Last fall (2013) I drafted that book idea about the 5 neurofunctional modules and their interactions. I’ve been making some headway along those lines using the DSM’s Neurocognitive Domains, which are:
1. Complex Attention: What most people would define as thinking which is a hub for other domains and includes processing speed
2. Executive Function: Planning, adaptability, future focused
3. Learning and Memory: Past focused information
(These three weren’t really distinct to me, the kind of all fall under what I think of as Intelligence, but I got them sorted out last week when learning about ACT-R)
4. Language (Semantic memory)
5. Perceptual Motor (Incl. Sensory)
6. Social cognition (incl. emotional)
(These three are affected in Autism: it was a very reassuring insight into my child’s situation.)
ACT-R is Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational, a theory that I met through a paper on multitasking but most descriptions go to artificial intelligence first. I consider it a description of Complex Attention (1) and it’s transactions with 2, 3, and 4. All modules can operate at once but only activity can be recruited to the Complex Attention Hub, or the Hub can be focused on its own workings, as in meditation or mindfulness.
Over the past several weeks I’ve been struggling to define a form of emotional dyslexia wherein self care has been recruited as self interest, and empathy (connections to others) is recruited as a reservoir for self-esteem (narcissism). So the capacity we should be using for others is used for the self, and the capacity we should use for self is applied to others. I’ve been trying to figure out why you get something like Borderline Personality Disorder in such close genetic proximity to cases of Autism.
Following after the basic idea of ACT-R, I propose a Hub at Social Cognition. The transactions for the problem I just described, of narcissism that fails in self care, involves Interest (a transaction between 6 and 1) and Empathy (between 6 and 5). But it’s not an issue of simple inversion, because 2 should be involved in Self Care. There are other permutations, but we have to keep in mind that the DSM is a dictionary, not a Bible and models change. So this is a model of Emotional Dyslexia that can be described in the language of the DSM.
Self interest: A dysfunctional utilization of emotion and perception to accomplish what is better served by emotion and executive (Self Care)
Narcissism: A dysfunctional utilization of emotion and attention to accomplish what should be emotion and perception (Empathy)
I’m still ironing this out. But I would say that the larger concept is applying the correct tool to the correct problem. If you recall my speculations about the orchestra and schizophrenia when I was taking abnormal psychology, of personality disorders being like a tune in an alien cadence.
So I guess I wonder if Identity and Self are focused in the emotional hub, or if I see it that way because I’m abnormal. The proposed model on personality disorders defines identity in terms of boundaries. And there is the self and nonself distinctions (ego dys/syntonia).
I guess it would be possible to just add the dyslexia problem to ACT-R. I don’t know, though. Expanding to a transaction between social-emotional and perceptual is too important for empathy.