image: Psychology Logo
image: Psychology Logo
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MADISON
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
image: UW - Madison Logo
image: Psychology Logo
GRADUATE PROGRAM

Hertz Poster Session

The Hertz Poster Session has become a tradition in our department that allows our graduate students to showcase their recent research accomplishments to the department as a whole. It is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the projects in each of our respective labs. It can also be a source of ideas and future collaborations. Yearly poster sessions have been made possible by annual donations from the Hertz Foundation.

2010 Hertz Poster Session

Tripp Commons, March 12th, 2:30-4:30
Click to view program.

Presenters

2009 Hertz Poster Session

Tripp Commons, April 10th, 2:30-4:30
Click to view program.

Presenters

2010 Hertz Poster Session Abstracts

Anderson, C., & Kalish, C. Evaluations of Normative Action and Normative Rules

Normative and moral evaluations depend on rules that stipulate right and wrong behavior. Studies are presented that examine the evaluations that individuals make of novel normative rules, and actions based on those rules. Normative rules regarding ownership were used to investigate these normative evaluations. These studies find that some rules are considered more subject to change than others, and that individuals vary greatly in their evaluations of normative rules.

Cox, W.T.L, Devine, P.G., & Plant, E. A. Directional Stereotyping: Looking at Stereotypic Associations in a New Way

Stereotyping research has not typically examined directionality. Our study establishes that stereotypic associations can be Attribute->Group directional, Group->Attribute directional, or Bi-directional, and concealable stigmas' associations are more likely to be Attribute->Group directional than those of non-concealable stigmas. These findings have implications for stereotype formation, maintenance, and change.

Drwecki, B.B., & Moore, C.F. Empathy the Cause and the Cure: The Role of Empathy in Racial Pain Treatment Bias

Recent findings suggest that across numerous hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics, racial analgesic prescription biases exist where African Americans are prescribed less pain medication than European Americans. Our work tests the hypothesis that empathy is both the cause of and the solution to racial analgesic prescription bias. Across two experiments participants (university undergraduates) viewed four videos of real patients suffering from acute pain, made analgesic prescriptions, and provided responses indicative of emotional empathy and perceived patient pain. Experiment 1 examined the extent that empathy and perceived patient pain statistically mediated racial bias in pain treatment. Experiment 2 introduced perspective taking instructions as a way to induce empathy and in turn reduce racial analgesic bias. Results from experiment 1 indicated that patient race had direct effects on empathy and pain treatment with participants feeling less empathy and prescribing less pain medication for African American patients. A mediation analysis confirmed that empathy was mediating the effect of race on pain prescriptions. Results from experiment 2 indicated that the perspective taking manipulation eliminated racial pain treatment bias. Follow-up analyses provide some evidence that the perspective taking manipulation was acting through empathy and perceived patient pain. These data suggest that racial analgesic bias is not unavoidable, taking the perspective of one’s patient may provide the tool that healthcare providers need to eliminate racial bias from pain treatment. While these results are promising, extending this paradigm to real healthcare professionals in real world medical settings is needed.

Eggen, A.T., Miyamoto, Y., & Uchida, Y. Cultural Grounding of Low- VS. High- Context Communication in Close

This study explored how communication methods across cultures are related to relationship satisfaction. We hypothesized that low-context communication, the use of directness, precision, and primarily verbal channels to communicate thoughts and feelings, should be more important for relationships in the European American culture than for relationships in East Asian cultures. Alternately, high-context communication, the use of indirectness, ambiguity, and attention to subtle, contextual cues, should be more important for relationships in East Asian cultures than for relationships in the European American culture. Using hypothetical scenarios about marital relationships, Studies 1 and 2 indicated that Americans placed higher blame on low-context communication for communication failure, and rated a low-context communication couple to have higher relationship quality, than did Japanese, with East Asians living in the U.S. falling between the two levels. By utilizing hypothetical scenarios of friends, Study 2 extended these hypotheses into to the friendship scenario, with Americans rating friends who generally employ low-context communication as having higher relationship quality than Japanese, and Japanese rating the friends who generally employ high-context communication as having higher relationship quality than Americans. Results showed that the importance placed on low-context communication in friendships was higher for European Americans than Japanese, and that the importance placed on high-context communication in friendships was higher for Japanese than European Americans. Additionally, as expected, we found that relative emphasis on influence goals (i.e. assertion of the self and changing of others) over adjustment goals (i.e. suppressing the self and conforming to others) mediated this effect. The higher the relative influence goals over adjustment goals were endorsed, the more low-context, over high-context, communication was considered important in the relationship context.

