Brains Top Down: Is Top-Down Causation Challenging Neuroscience?

G. Auletta, I. Colagè, M. Jeannerod (eds.)
World Scientific

Written by an international team of leading experts in neuroscience, this book presents an overview of some of the main schools of thought as well as current research trends in neuroscience. It focuses on neural top-down causation applied to hot topics like consciousness, emotions, the self and the will, action and behavior, neural networks, brains and society. A special feature of the book is pertinent presentations and lively discussions on the topic.

The book provides the reader with invaluable information on what the latest research is in this field and will enable the reader to gain considerable amount of knowledge as well as hints for further enquiry.

This is the first book on the topic of neuroscience and top-down causation, and is written at a level that will interest both academics and the general readers. The extensive and lively discussions included in the book offer the reader a clear idea of the research in this field, and what will emerge as the main trends.



  • Introduction: Consciousness as a Top-Down Causal Agency (G. Auletta and M. Jeannerod)
  • A Constraining Role of the Mind? (G. Auletta)
  • Neurons, Schemas, Persons and Society — Revisited (M.A. Arbib)
  • The Neural Basis of Consciousness and the Issue of Downward Causation (Notes by G. Auletta and I. Colagè on Damasio's Contribution)
  • The Functional Role of Conscious Will in Voluntary Action: Cause or Consequence? A Position Paper (M. Jeannerod)
  • Can the Self Be Considered a Cause? (J.J. Sanguineti)
  • The Brain: A Highly Distributed Self-Organizing System. Who Has the Initiative? (W. Singer)
  • Two Views of Brain Functioning (M. Raichle)
  • Top-Down Causation in the Brain: Promises for Cognitive Psychology and Challenges for Research (C.R. Crowell, J.R. Moskal, J. Burgdorf and J. Panksepp)
  • Consciousness and the Global Neuronal Workspace Hypothesis: From Bottom-Up to Top-Down Causation and Vice Versa (G. Auletta and I. Colagè)
  • Computation, Representation and Physicalism (P. Jacob)
  • Overall Discussion