Vol. 40, Number 1, Winter 2019

The Fallacy of the Impaired Brain in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD) Continues:
A Critical Review of Recent Neuroimaging Studies
J. Carmelo Visdómine–Lozano, Instituciones Penitenciarias, Ministerio del Interior, Spain

This paper reviews seven recent studies that employed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to calculate volumetric brain differences between groups of children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a control group. These seven studies were selected because they included a group of participants diagnosed with ADHD who had not been treated with psychiatric medication, a group of children diagnosed with ADHD undergoing pharmacological treatment, and a control group of participants. Methodological flaws and incoherencies that invalidate the conclusions of these studies are described. Criticisms are presented in four groups: (a) sample sizes; (b) percentage of boys and girls per group; (c) weight and body mass of participants; and (d) the neuroanatomical incoherence of the findings.

Correspondence should be addressed to: J. Carmelo Visdómine–Lozano, Ph.D., calle Alcalá, 40, Secretaría General de Instituciones Penitenciarias, Madrid, 28014, Spain. Email: JCarmelo.Visdomine@dgip.mir.es or jcvisdo@gmail.com

What is Scientific Definition?
Fiona J. Hibberd, University of Sydney

Expertise in what is being measured, predicted, explained, replicated, etc. requires the development of scientific (conceptual) definitions. Yet an account of what that involves is absent from the psychology literature. This article explains what the standard (classical) account of scientific definition is, what it is not, the steps involved in developing a scientific definition, the distinction between definition and classification, and other key points. The article then turns to recent research in the philosophy of science which proposes an alternative to the standard account. This alternative is said to provide scientific definitions that better accommodate the inherent variation of certain kinds of phenomena. Its implications are examined and they point to it not being an alternative to the standard account at all, but an approach that captures the early-to-mid stages of research towards genuine scientific definition. Attention then turns to psychology’s conception of the operational definition, how it relates to scientific definition, and what else psychologists sometimes mean by “operationism.” Operational definitions are not scientific definitions and it is time that psychology give consideration to the latter.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Fiona J. Hibberd, Ph.D., School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. Email: fiona.hibberd@sydney.edu.au

Transgenerational Trauma: The Role of Epigenetics
Stanley Krippner, Saybrook University, and Deirdre Barrett, Harvard University Medical School

Epigenetics is the study of cellular variations that are caused by external, environmental factors that “switch” genes “on” and “off,” making changes in the phenotype of genetic expression without concomitant changes in the DNA sequence or genotype. Epigenetic effects have been noted in the offspring of traumatized parents and there is some evidence that some of these effects can be observed in third generation offspring. However, the latter studies have been conducted with small numbers of non-human animals, with modest effect sizes. Implications for evolutional theory and psychotherapy are discussed.  

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 475 14th Street, Floor 9, Oakland, California 94612-1943. Email: skrippner@saybrook.edu

A Note on Active Panpsychism
Eric Lindell, New York City

Panpsychism holds that all matter is inherently conscious, circumventing the knotty issue of how consciousness can emerge from physical phenomena. In the usual formulation of panpsychism, no special treatment is given for active mind. It is argued here that, if matter is inherently conscious, then energy expenditures should be inherently volitional. This approach offers the advantage of a correspondence between consciousness and physics that is more granular, balanced, and complete.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Eric Lindell, 23 Lexington Avenue #633, New York, New York 10010. Email: EricLindellNyc@gmail.com

Critical Notices

Semiotics and Phenomenality
Richard Kenneth Atkins, Boston College

Book Title: Consciousness and the Philosophy of Signs: How Peircean Semiotics Combines Phenomenal Qualia and Practical Effects.
Book Author: Marc Champagne. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2018, 127 pages, $89.99 hardcover.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, debates over whether or how the phenomenality of mental states could be reconciled with computationalist or functionalist theories of mind became a flashpoint. On the one hand, it seemed as though there could be functional states without phenomenality. This is perhaps most readily and obviously captured by the idea of zombies, creatures that act and interact with their environment just as any ordinary human does though they lack phenomenal consciousness. Less fancifully, it seemed as though patients who suffer from blindsight — individuals who have scotomata as a consequence of damage to the primary visual cortex and not because of damage to their eyes and who can still make reliable reports about lights or shapes projected onto a scotoma — were in functional cognitive states without phenomenality. On the other hand, it also seemed as though there could be phenomenal states without functionality or “access.” Experiments by George Sperling — in which subjects were shown an array of letters for 50 msec and claimed they saw all the letters but could only report on a subset — suggested that persons could have phenomenal consciousness of the full array even though they could reliably cognitively access only a small subset of the array. 

Correspondence for this article should be addressed to Richard Kenneth Atkins, Ph.D., Boston College, Philosophy Department, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Stokes N223, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467. Email: atkinsri@bc.edu

A Portrait of a Scientist as a Young Mind
Gigi Foster, University of New South Wales

Book Title: An Architecture of the Mind: A Psychological Foundation for the Science of Everyday Life.
Book Author: Brendan Markey–Towler. Oxon: Routledge, 2018, 124 pages, $94.99 hardcover. 

Our lifetimes as scientists take us through many career stages. There is at first, for most eventual scientists, the stage of not knowing one will eventually be a scientist, but approaching the world with an instinctive curiosity and playful mental flexibility that eventually inform one’s work as a mature professional. Then there is the stage of having chosen science as a career but feeling cowed by the perceived greatness of prior thinkers and unsure as to whether one really has “what it takes” to wear the mantle. Then, after some initial success, comes the phase of feeling that one must gain acceptance in one’s chosen field from incumbent scientists, which typically in the modern life of a scientist involves publishing in highly-ranked international journals. This task is made easier if one cites (ideally in glowing or at least not negative terms) living scientists who will be editing or reviewing one’s work, and can also be made easier when one has a true scientific advance to offer, although that is not always true; in subfields where career success has (temporarily) trumped scientific progress as the motivating ideal, significant advance may be less likely to be published than incremental advance. Young scientists who find it easier to maintain mental illusions — for example, about the importance of whatever is presently being published in their field, and/or about their own as-yet-undiscovered greatness — find this stage easier to navigate than others. Finally, for those souls who weather the prior stages and still remain in the profession, there is the stage of enjoying, with the occasional wry smile, essentially free rein to research and say what one likes as long as one can stomach having a few enemies. This stage can enable people to contribute the highest-value work of their careers when they couple their in-built intellectual impulses with the sage lessons learned through years of experience, and to protect creative youngsters, for example through mentoring or working in collaboration with them to get promising new ideas published. Arrival at this stage has also been known to lead ageing scientists, perhaps in a mark of personal desperation or remorse for what they come to recognize at some level as careerist behaviour in their earlier career stages, to use their remaining (professional, if not physical) power to exclude younger scientists from competing in the search for new enlightenment, perpetuating the politics of science by hampering the emergence of true advance.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Gigi Foster, Ph.D., UNSW School of Economics, Building E-12, Kensington campus, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052 Australia. Email: gigi.foster@unsw.edu.au