Forbes-Lorman, R.M., Kurian, J.R., & Auger, A. P. Mecp2 Disruption within the Developing Amygdala Increases GFAP Expression in Rats

Stereotyping research has not typically examined directionality. Our study establishes that stereotypic associations can be Attribute->Group directional, Group->Attribute directional, or Bi-directional, and concealable stigmas' associations are more likely to be Attribute->Group directional than those of non-concealable stigmas. These findings have implications for stereotype formation, maintenance, and change.

Fox, A.S., Shelton, S.E., Alexander, A.L., Oakes, T.R., Shackman, A.J., Davidson, R.J., & Kalin, N. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) Demonstrates that Prefrontal-Amygdala White-Matter Tracts Relate to Anxious Temperament and Amygdala Metabolism

Introduction: Anxious temperament during childhood and adolescence is a risk-factor for the development of stress-related psychopathogy. Previous research from our lab demonstrated that increased amygdala metabolism in young primates is associated with increased anxious temperament (Fox et al., 2008). In addition to the amygdala, other research has focused on the role of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in mediating the expression of anxiety and depression (Restler & Mayberg, 2007). Recent evidence from both human and rodent research suggests PFC inputs may bias amygdalar responding and facilitate up and down regulation of emotion (Oler, Quirk & Whalen, 2006; Urry et al., 2006). The rhesus monkey shares many of the same amygdala-PFC connections observed in humans, providing an excellent animal model to study the mechanisms of PFC regulation of amygdala (Amaral et al., 1992). Moreover, lesion work in rhesus monkeys has shown that damage to either the amygdala or the orbital frontal cortex decreases freezing behavior, a core feature of anxious temperament in both children and monkeys (Murray & Izquierdo, 2007; Machado & Bachevalier, 2008; Kalin et al., 2007 & 2004). These results suggest that the amygdala and PFC work in concert to initiate anxiety-related responding. We used Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to compute a measure of white-matter integrity, Fractional Anisotropy (FA), in the tracts that connect the amygdala to the PFC. We hypothesized that FA in the tracts that connect the amygdala to the PFC would be positively correlated anxious temperament.

Garfield, A.M., & Moore, C.F. Can Authoritarianism Explain the Link Between Religious Fundamentalism and Dominion Beliefs?

Authoritarian personality may underlie the connection between religious fundamentalism and belief in humankind’s dominion over nature. Hierarchical linear regression analyses controlling for gender, political conservatism, belief in God, and intrinsic religiosity were conducted using a combined sample of 272 university undergraduates. As expected, religious fundamentalism explained the connection between Judeo-Christian affiliation and dominion beliefs. Contrary to hypotheses, however, right-wing authoritarianism did not fully explain away the link between fundamentalism and dominion beliefs. Despite a significant indirect effect, fundamentalism remained a strong positive predictor of dominion beliefs even when authoritarianism was included in the model. In addition, when the effects of fundamentalism were accounted for, a negative association between intrinsic religiosity and dominion beliefs emerged; and in all models being female was a negative predictor of domi nion beliefs. Path analysis using SEM supported the results of the regression analyses.

