Selfhood and Consciousness: A Non-Philosopher's Guide to Epistemology, Noemics, and Semiotics (and Other Important Things Besides) [Entries Beginning with "C"]


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First instalment [v1.0] published 13:00 GMT 28th February 2006; this version [v4.0 - copyright] 09:00 BST 5th July 2018.





G.3 - The Glossary Proper (Entries C)



"Calcium Switch": See protein kinase studies.



Cameron, Norman Alexander: [Scottish (later American) psychiatrist (1896-1975).] [No convenient biography available] Cameron is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on cognitive deficit in schizophrenia.



Cameron West: See Case, Cameron West.



Capacitance: [Physics term.] This term refers to the ability of a structure - biological or otherwise - to hold an electrical charge.



Career Development Locus of Control Scale (CDLC): See locus of control, academic performance and.



Cartesian Dualism: See dualism.





For entries beginning with the word "Case ....." CLICK HERE




Cassirer, Ernst: [German neo-Kantian philosopher (1874-1945). Cassirer studied under Cohen at Marburg in the late 1890s, before taking lecturing posts at Berlin and Hamburg. His major philosophical works were Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neueren Zeit ("The Problem of Knowledge"; four volumes, 1906, 1907, 1922, and 1957), Substanzbegriff und Funktionsbegriff ("Substance and Function", 1910/1923), and Philosophie der Symbolischen Formen ("The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms; four volumes, 1923/1966, 1925/1966, 1929/1958, and 1995), and the general thrust of his mental philosophy was that the mind's ability to form symbols lay at the heart of biological cognition and drove the development of most of Humankind's myth systems. Cassirer emigrated from Germany in 1933, spending time at Oxford and Göteborg before settling in the United States. [See now consciousness, Cassirer's theory of.]



Category: [See firstly predicate, to and conceptual hierarchy.] [Greek kategoriew <καταγορευω> = originally "I accuse (as in a court of law)", but subsequently softened for general use as "to assert, predicate".] In everyday modern usage, categories are "general classes of terms, things, or notions; the use being very different with different authors" (O.E.D.). Within cognitive science, however, these precise modern definitions conceal a tortuous derivation, thanks to the way Aristotle used the word in "Kategoriai" <Κατηγοριαι>  [= "The Categories"] (Aristotle, ca. 350BCE), one of the most famous classical treatises. The Categories is an attempt to understand our experience of the things of the world [the ειδε again] by considering their inherent nature, and it begins by drawing attention to the curious power of language to refer to entities in a number of ways, directly or indirectly, specifically or generally, and literally or figuratively [for more on which see figures of speech]. By analyzing this ability, Aristotle came up with the following rule: "When one thing is predicated of another, all that which is predicable of the predicate will be predicable also of the subject" (p3). In other words, if one describes X as "a man", having already described man as "an animal", then it follows that X must also be an animal. What that rule then gives us is the ability to construct a hierarchy of truths about any subject. Aristotle then applies the biological notion of genus [pl = genera] to the resulting hierarchy of truths. As for substance itself, it is "that which is neither predicable [= asserted as a truth] of a subject nor present in a subject." (Op. cit., p4), that is to say, "it is"; it exists in its own right and cannot be further subdivided. [Example: Here are five statements, the first four of which are predications and the fifth a statement of substance: (1) "coal is black", (2) "coal is shiny", (3) "coal does not float in water", (4) "coal is crushable", and (5) "coal is coal".] A category is then one of the headings by which such observations are justified, the point being that once you are listing an item's attributes you can use them to construct a conceptual hierarchy. A system of ten such "in no way composite" categories was then proposed (p4), the first three of which were as follows: (1) Substance [ousia, or ti esti, "what it is"], (2) Quantity, (3) Quality [poiotes] ("that in virtue of which people are said to be such and such" (p18)), (4) relation, (5) place, (6) time, (7) position, (8) state, (9) action [poiein], and (10) affection [paschein]. He then discussed at some length the particular problems of substances and their qualities, during which the original Greek sense of kategoria evolves towards the modern sense of category/categorization. Jumping forward more than 2000 years, we meet the word again in Kantian philosophy. For Kant, categories are "the pure a priori conceptions of the understanding, which the mind applies (as forms or frames) to the matter of knowledge received from sense, in order to raise it into an intelligible notion or object of knowledge" (O.E.D.). Kant identified 12 "pure concepts of the understanding" under the main headings (1) quantity, (2) quality, (3) relation, and (4) modality. For our own part, we see categories as an important consideration during the process of data modelling. This is because the attributes of real world substantives are used firstly to help define that world's entity types and then to devise the most efficient method of storing them as entity occurrences in a semantic network [or database], such that a "set owner" may be associated with a number of "set members" on a hierarchical basis of attribute. [See now conceptual hierarchy.]



Category Error: This is Edelman and Tononi's (2000) term for the logical error of "ascribing to things properties they cannot have" (Edelman and Tononi, 2000, p19). In the context of the arguments presented in consciousness, Edelman and Tononi's theory of, it is the fallacious assumption that if enough neural correlates of consciousness are documented, those data will, in themselves, explain the phenomenon itself.



Category Test: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This test present patients with a short series of categorial exemplars (eg. <duck, sparrow, pigeon .....>) and then marks them on their ability to respond with the appropriate category owner (i.e. "bird"). The category test is one of the Halstead-Reitan subscales.



Catharsis: [Greek <καθαρσις> = "cleansing, purifying; atonement" (O.C.G.D.); "purging" (O.E.D.), especially by defecation or vomiting, and hence, by implication, purifying.]  We continue this topic in the entry for catharsis and abreaction.



Catharsis and Abreaction: [See firstly the separate entries for catharsis and abreaction.] To the extent that the act of releasing a conflict from its mental depths actually does resolve it, catharsis is both the theoretical basis for, and the final objective of, all psychodynamic therapy. There are a number of techniques for achieving the necessary resolution, however. As first implemented, catharsis was something to be achieved over a period of time, using methods such as hypnosis and free association. More emotionally raw techniques were subsequently developed by Moreno (1934) under the title of "psychodrama". As to the therapeutic safety of the cathartic methods, Braun (1986; cited in Van der Hart and Brown, 1992/2006 online) has warned against seeking catharsis too vigorously, because the emerging traumatic memories can easily exceed the patient's remaining defenses and coping skills. Similarly, Ross (1989; cited in Van der Hart and Brown, 1992/2006 online) sees abreaction as "an extremely painful, highly stylised dissociation recreation and enactment" of the original trauma, and argues that if it is to have any remedial value it should only be allowed to take place within "a meaningful framework". This includes a full supporting "debriefing".


ASIDE: Note the not-so-subtle difficulty here, with those classes of patient who are apt to withdraw from therapy before it has run its full course [Appendix B of the DSM-IV (2000) list conditions in which irritability, help-rejection, or affective lability is expected].


In that psychotherapy has to deal with the full emotional intensities of human experience, we should not be surprised that abreaction can often be violent. Indeed, without Ross's "meaningful framework" abreaction is likely to be "malignant", that is to say, chaotic, over-emotional, reinforcing of the problem rather than remediating, and generally counter-productive. On a theoretical note, Heath (2002 online) makes the interesting observation that catharsis is essentially "a reversal of values". Quite conventionally, he sees the original "repression of immorality" as being emotionally defused by the insights provided during psychotherapy, but he then points out that the excitement of end-stage catharsis is therefore, by definition, an excitement at the consciousness of immorality, now "no longer stigmatised"! Consider .....


"In the catharsis the person feels that he / she is breaking free of the constraints of tradition. The person’s daydreams focus on overturning the social constraints on morality and sexuality. Naughtiness becomes compelling and compulsive in his / her phantasies. In fact there is definite emotional pressure to phantasise: this pressure creates the compulsion. This pressure is due to the release of anxiety. This pressure determines the intensity of the excitement. The greater the amount of anxiety that is associated with a repressed memory, the greater becomes the excitement that is experienced and the more protracted becomes the fun phantasy of immorality. The greater the amount of anxiety that needs to be released, the longer will the catharsis last, even up to several weeks duration if necessary. Only when all the anxiety is released can compulsion cease" (Heath, 2002 online).


The continued reliance on the notion of abreaction has been criticised by Van der Hart and Brown (1992/2006 online), who regard it (along with the concept of repression) as dangerously "outmoded". [See also Case, Anna O, Case, Elena F, and dissociative identity disorder.]



Cathexis: This is the standard (i.e. Strachey) translation rendering of Besetzung in Freud's Project and later writings. [See now cathexis, bound and cathexis, free.]



Cathexis, Bound: [See firstly cathexis and binding.] This is Freud's notion of specifically invested libido, that is to say, of a long-term memory engram in some way "loaded" with emotional energy by virtue of the mechanisms described in the entry for Freud's Project. The advantage of having libidinal energy bound in this way is that the mind remains more or less in balance as a result; the disadvantage is that it is the system is no longer as flexibly responsive as it might have been. [Compare cathexis, free.]



Cathexis, Free: [See firstly cathexis and binding.] This is Freud's notion of levels of libido over and above that bound to long-term memory engrams [compare cathexis, bound]. The advantage of having libidinal energy free to invest itself in the short-term as the fancy suddenly takes it is that the mind is more flexibly responsive than when that energy is bound to specific objects in the long term.



Cation: A positively charged ion.



Cattell, Raymond B.: [British-born (later American) psychometrician (1905-1998).] [Click for external biography] Cattell is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on the factor analytic approach to personality theory - see personality, Cattell's system of for details. 



Causal Line: This is Russell's concept of "a temporal series of events so related that, given some of them, something can be inferred about the others whatever may be happening elsewhere" (Russell, 1948, p459). [For a more detailed introduction to this topic, see the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.]



Causal Rule: A specific and fallacy-free explanation of one or more event-pairs in a causal line.



Causality: The entry-level definition of causality is that it is "the operation or relation of cause and effect" (O.E.D.). Upon deeper consideration, however, a number of difficulties start to emerge. These problems hinge firstly upon the fact that we have to observe the contiguity of cause and effect before we can suspect a causal relationship, whereupon we may be led astray by the mere correlation, and then upon the fact that a judgment of causality tends to be accompanied by a perceptually compelling experience that one event has resulted in the occurrence of another, which judgment typically persists even when knowing that the events in question were related coincidentally [see Hume again (specifically, his billiard ball illustration)]. The problem is basically one of reality versus illusion, and may be illustrated by considering the "stage punch", where actors feign fisticuffs without actually getting hurt. Actors throwing a blow, for example, deliberately swing an inch or so short, while actors being "hit" co-operate in the illusion by jerking the appropriate part of their body away at just the right time, and by crying out in pain. Carefully synchronised sound effects can be added as appropriate to intensify the illusion. Many theatrical special effects, conjuring tricks, and perceptual illusions work in similar ways. The effective variables were discussed more than half a century ago by the Belgian psychologist Albert Michotte, and some demonstrations from Michotte (1946/1963) are now available in online simulation [click for example]. [For a more substantial introduction to this topic, see The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.]



Causation: [See firstly scientific method.] Causation is "the action of causing; production of an effect [;] the operation of causal energy; the relation of cause and effect" (O.E.D.). The detection and attempted explanation of cause and effect relationships is, of course, one of the fundamentals of science, and is based upon the notion that there is regularity, reliability, and order in the natural world. Hume helped popularise the modern debate on cause and effect, and his general conclusion was that that the sense of causation which comes with detecting a correlation between two types of event was often deceptive . [Compare causality.]



Causation, Logic, and Scientific Method: One of the three classical branches of philosophy (the others being ethics, aesthetics, and law and mental philosophy). The study of the laws of nature.



CBT: See cognitive behavioural therapy.



CDLC: See locus of control, academic performance and



CELF: See Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals.



Cell Assembly: [See firstly synaptic learning.] The most influential early statement of the neuronal interconnection approach to memory was in Donald Hebb's book, "The Organisation of Behaviour", in which he described the interlinking of neurons as creating what he called a cell assembly, "a diffuse structure comprising cells in the cortex and diencephalon (and also, perhaps, in the basal ganglia of the cerebrum), capable of acting briefly as a closed system" (Hebb, 1949, xix). For Hebb, "any two cells or systems of cells that are repeatedly active at the same time will tend to become 'associated', so that activity in one facilitates activity in the other" (Ibid, p70). The idea of cells repeatedly assisting each other's firing is particularly well described in what has since come to be known as "Hebb's Rule". Artificial cell assemblies are known formally as neural networks and informally as Hebb-Marr networks, and the science of producing and using them is known as Connectionism. [For a broader introduction to this topic, see our e-paper on "Hebbian Theory".]



Cell Membrane: This is the outer surface of the cell, that is to say, the continuous layer which separates the cytoplasm within the cell from the interstitial fluid outside it. The membrane itself is a four-layered molecular structure, namely a bimolecular lipid layer "sandwiched" between two protein layers. Because it is selectively permeable to a variety of other molecules it largely controls the composition of the cytoplasm within - molecules which are wanted inside the cell are encouraged to pass inwards, and those which are wanted outside the cell are encouraged to pass outwards.



Central Coherence (CC): [See firstly modularity.] This is the dimension proposed by Frith [U.] (1989) to explain the quality of integrated processing which characterises the best high level cognition. It is cognition in which every available neuron does not just have a voice, but manages to get it heard [our metaphor]. Alternatively, it is the sort of central modularity left over when Fodor's informationally encapsulated peripheral modules are stripped out of the equation. It is also the quality which, when in short supply, starts to characterise certain cognitive deficits, not least autism. For more on this topic, see theory of mind theory of autism and cognitive deficits, curability of.



Central Executive: [See firstly Working Memory Theory.] Term coined by Baddeley and Hitch (1974) for the hypothetical cognitive structure which manages the routing of material between the slave systems and WMG, and which is accordingly the conductor of the mental orchestra, as it were. Baddeley later described the central executive as a "conceptual ragbag" (Baddeley, 1986, p224), because so many different higher functions could be attributed to it. This was not the fault of the central executive, however, but of a more general confusion as to what "higher functions" actually consists of, and some idea of the extent of the problem here can be gained by glancing at the six separate high-level aspects of supervisory processing identified at the top of Norman's (1990) diagram of the cognitive control hierarchy. Yet even to this day, no consensus functional decomposition of higher cognition has ever been carried out. The Daneman and Tardiff (1987) technique is an experimental paradigm for separately assessing the processing and storage elements of the central executive. Many modern memory theorists prefer to work with the alternative framework provided by the Norman-Shallice Model of Supervisory Attentional Function, in which the supervisory system acts as central executive.



Central Pattern Generator (CPG): The Central Pattern Generator is "generally taken to mean a centrally located system capable of generating, in the absence of input from peripheral receptors, a rhythmic motor pattern similar to that occurring in the normal animal. Sensory input in the intact system is considered to modulate the activity of the central pattern generator, i.e. increase the overall repetition rate or modify the intensity of activity, but not function in any important way to establish the basic pattern of the motor output." (Pearson, 1985, p307.)



Central Processing Unit (CPU): The term "central processing unit" (CPU) is a convenient shorthand for the principal functional module of a computing device. A CPU is thus where a computer does its "thinking" (as opposed to its reading, writing, memorizing, etc.). It is thus the machine's νους, as it were (as opposed to its sensory or motor systems or its supporting memory stores). CPUs may be broken down, in turn, into a "Control Unit (CU)" to administer the sequencing of its "thoughts", and an "Arithmetic/Logic Unit (ALU)" to act upon those thoughts in some appropriate way. Each step within the overall control sequence is called a "machine instruction", and a logically complete and coherent sequence of machine instructions constitutes a "program".



