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6 Expanding the Domain The necessary conceptual foundations are in place for a hybrid psychophysiological-cognitive science approach to the study of brain functions and behavior. The prospect exists of significant progress if researchers can be motivated to adopt this approach. We have argued in this report that a combination of these fields is likely to yield significant benefits. Three broad areas, in particular, would be enhanced: . Psychological testing. To the extent that we can discover the functional units underlying cognitive processing, it will become possible to measure their effectiveness. Having done so, we should be able to better understand the way people perform specific types of tasks. Computer systems. The best argument for the possibility that a computer system can behave intelligently is the existence of another such mechanism. It is thus not surprising that many researchers in artificial intelligence mode} their computer systems on what is known about cognitive function in humans. An enhanced understanding of the functional organization of the brain into distinct processing components may have a direct impact on ways ~ which computer systems are constructed, making these systems more sophisticated. ~ Medical diagnoses. Better characterization of brain function will allow one to specify more accurately the nature of a deficit follow- ing brain damage. Conversely, one will also be able to specify more accurately the nature of the intact functions, after brain damage, information that will be valuable for rehabilitation. 65
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66 BRAIN AND COGNITION: SOME NEW TECHNOLOGIES It is also the case, however, that several issues must be addressed if the new approach is to be adequately implemented. These issues fall into three categories: domains, resources, and education. Each of these issues would be on the agenda of an expanded study to consider the state of the art in terms of possible research breakthroughs and feasible applications. DOMAINS As areas most likely to benefit quickly from cognitive psy- chophysiology, vision, attention, and memory are good candidates because much is known about them, cognitively, computationally, and psychophysiologically. In order to explore the extent to which the approach can be extended at the present time to other domains, experts in various specialized areas of psychophysiology, in compu- tational theorizing, in computer software and hardware, and in cog- nitive psychology should be involved. It is particulary important to involve experts in such fields as artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic and sets, computer simulation of neural networks, biological integrated circuits, and biophysics. Questions include whether psychophysiological techniques can be readily applied, whether appropriate cognitive methodologies are available, and whether computational theorizing and computer sci- ence more generally have progressed to the point at which useful hypotheses can be formulated. RESOURCE [IMITATIONS Given the problems with drawing inferences from brain-damaged patients noted in Chapter 4, the preferred psychophysiological data are measures of brain activation in normal subjects while they per- form a task. However, there simply are not enough available facilities to enable cognitive scientists to exploit these techniques. The main problem is that scientists need time to explore and improvise, to learn while doing; good experiments evolved from preliminary ex- plorations of pilot work. At present, the available neuroimaging facilities are oversubscribed, and such opportunities are not avail- able. An enlarged committee could be charged with devising ways to use available resources most effectively and to expand such resources.
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EXPANDING THE DOA~4IN 67 EDUCATION Even if sufficient facilities were available, most cognitive scien- tists would not know how to use them, nor would many necessarily be interested in doing so. Similarly, psychophysiologists typically are not motivated to learn the necessary technical information and skills to engage in computational theorizing. In all likelihood, the different segments of the community will be motivated to expand their am preaches only when three conditions are met: (~) There must be few demonstrations of the usefulness of such hybrid approaches. Initial examples are just now being provided, and this condition will proba- bly be satisfied in the near future. (2) There must be a relatively easy way for researchers to acquire a working knowledge of the necessary information and skills. Something along the lines of the McDonnell Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience may be appropriate. (3) There must be adequate funding for such work. An expanded study should include consideration of each of these concerns. CONCLUSION The issues discussed in this chapter could form the basis for an enlarged study of the relationship between neuroscience and cog- nitive science. The study would be broadly interdisciplinary and should be conducted by experts in the various specialized areas. It would focus on both the conceptual issues that must be resolved for further progress and on the kinds of scientific breakthroughs needed for application of the technologies. The study would also address the institutional changes that may be required for facilitating interdisci- plinary research. Two proposed innovations discussed in this chapter are increased access to appropriate facilities for research and the es- tablishment of programs to prepare and encourage investigators to engage in the kind of collaborative work needed for development of the field.
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