Jessen, H.M., Kolodkin, M.H., Bychowski, M.E., Auger, C.J., & Auger, A.P. Nuclear Receptor Corepressor (NCoR) Disruption within the Developing Rat Amygdala Alters Juvenile and Adult Behavior

Steroid hormones play an important role in the developing rat brain, causing many physiological and behavioral changes. Steroid hormone action is regulated at the level of DNA through the recruitment of complexes which cause increases in gene expression, coactivators, and complexes which cause decreases in gene expression known as corepressors, i.e. Nuclear Receptor Corepessor (NCoR). In contrast to coactivators, little is known about the role of corepresssors in brain development and behavior. To investigate the functional role of NCoR, we infused siRNA targeted against NCoR into the developing rat amygdala and assessed the enduring impact on both juvenile and adult behavior. Given the role of the amygdala in social and anxiety behavior we examined juvenile social play behavior, sociability, and anxiety-like behavior during the juvenile period, as well as anxiety-like behavior and social recognition during the adult period. We have shown that reduced NCoR expression during development increases juvenile social play behavior in males, but does not affect juvenile sociability in either sex. Interestingly, decreased NCoR expression within the developing amygdala has lasting effects on anxiety-like behavior. Animals treated with NCoR siRNA showed increased anxiety-like behavior during the juvenile period and this effect was persistent into the adult period in males. We now show that social recognition is impaired in adult males that experienced NCoR disruption during development while animals infused with the control siRNA displayed normal social recognition behavior. NCoR has been characterized as a corepressor of nuclear recepotors, but has also been shown to participate in DNA methylation-induced gene repression via its direct or indirect interactions with methyl-binding proteins. Therefore, it is possible that these effects were due to an abnormal interaction of NCoR with nuclear receptors or with methyl-binding proteins. In the future, we will examine genes that are affected by the developmental NCoR disruption during both the neonatal and adult period. Taken together these data suggest a dynamic model of chromatin remodeling which may drive the organization of the developing rat brain.

Lang, J., Kalish, C., Rogers, T.T., & Zhu, J. Semi-Supervised Stereotyping

 

Lapate, R.C., Lee, H., Salomons, T.V., Greischar, L.G., van Reekum, C.M., & Davidson, R.J. Contribution of Affective Style to the Successful Regulation of Pain: A Psychophysiological and Neuroimaging Investigation

 

Moberg, C.A., Hachiya, L.Y., & Curtin, J.J. Alcohol Effects on Affective Response during Variable and Fixed Duration Threat

Recent research indicates that fear and anxiety are distinct processes with separable neurobiological substrates. Experimental procedures using predictable vs. unpredictable shock administration have been used to elicit fear vs. anxiety, respectively (Grillon et al, 2004). Using these procedures, our lab has demonstrated that alcohol reduces anxiety to unpredictable shock but not fear to predictable shock (Moberg & Curtin, 2009). However, this manipulation of predictability varied both the probability and temporal precision of shock threat, raising critical questions as to which stimulus characteristics are central to both the elicitation of anxiety and the anxiolytic effects of alcohol. To disentangle these two characteristics, we developed a novel paradigm to systematically vary temporal occurrence of threat while holding the probability of threat occurrence constant. Intoxicated (0.08% BAC), non-intoxicated, and placebo participants viewed a series of visual cues. Fixed 5s cue presentations were equivalent to predictable shock cues that elicited fear in earlier research. Variable duration cues (5s, 20s, 50s, or 80s) were designed to elicit anxiety due to the temporal uncertainly of the threat occurrence. Startle potentiation (SP) relative to matched cue periods in no-shock blocks provided the primary measure of affective response. All shock cues produced robust SP. Additionally, two key findings were observed. We first examined affective response during the first 4 seconds of the cue presentation, such that startle probe occurrence was matched between variable and fixed duration blocks. We found that alcohol significantly reduced SP during variable duration threat cues, whereas there was no detectable alcohol effect during fixed duration threat cues. We then examined affective response later during each variable duration cue. We found that alcohol reduced SP during later time points in the longer cues, suggesting that the alcohol effects persist over time. These results build on evidence suggesting that fear and anxiety are distinct, separable affective responses, and suggest that anxiety can be elicited by altering either threat probability or temporal precision. Underscoring previous findings that alcohol selectively reduces anxiety but not fear, this work has important implications for high rates of comorbidity between anxiety disorders and alcoholism.