Central State Materialism: [See firstly mind-brain debate in general, and the position taken by the early identity theorists in particular.] In an attempt to support Place's (1956) recognition of the importance of "inner processes", Smart (1963) offered a deliberately strict-but-wide definition of materialism. He made his definition strict by defining materialism as "the theory that there is nothing in the world over and above those entities which are postulated by physics", but he then gave himself room for theoretical manoeuvre (a) by allowing for as-yet-undiscovered laws of physics, and (b) by recognizing energy as matter, and including it in his analyses (p159). Similar views were expressed by D.M. Armstrong, who had also been seeking an account of mind within the "Materialist or Physicalist account of the mind" (Armstrong, 1980, p2). Armstrong saw much of value in the physicalist doctrines of Behaviourism, but he also saw value in Ryle's (1949) notion of "dispositions to behave" [for more on which see consciousness, Ryle's theory of]. What mattered for Armstrong was not the underlying mechanism qua mechanism, but its ability to adopt particular states, and thereby to influence behaviour. Here is an admirably clear statement of that position: "The differences between a stone and a human body appear to lie solely in the extremely complex material set-up that is to be found in the living body and which is absent in the stone. [.....] It will be very natural to conclude that mental states are not simply determined by corresponding states of the brain, but that they are actually identical with [them]" (Armstrong, 1981, p39). We see the same basic point in the following from Feigl (1970): "If I report moods, feelings, emotions, sentiments, thoughts, images, dreams, etc., that I experience, I am not referring to my behaviour [but] to those states or processes of my direct experience which I live through (enjoy or suffer), to the 'raw feels' of my awareness [..... and] the crucial and central puzzle of the mind-brain problem, at least since Descartes, has consisted in the challenge to render an adequate account of the relation of the 'raw feels' [.....] to the corresponding neurophysiological processes" (pp34-35). Returning to the problem more recently, Smart (2004) suggests that there is a case to distinguish "mere awareness" from "full consciousness" (p42), the distinguishing factor being that in the mere awareness we believe something of the world, but lack the metacognitive awareness of that belief. Consciousness phrased in this sense thus becomes "awareness of awareness" (p43) [it may or may not be relevant that maintaining an "awareness of awareness" is, mutatis mutandis, the greatest single technical requirement of man-made modular teleprocessing networks - see the OSI Reference Model]. Because Smart and Armstrong both hail from Australian universities (Monash and Sydney, respectively), they have been referred to as "the Australian School" of mental philosophy.



CFST: See Weigl Colour-Form Sorting Task.



Chain Pointers: These are a physical database design technique whereby the individual records in a set-structured network database each contain the database key of the next logically (but not necessarily physically) contiguous record in a set (and also optionally of the previous record and/or the set owner). Example: Consider a library loan system, where the essence of the data model will be that at any one moment there exists a one-to-many relationship between <subscriber> and <book >, and that both are entity types with many entity occurrences. This means that any one <subscriber> may have something between zero and a dozen or so <books> out at a time. So these data types are organised so that both record definitions allow room for an additional end-user-invisible data field (or two, or three, should prior or owner pointers also be required), this (these) to contain the database key address (or addresses) of the next record to be found (or prior or owner). We can then locate every specific <book> occurrence currently on loan to the specific <subscriber> occurrence, simply by following the chain pointers in the next direction around the <subscriber-books-loaned> set one by one until we get back to where we started from [there is a useful explanatory graphic in Schubert (1972; Figure 1), if needed]. This particular systems programming device was developed for the IDS DBMS in the early 1960s, was subsequently incorporated into all CODASYL-specification databases.



Change Blindness: This is the name given to the curious weakness of visual perception that it can be disturbingly easy to fool when monitoring items on the edge of attention. This weakness can be revealed experimentally by surreptitiously changing either the items themselves or some detail thereof, while the subject's attention has been drawn to another part of the scene. The online Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science charts the history of this research paradigm for us [take me to the page], and identifies a major problem which the change blindness phenomenon presents for consciousness studies .....


"If the information that is encoded about a visual scene is so sparse, how is it that we have the subjective impression of visual richness [.....]?" (O'Regan, 2006 online).            



Character: In everyday English, one's character is "the sum of the moral and mental qualities which distinguish an individual or a race, viewed as a homogenous whole" (O.E.D.). It is also seen in the rather loosely defined everyday phrase "character traits", where it indicates personal qualities such as "humility", "loyalty", "messiness", etc. However, both "character" and "character trait" have more formal definitions within psychology, as particular aspects of the broader construct of personality. Here is what Peck and Havighurst (1960) have to say about character in general .....  


"[I]f character be defined in terms of powerful emotion-laden attitudes, as well as action patterns that tend to become habituated, the evidence indicates that there is indeed such a thing as individual character, and that it tends to persist through the years. [..... Indeed], it is remarkable how little alteration there is in the basic motive pattern of most adolescents [..... suggesting that character] can be regarded as a special aspect of personality" (Peck and Havighurst, 1960, pp165-166).


Peck and Havighurst then identify five basic character "types" situated roughly "on an ascending scale of psychological and moral maturity" (p166) and "ego strength", as now detailed .....


The Rational-Altruistic Character Type: This is the character type with the greatest ego strength, the greatest "friendliness of outlook" (p169), and the most effective repertoire of "internalised moral principles" (p170).


The Conforming  Character Type: This is the character type with the second greatest ego strength, but nevertheless "a built-in, restrictive inner control" (p168).


The  Irrational-Conscientious Character Type: This is the character type with the third greatest ego strength, "more powerful, dominant superegos" (p169), and a hostility which their habitual restraint prevents them from expressing.


The  Expedient Character Type: This is the character type with the fourth greatest ego strength, and is characterised by "low to very low moral stability" and "a good deal of strained self-control" (p168).


The Amoral Character Type: This is the character type with the weakest ego strength of all and generally an "actively hostile attitude". Such individuals "hate life [and] have chaotic perceptions, extreme inappropriate emotionality, ineffective superegos, and generally disorganised, internally contradictory, often impulse-ridden personalities" (p167).


[There is a follow-on mention of Peck and Havighurst in the entry for attachment, romantic.]



Charcot, Jean-Martin: [French physician (1825-1893).] [Click for external biography] Charcot is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his ground-breaking work on hysteria.



"Charioteer of the Soul", the: This is one of Plato's major metaphors for the soul (see the full list at soul, Plato's metaphors for). At one point in his Phaedrus dialogue, Plato describes the soul as "like an organic whole made up of a charioteer and his team of horses [..... only one of which] is thoroughly noble and good, while the other is thoroughly the opposite" (Plato, Phaedrus, ¶246a-246b; Waterfield translation, p28), and its role in life is "in general to look after all that is inanimate". The conventional interpretation of this passage is that it is making two major assertions, namely (a) that there exists an immortal soul awaiting a body (i.e. the inanimate) to inhabit, and (b) that life is a constant struggle between the good horse (those motivations within us which are noble and pure) and the bad horse (those motivations within us which are lustful and self-serving - a notion which is developed further in the entry for soul, tripartite). However, the passage remains worthy of note even if we factor out the notions of immortality and constant conflict, because what we are left with is then an instrument which resides in an "earthy [sic] body" (Op. cit., 246c, p28), making it "seem to move itself" (p29). The soul is prime mover, in other words, in the sense that it initiates and then has to give direction and discipline to its "horses". In this respect, its tasks are the same as those of any motor hierarchy, its mysteries are the mysteries of praxis in general, and its architecture inherently both parallel and distributed. [Compare "pilot of the soul".]



Chessick, Richard D.: [American psychotherapist.] Chessick is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on internalisation.



Cholinergic Transmission: Neurotransmission where the transmitter substance happens to be acetylcholine. [Compare adrenergic transmission.]



Cholinesterase: Enzyme responsible for the breakdown of acetylcholine during the recovery phase of synaptic transmission.



Christine Sizemore: See case, Christine Sizemore.



Chromosome: This is a thin filament of DNA double-helix found in the cell nucleus. It is vitally important to biological systems because it carries the body's genes. The nucleus of the human cell contains 46 chromosomes, each with a molecular weight of the order of 100 billion.



Chunking: A concept introduced by Miller (1956) to explain how more and more information might be handled without any increase in the brain's processing power. Thus, where previously unconnected items are learned together (such as putting individual numbers together in a novel way when learning a new telephone number), they gradually become chunked together and can thereafter be processed as a single item.



Church, Alonzo: [American mathematician (1903-1995).] [Click for external biography] See consciousness, Johnson-Laird's theory of.



Cindy: See case, Cindy.



Circumspective Concern: This is Heidegger's (1927/1962, e.g., p106) term for the perceptual system's ability to respond in some primitive way to the full richness of the perceptual field even though it contains (or, indeed, specifically lacks) far more information at its periphery than could ever be directly attended to. Here is an indicative use of the term in the greater context of "environmentality and worldhood" ..... 


"But if the world can, in a way, be lit up, it must assuredly be disclosed. And it has already been disclosed beforehand whenever what is ready-to-hand within-the-world is accessible for circumspective concern" (Being and Time, p106).



CISS: See Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations.



Classical Sandwich Theory: [See firstly (and carefully compare) perspective behaviourist and perspective, cognitivist.] Classical Sandwich Theory is Susan Hurley's (e.g., Hurley, 1998) name for Cognitivism's school-defining S-O-R conceptualisation of the fundamental nature of biological cognition, a conceptualisation in which the cognitive system, O, is sandwiched between stimulation from the world, S, and the resulting behavioural responses, R. As an explanatory orientation, the S-O-R model contrasts dramatically with the strict S-R conceptualisation used by the Behaviourists. The S-O-R tradition goes back conceptually to the late 19th century, and terminologically at least to the mid-20th century. The concept may be seen, for example, in Donders' (1868/2007 online) notion of "thinking time" [for a more detailed history here, interested readers may consult Sections 1 and 2 of the companion resource on "Motor Programming"]. The S-O-R shorthand derives in part from the Hullian version of Behaviourism [see, for example, Hull (1943)], and was already standard textbook material in 1949, thus [a long extract, heavily abridged] .....


"A formula for interaction. The fundamental fact that the individual deals with the environment can be represented by the formula,


W - O - W


with W standing for the world or environment, and O standing for the organism or individual. The formula means that W acts on O and O back on W. This interaction goes on continually, back and forth, so that the formula might be extended into an indefinite series of Os and Ws. [..... Under this arrangement, t]he muscles are called effectors because they produce effects, changing the individual's relations with the environment. [..... whilst] forces from the environment act on his sense organs or receptors [.....]. But the process does not end in the receptors [..... because t]hrough the brain the receptors are connected with the motor nerves and so with the effectors. [.....] Any activity aroused by a stimulus is a response to that stimulus. A stimulus is what arouses a response, and a response is what is aroused by a stimulus. [.....] To represent this fundamental biological fact, that activity depends on stimulation, a simple formula is often used:


S - R, or S → R


with S standing for the stimulus and R for the response [.....] A large share of psychological problems can be tied to the S - R formula. [..... However, i]f we wish to predict what response will be made to a given stimulus, we have to take account of the individual as well as of the stimulus. We have to take account of O as well as of S. Therefore a more adequate formula is:


S - O - R


This reads that the stimulus acts on the individual and gets him to respond, and that the response depends on him as well as on the stimulus. [.....] The various O-factors can be classified under the three heads of structure, state, and activity in progress. [.....] Our answer to the question 'What does the individual do?' was incorporated in the formula W - O - W, meaning that he deals with the environment; and our answer to the question 'How does he do this?' in the formula S - O - R, meaning that he responds to stimuli in accordance with his structure, state, and activity in progress. Since the stimuli typically come from the environment and the responses act on the environment, the two formulas can be combined into one,


W - S - O - R - W


which can be easily read and understood. [..... We need, however, to note] that the organism responds to a combination of stimuli rather than to a single stimulus, and that a response brings into play a combination of muscles rather than a single muscle. [..... Also that v]ery often what we regard as a single act is composed of two parts, a preparatory response and an end response. [.....] Preparatory set is the organism's preparation for the act that is soon to be performed. [.....] Because of the importance of the combined situation-and-goal set for dealing efficiently with the environment, our formula should include some symbol for the set. Let a small w be appended to O mean that the individual is so set, and our formula takes this final form:


W - S - Ow - R - W


It reads as follows: While the individual is set for reaching a certain goal in a certain situation he receives stimuli and makes responses which have an objective meaning because of his objective set, the stimuli revealing the objective situation and the responses being aimed at an objective result" (Woodworth and Marquis, 1949, pp200-221).


The S-O-R shorthand is more commonly seen nowadays built into a control hierarchy diagram of some sort [for a ready example, see Section 2.1 of the companion resource, carefully comparing Figures 1.1(a) and 1.3.]. There are many versions of this basic diagram, in which the putative processing modules or the proposed information flow-lines differ in their fine detail. Frank (1963) provides a reasonably detailed version, complete with estimated information transmission rates, Dennett (1978) does likewise, but without the flow rates, and Norman (1990) is typical of the industry-defining Norman-Shallice model.



Client-Centred Therapy: This is the approach to psychotherapy put forward as an integrated clinical package by Carl Rogers in a book of the same name (Rogers, 1951). As its name suggests, the fundamental clinical orientation is that the patient has to be recognised as a precious individual who deserves personalised treatment. That said, however, the approach brings with it a number of other fundamental presumptions, not least the importance it attaches to self-actualisation. Joseph (2003) has recently reviewed the literature on the approach, and, despite some conflicting claims as to its efficacy, is generally positive as to its overall utility. [Compare client-centred therapy, experiential focusing approach and client-centred therapy, process-experiential approach.]



Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF): [See firstly clinical psychometrics.] This test was devised by Semel and Wiig (1980), and is now in its fourth edition and code-named CELF-4 (Semel, Wiig, and Secord, 2004). It is designed to assess language disorders in school-age children and young adults in the age range 6 to 21 years. The test consists of 11 subtests each addressing a particular aspect of language function (although not all are equally indicative at all ages). These subtests explore both receptive (e.g., coping with sentence structure, listening at paragraph level, and coping with word classes) and expressive language (e.g., sentence assembly and recall of gist).



Clinical Linguistics: This is the formal title for the use of philological knowledge in a clinical environment. This sort of applied linguistic philosophy is thus the primary clinical science in conditions such as specific language disorder. [See now clinical pragmatics.]



Clinical Pragmatics: [See firstly pragmatic impairment and clinical linguistics] This is a relatively new, and highly promising, area of research, which, as the name suggests, concerns itself with the assessment and remedial management of disorders of "pragmatics". As such, it is the sub-discipline of clinical linguistics which focuses on the role played by speech acts and related concepts in the aetiology (perhaps) and management (definitely) of both language disorders and mental health problems. It is thus the primary clinical science in conditions such as semantic-pragmatic disorder. Perkins (2005a) is particularly enthusiastic. He points out that there are no communicative disorders which do not involve pragmatic impairment in some respect, and he argues that an Emergentist approach is needed if clinicians are to overcome the known weaknesses of the modular distributed processing approach.



Clinical Psychometrics: Clinical psychometrics is that subset of psychometrics in general which is used by practising medical, para-medical, or educational professionals (as opposed to academic researchers or management consultancies) to assist the screening for, or assessment of, this or that relevant mental capacity. As such, the tests in question simply supplement the more established procedures of physical or intellectual examination. The following named packages are included in this glossary .....


(1) Tests for Mental Health Professionals: CISS; DES; DSQ; TAS


(2) Tests for Speech and Language Therapists: Boston Naming Test; BPVS; CELF; RDLS; SPT; TACL; TROG



Closure, Gestalt Law of: [See firstly Gestalt Laws.] This law of perceptual organisation describes the situation where an incomplete exemplar of a familiar basic shape, such as an incomplete circle, etc., tends to be perceived as the complete shape. What seems to happen is that the mind adds a "subjective contour" of its own to fill the gap, and then submits the completed form to the pattern recognition stage of perception.



CO/CO Clusters: See cognitive orientation.



