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The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

Brain and cognition

by Daniel Druckman



As a part of its mission to apply modern technology to military problems, the Army Research Institute (ARI) asked the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, in its primary role as science advisers to the federal government, to evaluate recent technical developments in the monitoring of brain activity for their relevance to basic and applied issues relating to the acquisition and maintenance of cognitive skills. Accordingly, the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education within the National Research Council considered the proposal. The area to be reviewed is a part of its continuing surveillance of the exploding field of psychobiology, particularly the areas of learning and memory; the proposal provided an incentive to explore in detail a part of this vast interdisciplinary venture. It was felt that a preliminary review could result in an informed opinion, one based on actual experience with the technologies, concerning the desirability, feasibility, and utility of a larger continuing study of the relations between neuroscience and cognitive science.

The commission appointed a small Committee on New Technologies in Cognitive Psychophysiology, specifying that its work was to be completed within the period of one year. The committee was asked not only to conduct the requested review, but also, if it seemed appropriate, to develop plans for a larger, broader, and continuing study. The committee was requested also to suggest ways for ARI to monitor developments in the field of cognitive psychophysiology.

The committee members were selected both for their acknowledged expertise in one of the specific technologies covered in this report and for their breadth of contribution to interdisciplinary theory and research. These contributors and their areas of primary responsibility were: Emanuel Donchin, event-related potentials; Michael S. Gazzaniga, studies of brain damage; Lloyd Kaufman, the magnetoencephalogram; Stephen M. Kosslyn, cognitive psychology and cognitive science (with emphasis on one form of interface with computer science); and Marcus E. Raichle, brain imaging (positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging). Overall editorial responsibility for the report was taken by Daniel Druckman, an experimental social psychologist who was study director for the project, and myself, a psychophysiologist.

The committee met together twice. The first session was devoted to a briefing from the ARI and then to detailed consideration of the structure and content of the report. Each member outlined the essence of the state of his assigned field and the interrelationships with the other areas of study. Through extensive discussions, a preliminary common format was agreed upon, and writing tasks were assigned. This was followed by an extensive period of writing, submission and circulation of drafts, and preliminary revisions. The telephone and computer were the main vehicles of communication among the committee members, study director Daniel Druckman, and myself.

A second meeting was held toward the end of the year, for purposes of melding the separate materials into a more coherent whole, of arriving at a consensus concerning controversial points, and for assessing the future of this preliminary venture and making appropriate recommendations. It was followed by a final period of rewriting and editorial work, again aided by extensive use of telephone and modem.

The report draws on a variety of techniques and concepts from diverse fields of research. We ask for the reader's patience in making his or her way through this technical material concerning an emerging interdisciplinary field. Dr. Druckman and I bear the responsibility for any editorial deficiencies that remain, and we are grateful for the careful reviews of the report by the Commission Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and the Report Review Committee.

On a personal note, I express profound thanks to Dr. Druckman for his skilled and professional support of this venture. Special thanks and acknowledgments are made to the administrative secretaries Alison Foley and Donna Reifsnider and to Christine L. McShane, who carefully edited the entire report.

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