Montag, J.L, & MacDonald, M.C. The Role of Grammatical Role Assignment in Production in Three Languages

 

Montag, J.L., & MacDonald, M.C. The Interaction of Structure and Plausibility in Comprehension in Two Languages

 

Oler, J.A., Fox, A.S., Shelton, S.E., Rogers, J., Shelledy, W., Oakes, T.R., Davidson, R.J., & Kalin, N. The Influence of a CRHr1 Gene Polymorphism on Anxious Temperament and Amygdala Reactivity in Rhesus Monkeys

Anxious temperament (AT) is an early risk factor for the subsequent development of anxiety disorders and depression. We examined individual differences in AT, and its relation to stress-induced brain activity, with FDG-PET in a large sample of young rhesus monkeys (n = 238; mean age = 2.35 years). The corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) system is a mediator of adaptive and maladaptive stress responses and psychopathology. Therefore, we also examined the extent to which single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CRH receptor 1 (CRHr1) gene account for variability in the observed phenotypes. A composite measure of AT was calculated based on levels of freezing, vocalizations, and plasma cortisol concentrations in response to a human intruder making no eye contact with the monkey. To examine the relations between FDG uptake and AT, voxelwise regression analyses were performed controlling for differences in gray matter probability, age, and sex. Since all study subjects could be linked into a single-family multigenerational pedigree, we examined the heritability of both behavioral and brain phenotypes. In order to estimate the influence of genetic differences among animals on observed variation in AT and brain activity, the known pedigree relationships and individual phenotype measures were used in variance components analyses using SOLAR. A highly significant positive relation was observed between individual differences in AT and FDG uptake bilaterally in clusters encompassing the central nucleus region of the amygdala and the anterior hippocampus (right cluster: r = 0.524, p < 0.000001; left cluster: r = 0.494, p < 0.000001). Both AT and hippocampal activity were found to be significantly heritable (temperament: h2=0.34, p=0.015; maximally heritable voxel: h2=0.78, p=8.7e-06). No significantly heritable voxels were observed in the amygdala regions predictive of AT. Furthermore, a SNP at intron-11 of the CRHr1 gene was associated with both AT and amygdala/hippocampal activity (temperament: p=0.002; left cluster: p=0.01), accounting for 5.3% and 2.9% of residual variance in AT and brain activation, respectively. These findings replicate the association between amygdala activity and AT previously observed in young primates, demonstrate that variation in AT is heritable, and reveal an unexpected dissociation of the heritability of stress-related brain metabolism in hippocampus from that in the amygdala. Taken together, these results suggest involvement of the amygdala and hippocampal regions, early in life, in mediating children’s risk to develop anxiety and affective disorders, and implicate the CRH system in contributing to this risk.

Rozek, C.S., & Harackiewicz, J.M. Conflict and Competition: Does Being on a Team Alleviate the Negative Effects of Conflict?

Sociocognitive conflict occurs when people present differing points of views to each other in social contexts. Past research (Darnon et al., 2007) has shown that conflict can lead to better performance when an individual is cooperating (because individuals can learn from the other person’s responses) but worse performance when an individual is competing (because the other person’s answers are threatening in this context). We examined how these typically negative responses to conflict during competition may change if participants were put in a situation that simultaneously compelled cooperation and competition: a team competition. Additionally, we hypothesized that an individual’s level of achievement motivation would moderate their response to conflict because achievement motivation is a powerful predictor of enjoyment in competitive situations (Epstein & Harackiewicz, 1992) and because caring about doing well could affect whether conflict was perceived as threatening or helpful. We had four participants at a time play an enjoyable word game (Boggle) in a team competition. Participants first completed a practice task and received fictitious responses from another participant (the participant's teammate or one of the opponents). These fictitious responses were either differing or matching and thereby effectively led to disagreement or agreement. Results showed that achievement-motivated individuals performed better when receiving conflicting answers from an opponent whereas low achievers showed a performance increase when the source of conflicting answers was their teammate. These results suggest that conflict is not always deleterious in competitive situations and can be beneficial if some aspect of cooperation is included.

Schnarrenberger, P., & Devine, P.G. Prejudice Reduction: Discrepancies between Values and Standards

Previous research has found that high prejudice individuals who endorse humanitarian values feel morally obligated to establish relatively strict standards for treating out-groups. The present study shows that the moral obligation related to humanitarian values results in guilt when those general values are discrepant with standards for out-group treatment.

