Regan Bernhard (Harvard)


Thursday, February 2, 2017, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


WJH 765

The Neural Representation of Propositional Attitudes

Humans are able to have many different thoughts or attitudes about a single idea. I can believe that Starbucks now sells donuts, but I can also hope or fear that Starbucks now sells donuts. Propositions, like Starbucks now sells donuts are states of the world that can be either true or false. Propositional attitudes, on the other hand, are the mental states held by an agent toward a proposition. The human mind has remarkable capacity to hold a full range of attitudes about any of the infinite number of potential propositions. But how does our brain appropriately connect the attitude (the belief or desire) to the proposition it modifies? In our research we identify brain regions that contain information about states of the world (which we are calling propositions) and a distinct set of regions associated with believing or hoping these propositions are true. Finally, we are working towards developing a model for how the brain connects a proposition to the attitude being held about it.