CODASYL: See network database.



Co-Dependency: This is a term used within addiction theory to describe marginally pathological personality types who like to associate with out-and-out addicts, ostensibly to help them but actually for the personal gratification said association brings with it. Such helpers are thus "co-dependent" on the substance which the addict is "dependent" upon. The root of co-dependency seems to be that co-dependents "find their self-worth in helping others" because "they typically have a history of not getting their own needs met (especially as children)" [source]. Co-dependents are often unwittingly guilty of "enabling", that is to say, assisting and therefore hastening, the true victim's self-destruction.



Cogitatio(nis): [Latin = "the act or faculty of thinking, conception" (C.L.D.); "acts of consciousness" (Husserl, Ideas, p101).] See consciousness, Husserl's theory of. [Compare (and take care not to confuse with) cognitio(nis).]



Cogito: [Latin = "to turn over in the mind, to think, reflect, consider" (C.L.D.).] See cogitatio and ego cogito, and additional brief discussion of the latter in consciousness, Husserl's theory of.



Cognition: [Latin cognitionem = "a getting to know".] In general usage, cognition is "the action or faculty of knowing; knowledge, consciousness" (O.E.D.). Within mental philosophy, cognition is "the acquisition, storage, retrieval, and use of knowledge" (Matlin, 1989) and accordingly stands as one of Hamilton's triad of fundamental mental arenas (the others being affect and conation). Strictly speaking, "cognition is 'knowing'; re-cognition is 'knowing again'" (Cherry, 1957, p256), from which it follows that much of what we loosely describe as cognition is actually recognition; this distinction is, however, rarely enforced in practice. [See now perception and phenomenal awareness.]



Cognitio(nis): [Latin = "getting to know, study, knowledge of" (C.L.D.).] This is the Latin root of the modern English words "cognition", "cognitive", and "cognise". [Compare and do not confuse with cogitatio(nis).]



Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT): This is the name chosen by Ryle (1990) for his rather innovative version of psychotherapy "involving the creation of precise high-level verbal and diagrammatic descriptions of problematic procedures" (Ryle and Beard, 1993, p249), as now summarised .....


"Although owing much to object relations theory, CAT in a sense turns psychoanalysis on its head, for rather than inducing regression and working primarily through interpretation, the patient's capacity for conscious self-observation and control is heightened by means of the creation of descriptive tools. The application of these descriptions to daily life and to the therapist-patient relationship induces change through a process of demonstration, leading in time to the early recognition, and then to the revision, of damaging procedures" (Ryle and Beard, 1993, p249).



Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): [See firstly interventions.] Described by Kassel (2006 online) as a "talk therapy", CBT is an approach to the changing of human behaviour which combines cognitive therapy's drive for heightened reflective awareness with behaviour therapy's emphasis on adaptive habits (pitting the strength of one component against the weaknesses of the other).


ASIDE: In the entry for cognitive therapy, we describe that method as having been developed in the 1970s by a team led by Aaron T. Beck. CBT seems to have come slightly later from the same stable, but without changing the name on the package. So it is difficult to spot exactly where the one product gave birth to the other (or, indeed, whether cognitive therapy was ever entirely cognitive in the first place). Beck's website lists 496 publications (with a further 18 in press or under review) [20th September 2006]. 124 of these include the phrase "cognitive therapy" in their title, the earliuest being Beck (1970). There is then a "cognitive behavioural modification" in 1978, and four "cognitive behavioural therapies", one each in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005. What seems to have happened is that Beck thought of cognitive etherapy as including a behavioural element from the outset, but was wrong-footed when other authors popularised the alternative descriptor.


CBT is nowadays proposed as the method of choice for conditions such as depression and mood swings, shyness and social anxiety, chronic anxiety and worry, dysfunctional coping skills, "co-dependency and enabling" in substance abuse, and impulse control. Williams (2004/2006 online) lists the following areas of more or less successful applications .....


anger management; anxiety and panic attacks; child and adolescent problems; chronic fatigue syndrome; chronic pain; depression; drug/alcohol problems; eating problems; general health problems; habits and tics; mood swings; obsessions and compulsions; phobias; post-traumatic stress disorder; sexual and relationship problems; sleep problems


CBT has been applied to the development of social skills in disruptive children (see the review by Smith, 2002/2006 online), and is also recommended for the sort of impulsivity issues seen in frontal lobe syndrome.



Cognitive Complexity: This is MacLeod and Williams' (1991) meta-dimensional measure of the habitual use (and perhaps misuse) of bipolar dimensions of encoding in a person's individual approach to the world. The authors begin by reminding us of Kelly's Personal Construct Theory and the use of the repertory grid technique to analyse an individual's personal construct system both qualitatively and quantitatively [readers unfamiliar with these techniques should spend ten minutes on the separate entries before proceeding]. Here is how they then introduce the complexity construct ..... 


"Various measures can be derived from this grid, one of the most valuable of which has proved to be cognitive complexity. This is a measure of how elaborated a person's representations are, and it is based on the amount of variation or number of components that exist within a particular representation. For example, someone who gave themselves identical ratings on each of 10 particular personality traits would be said to have a representation of themselves which was low in cognitive complexity. In contrast, someone whose ratings were very diverse would be cognitively complex" (MacLeod and Williams, 1991, pp179-180).


MacLeod and Williams then point to the explanatory potential of the new dimension, noting that low cognitive complexity is a possible feature of a number of different mood disorders, including spider phobia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and general neuroticism. They note, for example, that some sort of predisposition to depression is particularly strongly suspected, although there is no consistency one way or the other in the available empirical data - some studies report no such effect, whilst others report it at high levels of significance. Typical of the former, Ashworth, Blackburn, and McPherson (1982, cited in MacLeod and Williams, 1991) failed to find any substantial differences in complexity between depressed and non-depressed subjects. Typical of the latter, Sheehan (1981) argued that the way people "construed themselves" would inevitably determine how they behaved, especially their "manner of anticipating and coping" with life's stresses. Sheehan investigated this by asking depressed subjects to complete a repertory grid where the constructs were al bipolar personality traits, and the elements all characters known to the subject. The data he obtained indicated as follows .....


"[T]he majority of the depressed subjects revealed a large self - ideal self discrepancy from which we may infer a decreased level of self-acceptance. That this discrepancy was significantly greater in the depressed group than the comparison group (p < 0.001) is consistent with [research] which suggests that low self-esteem is characteristic of individuals suffering from depression. The polarisation is also consistent with the tendency highlighted by Beck (1974) of the depressed patient to think in absolute terms. Thus, the depressed person thinks not just in terms of inadequacy but of total inadequacy. Such feelings lead in turn to a feeling of hopelessness" (Sheehan, 1981, p205).


One possible explanation for the lack of agreement between research teams is that the underlying causal relationship is not in fact linear, but rather U-shaped. MacLeod and Williams explain what is at stake by citing Neimeyer (1985), as follows .....


"Neimeyer (1985) points out that severity of mood disturbance may be an important factor in determining cognitive complexity. He suggests that non-depressed individuals will typically construe themselves in a favourable way across a variety of situation, resulting in a relatively undifferentiated but positive construct system. With mild levels of depression, some negative self-evaluations begin to be assimilated [.....]. However, at severe levels of depression the valence becomes almost exclusively negative, producing again a less differentiated, but this time negative construct system" (MacLeod and Williams, 1991, pp180-181).


MacLeod and Williams therefore targeted their own research at a carefully selected sample of "moderately mood-disturbed" subjects [they advertised in a local newspaper for "worriers"], and report that their cognitive complexity was, indeed, more complex than matched non-worriers.



Cognitive Deficit:


"But a soul can only read within itself what is represented in it distinctly"

(Leibniz, 1714, Monadology [Woolhouse and Francks (1998) edition, p276], ¶61).


This is Hermelin and O'Connor's (1970) term for a cognitive processing difficulty, or difficulties, which, upon deeper investigation, can be attributed to a covert defective component process. Although the term is relatively recent, the notion of underlying impairment goes back at least to the late 19th century literature on developmental dylexia, is implicit in just about all schemes of cerebral functional localisation, and is similar to Freud's (1895) notion of a "psychological deficit" (Freud, 1895/1966, Project for a Scientific Psychology [Standard Edition (Volume 1)], p386 [we reproduce the source passage in full at the end of the entry for Freud's Project, if interested]). A good early example of how the cognitive deficit construct can then be used to help explain clinical problems is to be found in Kraepelin's (1919) Dementia Praecox. He reviews many aspects of cognition, as per our summary table below, and the items annotated ** indicate possible areas of fundamentally defective cognition .....


Cognitive Aspect

Kraepelin's Analysis

[Our Suggested Deficit]


Perception in General

OK - "not usually lessened"


Perception - maintain attention appropriately

IMPAIRED - "it is often difficult enough to make them attend at all" [** deficit in basic attentional system]

cf. attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder

Reality Checking - sensory reality

IMPAIRED - hallucinations common; voices heard [** deficit in forward planning system]

aggression, hearing voices and

Reality Checking - orientation to time and place

OK - intact orientation to time and place


Consciousness in General

OK - "is in many cases clear throughout"


Memory in General

OK - "comparatively little disordered"


Memory - monitor reality of when retrieved

IMPAIRED - can be inaccurate, and explained away by associated "confabulations" [** deficit in forward planning system]

forward model

Train of Thought in General

IMPAIRED - "sooner or later suffers considerably"


Train of Thought - maintain rationality of association

IMPAIRED - suffers "in a most striking way"; incoherence, idiosyncrasy, and confusion


Train of Thought - flexibility

IMPAIRED - patients "almost always" display stereotypy or persistence of single ideas


Train of Thought - logical progression

IMPAIRED - patients "deliberately avoid" answering correctly


Train of Thought - maintain personal volitional control of

IMPAIRED - patients often "cannot think as they wish" [** deficit in agency]


Judgment in General

IMPAIRED - "suffers without exception severe injury"


Judgment - collate and correct raw ideas

IMPAIRED - patients talk nonsense "quite complacently" [** deficit in forward planning system]


Judgment - maintain accurate self-image

IMPAIRED - frequent ideas of personal sinfulness; also of persecution and external influence [** mismatch between the concept clusters for the self and the outside world]


Emotion in General

IMPAIRED - "very striking and profound damage"


Emotion - sympathy

IMPAIRED - indifference; "want of understanding"; "roughness" [i.e. physically abusive]


Emotion - social appropriacy

IMPAIRED - especially "the want of a feeling of shame" as to basic bodily functions


Emotion - general stability

IMPAIRED - suffers "sudden oscillations" and uncontrolled outbursts


Volition in General

IMPAIRED - "extensive and varied" problems; automatic obedience


Volition - executive control of impulsivity

IMPAIRED - rapid and senseless impulses


Volition - executive administration of behavioural repertoire

IMPAIRED - "completely aimless movements"; mannerisms; negativisms


Volition - engagement with the world

IMPAIRED - autistic behaviour; stupor


Personality in General

IMPAIRED - "complete destruction of the personality"


Personality - self-expression

IMPAIRED - little speech or responsiveness, conversational engagement, or correspondence



The textbook citation from the inter-war years is Cameron [N.] (1938). Drawing on his clinical experience at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Cameron saw schizophrenic thinking as typically pathologically inefficient in the construction and use of mental concepts. Schizophrenics are incoherent and difficult to follow because they focus on the wrong aspects of a situation, and they focus on the wrong aspects of a situation because they fail for some as-yet-unknown reason to define things precisely enough. This is how Cameron puts it .....


"We have now to direct attention to factors involved in the characteristic vagueness, the prevailing lack of precision and of unity which make schizophrenic logic so difficult to follow. This is a study of the geography of schizophrenic reasoning. From the analyses of our material we were able to pick out three factors distinct enough to justify separate discussion. These are: (1) the appearance of loose clusters of terms in place of organically integrated concepts; (2) the use of terms or phrases that approximate the meaning, striking somewhere on the periphery of the target instead of at the bull's eye; and (3) the concomitant appearance of coordinate themes interweaving with each other and through mutual interference producing what at first glance looks like a mere jumble of words" (Cameron, 1938, pp159-160; bold emphasis added).


Cameron called this inability to project clearly integrated thought processes "asyndetic thinking", and regarded it as not totally random, but certainly "prelogical" (p160); the patient feels that the constituent ideas belong together but "at the same time there is no genuine causal connection" (ibid.). Another early worker, Winnicott (1945), reported on defects in time and space perception as correlates of schizophrenic thought [see the quotation in self, Winnicott on]. By and large, however, these early workers lacked a body of cognitive science to refer out to for their basic theory of cognition. If anything, cognitive theory was actually driven by the psychiatrists and neurologists themselves (with occasional advice from mental philosophers) until the mid-1950s, and things only started to change when the new breed of "cognitive psychologists" started to emerge, with their emphasis on the readily replicable non-invasive experimental study of normal subjects. Two of the new cognitive paradigms are relevant here, the first being Donald Broadbent's work on the mechanisms of attention (e.g., Broadbent, 1958), and the second being Jerome Bruner's work on "concept formation (e.g., Bruner, Goodnow, and Austin, 1956). From the former came an increased awareness of the theoretical difficulties putting together a theory of attention capable of explaining what clinicians had been remarking on since Kraepelin's time, and from the latter came an increased awareness of the process of abstraction as one of the few true fundamentals of cognition. It was against this background that the notion of "overinclusive thinking" suddenly emerged as a potential unifying explanation for schizophrenic pathology (e.g., Payne, 1961; Payne and Friedlander, 1962). This line of enquiry looked at the fundamental relationship between concepts as indivisible units of meaning, and higher-order concepts, that is to say, with the owners and the owned in a "conceptual hierarchy" [see separate entry for further detail, if needed]. Payne, Caird, and Laverty (1964) reviewed the early literature, and summarise their findings as follows .....


"1. Overinclusive thinking is confined to patients diagnosed as schizophrenic. It has not been found in normals, depressed patients, or in neurotics. 2. Different measures of overinclusive thinking correlate significantly, yielding a common factor when the correlations are analysed. 3. Overinclusive thinking is relatively independent of the general retardation which characterises many psychotic patients. 4. Only about half those patients who are diagnosed as schizophrenics suffer from overinclusive thinking. The remainder [.....] tend to be abnormally retarded in a wide range of psychological tests of speed of mental and motor functioning [.....] No doubt emotional factors also play a role in the formation of delusions in many patients. In addition, however, overinclusive thinking could easily help to lead to the induction of unwarranted generalisations. The overinclusive patient, in addition to perceiving the essential features of any problem or situation, is also apparently unable to screen out irrelevant perceptions and these become incorporated into the data of the problem. This is likely to delay solution, but it may also lead to an overall conclusion which is unwarranted. Thus, for example, a patient may genuinely (and normally) believe that a certain individual dislikes him. However, his over-inclusive 'concept' (cerebral representation) of this individual may extend to other similar people [.....] so that he may develop the same negative emotional reactions to this entire category of people, being incapable of the necessary discrimination which normally circumscribes fairly precisely the stimuli which will evoke the particular response. This could partly explain how it is that delusions so frequently come to include a broad category of people" (Payne, Caird, and Laverty, 1964, pp413-414; bold emphasis added).


