“Learning By Nodes”: Dendritic Learning and What It Means (Or Not) for Cultural Sociology

In a paper published earlier this year in Scientific Reports and further discussed in a later ACS Chemical Neuroscience article, a group of researchers argues that learning might not function like we previously thought. The researchers (Sardi et al. 2018a, 2018b) explain that the dominant conceptualization in cognitive neuroscience of …

Limits of innateness: Are we born to see faces?

Sociologists tend to be skeptical of claims individuals are consistent across situations, as a recent exchange on Twitter exemplifies. This exchange was partially spurred by revelations that the famous Stanford Prison Experiment (which supposedly showed people will quickly engage in behaviors commensurate with their assigned roles even if it means …

Beyond Good Old-Fashioned Ideology Theory, Part Two

In part one, I examined two recent frameworks for understanding ideology (Jost and Martin) and explained how both serve as alternatives to the good old-fashioned ideology theory (GOFIT). Ultimately, I concluded that Martin’s (2015) model has specific advantages over Jost’s (2006) model, though the connection between ideology and “practical mastery …

Exaption: Alternatives to the Modular Brain, Part II

Scientists discovered the part of the brain responsible for… In my last post, I discuss one alternative to the modular theory of the mind/brain relationship: connectionism. Such a model is antithetical to modularity in that there are only distributed networks of neurons in the brain, not special-purpose processors. One strength …

Bourdieu as a (Hetero)phenomenologist

Toward the beginning of Pierre Bourdieu’s newly published 1999-2000 lectures from the College de France (Manet: A Symbolic Revolution), a perplexed art student asks Bourdieu the following question, one that the verbatim lectures show to have worried and preoccupied the great theorist of practice: Your recent conferences have astonished me. …

Is The Brain a Modular Computer?

As discussed in the inaugural post, cognitive science encompasses numerous sub-disciplines, one of which is neuroscience. Broadly defined, neuroscience is the study of the nervous system or how behavioral (e.g. walking), biological (e.g. digesting), or cognitive processes (e.g. believing) are realized in the (physical) nervous system of biological organisms. Cognitive …