Constructionist theories in psychology and neuroscience
Chapter 2 endnote 11, from Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:
Construction is based on a very old set of ideas that date back to Ancient Greece, when the philosopher Heraclitus famously wrote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice,” because only a mind perceives an ever-changing river as a distinct body of water. Today, constructionism spans many topics including memory, perception, mental illness, and, of course, emotion.
A smattering of history: The German psychologist Hermann von Helmholtz, a contemporary of Wundt and James, wrote that we construct perceptions of objects through “unconscious inferences” based on prior experience and learning. Gestalt psychology, from the early 20th century, understood perception as an emergent product that is greater than the sum of its parts. In the 1950s, the cognitive revolution brought psychologist Jerome Bruner wading into construction territory, proposing that we actively construct an explanation for sensations using prior beliefs, going beyond the information given by the world. These ideas formed the basis of his influential book, Acts of Meaning, in 1990. Even behaviorism can be thought of as a constructionist approach (where all behavior results from a common set of learning principles). Within neuroscience, there were early arguments against the strong localizationist ideas of Paul Broca. There is even an active scientific literature on memories as constructed phenomena dating back to the 1930s.
Notes on the Notes
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