More recently, the cognitive deficit type of explanation has been intensively used to explain key aspects of autistic spectrum disorders. O'Connor and Hermelin (1971, p227), for example, proposed that autism was characterised by an inability "to encode stimuli meaningfully". Autistics are bad at abstracting an essential underlying feature from a word series, and, above all, at forming what are known as higher order representations. These are attributions of states of mind to other people. To use the latest phraseology, they are theories of mind. The states of mind in question include volitional states such as want, covet, intend, etc, as well as belief states such as believe, doubt, think, etc. The number of people involved in such representations can vary upwards from one, with the phrase "second order representation" indicating that two minds are involved, "third order representation" indicating three minds, and so on. A typical third order representation would therefore take the form "I suspect | that Tom doubts | that the borrower intends to repay the loan". Against this background, the autistic cognitive deficit is that whilst normals can cope with up to fifth or sixth order representations, autistics cannot process even second order ones - they seem incapable of recognising that what other people think and feel is not part of their own direct experience. They have not successfully abstracted "self" from "other", and consequently behave as though the world was theirs and theirs alone. Within dyslexia theory, phonological coding is another of these important specific cognitive skills, and when it goes awry for some as-yet-unknown reason equally specific aspects of cognition immediately suffer, including the ability to put phonological skills to text-processing uses. Within psychiatry, Kuyken (2006) explains how "overgeneralised autobiographical memory" - a straightforward information processing deficit - might contribute to depression.


BREAKING RESEARCH: For more on the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links.


WHERE TO NEXT: To see whether and to what extent cognitive deficits can be cured, see cognitive deficits, curability of. For more on the phonological deficit in dyslexia, see Section 4.4 of the companion resource, "Dyslexia and the Cognitive Science of Reading and Writing". There are also further short mentions of the topic in the entries for forward model and prospective memory.



Cognitive Deficits, Curability of: [See firstly the headline topic itself, special educational need, and all entries beginning theory of mind theory of -.] Although the term "cognitive deficit" dates back only to the early 1970s, the phenomenon itself is far from new. Parents and educators have been dealing intuitively with the problem of developmental "blind spots" ever since the beginnings of time, and more often than not a few extra words of explanation or a little more time spent practising does the trick. Even where a degree of deficit survives unremediated into adulthood, it often simply becomes part of the individuality of the person in question, perhaps earning its owner a corresponding descriptor of some sort, using adjectives such as "dyslexic" or "number blind" or "clumsy" or "unfriendly" or "geekish" or just plain "odd". Only when the deficit reaches clinically significant or educationally disabling levels does the need for a formal science of its remediation become paramount. That science exists, but remains in its infancy, as the following extract by one of its foremost theoreticians, the Medical Research Council's Uta Frith, reveals when contemplating the prospects of ever being able to "cure" the cognitive deficits believed to be involved in dyslexia and autism ..... 


"It seems straightforward to identify a specific cognitive deficit for dyslexia, which after all is famous for being a specific disability. In fact, it has proved extremely difficult to pin down the deficit, and it is still far from clear how to conceptualise the phonological mechanism in question. It is also not yet clear what we should regard as the core symptoms of the syndrome. In the case of autism, the task of identifying a specific cognitive deficit appeared, initially, extraordinarily difficult. Far from the expectation that there would be a single specific deficit to account for the complex pattern of symptoms, there was the strong possibility that autism was a typical example of multiple deficits. Indeed, the most widely used diagnostic descriptions classify autism as a pervasive developmental disorder rather than as a specific disorder. However, it is in the case of autism that the search for a cognitive deficit has been most successful [.....] The core symptoms of autism have been well established by epidemiological and follow-up studies. They form a triad of impairments in socialisation, communication, and imagination which persist throughout life. [.....] However, we can explain the triad of impairments by the hypothesis of a single cognitive deficit [..... concerning] a mental component that has to do with representing mind itself. This component is responsible for an ability that we termed mentalising. It is also responsible for what has been called an everyday theory of mind, or folk psychology. By this is meant our normal human tendency to attribute systematically and productively thoughts, beliefs, and feelings to people. [.....] The deficit we postulate implies that autistic individuals lack this awareness. [.....] The general implication of the studies is that the monolith of the mind can indeed be broken up. The study of abnormal development allows us to discover specific components that have long been hidden. Theories about different components of the mind guide us to discover the cuts in the otherwise smooth continuum of behaviour. Without a cognitive theory every behaviour shades into every other. [..... With one] the differences can be uncovered and the underlying discontinuities can be revealed. The sources of the discontinuities are at the cognitive level [..... and] it does not matter how many different biological causes will be found" (Frith [U.], 1992, pp16-18).


Frith's final caution is that one actually risks being unkind to the handicapped person if sets the expectations too high, thus ..... 


"To me it is a very false idea of kindness not to acknowledge that someone, through no fault but nature's, suffers from a biological disorder. Surely to recognise that some people have a disorder means to recognise that they have a right to an allowance being made for their handicap. This is at least a first step towards a kinder treatment. It is not kind to pretend that people are not blind when in fact they are. Nor is it kind to push people if there is little spare capacity. Compensation is a costly process. When mental resources have to be marshalled where they are sparse, then one should think twice about insisting that they are used. [.....] Once the deficit has been recognised - it can be left alone. Compensation and diversion into other fields are often possible - but not always necessary. Rather than demanding of handicapped children that they make continuous efforts, we should learn to recognise their often heroic struggle. We can respect the difference" (Frith [U.], 1992, p19).


Happé (1999a) is another who has puzzled over the autistic mind. She finds it intriguing that some cognitive functions are so heavily and specifically impaired whilst others are preserved or, indeed, operate at above-average level. She notes that roughly 10% of people with autism possess some sort of "savant" skill in areas such as music, art, calculation, or memory, and that many more (she uses the term "the great majority") have skills in less spectacular areas such as doing jigsaw puzzles. So are such talents rightly  described as "intelligent" in the first place? To help us answer this question, she adopts Frith [U.]'s (1989) notion of "central coherence" (CC), that is to say, an "everyday tendency" to "pull information together for higher level meaning" (p541), even if that means foregoing some of the detail. What seems to be happening in autism is that central coherence is lacking, allowing detail to be unnaturally attended to. In Happé (1999b) she goes further, arguing that weak CC may be may be the core genetically transmittable component of autism ..... 


"As a cognitive style, rather than deficit, weak CC is an interesting contender for the aspect of autism that is transmitted genetically and characterises the relatives of individuals with autism. We are currently comparing cognitive style in parents of children with autism, with dyslexia, and without developmental disorder (F. Happé, J. Briskman, and U. Frith, unpublished data). Preliminary results suggest that parents, and especially fathers, of children with autism show significantly superior performance on tasks favouring local processing [instances given]. In all these respects they resemble individuals with autism ....." (Happé, 1999b, p221).


As for the cognitive deficit explanation of schizophrenia, Frith [C.] and Corcoran (1996) report that patients with paranoid delusions were impaired on questions concerning mental states, whilst those with delusions of control or currently in remission performed at control level. They conclude as follows ..... 


"The proficient performance of patients currently in remission on these theory of mind stories is noteworthy [and] implies that the underlying cognitive impairment fluctuates with symptoms and is a state, rather than a trait, variable. [.....] It is, of course, only a beginning to show that paranoid patients have difficulty with theory of mind tasks. From the present study we cannot tell whether the difficulty is specific to the domain of mental states, or whether it reflects a more general problem with certain kinds of inferences and deductions. [.....] For future studies we will need to know how 'theory of mind' and mentalising abilities relate to representation and meta-representation (e.g., Leslie, 1987) and, more generally, to the acquisition of knowledge and the ability to draw inferences. From an empirical point of view it will be necessary to examine larger groups of patients so that this cognitive deficit can be related to individual symptoms" (Frith [C.] and Corcoran, 1996, p527).


[See now and compare the disciplines of cognitive rehabilitation and cognitive neurorehabilitation, both of which often address identical symptoms, but do so from the neurogenic side of things.]



Cognitive Estimates Test: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] DETAIL TO FOLLOW



Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] DETAIL TO FOLLOW. Broadbent et al (1982). 



Cognitive Framing: [See firstly frame.] It is in the nature of cognitive frames that they facilitate perceptual decision-making by constraining it - specifically, as with any schema-based "top-down" process, they buy their processing speed by investing in a little guesswork. Frames, in other words, are presumptions. Unfortunately, presumptions often prove to be unfounded and are then a possible cause of the sort of adverse incidents studied by forensic ergonomists. What happens when the active frame turns out to have been the wrong one (or is a perseveration of a proper one after it has ceased to be appropriate), is that it actually prejudices accurate cognition rather than ensuring it. Such rogue frames force current input to fit an invalid presumption, and inappropriate behaviours get authorised as a result (and will persist, moreover, for as long as the error goes undetected). When this happens it leaves the cognitive system failing in its primary purpose - that of reality testing and maintaining situational awareness. For examples of cognitive framing errors simpliciter, see case, USS Vincennes or the July 2005 shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Station [detail]. For examples of cognitive errors of the mode error subtype, see case, Strasbourg A320 Air Disaster, 1992. The ability of a rogue frame to distort current sensory input so as to falsely validate its continued existence is often referred to as a "confirmation bias". [See also stereotype fixation and interrupt processing, and then compare with the phenomenon of impulsivity seen in cases of dysexecutive syndrome.]


CAUTION: The term "frame" is used by many sciences. Within psycholinguistics, for example, there is the entire sub-discipline of frame semantics to take account of [see companion glossary], whilst within the telecommunications industry "frame errors" are a class of data communications error. Care is therefore needed when keyword researching to separate out these usages.



Cognitive Map: A mental representation of the physical setting of the world.



Cognitive Modelling: [See firstly scientific models in general and black-box modelling in particular.] To "model" cognition is to follow some (preferably all ) of the following heuristic devices -


1. To scale the brain and its attendant mental phenomena up or down to a handy size.


2. To hypothesise as to the interactions between, and the relative contribution of, the brain's parts, so that .....


3. Some definitive statement of enhanced theoretical understanding can be produced, in words, pictures, or formulae (preferably all), as appropriate.


As such, cognitive modelling is, and always has been, the core skill of mental philosophy - only the methods and the explanatory metaphors have ever changed. So when Plato was considering the internal divisions of the soul [see soul, tripartite], he was modelling cognition every bit as aggressively as do today's production system researchers. say.


WHERE TO NEXT: If interested in a specific application area within cognition, follow the table below .....


Study Area


Box-and-Arrow Modelling, as practicum

See the companion resource.

Box-and-Arrow Modelling, as the most convenient expression of cognitive modularity

See modularity.

Perception, as Staged Aesthesis

See perception, Marr's theory of.

Perception, as Attention

See Cherry (1953) and Broadbent (1958).

Mathematical Cognition

See the "Mathematical Cognition" resource

Language Processing (General)

See the "Transcoding Models" resource

Motor Production (General)

See Norman-Shallice model; also the material on reaction time in Sections 1 to 5 of the "Motor Programming" resource.

Language Processing (Speech Production)

See Section 4 of the "Speech Errors" resource.

Ideation, Problem Solving, and Will

Models of the so-called "higher" cognitive functions are actually very rare. Basically, this is because there is no consensus on where and how phenomenal awareness sits in the system. With the problem of "infinite regress" in mind, most modular flow models get around this problem by factoring out two or three early perceptual processing stages and two or three late motor production stages, and consigning all the complicated bits to a single central module. This single central module is referred to typically as the cognitive or semantic system, and is then quite deliberately left unanalysed [see Ellis and Young (1988) for the canonical form]. Amongst the rare exceptions, Norman (1990) bravely identifies seven major subsystems of higher cognition [check them out], but even he offers no suggestions as to their likely interconnections. 

 The Mind-Brain Problem

For the archetypal material model of cognition, see automata. For a neat (thought) experiment in the physical upscaling of the brain, see Leibniz's mill.

Artificial Intelligence

See the entry below



  Cognitive Modelling and Artificial Intelligence: [See firstly cognitive modelling.] The science of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rightfully renowned as the science of the mechanical simulation of cognition - of the mind as mechanism, in other words, and of the mind-brain problem as ultimately (perhaps imminently) resolvable. The AI mechanism of choice will normally be some carefully crafted computer software and its attendant physical processing architecture (perhaps itself carefully crafted, but perhaps just your run-of-the-mill PC or laptop). AI, in other words, deals with soft mechanisms inside hard ones.


ASIDE: We have set the preceding sentence in bold type because it is "the particular go" of the interaction of the soft and hard mechanisms of mind and brain which has been defeating philosophers and scientists alike ever since philosophy and science were invented. To be precise, nobody has yet managed to figure out how the soft mechanism of the mind "supervenes" upon the hardware of the brain [we discuss this issue in greater detail in Section 9 of the "Data Modelling" resource].


The AI systems which result are then carefully crafted into, and there help direct and deliver the functioning of, larger structures or systems. Metaphorically speaking, these higher-order entities may be regarded as "bodies" of sorts. They can be man-made (a guided missile, say, or a robot), but they could just as easily be naturally occurring (a nation's economy, say). Moreover, with retinal, cochleal, or spinal "implants" we have already started to deploy AI into correcting defects in our biological bodies. So the common theme is that the behaviour of the body system will be in at least one of its respects controlled by the behaviour of the brain system, which will itself be controlled in every respect by the inbuilt logic of its software, and this, since it makes the causal chain between mind and body fully auditable, helps turn mental philosophy into mental science.


ASIDE: Simulations are therefore far more than just clever programming exercises, for the software in question actually has both a tangible existence ["tangible" in the sense that the silver shimmer on a CD-ROM is tangible] and a reference blueprint [the source code involved]. The act of simulating mental information processing therefore extends the discipline of observationally-based empirical science into areas of philosophical debate previously only accessible by argument and reflection alone.



Cognitive Neurorehabilitation: [See firstly cognitive rehabilitation.] This is the title of Stuss, Winocur, and Robertson's (1999) state-of-the-industry review of the techniques available to clinical neuropsychologists for handling the rehabilitation needs of brain injury patients. The "neuro-" prefix indicates slightly greater reliance on the neuroscientific data stream than might be the case in straight cognitive rehabilitation, but fundamentally there is no difference in the aims and techniques of the two approaches. The point is that cognitive rehabilitation needs, in Stuss et al's submission, to be regarded "as a truly integrative discipline" (p1). [Compare cognitive deficits, curability of.]



Cognitive Orientation (CO): The notion of "cognitive orientation" was put forward by Kreitler and Kreitler (1969) to help explain individual differences in the deployment and eventual effectiveness of a person's psychosexual defense mechanisms. It was subsequently incorporated into a formal theory of behavioural modification known as cognitive orientation therapy (Kreitler and Kreitler, 1976). Here, from a more recent article, are the key points .....


"The major thesis of the CO theory is that human behaviour is the product of a motivational disposition that shapes the directionality of behaviour, and a behavioural program that shapes the performance of behaviour. Cognition contributes to both the directionality and performance, though differently. The directionality is produced by cognitive contents and processes - meanings, beliefs, and attitudes" (Kreitler and Kreitler, 2004, p198).


The "motivational disposition" referred to above is the same general (and far older) notion as drive, and the "behavioural program" is the same as the action schema. Kreitler and Kreitler then identify four stages of information processing during the end-to-end totality of effective cognition, as follows .....


1. The "What Is It?" Stage: This is the stage of perceptual recognition, and involves "assigning meaning to the input" (p199). If that meaning cannot yet be assigned (due to insufficient detail being available, say), then an "orienting response" is authorised, in order to improve the quality of said input.


2. The "What Does It Mean?" Stage: This is when the implications of the input are considered in terms of the authorisation of behaviour. It involves the "enriched elaboration of meanings" (p199), that is to say, a wider and more exhaustive search of the available meaning system.


3. The "What Will I Do?" Stage: This is when possible courses of action are evaluated, and one particular option accepted as a "behavioural intent" (p200). The resulting "directionality of behaviour" invariably reflects the individual's underlying belief structures. Beliefs, in turn, exist under four distinct type-headings [detailed in Cognitive Orientation Questionnaire, immediately below] and are organised, Kreitler and Kreitler suggest, into what they call "CO clusters".


ASIDE: Each CO cluster represents the balance of beliefs, of all types, in favour of or against a particular act. A sort of on-balance, weighted average, approach-or-avoid score.


