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Cognitive Biology: Dealing with Information from Bacteria to Minds

By: Gennaro Auletta

854 pages, 12 plates with colour illustrations, 332 b/w photos and illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jul 2011 | #195015 | ISBN-13: 9780199608485
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £107.50 $131/€121 approx

About this book

Providing a new conceptual scaffold for further research in biology and cognition, this book introduces the new field of Cognitive Biology: a systems biology approach showing that further progress in this field will depend on a deep recognition of developmental processes, as well as on the consideration of the developed organism as an agent able to modify and control its surrounding environment. The role of cognition, the means through which the organism is able to cope with its environment, cannot be underestimated. In particular, it is shown that this activity is grounded on a theory of information based on Bayesian probabilities. The organism is considered as a cybernetic system able to integrate a processor as a source of variety (the genetic system), a regulator of its own homeostasis (the metabolic system), and a selecting system separating the self from the non-self (the membrane in unicellular organisms). Any organism is a complex system that can survive only if it is able to maintain its internal order against the spontaneous tendency towards disruption. Therefore, it is forced to monitor and control its environment and so to establish feedback circuits resulting in co-adaptation. Cognitive and biological processes are shown to be inseparable.

"Auletta integrates in an overarching treatise several scientific topics of greatest currency: informatics, evolutionary biology, neurobiology and cognitive science, and navigates the diverse topics with amazing breadth and depth."
- Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine

"Most people in theoretical neurobiology and systems neuroscience will applaud this approach and nearly everyone will learn something new from this book... It is unique in its eclectic and integrative approach spanning nearly every current field of the physical and biological sciences to address fundamental issues about how the brain works."
- Karl Friston, University College London

"Auletta's endeavor in his book on cognitive biology is to catch the complexity of the brain and mind as it is rooted in biology. This requires building a new discipline which will bridge the gap between biological complexity and the treatment of information at the quantum mechanical level. The novelty and the success of this enterprise is backed by a striking amount of knowledge in neuroscience, cognitive science, physics and philosophy."
- Marc Jeannerod, Institute for Cognitive Science, Lyon, France


1: Quantum Mechanics as a General Framework
2: Classical and Quantum Information and Entropy
3: The Brain: An Outlook
4: Vision
5: Dealing with Target's Motion and Our Own Movement
6: Complexity: A Necessary Condition
7: General Features of Life
8: The Organism as a Semiotic and Cybernetic System
9: Phylogeny
10: Ontogeny
11: Epigeny
12: Representational Semiotics
13: The Brain as an Information-Control System
14: Decisional, Emotional and Cognitive Systems
15: Behavior
16: Learning
17: Memory
18: The Basic Symbolic Systems
19: What Symbols Are
20: Intentionality and Conceptualization
21: Consciousness
22: Development and Culture
23: Language
24: Mind and Brain (Body)
25: Final Philosophical Remarks

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Gennaro Auletta is Aggregate Professor in the Gregorian University, Researcher in the Cassino University, and Scientific Director of the STOQ Project. He is also visiting professor in the University of Notre Dame, associate of the Faraday Institute of the Cambridge University, and member of the Linnean Society of London. After taking his degree in philosophy at La Sapienza University in Rome he took his Ph.D and his Postdoc in Philosophy at the same university. His philosophical interests are logic, philosophy of nature (with special connections with quantum mechanics and biology), philosophy of mind, and metaphysics. In science, his main interests are in quantum mechanics (quantum information, foundations, interpretation). For the last ten years his research interests have addressed issues in the treatment of information by biological systems (from bacteria to human brain), in cognitive neurosciences.

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