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The Agile Mind$
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Wilma Koutstaal

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195367188

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367188.001.0001

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Brain Bases of Levels of Specificity and Levels of Control, Part 2

Brain Bases of Levels of Specificity and Levels of Control, Part 2

Concepts and Intuition, Resilience, Novelty, and Exploration

Chapter:
(p.387) 9 Brain Bases of Levels of Specificity and Levels of Control, Part 2
Source:
The Agile Mind
Author(s):

Wilma Koutstaal

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367188.003.0051

A companion to the preceding chapter, this chapter concentrates on experimental findings from cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology that help to illuminate the neural bases of levels of representational specificity, levels of control, and their interrelations in enabling agility of mind. It begins by considering the bases of the representation of semantic knowledge and concepts in the brain. It then examines the importance of the nature of brain activity and the patterns of brain connectivity that are present during times of “nondirected” and “spontaneous” thinking. Two sections explore the brain bases of “bouncing back” or resilience, and of adaptive responding to novelty, respectively. The section on resilience draws attention to the top-down influence of ventral medial prefrontal cortex, the role of serotonergic function, and the mechanisms by which physical exercise and certain early experiences may promote resilience to stress; the section on adaptive responding to novelty focuses especially on the role of the locus coeruleus-norephinephrine system in novelty, reward, and exploration. The final section turns to the dynamic interplay of cognition, emotion, and motivation that determine the emergence of the behavioral approach versus behavioral avoidance.

Keywords:   representational specificity, levels of control, mental agility, semantic knowledge, brain connectivity, thinking, resilience, adaptive responding, novelty

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