4. The "How Will I Do It?" Stage: This is when the behavioural intent set up in (3) is expanded into a "program", that is to say, "a hierarchically structured sequence of instructions governing the performance of some act" (p200).


As psychotherapists, Kreitler and Kreitler further propose that a defense mechanism is just another program [as (4) above], albeit with a special psychodynamic function, namely that of resolving conflicts between two CO clusters [as (3) above], "at least one of which is barred from consciousness" (p201). The outcome is a revised behavioural intent [as (3) above]. As such, CO theory is an interesting attempt to reconcile two otherwise not particularly compatible schools of psychology, the cognitivist and the psychodynamic. [This narrative continues in the entry for cognitive orientation therapy below.]



Cognitive Orientation Questionnaire (COQ): [See firstly cognitive orientation for the specific background, and, if necessary, clinical psychometrics for the generic.] The COQ is a psychometric instrument for the profiling of a person's psychosexual defense mechanisms (DMs). It was introduced by Kreitler and Kreitler (1969), and consists of a battery of self-report questions intended to assess a subject's cognitive orientation. Four separate belief types are polled in this way, as follows .....


"..... (a) Beliefs about goals, expressing actions or states desired or undesired by the individual, e.g., 'I want to know everything people think about me'; (b) Beliefs about rules and norms, expressing ethical, aesthetic, social, and other rules and standards, e.g., 'One should trust no one'; (c) Beliefs about self, expressing information about oneself, such as one's habits, actions, feelings, abilities, etc., e.g., 'I often get very excited', 'As a child I was often punished by my parents'; and (d) General beliefs expressing information concerning others and the environment, e.g., 'Most people try to get the better of you'" (Kreitler and Kreitler, 2004, pp199-200).


Each COQ item is so phrased as to probe a particular defense or subset of defenses, thus .....


"For example, 'A person should guide his or her behaviour according to logical rules that can be justified' (norm belief; rationalisation), 'I usually try to maintain internal calm and do not let small things upset it' (belief about self; denial). Beliefs orienting toward denial included, for example, emphasis on preserving one's peace of mind, concentrating on one's own well-being, rising above the trivialities of everyday life, disregarding small details, and cultivating optimism and hope. Beliefs orienting toward rationalisation included, for example, emphasis on promoting the public well-being, improving others, developing one's rationality and clarity of thinking, depending only on oneself, and striving for self control. Finally, beliefs orienting toward projection included, for example, emphasis on attending to the smallest details in any event and especially in the behaviour of others, preserving one's safety, getting one's due, and behaving to others as they behave to you. Each part of the questionnaire included an equal number of responses relevant to the three DMs" (Kreitler and Kreitler, 2004, p205).



Cognitive Orientation Therapy: This is form of cognitive therapy based around a thorough assessment of patients' habitual use (and, of course, misuse) of defense mechanisms. It was devised by Kreitler and Kreitler (1969), is grounded in that team's cognitive orientation theory, and makes extensive use of their Cognitive Orientation Questionnaire. Kreitler and Kreitler (2004) provide a detailed review of experience with the technique.



Cognitive Overload: See multi-tasking, human error and.



Cognitive Presence: [See firstly anthropomorphism and theory of mind.] This is Thórisson's (2005/2007 online) term for an observer's sense that the behaviour of an entity under observation "is a manifestation of actual thought" (p16) on the part of that entity, in other words, that that entity has a mind of some sort of its own. Here is Thórisson's formal definition .....


"I define cognitive presence as an observer's sense of thought being present in another entity, the feeling that 'somebody is home'. This gives an observer-centric definition of a system's quality, in other words, presence is defined by an observer looking at a system from the outside" (Thórisson, 2005/2007 online, p16).


Thórisson uses the term in the general context of "telerobotics", that is to say, the control or partial control of robotic systems at a distance, typically assisted by a television link. As it happens, this essentially engineering problem immediately raises many of the traditional problems of mental philosophy. Cognitive presence is "evoked" (p16), for example, whenever a set of observed behaviours resembles the behaviours of other systems already attributed presence, and it will typically take one of two forms, namely "embodied" and "interactive". An embodied cognitive presence is one where the observer's judgment is shaped by life-like physical movements on the part of the observed system, whilst an interactive cognitive presence is one where that judgment is shaped by the quality of the system's interaction with the observer rather than by physical movements per se [note that our computer screens can interact very persuasively with us while having no physical side to their behaviour at all]. The problem is then how to "dissect" (p17) the presence, and here Thórisson notes four categories of "presence cues", namely (a) Reactive cues, (b) Planning cues, (c) Symbolic capabilities, and (d) Holistic [= integrated] cues. For example, many species are capable of orienting their external sensory apparatus towards imminent threat, and this behaviour, especially if accompanied by a response such as "fleeing" will indicate cognitive presence on its part. Another aspect of presence is "cognitive validity". This is the extent to which a system possesses the potential to do things "in the same way that natural cognitive systems do them" (p19).  Thórisson's earlier work with simulated humanoids indicated that Reactive type behaviours are capable of eliciting presence judgments even in relatively simple agents (Thórisson, 1999), but that the strength of the resulting presence was correlated with the validity measure. 



Cognitive Psychology: By definition, the study of cognition, but, more critically, the study of the functional architecture of the brain as opposed to its structural architecture. Alternatively, the study of how the brain works at a level of analysis above the anatomical and physiological. Mental philosophy made empirically researchable.  The science of mind.



Cognitive Rehabilitation: This is a clinical programme for the rehabilitation of the impaired cognitive systems of brain injury patients (that is to say, acquired rather than developmental disorders) by any appropriate therapeutic means. Therapy will thus be targetted at memory, attention, planning, problem solving, initiation versus impulsivity, and communication, as individually necessary, and will seek both to strengthen any residual capacity while at the same time recruiting alternative cognitive resources as available. Some of the problems seen in brain injury cases are common to those seen in learning disability, so it is useful to note the techniques and tools used - have a quick look at what they do at the Center for Cognitive Rehabilitation, and remember that (theoretically speaking) anything which promotes independence also promotes selfhood. [See now and compare cognitive neurorehabilitation and cognitive deficits, curability of.]



Cognitive Series: [See firstly abstraction, phylogenetic limits of.] This is the name given to the evolutionary progression of biological information processing systems and capabilities which began with the simplest unicellular life forms and gradually evolved to the level of architectural complexity and capacity for phenomenal consciousness seen in modern H. sapiens [an ascent which may or may not have further to go, and which may or may not get there]. In fact, it has been commonly assumed since Hughlings Jackson's Croonian Lectures (Jackson, 1881-1887/1932), (a) that the hierarchical anatomical structure of the vertebrate nervous system allows a basic repertoire of primitive reflexes to be progressively overlain by others of more recent appearance and utility, and (b) that the structures in question support a parallel hierarchy of functionality. The basic building block under this "Jacksonian model" of things is the wholly innate "intra-segmental" spinal reflex, that is to say, a "hard-wired" input-output switching mechanism where the output is conditional in some way not just upon there being input of a certain qualitative type (a heat source, say, rather than a light source) but also of it exceeding a certain quantitative threshold (the heat must be greater than 60°C, say, to initiate a response). These low level reflexes are then progressively supplemented by (in ascending order) "inter-segmental" spinal reflexes (such as the "crossed extensor" reflex), by brainstem reflexes (such as the Mauthner "evasion" reflex and the gasp reflex), and, finally, by diencephalic homeostatic reflexes (such as those responsible for the maintenance of blood sugar and hormone levels). The "integrative action" of the often-minutely layered spinal systems was analysed by Sir Charles Sherrington (e.g., Sherrington, 1898). At the same time, the ability to respond flexibly - by learning - is also being progressively laid down, beginning with such phenomena as generalisation and conditioning at the lower levels and culminating in the forebrain's famed "higher functions". As to when consciousness emerged in this series, Taylor (1971) suggests that "in a very primitive sense even an amoeba is to be regarded as [conscious], though its awareness of its environment and the sensations it experiences while it moves therein are extremely limited" (p226). Metzinger (2003) rates presentationality as one of the earliest forms of conscious content to have emerged in the process of evolution, and characterizes it as "reliable, ultrafast, and therefore fully transparent" (p96). Our own "periodic table" of the sequential emergence of cognitive modules during evolution was set out in Smith and Stringer (1997).



Cognitive Style: To have a cognitive "style" is to process the world in a stable but individually different way at one or more of the three fundamental stages of cognition, namely perception, conceptualisation, and praxis (that is to say, willed, as opposed to reflex or habitual, behaviour). Cognitive styles thus determine how we see the world (both literally and figuratively), what sense we make of it, and how we respond to it. Expressed formally, cognitive styles are "the characteristic ways in which individuals conceptually organise the environment" (Goldstein and Blackman, 1978, p2). Inspiration for cognitive style as a study area is usually credited to Herman A. Witkin, a psychologist working for the US Educational Testing Service. Witkin carried out a number of studies in the late 1940s and early 1950s on "field dependence". These studies were summarised in Witkin et al (1954) and Witkin et al (1977), and the essence of the field dependence construct lay in how well people located an upright in darkened space, given a deliberately tilted reference frame. The typical laboratory set-up involved a rotatable square frame and a coaxially mounted rotatable straight rod. Both stimuli were coated with luminous paint and dimly illuminated in an otherwise darkened room. The frame was then deliberately set at a tilt by the researcher, and the subject had to position the rod to the "phenomenal vertical", that is to say, as subjectively vertically as s/he could. The key outcome measure was the subject's relative success at ignoring the distraction provided by the frame. Those who allowed themselves to be distracted (and who therefore set the rod at the tilt) were said to be "field dependent" [it was not unknown for such subjects to insist that a rod set parallel to a 30º tilted frame was vertical], and those who did not allow themselves to be distracted (whose rods were objectively as well as subjectively vertical) were known as "field independent". It was what happened next which gave this series of experiments their scientific claim to fame. Using the frame-and-rod technique to separate out samples of field dependents (FDs) and field independents (FIs), further psychological and psychometric tests were carried out, from which it emerged that the two types of mind did many things differently, not just setting rods to the vertical. Here is Witkin et al (1977) on this .....


"It is clear from this and other evidence that the individual differences dimension first picked up in perception shows itself equally in the problem-solving domain. [.....] As we have seen, a relatively field-independent person is likely to overcome the organisation of the field, or to restructure it, when presented with a field having a dominant organisation, whereas the relatively field-dependent person tends to adhere to the organisation of the field as given. This characteristic difference in manner of approaching the field also showed itself under circumstances where the field lacks inherent organisation - for example, Rorschach inkblots. In the great preponderance of studies [.....] relatively field-independent persons have been found more likely to impose structure spontaneously on stimulus material which lacks it [.....]. It is noteworthy that this difference in propensity toward imposing structure when it is lacking is not limited to straightforward perceptual material" (Witkin et al, 1977, pp8-9).


Witkin et al then went one step further, and proposed what was effectively a major underlying personality variable, which they called "the articulated-global continuum". Here is how they saw this factor working .....


"The evidence linking structuring tendencies to analytical tendencies [.....] suggested that the individual differences with which we were dealing might best be conceived as an articulated-global continuum. Analyses and structuring are complementary aspects of articulation. The person who experiences in an articulated fashion tends to perceive items as discrete from background, when the field is organised, and to impose structure on a field, and so perceive it as organised, when the field has relatively little inherent structure. In contrast, it may be said that experience is more global when it accords with the overall character of the prevailing field as given, and involves less intervention of mediators, such as analysis and structuring. The articulated-global concept is applicable to the processing of information both from an immediately present stimulus configuration, as in perception, or from symbolic material, as in intellectual functioning. From such evidence it became clear that we were dealing with a broad dimension of individual differences that extends across both perceptual and intellectual activities. Because what is at issue is the characteristic approach the person brings with him to a wide range of situations - we called it his 'style' - and because the approach encompasses both his perceptual and intellectual activities - we spoke of it as his 'cognitive' style. The picture of self-consistency thus far described was subsequently extended by the demonstration that the individual modes of functioning [.....] extend into other domains, traditionally subsumed under 'personality'" (Witkin et al, 1977, pp9-10).


RESEARCH ISSUE: We note en passant that the notion of imposing structure on the world bears certain similarities to the notion that individuals on the autistic spectrum fail to "impose" a theory of mind onto their mental representation of the significant others in their social world.


[See now all entries beginning cognitive style .....]



Cognitive Style, Conceptualisation and: [See firstly cognitive style.] Although we began our discussion of cognitive style by dividing cognition up into three fundamental stages, namely perception, conceptualisation, and praxis, there is no such neat compartmentalisation when it comes to actual biological architectures (human or otherwise). Not only are there motor systems bolted into the sensory pathways [visual accommodation, for example, or the damage-preventing cochlear reflex] and sensory pathways bolted into the motor pathways [the re-afference system, for example], but the general principle of the hierarchical structure of the vertebrate nervous system is that as many decisions as possible are made at spinal level as can be [see spinal reflexes]. All in all, therefore, the conceptualising elements of cognition (and that includes consciousness and explicit problem solving) must take great care not to interfere with, or countermand without good reason, decisions which have quite properly been made lower down the system, and the point about our cognitive styles is that they help make this interaction formalised and safely habitual. For example, Harvey (1963) drew attention to the way an individual "filters" cognitive input during the processes (whatever they are) of laying it down as new semantic content, and Goldstein and Blackman (1978) summarised it this way .....


"Common to all theory and research on cognitive style is an emphasis on the structure rather than the content of thought []. Structure refers to how cognition is organised; content refers to what knowledge is available [..... <p213> It] is best construed as a generic construct, much like personality" (p3/p213).


[See also and compare cognitive control and conceptual style.]



Cognitive Style, Education and: [See firstly cognitive style.] Given his involvement with the US Educational Testing Service, Witkin also looked for correlations between field dependence and educational attainment ..... 


"The very large number of studies in which the relation between educational-vocational choices and cognitive style has been examined are, with only few exceptions, consistent in their outcome; and they strongly reinforce the finding from the studies of interests that relatively field-independent persons favour impersonal domains which require competence in cognitive articulation and field-dependent persons favour interpersonal domains which do not call for that kind of cognitive competence [.....]. In the academic setting, relatively field-independent college and graduate students are likely to choose for specialisation such fields as, for example, the sciences, mathematics, art, experimental psychology, engineering, architecture. Relatively field-dependent students are likely to choose, for example, sociology, humanities, languages, social work, [etc.]. [.....] The positive orientation of field-dependent persons toward domains in which 'people' content is identifiably involved may be connected with the earlier observation that such persons are attentive to and therefore more likely to learn about the social content of any situation. Their better learning of social types of material is likely, even very early on, to encourage a favourable attitude towards fields which feature such material and so foster their interest in and choice of such fields" (Witkin et al, 1977, pp42-43).



Cognitive Style Test (CST): This is Wilkinson and Blackburn's (1981) psychometric measure of "negative interpretations" as a cognitive style. It is grounded theoretically in Beck's (1967) suggestion that depression's many superficial indicators all derive in some way or another from "three elements as the core of depressive thinking" (Blackburn, Jones, Lewin, 1986, p242). Beck's three elements are negative thoughts about the self, negative thoughts about the world, and negative thoughts about the future. If you think like this, Beck argues, then you will think negatively about everything [hence Beck's creation, three years later, of the cognitive therapy approach to psychiatric remediation]. The CST presents subjects with 30 "situations", 10 relating to the self, 10 relating to the world, and 10 relating to the future, with 5 pleasant and 5 unpleasant under each heading.



Cognitive Theory of Consciousness: See consciousness, Dennett's theory of.



