Motivation, Emotion, and Goal Direction in Neural Networks

Motivation, Emotion, and Goal Direction in Neural Networks

Motivation, Emotion, and Goal Direction in Neural Networks

Motivation, Emotion, and Goal Direction in Neural Networks

Synopsis

The articles gathered in this volume represent examples of a unique approach to the study of mental phenomena: a blend of theory and experiment, informed not just by easily measurable laboratory data but also by human introspection. Subjects such as approach and avoidance, desire and fear, and novelty and habit are studied as natural events that may not exactly correspond to, but at least correlate with, some (known or unknown) electrical and chemical events in the brain.

Excerpt

Emotion used to be a dirty word in science. The late 1800s and the first half of the 1900s were dominated by a profound belief in the ultimate triumph of rationality over ignorance (and, by extension, over emotion). The attempt to rationalize, to quantify, to make things precise spread from the traditional natural sciences to newer disciplines. As academic psychologists strove to be more scientific, they took their cues from the older natural sciences such as physics and chemistry, restricting their attention to phenomena that were easily and cleanly measurable. Hence, the behaviorist, or stimulus-response, school of psychology came to a position of ascendancy. Social scientists in other fields-- sociology, political science, management theory, economics--likewise set out to explain the human phenomena they studied by positing rational actors seeking to maximize some measurable quantity. Hence, in all these fields, there has been some tendency to regard emotion as either not worth serious study, or worth serious study because it is undesirable.

The articles gathered in this volume represent examples of a quite different approach to the study of mental phenomena. They represent a blend of theory and experiment, informed not just by easily measurable laboratory data but also by human introspection. Approach and avoidance, desire and fear, novelty and habit are studied as natural events, which may not exactly correspond to but at least correlate with some (known or unknown) electrical and chemical events in the brain.

Whenever there are patterns in nature with any sort of regularity, the temptation arises to look for scientific understanding of the phenomena involved. In the realms of motivation, emotion, and goal direction, the science of brain and behavior is still at any early stage of grappling with problems, but already, from a . . .

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