Debrecen University Medical School,

4012 Debrecen, Nagyerdei körút 98

Ph. D. course

The neurobiology of higher mental processes


Balázs Gulyás
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm and
Debrecen University Medical School, Debrecen


Balázs Gulyás
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

Gyula Kovács
Department of Physiology, Szent-Györgyi Albert Medical University, Szeged

Szabolcs Kéri
Department of Psychiatry, Szent-Györgyi Albert Medical University, Szeged

Luis Murillo
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

Information about the course:

Némethné Piroska
DOTE - Tempus / Orvosi Biológusképzés Iroda
Tel: +52-455865


Friday, 23 April 1999, 9.00 - 18.00


Lecture Hall, Department of Dermatology,
DOTE, 4012 Debrecen, Nagyerdei körút 98

Objectives of the course:

  1. To give an overview of higher mental functions and their neurobiological bases and
  2. to show that with the battery of modern neuroscience methodologies these functions can be identified, "dissected", quantified, "mapped" as well as
  3. to survey some recent models and interpretations in this regard.

Language of the course:


Structure of the course:

9.00 - 10.50 Lectures B. Gulyás, Gy. Kovács

10.50 - 11.10 Coffee break

11.10 - 13.00 Lectures Gy. Kovács, Sz. Kéri

13.00 - 14.00 Lunch break

14.00 - 15.50 Lectures L. Murillo

15.50 - 16.10 Coffee break

16.10 - 18.00 Lectures B. Gulyás

Literature and recommended readings will be distributed during the course

Web-site of the course will soon be available under the home-page of the DOTE Medical Biology program:



Themes and speakers:

A. Introduction and overview

Balázs Gulyás

1. Introduction and overview of higher mental functions

2. Methodological background (psychophysics, behavioural studies in animals, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, etc.)

3. Phylogenesis of higher mental and conscious functions

4. Ways of dissecting higher mental functions

5. Analysis of conscious functions and higher mental processes not entering consciousness


B. Various models and interpretations

Gyula Kovács

Our brain and our mind

The neuronal bases of consciousness

1. Introduction

1.1. Definition of awareness & consciousness for the non-philosopher

1.2. Components” of consciousness

1.3. Levels of human consiousness

coma, sleep, awake states

1.4 „Prerequisites” of consciousness

2. Recent results on the brain and mind problem

2.1. Visual consciousness

2.2. Blindsight

2.3. Perception vs. action

2.4. Bistable percepts

2.4.1.-Ambigous figures

2.4.2.-Binocular rivalry

2.5 Electrical brain stimulation and conscious behaviour

2.6 Subliminal and supraliminal stimulus processing,

2.7. Time scale of consciousness

-Humans & Monkeys:

2.8. NCC - Neural Correlate of Consciousness,

-Theories & models


Szabolcs Kéri

Schizophrenia as an example for "de-construction"
in consciousness research:


1. Definition and phenomenology of schizophrenia: psychotic, disorganized, and negative symptoms. Some aspects of etiology.

2. Basic cognitive disturbances and their neuronal substrates in schizophrenia

2.1. Prefrontal dysfunction: working memory, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the dopaminergic regulation of memory fields.

2.2. Semantic memory and temporal lobe pathology: fluency tests, fronto-temporal dysconnection, N400, categorization and thought disorder.

2.3. Sensory gating and early visual information processing: P50, continuos performance test (CPT) and backward masking. Phoneme categorical perception, mismatch-negativity (MMN), and P300.

3. The cognitive psychopathology of schizophrenia

3.1. Willed action, negative symptoms and the frontal lobes.

3.2. Self-monitoring: mechanisms of auditory hallucinations and delusions of reference and alien control. Dysconnection syndromes in schizophrenia.

3.3. Theory of mind: cingulate dysfunction, autism and paranoid delusions.


Luis Murillo

From elementary visual perception to recognition:
the binding problem
Some examples of parallel processing in the brain

A.The color-opponent and luminance channels (Schiller, Logothetis)

B.Color processing in both cortical and subcortical (mesencephalic) structures.

1. Progressive encephalization theories (example Tupaia belangeri)

C. Cognitive consequences:

1. The dorsal and ventral streams in the visual system

D. But if processing is modular, how does the information "get unified" into a single perceptual Gestalt?

1.The binding problem

2.Increase of coherent firing in both hemispheres (Knyazewa, Engel)

3.Misplaced intentionality fallacies and homuncularisations.

E. Recognition of objects when they are viewed from different positions/perspectives

1.View-invariant coding cells in temporal cortex (Booth and Rolls)

F. Philosophical considerations

1. Intentionality, Synthesis (Husserl)

2.The temporal structure of consciouscness (Pöppel, Varela)


C. Some corollaries of conscious behaviour

Balázs Gulyás

  1. General and tuned attention
  2. Volition
  3. Receptor architecture and personality
  4. Talent and genius


D. Overview and discussion