Models of the Pathological Mind
Abstract:Christopher Frith is a research professor at the Functional Imaging Laboratory of the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience at University College, London. He explores, experimentally, using the techniques of functional brain imaging, the relationship between human consciousness and the brain. His research focuses on questions pertaining to perception, attention, control of action, free will, and awareness of our own mental states and those of others. As the following discussion makes clear, Frith investigates brain systems involved in the choice of one action over another and in the understanding of other people. Such investigations are aimed at understanding brain basis of autism and schizophrenia.
In his widely cited study of schizophrenia, The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia (1992), Frith argues that many of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions of control, auditory hallucinations, and thought insertion, involve problems of self-monitoring. Patients, in effect, lose track of their own intentions and mistakenly attribute agency for their own actions to someone else. Frith employs models of motor control, involving comparator mechanisms and efference copy, not only to explain delusions that involve movement, but also to develop a neurocognitive explanation of delusional cognition.