Behavioral and Brain Sciences

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ISSN / EISSN : 0140-525X / 1469-1825
Published by: Cambridge University Press (CUP) (10.1017)
Total articles ≅ 15,561
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Behavioral and Brain Sciences pp 1-63; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x21002351

Abstract:
The free energy principle, an influential framework in computational neuroscience and theoretical neurobiology, starts from the assumption that living systems ensure adaptive exchanges with their environment by minimizing the objective function of variational free energy. Following this premise, it claims to deliver a promising integration of the life sciences. In recent work, Markov Blankets, one of the central constructs of the free energy principle, have been applied to resolve debates central to philosophy (such as demarcating the boundaries of the mind). The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we trace the development of Markov blankets starting from their standard application in Bayesian networks, via variational inference, to their use in the literature on active inference. We then identify a persistent confusion in the literature between the formal use of Markov blankets as an epistemic tool for Bayesian inference, and their novel metaphysical use in the free energy framework to demarcate the physical boundary between an agent and its environment. Consequently, we propose to distinguish between ‘Pearl blankets’ to refer to the original epistemic use of Markov blankets and ‘Friston blankets’ to refer to the new metaphysical construct. Second, we use this distinction to critically assess claims resting on the application of Markov blankets to philosophical problems. We suggest that this literature would do well in differentiating between two different research programs: ‘inference with a model’ and ‘inference within a model’. Only the latter is capable of doing metaphysical work with Markov blankets, but requires additional philosophical premises and cannot be justified by an appeal to the success of the mathematical framework alone.
, Christopher Mlynski
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x21000339

Abstract:
We offer thoughts on Shadmehr and Ahmed's foundational assumption that behavioral intensity (vigor) is proportional to the perceived value of outcomes driving behavior (incentives). The assumption is reasonable considering classical motivational thought and scholarship in related literatures but called into question by an influential contemporary theory of motivation by Brehm. Brehm's theory suggests that the assumption is warranted in some, but not all, performance circumstances. Furthermore, proportionality between vigor and value might be generated through a deliberative goal-setting process rather than through intrinsic neural linkages.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x20001028

Abstract:
Both papers – to different degrees – underplay the interactive dimensions of music, and both would have benefited from integrating the concept of attachment into their treatments of social bonding. I further suggest that their treatment of music as a discrete domain of human experience and behaviour weakens their arguments concerning its functions in human evolution.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x20000680

Abstract:
Both the music and social bonding (MSB) hypothesis and the music as a credible signal hypothesis emerge as solid views of how human music and human musicality might have evolved. Nonetheless, both views could be improved (and tested in better ways) with the consideration of the way in which human language(s) might have evolved under the effects of our self-domestication.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x20001120

Abstract:
Based on their social bonding hypothesis, Savage et al. predict a relation between “musical” behaviors and social complexity across species. However, our qualitative comparative review suggests that, although learned contact calls are positively associated with complex social dynamics across species, songs are not. Yet, in contrast to songs, and arguably consistent with their functions, contact calls are not particularly music-like.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x20001314

Abstract:
Savage et al. and Mehr et al. provide well-substantiated arguments that the evolution of musicality was shaped by adaptive functions of social bonding and credible signalling. However, they are too quick to dismiss byproduct explanations of music evolution, and to present their theories as complete unitary accounts of the phenomenon.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x21000030

Abstract:
We discuss approaches to the study of the evolution of music (sect. R1); challenges to each of the two theories of the origins of music presented in the companion target articles (sect. R2); future directions for testing them (sect. R3); and priorities for better understanding the nature of music (sect. R4).
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x20001466

Abstract:
Mehr et al.'s hypothesis that the origins of music lie in credible signaling emerges here as a strong contender to explain early adaptive functions of music. Its integration with evolutionary biology and its specificity mark important contributions. However, much of the paper is dedicated to the exclusion of popular alternative hypotheses, which we argue is unjustified and premature.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x20000965

Abstract:
Studying a complex cultural phenomenon like music requires many kinds of expertise. Savage et al. adopt a pluralistic approach, considering multiple forms of evidence and perspectives from multiple fields. This commentary argues that a similar scholarly ecumenicism should be embraced by more studies of music and other cultural phenomena.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 44; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x20001223

Abstract:
We suggest that the accounts offered by the target articles could be strengthened by acknowledging the role of group selection and cultural niche construction in shaping the evolutionary trajectory of human music. We argue that group level traits and highly variable cultural niches can explain the diversity of human song, but the target articles' accounts are insufficient to explain such diversity.
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