Sharp, L.B., & Devine, P.G. The Development of Internal and External Motivation to Respond without Prejudice

A shortcoming of the literature on internal and external motivations to overcome prejudice is that it has not explored how or why these motivations develop. Building on developmental models for how children make decisions about what is right and wrong (Smetana et al., 1993), we created an interview to assess whether children of different ages thought racial discrimination violated social conventions or moral rules. The interview involved 5-6 and 8-9 year olds responding to items assessing the seriousness, generalizability, contingency on rules and authority, and deserved punishment for race-based exclusion. We found that older children were more likely to think that race-based exclusion violated moral principles whereas younger children were more likely to think it violated social conventions. These findings suggest external motivation is evident as early as 5 years of age, with internal motivation coming online around age 7. This developmental trend is consistent with other research documenting decreases in racial bias around age 7 (Bigler & Liben, 1993) and self-presentation strategies as early as age 6 (Rutland et al., 2005). It is also consistent with the process of internalization proposed in self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000), which proposes that a person may come to identify with a set of external standards and then assimilate those standards into his/her personal beliefs. Future work should further integrate research on cognitive-moral development and racial bias to explore the development of motivations to respond without prejudice, with an emphasis on how to promote the transition from external to internal regulation.

Sidney, P.G., Hattikudur, S., & Alibali, M.W. Making connections in Math: Activating Students' Prior Knowledge during a New Lesson

Students come into the classroom with prior knowledge, which can include informal, real-world experience as well as previous formal instruction. While learning new material, students are able to draw from past experiences that may influence their understanding of the lesson at hand. This study investigates how links to prior knowledge can promote procedural and conceptual knowledge gains. Two experimental studies will address the following questions: 1) Does activating prior knowledge through comparison promote learning of new procedures, 2) What kinds of prior knowledge are better for supporting learning, and 3) Will linking prior knowledge to new procedures lead to gains in both procedural and conceptual knowledge? We anticipate that students who compare conceptually relevant knowledge to procedures within a lesson will show greater gains in procedural and conceptual knowledge than students who are not invited to compare conceptually relevant knowledge. These findings have implications for curriculum and instruction.

Stevenson, J.L., Krause, N.A., Schweigert, E.K., Goldsmith, H.H., & Gernsbacher, M.A. A Twin Study of Gesture Execution, Imitation, and Identification

Autistic persons are less proficient than nonautistic persons at gesture imitation. The source of their reduced proficiency appears to reside in gesture execution. The present study investigated twins¹ proficiency and similarity on the Praxis Test of the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Exam. Participants comprised 45 pairs of twins, age 4;2 to 20;3, who were recruited to the study because one or both cotwins of each pair met criteria for the autism spectrum on both the SCQ and the ADOS. Performance on the Praxis Test distinguishes persons on the autism spectrum from those who are not. Praxis performance aligns relatively precisely with whatever mechanisms contribute to meeting the diagnostic threshold for autism. Moreover, when genetically identical cotwins are discordant for autism, their praxis performance differs dramatically.

Weng, H. Y., Fox, A.S., Shackman, A.J., Kirkland, J.Z., Stodola, D.E., Olson, M., Rogers, G.M., & Davidson, R.J. Can Compassion be Trained? Behavioral and Neural Evidence

