The Self As Social Accomplishment, Leslie Irvine

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Rowlands (2016) presents a compelling argument for extending personhood to nonhuman animals. Sociological conceptions of the person also do not require that animals meet the elusive standard of self-awareness. Sociological ideas on selfhood support the claims about pre-reflective awareness and extend the requisite experiences to animals.


The Evolutionary History Of Consciousness, Eirik Søvik, Clint Perry 2016 Volda University College

The Evolutionary History Of Consciousness, Eirik Søvik, Clint Perry

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Klein & Barron argue that insects are capable of subjective experience, i.e., sentience. Whereas we mostly agree with the conclusion of their arguments, we think there is an even more important message to be learned from their work. The line of reasoning opened by Klein & Barron proves instructive for how neuroscientists can and should explore the biological phenomenon of consciousness.


Beginnings: Physics, Sentience And Luca, Carolyn A. Ristau 2016 Animal Studies Repository

Beginnings: Physics, Sentience And Luca, Carolyn A. Ristau

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

According to Reber’s model, Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), sentience had its origins in a unicellular organism and is an inherent property of living, mobile organic forms. He argues by analogy to basic physical forces which he considers to be inherent properties of matter; I suggest that they are instead the stuff of scientific investigation in physics. I find no convincing argument that sentience had to begin in endogenously mobile cells, a criterial attribute of the originator cell(s)for sentience according to CBC. Non-endogenously mobile cells, (i.e., plants or precursors) in a moving environment would suffice. Despite ...


Might Insects Experience Pain?, Robert W. Elwood 2016 Queen's University - Belfast

Might Insects Experience Pain?, Robert W. Elwood

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

The aim of this commentary is to expand the discussion about subjective experience to other arthropods, notably crustaceans. Various species of crustaceans show responses consistent with their feeling pain. Hermit crabs also show prolonged investigation of new shells. They clearly attend to and integrate information from a wide variety of sources that enable them to evaluate the quality of the new shell relative to their current shell. These observations too are consistent with their having subjective experience.


Phenomenal Consciousness In Insects? A Possible Way Forward, Brian Key 2016 The University of Queensland

Phenomenal Consciousness In Insects? A Possible Way Forward, Brian Key

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Klein & Barron (2016) propose that subjective experience in humans arises in the midbrain and then argue that insects have the capacity for subjective experience because their nervous system can perform neural processing similar to that of the midbrain. This approach ultimately fails because it is built on the false premise that the midbrain is the source of the awareness of sensory stimuli. I instead propose that the capacity for subjective experience must be based on fundamental neural computations that generate the “what it feels like” experience. Two such computations associated with metarepresentations and high level representations entering working memory are ...


From Thinking Selves To Social Selves, Judith Benz-Schwarzburg 2016 Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna

From Thinking Selves To Social Selves, Judith Benz-Schwarzburg

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

I argue that Rowlands’s concept of pre-reflective self-awareness offers a way to understand animals as Social Selves. It does so because it departs from the orthodox conception of self-awareness, which is both egocentric and logocentric. Instead, its focus is on the relation between consciousness and a person’s lived body, her actions and goals. Characterizing persons as pre-reflectively self-aware beings in Rowlands’s sense offers a much more useful conceptual tool to interpret social behaviour in animals.


What Do We Owe Animals As Persons?, Judith Benz-Schwarzburg 2016 Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna

What Do We Owe Animals As Persons?, Judith Benz-Schwarzburg

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Rowlands (2016) concentrates strictly on the metaphysical concept of person, but his notion of animal personhood bears a moral dimension (Monsó, 2016). His definition of pre-reflective self-awareness has a focus on sentience and on the lived body of a person as well as on her implicit awareness of her own goals. Interestingly, these also play a key role in animal welfare science, as well as in animal rights theories that value the interests of animals. Thus, Rowlands’s concept shows connectivity with both major fields of animal ethics. His metaphysical arguments might indeed contain a strong answer to the question ...


If Insects Have Phenomenal Consciousness, Could They Suffer?, Elizabeth S. Paul, Michael T. Mendl 2016 University of Bristol

If Insects Have Phenomenal Consciousness, Could They Suffer?, Elizabeth S. Paul, Michael T. Mendl

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Klein & Barron’s (K & B’s) suggestion that insects have the capacity for phenomenal consciousness is a refreshing and challenging departure from the cautious and agnostic stance that is taken by many researchers when considering this possibility. It is impossible to falsify the sceptic’s view that neural and behavioural parallels between humans and insects need not imply either similar conscious experience or even any phenomenal consciousness in insects at all. But if K & B are right, it is important to consider the possible contents of insect consciousness. Here we discuss whether affective consciousness, with its implications for potential suffering ...


Subjective Experience In Insects: Definitions And Other Difficulties, Shelley Adamo 2016 Dalhousie University

Subjective Experience In Insects: Definitions And Other Difficulties, Shelley Adamo

Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Whether insects have the potential for subjective experiences depends on the definition of subjective experience. The definition used by Klein & Barron (2016) is an unusually liberal one and could be used to argue that some modern robots have subjective experiences. From an evolutionary perspective, the additional neurons needed to produce subjective experiences will be proportionately more expensive for insects than for mammals because of the small size of the insect brain. This greater cost could weaken selection for such traits. Minimally, it may be premature to assume that small neuronal number is unimportant in determining the capacity for consciousness.


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