Cognitive Therapy: [See firstly interventions and schools of psychology.] A cognitive therapy is one which addresses the "maladaptive and dysfunctional cognitions" (Lindsay, 1999, p238) which restricted or inappropriate past experience can inflict upon people, and which generally weaken the coping skills available to them in later life. The method was first developed in the 1970s by a team led by Aaron T. Beck at the University of Pennsylvania (e.g., Beck, 1970; Beck et al, 1979), and its specific emphasis is on identifying and in some way neutralising "negative thoughts", that is to say, propositional judgments which are more than normally pessimistic or self-critical. Lindsay (1999) sees coping skills training as vital to alleviating the emotional problems associated with having a learning disability, his argument being that the learning disability will have seriously restricted the opportunities available to develop these coping skills spontaneously. With anxiety, for example, the basis of therapy is as follows .....


(1) set an agenda

(2) develop an awareness of the role of underlying beliefs in determining thought

(3) establish the relationship between thoughts, experiences of anxiety, and behaviour

(4) monitor automatic thoughts

(5) identify the "themes" in those automatic thoughts

(6) test cognitions for accuracy and challenge any maladaptive beliefs which become apparent

(7) generate alternative cognitions and more adaptive automatic thoughts

(8) practise same in role play sessions during therapy

(9) review the evidence to contradict maladaptive beliefs, and construct new assumptions about the self

(10) establish follow-up regime (i.e. "homework") to consolidate (1) to (9).


Similar packages address depression, anger management problems, and sex offending, and the main disqualifier is for patients with profound and multiple learning disabilities, where the cognitive capacity is not up to making the necessary reflections. [See now and contrast cognitive behavioural therapy.]



 Cognitive Validity: See cognitive presence.



 Cognitivism: See perspective, cognitivist.



Cohen, Hermann: [German neo-Kantian philosopher (1842-1918).] [Click for external biography] As a philosophy student of some promise at Berlin's Humboldt University in the mid-1860s, Cohen managed to fall out with one of his professors, Adolf Trendelenburg, over the relative value of Greek and Kantian ideas. This experience prompted him to work on resolving some of the criticisms of Kant's theory of experience, and by 1871 he was able to publish Kants Theorie der Erfahrung ("Kant's Theory of Experience") (Cohen, 1871). This class-defining work of "neo-Kantianism" duly came to the notice of Friedrich Lange at Marburg University, himself a Kantian, and the two men collaborated loosely until the elder's death in 1875. The reputation born of this collaboration enabled Cohen to take over the vacant professorship in 1876, and he remained at Marburg until 1912, gathering like-minded scholars around him and generally building the reputation of the "Marburg School". His later works include Logik der Reinen Erkenntnis ("Logic of Pure Knowledge") (Cohen, 1902).



Collaborative Visual Environment (CVE): This is an application of virtual reality computer technology in which more than one participant is represented by their own avatar in a computer-animated three-dimensional environment. Benford et al (1994) identify four defining features of CVEs, namely (1) "Navigation" – in that each participant steers his/her own viewpoint, (2) "Embodiment" – in that each participant is directly represented by an avatar, (3) "Communication" – in that messages can be exchanged with other avatars, and (4) "Interaction" – in that participants can directly manipulate virtual objects within their virtual world. Cheng et al (2005) have been looking at the use of avatars as therapy aids in the treatment of people with autistic spectrum disorders. They identify three benefits of the technology, namely (a) that it is less threatening than the sort of face-to-face communication required in the real world, (b) that it has practical value in a remedial educational environment, and (c) that the experience may promote an autistic person’s theory of mind processing abilities. Fabri and Moore (2005/2006 online) have experimented with "emotionally expressive" avatars, that is to say, avatars with enhanced facial software capable of displaying happiness, fear, etc., and report that this enhances empathy between users. [See now AS Interactive Project.]



Common Fate, Gestalt Law of: [See firstly Gestalt Laws.] This law of perceptual organisation asserts that similarly moving items tend to be perceived as a moving group, separate both from other moving groups (should there be any) and the stationary background. Imagine, for example, that you are watching a nine-plane aerobatic display team at work, and that the aircraft have formed into two groups, one of four aircraft, and one of five [see, for example, screen #5 on the Red Arrows display repertoire]. Imagine now that these two formations perform a fast cross-over manoeuvre, one from left field, and one from right field. The common fate principle is what ensures that your perceptual system tracks these two formations as distinct entities, even though, seconds later, they revert to a single formation of nine.



Comorbidity: This is the technical term for the presence of more than one disease or dysfunction simultaneously in a single person.



Compensatory Adaptation: [See firstly pragmatic impairment.] A compensatory adaptation is an attempt on the part of someone whose communicative abilities are beginning to become "problematic" to create meaning within the social context (Damico and Nelson, 2005). The core argument is as now described .....


"[I]f an individual does not possess an effective semiotic mediational capacity (the reasons for this need not involve us at present), then difficulties may arise. As a meaningmaker, this individual still must strive (either consciously or unconsciously) to make sense of the world but his/her semiotic capacity is not sufficient to employ the effective and mutually agreed upon pragmatic maps of the individual’s linguistic community. Consequently, within his/her limitations, the individual does the best that he/she can. The individual creates a pragmatic map that is less effective and/or discernibly different from those produced by others in his/her linguistic community. That is, the individual creates a specific kind of compensatory adaptation" (Damico and Nelson, 2005, p407; emphasis ours).


It is these compensatory behaviours which get noted clinically as "indices of deficit" (ibid.), and the compensation should occur in proportion to the extent of the mismatch between the level of task difficulty (externally manipulable) and the level of skill available (fixed).



Compiler: [See firstly computer language (noting especially the notion of "levels" thereof).] A compiler is a systems software product designed to convert the individual instructions of a high-level computer language into their equivalent low-level machine instructions, thus allowing computer programmers the luxury of developing their ideas in thought-like structure, prior to "executing" them. Fodor (1975) puts it this way .....


"'Compilers' mediate between the two languages by specifying biconditionals whose left-hand side is a formula in the input/output code and whose right-hand side is a formula in the machine code [and] what avoids an infinite regression of compilers is the fact that the machine is built to use the machine language" (p66).


Specifically, a compiler is a package of utility programs, fronted by a complex conversion routine, and complete with copious error detection and optimisation routines. The first recognisable compiler dates from the period 1951 to 1954, when R.A. Brooker developed the "Mark 1 Autocode" [detail] for the Manchester Mark 1 computer [detail]. Compilers can conveniently be divided into "scientific", where there the source approximates to formal mathematical representation, or "business-oriented", where the source approximates to everyday English. The standard example of the former is FORTRAN, and of the latter, COBOL. Compilers differ from interpreters in that they need to process the entire source code program (often several times) before they can produce the required object code, the reason for this being that there is no simple relationship between each source code instruction and the corresponding object code. [See now compiler gap.]



Compiler Gap: Our suggested improved name for the explanatory gap (Smith, 1998).



Complex: [Sometimes "ideational complex".] In everyday English, the word "complex" can be used either as an adjective [e.g., "a complex issue"] or as a noun [e.g., "a military complex"]. The word's root is the Latin complexio [= "connection"], and the necessary sense of connectedness can be used of anything with a number of parts intricately put together. The word was therefore the lexeme of choice when early psychiatrists were looking for a term to describe recurring combinations of symptoms - "syndromes" - seen in the early asylums. This is why we still describe the sort of delusions of grandeur seen in certain psychotic patients as a "Napoleon complex". A young Sigmund Freud also used the word in his 1891 monograph on the organisation of the human language system. As explained in greater detail in a companion resource [see Freud (1891)], Freud regarded the semantic referent of any given word - that is to say, the conceptual mental content, as opposed to the sensory or motor components -  as a Komplex (e.g., Freud 1891/1992, p148) of interlocking associations.


ASIDE: In fact, Freud followed the common linguistic device of introducing an unwieldy phrase like "a complex of associations" and thereafter replacing it with the simplified construction "association complex". We see this at work in the 1891 work when the phrase dem Komplex der Objektforstellungen [= "the complex of object representations"] (p148) was replaced a few lines later by the word Wortkomplex [= "word complex"]. This device for creating new lexemes for pre-existing sememes actually works more effectively in German than in English, thanks to German's liking for noun-noun compounding of this sort.


The word recurs in its psychiatric sense two years later. In his half of Freud and Breuer (1893-1895), for example, Josef Breuer quotes Janet as follows .....


"In hysterical people [..... e]very idea takes possession of the whole of their limited mental activity, and this accounts for their excessive affectivity. This characteristic of their mind is described by Janet as the 'restriction of the field of consciousness' of hysterical patients [.....]. For the most part the sense-impressions that are not apperceived and the ideas that are aroused but do not enter consciousness cease without producing further consequences. Sometimes, however, they accumulate and form complexes - mental strata withdrawn from consciousness; they form a subconsciousness. Hysteria, which is essentially based on this splitting of the mind [.....] develops most readily when a mind which is innately weak is subjected to influences which weaken it still further ....." (Breuer, Studies on Hysteria, p310; emphasis added).


Other famous complexes include Freud's "Oedipus complex" and Adler's "inferiority complex". [For the use of this term within Jungian theory, see personification (1). See also complex, ambition, complex family, and complex personal, immediately below.]



Complex, Ambition: [See firstly complex and parapraxis.] This is Freud's term for a complex capable of generating "speech-blunders" (parapraxes, or "Freudian slips") by virtue of the accidental intrusion of personal ambitions into ongoing conversation. In his Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud cites an occasion on which, as a young student, Sandor [= Alexander] Ferenczi mistakenly substituted his own name as author during a public recitation of a poem by Alexander Petöfi. Ferenczi had offered the following interpretation ..... 


"'The identity of the first name with my own favoured the interchange of names, but the real reason was surely the fact that I identified myself at that time with the celebrated poet-hero. Even consciously I entertained for him a love and respect which verged on adoration. The whole ambition-complex hides itself under this faulty action'" (Freud, 1914/1938, Psychopathology of Everyday Life, p68; no reference is provided to the work of Ferenczi's being quoted).



Complex, Erotic: [See firstly complex and parapraxis.] This is Jung's (e.g., 1918, p117) term for a complex of memory fragments "all showing characteristic disturbances which are ex hypothesi of a sexual nature" (p119), and which may be linked and integrated moreover by an overarching narrative or explanatory theme. [See now complex, sexual.]



Complex, Family: [See firstly complex and parapraxis.] This is Freud's term for a complex capable of generating "speech-blunders" (parapraxes, or "Freudian slips") by virtue of the accidental intrusion of family-sourced associations into ongoing conversation. In his Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud offers the following illustration ..... 


"One day I was consulted by a young man [.....] whom I used to call by his first name. Later, while wishing to talk about his visit, I forgot his first name [and] could not recall it in any way. [.....] The analysis showed that I had formed a parallel between the visitor and my own brother" (Freud, 1914/1938, Psychopathology of Everyday Life, pp31-32).



Complex, Personal:  [See firstly complex and parapraxis.] This is Freud's term for a complex capable of generating "speech-blunders" (parapraxes, or "Freudian slips") by virtue of the accidental intrusion of self-referenced associations into ongoing conversation. In his Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud offers the following illustration ..... 


"When I analyse those cases of name-forgetting occurring in myself, I find almost regularly that the name withheld shows some relation to a theme which concerns my own person, and is apt to provoke in me strong and often painful emotions. [.....] The name withheld has touched a 'personal complex' in me. The relation of the name to my person is an unexpected one, and is mostly brought about through superficial associations. [For example, a] patient requested me to recommend to him a sanatorium in the Riviera. I knew of such a place very near Genoa. I also recalled the name of the German colleague who was in charge of the place, but the place itself I could not name. [I therefore appealed] quickly to the women of the family [only to be told] 'Of course you would forget a name of that sort. The name is Nervi'. To be sure, I have enough to do with nerves" (Freud, 1914/1938, Psychopathology of Everyday Life, pp30-31).



Complex Idea: See idea, complex.



Complex, Sexual: [See firstly complex, erotic.] This is Jung's (e.g., 1918, p119) notion of a subset of an erotic complex characterised by a particular and explicit focus on genitals.



Compulsion: In the context of the present glossary, compulsions are "repetitive behaviours (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) the goal of which is to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p457). [See now both obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.]



Compulsion Neurosis: See both obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.



Compulsive Sexual Behaviour: See hypersexuality.



Computer Language: A computer language (or "programming language") is a computer program (or an integrated suite of several computer programs) for writing other computer programs. The motivation here was that as computer pioneers were building ever more powerful logic circuitry they found that the available instruction set simply became too tortuous to work with. They therefore devised languages of macro-instructions to conceal detailed micro-instructions (it was, for example, far more efficient to work with the single high-level instruction <ADD> than with the hundreds of low-level machine instructions it translated into). The input commands are known as the "source code", and the output is known as "machine code" or "object code". Special dummy source code instructions allow explanatory annotation to be added to the source program as aides memoires, but withheld from the machine code. Where both the amount and the complexity of the object code per source instruction is high, the language is known as a "high level language". [Compare now compiler and interpreter.]



Computer Program: This is the everyday term for (usually) the source code submitted to a compiler or interpreter prior to execution by a computer.



Conation: Conation is "the faculty of volition and desire [or] the product of this faculty" (O.E.D.) (and thus the equivalent of the Greek orexis [= "appetite, desire"]. Classically, conation is the final third of Plato's soul, tripartite. More recently, it has become one of the "triad" of fundamental mental arenas suggested by Sir William Hamilton (in Mansel and Veitch, 1865) (the others being affect and cognition). It then appears [as Begehren] in the writings of Meinong [see consciousness, Meinong's theory of]. [Compare appetition.]



Concentration: How many things - in this case, ions - there are at a single point in three-dimensional space.



Concentration Difference: A difference in concentration between two points; a "slope" of concentration between these two points; a concentration gradient. Concentration gradients are important because ions tend to "flow down" the gradient until the concentration difference is cancelled out. This is what is happening whenever molecules/ions move through a permeable membrane, and it is due to random molecular movement.



Concentration Gradient: See concentration difference.



Concept: [See firstly abstraction and category.] As used within cognitive science, concepts are abstractions from (and thus automatically categorizations of) experience. They are "the product of the faculty of conception; an idea of a class of objects, a general notion or idea" (O.E.D.). Alternatively, concepts are "mental representations of objects, entities, or events, stored in memory" (Roth and Frisby, 1986, p19). From the outset, therefore, we are faced with two relatively distinct usages of the term. The first is as used by a series of rule guessing experiments conducted in the 1950s and 1960s (e.g., Bruner, Goodnow, and Austin, 1956), and focuses on how governing rules emerge from ongoing perceptual experience. The point about rule guessing studies is that they operationalize one of biological cognition's most important survival skills - that of detecting reliable environmental contingency cues, and there is evidence that the foraging behavior of wild animals is very sensitive to the signal value of coincidental landmarks and other miscellaneous correlates, to the obvious benefit of the species concerned (see Crook, 1987, for a review). The second usage arose thanks to the way Kant's (1781/1787) Critique chanced to be translated into English. Critique is concerned with Begriffe - the German word for the things which are "gripped" or "grasped" by the understanding mind - and it so happens that successive translators have settled on "concept" as the best rendering of this particular meaning.


ASIDE: By an unfortunate accident of linguistic history, the German word Konzept does not mean "concept" in any of its usual English senses. The usual German word for concept is Vorstellung [literally "that which has been set before you"]. Indeed, the word Stengel had to cope with when translating Freud (1891) into Freud (1953) was Objektvorstellung [a compound of Objekt (= "object") and Vorstellung] (compare, for example, 1891, p122, with 1953, p36). However, Vorstellung itself has a number of distinct derived usages in German, and only one of these - "imagination, idea, notion, conception, mental image" (C.G.D.) - may safely be rendered into English as "concept". Brentano's translators, by contrast, stayed closer to the literal German meaning because they were referring to the act of presentation rather than its content (as Freud had been), and rendered Vorstellung as "presentation" [see consciousness, Brentano's theory of]. The situation is then made even more confused by the fact that the word Objektvorstellung carries a lot of additional psychosexual connotations within psychoanalytic theory [see Rizzuto (1990)].


Modern cognitive neuropsychology and psycholinguistics both now routinely treat concepts as the strictly non-verbal contents of cognition, in much the sense that Locke used the term abstract idea, and we therefore repeat our earlier caution [see that entry] that in most modern applications sememe or object concept are actually the safer terms since they have fewer competing interpretations. [Compare conception.]



Conception: [See firstly concept.] Generally speaking, "conception" is "the action or faculty of conceiving in the mind, or of forming an idea or notion of anything; apprehension, imagination" (O.E.D.). Thus: "My conception of the horse is merely my taking together, in one, the simple ideas of the sensations which constitute my knowledge of the horse; and my idea of the horse is the same thing" (Mill, 1869, pp234-235). Mill's usage of conception was taken up by William James, who defined it as "the function by which we thus identify a numerically distinct and permanent subject of discourse" (James, 1890, pI.461). Some caution is needed, however, because some mental philosophers then use the word not for the process of forming an idea, but for the idea itself.



Conceptual Hierarchy: A conceptual hierarchy is a category-to-exemplar organization imposed upon a body of previously acquired conceptual content, for example, that <LIFE ON EARTH> can be divided into <PLANT KINGDOM> and <ANIMAL KINGDOM>, both of which kingdoms can be further subdivided by defining attribute(s) into genera, species, orders, families, etc. Categorization of this sort was first thoroughly debated by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. It is also seen in Associationist philosophy in the following extract from Locke (1690): "..... if every particular idea that we take in should have a distinct name, names must be endless. To prevent this, the mind makes the particular ideas, received from particular objects, to become general [.....]. This is called 'abstraction' ....." (p104). The late 1960s also saw the first publications in a series of now-classical studies in cognitive psychology. The lead worker here was W. Ross Quillian, and the major papers are Quillian (1968) and Collins and Quillian (1969). What Quillian did was carry out a response time analysis of true-or-false statements of the form <A PARROT IS A BIRD>, <A CANARY IS A FISH>, <A CANARY IS BLUE>, etc. The point which emerged was that some of the things we know about canaries (etc.) seem to derive NOT from the fact that it is a canary, but from the fact that it is a bird, that is to say, from properties at a "superordinate" conceptual node in a multi-layered "conceptual hierarchy". The team then drew an explanatory diagram, which identifies both nodal and supranodal properties (ie. "inheritance"), and in which there is a broad correlation between knowledge access time and distance to travel within the hierarchy, both vertically and horizontally. [See now category.]



Conceptual Self: See self, conceptual.



Condensation: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory. It is one of the main ruses available to the mind to disguise emotionally charged unconscious memories as part of allowing them to be allowed to achieve expression in dreams. Specifically, it allows several such memories to coalesce into a single, apparently tangential, dream symbol, thus achieving symbolic rather than explicit expression.



Condillac, Etienne Bonnot de: [French Empiricist priest-philosopher (1715-1780).] [Click for Falkenstein's (2002) external biography] For the purposes of this glossary, Condillac's main works were Essai sur l'Origine des Connaissances Humaine ("Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge") (Condillac, 1746) and Traité des Sensation ("Treatise on Sensation") (Condillac, 1754). In these works, he proposed a number of developments of Locke's British Empiricism, the general nature of which is well brought out in his "human statue" thought experiment [see under Condillac's statue]. Because Condillac based his analysis on sensation, his philosophical position is often described as "Sensationism".



Condillac's Statue: This is Condillac's (1754) thought experiment notion of an initially lifeless statue whose mental abilities may be studied minutely as it is gradually blessed with more and more sensory abilities. The first sensory modality to arrive would normally be that of smell, to which would then be added vision, hearing, etc. (in different sequences as the focus of the exercise varied). Many useful philosophical issues then emerge, such as what sense a "smell-only" statue would make out of a rose [Condillac's own answer in this case was that the statue would perceive itself as the smell of the rose (Falkenstein, 2002)]. We are fond of Condillac's statue, not just because it generates good philosophical questions, but because it is a rudimentary animated model of cognition, albeit it plays out its animation on the virtual screen of our imagination. It forces us to break cognition down into its subprocesses, and then justify the existence of each as it arrives on the scene. Our own "periodic table" of the sequential emergence of cognitive modules during evolution was set out in Smith and Stringer (1997).



Conduct Disorder: This is one of the five DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of attention-deficit and disruptive behaviour disorders. As the name suggests, the predominating clinical sign is "a repetitive and persistent pattern of dissocial, aggressive, or defiant conduct [.....] more severe than ordinary childish mischief or adolescent rebelliousness. Isolated dissocial or criminal acts are not in themselves grounds for the diagnosis, which implies an enduring pattern of behaviour" (Source).



Confabulation: A clinical sign of an orienting deficit in neurological disease (and especially in dysexecutive syndrome). Attempting to make sense of a present situation not truly understood, and characterised (a) by inventing a plausible (but factually false) explanation, and (b) (as far as can be established) by believing that explanation to be true. Often termed "honest lying". It is also commonly observed that confabulations vary in their "plausibility", as follows: "Confabulations vary in plausibility from relatively mild - for example, filling in of gaps, loose paraphrasing and temporal displacements of actual events - to more severe, highly implausible and bizarre accounts. Some confabulations have qualities similar to those of real memories." (Johnson and Raye, 1998, p141).



Configuration: This is our personal preferred rendering of Husserl's rather obscure term Sachverhältnis.



Confirmation Bias: See cognitive framing.



Confound(ing): As used in scientific argument, the term "to confound" means to overlook a possible causative variable, resulting in the drawing of false conclusions. "Confounding" is thus the error of errors for any would-be scientist to commit. For a more detailed introduction to this topic, see the longer entry in the companion Research Methods Glossary.



Confrontational Naming Task: See this entry in the companion Neuropsychology Glossary.



Confusibility Studies: A confusibility effect is a memory deficit which emerges when the stimuli to be retained are similar in a certain respect. This is because the corresponding engrams are presumed to be confusible in that same respect, and therefore tend to get irretrievably overlain. However, this only happens if the attribute variable in question is being actively used for the encoding of the material in question. Tests of confusibility are therefore tests of encoding, and, using them, two major confusibility effects have been identified, namely the phonological similarity effect and the semantic similarity effect. 



<CONNECT>: [Readers unfamiliar with the basic principles of set-structured network databases or with the "direct access" and "via" methods of record placement should read Section 4 of (and complete Exercise 1 in) our e-resource on "Data Modelling" before proceeding.] The "CONNECT" is the DBTG database instruction responsible for optionally connecting a MEMBER into a SET, where membership of that set has been declared optional in the database schema [if set membership has been declared mandatory in the schema, then no separate CONNECT instruction needs to be issued because the DBMS will already have done the necessary for you]. The instruction works by finding the appropriate position in the set in question [which might, in fact, start off as a "null", or empty, set], and by then re-adjusting the database pointers accordingly. Detailed worked examples are given, as follows .....


- for NEXT-sequenced sets, see <CONNECT>, NEXT-sequenced sets.


- for PRIOR-sequenced sets, see <CONNECT>, PRIOR-sequenced sets. [not yet available]


- for KEY-sequenced sets, see <CONNECT>, KEY-sequenced sets. [not yet available]


- for INDEXED sets, see <CONNECT>, INDEXED sets. [not yet available]


The cognate <DISCONNECT> instruction does the logical inverse of the above, and is used to remove a MEMBER from a SET without deleting it. This, too, requires that set membership has been declared optional in the database schema.


RESEARCH ISSUE: The Associationist tradition in mental philosophy has relied for more than two millennia on the presumption of a biological process (of some sort) selectively linking up a jumble of initially fragmentary mental content in order to make best sense of it. These associations may either form spontaneously thanks to the contiguity of the elements involved (as with the association of thunder and lightning) or, where the contiguity of the two elements is less glaring, will need to be established after the event. The crucial point is that associations established after the event will require that one or both of the two target elements be reactivated so that the neurophysiology of contiguity can have something to work on. We see this sort of reactivation at work in the standard classroom tactic known as "initial mention", as well as in the advice typically included in memory improvement schemes to activate past knowledge before trying to assimilate any more (e.g. Morris and Fritz, 2006). We also suspect that similar processes are at work in the recent psychiatric practice of "EMDR", which is based upon rapidly revisiting a number of memories and then delivering a brief bilateral stimulation (like tapping the back of each hand or looking left and right). This therapeutic routine - rather mysteriously - seems to bring significant and rapid patient improvements by "stitching together" [our words], or "CONNECTing",  that which had previously been separate.



<CONNECT>, NEXT-Sequenced Sets: [See firstly <CONNECT>.] In a NEXT-sequenced DBTG set, new member records can only be inserted AFTER the record flagged at that instant as current of set type. This implements a last-in / first-found storage policy, that is to say, one in which if we read through the set in NEXT pointer sequence we will normally be moving backwards through time [we say "normally" because there are ways around the problem - e-mail author for details if interested]. Here, after Silberschatz, Korth, and Sudarshan (2005, p23), is an example of how a <CONNECT> instruction would be used to establish a "mental association" of sorts between a pre-existing set owner and a newly created set memner .....


EXAMPLE: Imagine we are writing a "create new account" transaction for a building society customer records system. Imagine then that we want to set up a new account for an existing depositor who already has, say, two existing accounts. If we assume that the database schema provides for a direct-access <DEPOSITOR> record keyed on <DEPOSITOR-NO>, then the logical task is (a) to create an appropriately formatted <ACCOUNT> record, and then (b) to ensure that this new record - the desired new account - is inserted into the chain-pointer sequence which already runs from the <DEPOSITOR> record to the two pre-existing <ACCOUNT> records in turn, and then back again to where it started. Physically, this requires issuing the following sequence of instructions. The first two instructions make the pre-existing <DEPOSITOR> record current of record type for depositors, the third instruction creates the desired new account record, and the fourth instruction connects that new record into the pre-existing set .....


(1) MOVE target depositor number TO <DEPOSITOR-NO>






Connectionism: Connectionism is the popular name for the sub-discipline within the science of artificial intelligence which attempts to simulate aspects of biological cognition using arrays of artificial neurons known generically as "neural networks".]



Connectionist: Follower of Connectionism as a philosophical school and set of explanatory principles.



Conscious Experience: See both phenomenal awareness and phenomenal consciousness.





For entries beginning with the word "Consciousness ....." CLICK HERE




Consolidation: Term coined by Muller and Pilzecker (1900) to describe the process by which short-term memories became physically permanent as structural engrams. However, the term is also commonly used to describe the transition between STM and LTM as psychological phenomena. Thus, we may describe our experiences as consolidating into knowledge at the psychological level, or we may describe our neural spiking as consolidating into enlarged synapses at the physiological level, but ultimately we are probably referring to one and the same thing - all we have to do is find a way to cross the explanatory gap between the two levels of explanation.



Construal: In general usage, "construal" is nothing more complicated than how something is construed, that is to say, interpreted. Within psychology, construal is Richards' (2005) term for the interpretation of a current "puzzle", P, against the body of background knowledge often left implicit in a formal explanation. Richards argues that with many puzzles the decisive fact(s) is/are contextual. Given, for example, that some water is boiling at 80ºC, one interpretation is that the demonstration is taking place at altitude. Richards describes this selected-as-relevant subset of the main body of background knowledge as the "framework of construal", FoC. A number of quite deep philosophical questions then suggest themselves, not least "(a) how a P relates to an FoC, (b) how FoCs relate to one another, and (c) the internal coherence or consistency of an FoC" (p54). It will often happen, for instance, that an FoC does not account for the P that it has been invoked to account for, whereupon it needs either to be "elaborated" in some way, or else replaced by a more appropriate one. Example: If we are told that "wood floats but this piece of dry wood sinks when I place it in water" (p54), we have a P-FoC anomaly. We may then either elaborate the FoC to allow for some types of wood exceptionally being heavier than water, or we can replace it with a different FoC, namely that the "wood" is not wood after all, but something heavier made up to look like wood.



Constructivism: This is the formal name for the Piagetian view that intellectual growth is a function of what we have learned to do with our hands, not our heads. In other words, before we can think about something we need to have acted it out many times. Thought, in other words, is internalized action. Taking numeracy skills as an example, if, as a primary schoolchild, we want to think "one plus one", then we need to have touched and moved and lifted and squeezed and sucked and tasted (etc, etc) "ones" and "twos" and "threes" and "one plus ones" and "two plus ones" and "three minus ones", and so on, and so on, and so on, literally thousands of times beforehand. If we want to think numbers we need to have acted numbers. To take a constructivist position, therefore, is to accept that mathematics is a complex set of mental skills, each relying on each other, and taking as a whole many years of practice to put in place.



Contention Scheduling: Term borrowed by the Norman-Shallice Model of Supervisory Attentional Function from virtual machine operating systems in computing [as described in some detail in our e-paper on "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence", Part 5 (Section 1.2)], where it is describes the ability of said operating systems to prevent different programs clashing for a common resource. Note especially the role of the job execution scheduler in preventing contention.



Context: [See firstly control hierarchy.] The word "context" is used within cognitive science more or less in its everyday sense, that is to say, to indicate the general circumstances prevailing at a given moment in time. However the term has acquired a particular technical importance because it reflects the role played by the background knowledge available at the upper levels of the cognitive hierarchy in influencing the judgements and identifications made lower down. This problem affects both perception in general, and the parsing of linguistic input. Historically speaking, indeed, context has always been the primary problem for philosophers seeking a "pure" phenomenology, and it remains no less problematical for the philologists and systems engineers involved with machine translation. The role of shared context in children's acquisition of mental verbs has been discussed by Montgomery (2002).



Context Diagram: A context diagram is computerese for a "one-box" [i.e. highly simplified] rendering of the flow of information through a given processing system. This will normally show a number of input and output pathways, (the precise number of which will depend on the number of sources of and/or destinations for information), all converging on a single central processing module whose functions are left unanalysed as a "black box". It will also (although often only implicitly) describe and locate one or more memory stores. Where the processing system in question happens to be the cognitive system, this provides us with a rudimentary sketch of how the organism owning that system copes with its environment [it follows that the classic S-O-R (= stimulus-organism-response) diagram is a context diagram of biological cognition]. The inner workings of the first black box can be further analysed by the process known as "functional decomposition", to produce a more detailed (more boxes, more arrows, and more memory stores) dataflow diagram.



Context Rehearsal: [See firstly pragmatics and rehearsal.] Term coined by Parker-Rhodes (1978) to describe the refreshing of the high-level conceptual (i.e. pre-linguistic) codes during sentence production, using feedback from, and presumably some sort of re-perception of, the sentence(s) being produced. Hence a form of high-level output monitoring along the lines of the "thought loop" proposed by Lee (1951) [and described in greater detail in our e-paper on "Speech Errors, Speech Production Models, and Speech Pathology" (Section 5.1)].



Contiguity: Literally, closeness to, or adjacency. The term tends to be applied in two ways in psychology, firstly as contiguity in space (i.e. physical proximity) and secondly as contiguity in time (i.e. simultaneity, or nearly so), both of which seem to be able to promote the association of the things contiguous. Nevertheless there is presumably also contiguity of taste and smell, and there is certainly contiguity of touch, although these are much less frequently debated issues. Contiguity effects are commonly cited as one of the basic principles of learning and memory.



Continental Rationalists: [See firstly Rationalism.] As used within 17th century mental philosophy, the term Rationalism was used for the philosophical tradition opposed by definition to Empiricism. It is therefore a philosophy which is predicated upon the notion that knowledge can be obtained a priori, that is to say, by the powers of reasoning .....


ASIDE: Readers unfamiliar with the notion of a priori knowledge may wish to consult the separate entry on that subject before proceeding.


The tradition is commonly regarded as originating with Plato and the famed Platonic forms (Markie, 2004 online), and being revived by Descartes in the 17th century [for more on which, see consciousness, Descartes' theory of]. Descartes was followed by Spinoza and Leibniz, and this clustering of like minds became known collectively as the "Continental Rationalists". Here is a recent summary .....


"For the Continental Rationalists, Leibniz' principle of sufficient reason may be considered the basic principle: they all held that there is a complete, and completely rational, explanation for everything which occurs. It should be stressed that their conception of reason is that knowledge (or truth) is arranged in a deductive system, and that one must 'begin' with self-evident, a priori truths of which we can be certain" (Hauptli, 2005 online, ¶2).



Continuant: See consciousness, Laird's theory of.



Continuity, Gestalt Law of: [See firstly Gestalt Laws.] This law of perceptual organisation describes the situation where two or more contours overlay, and where it is thus important to know at any contour junction "which way to go" in order to make the most appropriate figure-ground decision. The rule seems to be as follows: given a choice of continuation contour at a particular contour junction, the one which most smoothly continues the arriving contour tends to be taken as that defining the figure to be passed to the next stage of the perceptual process [click for explanatory diagram].



Control Architecture: [See firstly cybernetics.] A control architecture is what you get when you install a logical control process in one or more physical information processing modules, and properly integrate the resulting system to deliver the functionality required of a mechanism being controlled. [Compare real-time control.]



Control Hierarchy: A control hierarchy is a control architecture with at least two structural levels of processing (as can clearly be seen, for example, in the "Lichtheim's house" diagram of spoken language processing).



Control Interrupt: See interrupt.



Control Process: [See firstly cybernetics.] One of the fundamental notions of the science of cybernetics is the belief that complex systems have no option but to act out their detailed functionality under the watchful "eye" of control processes, whose role in life is to monitor the ongoing appropriacy of the programs being executed. These control processes deliver no substantive functionality per se, relying instead on a generous repertoire of corrective behavioural tactics and decision-making heuristics. They supervise and coordinate, and give orders in much the same way that Plato believed the mind gave orders as the "pilot of the soul". For the limiting factor in the efficiency of any control process, see Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety.



Control Unit (CU): See Central Processing Unit.



Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989: This statement of children's rights was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20th November 1989, and amongst other things grants disabled children the right to special care and training.



Conversion: [See firstly hysteria.] In the context of theories of hysteria, "conversion" is the process by which repressed unconscious content makes itself visible as (i.e. is "converted" into) overtly hysterical behaviours. [See now conversion disorder.]



Conversion Disorder: [See firstly conversion.] This is one of the seven DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of somatoform disorders. There are a number of indicators for a diagnosis of conversion disorder, including the fact that the attacks are stress-induced, cannot be explained by a medical condition or malingering, and are more or less immediately significantly disabling. "Incestuous sexual abuse in childhood may be associated with an increased risk for conversion disorder [since the] conversion disorder may be the only mechanism for communication that remains available to the [victim]" (WebMD). The extent to which the conversion behaviour "diminishes the unpleasant emotion and communicates symbolically the unconscious wish" is known as "primary gain" (ibid.). Reduction of that emotion indirectly (by hospitalisation, say, following an attack) is known as "secondary gain" (ibid.).



Coping: In every day English, "to cope" means "to deal with and attempt to overcome problems and difficulties" (Merriam-Webster Online). Within psychology, this basic usage is applied to an organism's ability to extend its chances of surviving the trials and tribulations of life.



Coping Style: See coping versus defending.



Coping Mechanisms: Avoid this term. Use coping behaviours instead.



Coping Behaviours: A coping behaviour is a characteristic response to either an internal or external stressor. Examples: Tanck and Robbins (1979) list 22 coping behaviours for an experimentally induced state of mild tension, of which the following come top of the list [0 = never; 3 = always] .....


Try analysing the problem (2.31); take direct action to deal with the source of the problem (1.81); talk the problem over with friends or family (1.70); seek company (1.59); become irritable and easily angered (1.45); spend endless hours thinking about things (1.41); daydream or fantasise (1.39); grin and bear it until it goes away (1.26); take long walks (1.11), etc., etc.


Coping, in other words, is the mind - in all its complexity - doing what it was put there to do! Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have presented a theory of stress and coping which is based upon a cognitive process the authors call "appraisal", a process which involves placing the full resources of perception at the disposal of the mind's central executive. The notion that there is a hierarchy of coping defenses arose from the writings of Anna Freud, and has been developed by George Vaillant. As such, coping behaviours are related to, but not the same thing as, defense mechanisms [for more on this distinction, see coping versus defending].


BREAKING RESEARCH: Mazzeo and Espelage (2002) suggest that disordered eating may be regarded as a coping mechanism for alexithymic abuse survivors [see alexithymia].



Coping versus Defending: [See firstly coping and defense mechanisms separately.] Psychology uses the everyday words "coping" and "defense" in an everyday-plus fashion. To start with, this is no great problem, for coping simply becomes coping psychologically and defending simply becomes defending psychologically. There is, however, an important difference between the two terms, the nuances of which are easily overlooked by non-psychologists. Coping tends to be via "coping behaviours", and is very much concerned with the management of one's emotions and the selection of behaviours appropriate to the stressor(s) of the moment. The management of emotions has, in turn, been the subject of intense and sustained debate since the end of the 19th century. [See now coping styles versus defense styles.]



Coping Styles versus Defense Styles: [See firstly coping versus defending.] Cramer (1998) has reflected upon whether there is a genuine conceptual difference between coping styles and defense styles. He describes a coping style as a characteristic pattern on the part of an individual in the selection of his/her coping behaviours. It is what gives consistency and structure to behaviour at a macro level. Thus if a person habitually deploys the "talk things over with friends" coping behaviour when faced with money problems then we might reasonably look for the same response when faced with problems elsewhere (at work, say, or in relationships), and if we found that sort of consistency we would start to suspect that this was that person's preferred way of coping; that talking this over was a style in general and not just a specific solution to a specific problem. Our coping style is thus one's own "fingerprint", if you like, of one's strengths and weaknesses across the spectrum of available coping skills. Part habit, part personality, part conscious choice, it is how we deliver what we have to deliver on behalf of a more organised existence. It is also probably the greatest single determinant of what/who we each turn out to be. Busjahn et al (1999/2006 online) have assessed the relative contribution of genetic and environmental influences on coping styles. Using the method of multivariate path analysis, they compared data from monozygotic and dizygotic twins on 19 different coping styles, and adjudge that 14 "were solely under genetic influences" and a further three showed some influence.



COQ: See Cognitive Orientation Questionnaire.



Corporate Identity: See identity, corporate.



Corsi Blocks Test: This is a test of sequential memory involving nine blocks irregularly laid out on a base board. The investigator points to a number of blocks in turn at a rate of one per second, and the patient then has to repeat the sequence in the same order. The test sequences then get longer and longer until the patient starts to make errors.



Corticoid: See corticosteroid. 



Cortisol: [See firstly autonomic nervous system.] [Click to see the chemistry] Cortisol - commonly referred to as the "stress hormone" - is the class-defining corticosteroid, and -  in that it prepares the body to respond in an evolutionarily tried and tested way to predatory or aggressive threats - arguably the most significant of all the body's hormones. It works by responding to external stressors internally, by raising blood pressure and by ensuring that emergency supplies of blood sugar are switched on line in case vigorous muscular activity should suddenly be required. Unfortunately, therein lie some awkward side-effects, because the short-term invigoration can prove harmful to the body's longer-term survival prospects. For example, by diverting immune system resources to the musculature other systems are left temporarily undefended. Cortisol, in short, is a biochemically active irritant which can save your life one day but kill you itself a while later. This is why chronic stress is such a very bad thing, and this, in turn, is why the highly stressful artificial environments of the modern world are so plagued by stress diseases. [For the role played by cortisol in mental pathology, see the entry following. For its role in mother's touch and learned helplessness, see those entries.]



Cortisol, Mental Health and: TO FOLLOW.



Cosmology: "The science or theory of the universe as an ordered whole, and of the general laws which govern it. Also a particular account or system [thereof]" (O.E.D.). By their nature, cosmologies will have to consist, in turn, of an ontology (to explain physical reality), a metaphysics (to validate the ontology), and a theology (to explain humankind's place and purpose in it all).



Countertransference: [See firstly transference.] This is the technical name for a commonly recorded phenomenon affecting the therapist-patient relationship during psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Specifically, it describes the situation where, having got to know the patient over a period of time, the therapist's involvement in the relationship changes (and not necessarily for the better). Storr (1963) introduces the topic, the possible mechanisms, and the attendant risks this way .....


"The essential feature of counter-transference is that the patient becomes of emotional importance to the therapist in a subjective rather than in an objective way. [.....] Perhaps the commonest difficulty is for the therapist to identify himself with his patient. This is especially likely to happen with patients who are temperamentally similar to himself, or who happen to have the same kind of emotional problems from which he himself has suffered. [.....] A second type of difficulty is that in which the therapist projects some unrealised part of himself that the patient shall fulfil what he himself has been unable to achieve. [.....] It is easy for the psychotherapist to become fascinated by aspects of the patient's personality which are in fact unrealised parts of their own, and thus to try and steer the patient in a direction which properly belongs to his own personality and not to that of the patient. Falling in love with the patient is a danger of which most psychotherapists are well aware, but to which they nevertheless occasionally succumb. Such a misfortune is fatal to the process of treatment since, owing to the nature of the therapeutic relationship, a sexual bond between therapist and patient is bound to be incestuous, and to interfere with the development of the patient's personality in precisely the same way as [] parent-child incest is liable to" (pp151-153; bold emphasis added).


[For specific examples of counter-transference, see incest and the onward links. See also countertransference enactment and multiple personality disorder.]



Covert Incest: See incest, covert.



CPG: See central pattern generator.



CPU: See central processing unit.



Cramer, Phebe: [American psychologist.] [Academic homepage] Cramer is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her work on identification - see identification, Cramer's theory of.



Creature Consciousness: See consciousness, Rosenthal's theory of.



Cryptomnesia: [See firstly unconscious, the.] Meaning literally "memory for things hidden", this is the generic term for any act of memory recall not consciously recognised as such. In the context of this glossary, the most obvious example is that seen when psychodynamically repressed memories nevertheless make themselves symbolically known [see, for example, dreams, interpretation of]. However, the word can just as legitimately be applied to everyday phenomena such as unwitting plagiarism.



CST: See Cognitive Style Test.



Ctesibius: [Alexandrian Greek scholar-inventor (floruit 250 BCE).] [Click for external biography] Ctesibius has been described as "second only to Archimedes as an inventor and mathematician" (Wikipedia), despite the fact that all his writings have been lost and his reputation comes from secondary reference. He seems to have worked at the Museum at Alexandria, specialising in pneumatics and hydraulics as methods of powering automata. Amongst the inventions credited to him is the hydraulis, a water-based mechanism for providing a constant air-draught to a pipe organ [more detailed story].



Cullen, William: [Scottish physician (1710-1790).] [Click for external biography] See hysteria.



Cumulative Idea: Galton's (1883) recommended synonym for abstract idea.



Currency: See database currency.



Current of Record Type: This is the DBTG systems programming device [actually nothing more complicated than a single database key stored within the DBMS at run time], pointing to the last accessed occurrence of a record of a particular type. One such currency is therefore required for every different record type declared in the database schema, and the benefit which paying this overhead brings lies in the consequent ability of applications programmers to <OBTAIN CURRENT record type> at any point in a database traversal, regardless of the duration or complexity of the intervening processing. The only logical prerequisite is that at least one of the target record types needs to have been accessed previously during that particular execution of the program in question. [For speculations on a possible equivalent mechanism in biological memory, see database currency.]



Current of Run: This is the DBTG systems programming device [actually nothing more complicated than a single database key stored within the DBMS at run time], pointing to the last accessed occurrence of a record of ANY type. The benefit which paying this overhead brings lies in the consequent ability of applications programmers to <OBTAIN CURRENT> at any point in a database traversal, regardless of the duration or complexity of the intervening processing. The only logical prerequisite is that at least one of the target record types needs to have been accessed previously during that execution of the program in question. [For speculations on a possible equivalent mechanism in biological memory, see database currency.]



Current of Set: This is the DBTG systems programming device [actually nothing more complicated than a single database key stored within the DBMS at run time], pointing to the last accessed occurrence of a record of any allowed type in a particular set. One such currency is therefore required for every different set declared in the database schema, and the benefit which paying this overhead brings lies in the consequent ability of applications programmers to <OBTAIN CURRENT set name> at any point in a database traversal, regardless of the duration or complexity of the intervening processing. The only logical prerequisite is that at least one of the qualifying record types needs to have been accessed previously during that execution of the program in question. [For speculations on a possible equivalent mechanism in biological memory, see database currency.]



CVE: See collaborative visual environment.



Cyber-Bullying: [See firstly bullying.] This is bullying in its latest incarnation, that is to say, bullying through the mediums of e-mail or mobile telephony.



Cybernetics: In 1948 the engineer Norbert Wiener gave a name to the emerging science of control. The name he chose was cybernetics, an anglicisation of kubernetes, the Greek word for "steersman" [for more on which, see "pilot of the soul"]. The watershed publication was Norbert Wiener's 1948 book "Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine" (although Wiener actually credits the French physicist André Ampère with having discussed cybernétique principles as early as 1834). By its nature, Wiener's new science automatically embraced the concepts of feedback, control loops, servomechanisms, information, communication channels, and systems theory. Porter (1969) provides a decent formal definition: "Cybernetics is concerned with the communication and manipulation of information and its use in controlling the behaviour of biological, physical, and chemical systems. It is the basic science underlying the processes of behaviour in biological systems" (Porter, 1969, vii; emphasis added). In fact, cybernetics has both a strict definition and a variety of looser usages. Very strictly speaking, it is the science of guidance. Less strictly speaking, it is the science of control in general, giving it applications in a variety of areas, such as sociology, commerce, and biology. In everyday usage, however, it is anything remotely connected with computing or robotics, and because it sounds such a nice word it is especially popular with writers of science fiction. Thus we have the cybermen in "Dr Who", cyberspace in "Red Dwarf", the cyborgs in the "Terminator" movies, etc. ad nauseam. We should not let either the complexities or the banalities put us off, however, because cybernetics tells us how to control complex, hierarchical, and distributed systems, and because the biological nervous system is a complex, hierarchical, and distributed system.


[BREAKING RESEARCH: To learn more about the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links.]



Cycle of Abuse: This is Egeland, Jacobovitz, and Sroufe's (1988) alternative term for the intergenerational hypothesis of abuse.



Cyclothymia: This is Hecker's (1877) term for the clinical sign of cyclical mood-change, as seen in what are today classified as bipolar disorders. The word then came to be used for the disorders themselves in which that sign was clinically predominant, hence cyclothymia (the sign) is now recognised under DSM-IV as the class-defining behaviour in cases of cyclothymic disorder (the disorder).



Cyclothymic Disorder: This is one of the six DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of bipolar disorders. It involves "alternating hypomania and depressive episodes [.....] but it never reaches full mania or major depression" and thus often goes undiagnosed. The class-defining diagnostic feature is cyclothymia, as separately defined.



Cytoplasm: This is the fluid medium of the non-nuclear part of the cell. It is 90% water, with a variety of other substances - salts, sugars, dissolved blood gases, and proteins - in colloidal (gel-like) solution. The main difference between the cytoplasm and the interstitial fluid is that the cytoplasm contains far more potassium and phosphate ions. [Compare nucleoplasm.]



Cytoskeleton: This is a microscopic framework of intracellular protein filaments spreading like scaffolding throughout the cytoplasm and giving it additional rigidity.




See the Master References List