Individuals may respond to the suffering of others by feeling personal distress or compassion (Davis, 1980). Helping professionals such as medical doctors and psychotherapists may experience excess personal distress, which can lead to compassion fatigue or burnout (Figley, 2002). Contemplative traditions posit that compassion is a skill that can be trained. We hypothesize that compassion meditation may help individuals regulate personal distress, promote empathic concern, and increase prosocial behavior. This hypothesis was investigated by examining neural and visual processing of social suffering before and after 2 weeks of compassion meditation training vs. cognitive reappraisal. Participants were randomized to compassion (n=28) or reappraisal training (n=28) groups. In the fMRI task, participants viewed social pictures (Negative, Neutral), and were given an instruction (to use their respective Training, or Attend) before and after training (Time 1, Time 2). Ratings of compassion were measured during the training period, and prosocial behavior was tested at Time 2. Compassion training was found to modulate left amygdala activity (Group  Time  Instruction  Valence interaction, F=8.55, p=0.005, uncorrected), a region heavily implicated in emotion processing. As hypothesized, the compassion group redistributed more wealth than the reappraisal group in a novel economic prosocial task (Mann-Whitney U=136, p=0.45). Closer examination of amygdala activity showed that at Time 1, Training amygdala activity was greater in compassion vs. reappraisal (p<0.05). This may be due to increased visual fixation on emotional information, and current eye-tracking data analysis will inform this hypothesis. At Time 2, compassion group amygdala activity decreased (p<0.01). Intriguingly, compassion amygdala activity at Time 2 actually predicted the amount of wealth redistributed (rs=-0.44, p=0.05), supporting the hypothesis that neural changes due to compassion training are related to changes in prosocial behavior. Although participants reported increased feelings of compassion pre- to post-meditation for all people (all p’s<0.001), these ratings did not relate to amygdala activity or redistribution behavior. These results suggest that down-regulation of amygdala due to compassion training (which may reflect decreases in personal distress) promotes prosocial behavior. Compassion training may benefit helping professionals by decreasing personal distress and enhancing helping behavior.

Wilken, B.M., & Miyamoto, Y. Cultural Differences in Cognition and Their Interpersonal Consequences

Research has shown that there are differences in how individuals from different cultures perceive objects. When viewing scenes, Japanese are more holistic in perceiving relationships between focal and background objects, whereas Americans are more analytic in perceiving focal objects independent of their relationships with background objects (Nisbett & Miyamoto, 2005). Although there are many theories about the origins of these cognitive differences, no research has yet examined the consequences that they may have. In the present experiment, as predicted, our results show that holistic perception causes individuals to notice more interpersonal cues during their interactions, and thus holism may explain why Easterners have been found to be relatively more interpersonally sensitive than Westerners (Van Baaren et al., 2003).

Zhu, X., Rogers, T.T., & Gibson, B.R. human Rademacher Complexity

We propose to use Rademacher complexity, originally developed in computational learning theory, as a measure of human learning capacity. Rademacher complexity measures a learners ability to fit random labels, and can be used to bound the learners true error based on the observed training sample error. We first review the definition of Rademacher complexity and its generalization bound. We then describe a learning the noise procedure to experimentally measure human Rademacher complexities. The results from empirical studies showed that: (i) human Rademacher complexity can be successfully measured, (ii) the complexity depends on the domain and training sample size in intuitive ways, (iii) human learning respects the generalization bounds, (iv) the bounds can be useful in predicting the danger of overfitting in human learning. Finally, we discuss the potential applications of human Rademacher complexity in cognitive science.

2009 Hertz Poster Session Abstracts

Acheson, D. J., Hamidi, M., Binder, J. R., & Postle, B. R. Verbal Working Memory Maintenance Depends on Language Production Systems: A Functionally Guided rTMS Investigation

The emergent-property perspective of working memory (WM) states that the same brain regions involved in long-term processing of different types of information also subserve WM maintenance. Consistent with this view, several recent studies have demonstrated a critical role for the posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG), a region that has also been implicated in phonological ordering processes in language production, in verbal WM maintenance. We explored the functional relationship between language production and verbal WM by targeting language production regions with functionally guided repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). First, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to elicit activity in pSTG and middle temporal gyrus (MTG), respectively, during two stages of production: phonological ordering and lexical-semantic retrieval. Next, these regions were targeted with rTMS during three tasks: rapid paced reading; picture naming; and delayed serial recall (i.e., verbal WM). We hypothesized that rTMS of pSTG would alter phonological ordering processes, and would thus disrupt both rapid reading
and serial recall of nonwords, but would only minimally impact lexical-semantic processes (picture naming); rTMS to the MTG would produce the opposite pattern. The results confirmed the theoretically critical prediction that rTMS applied to the pSTG increases errors in rapid reading and in delayed serial recall, whereas rTMS to the MTG has no effect on these tasks. Picture naming (the control task) was sensitive to rTMS to both brain regions. Verbal WM maintenance may thus be nothing more than speech production processes (specifically, phonological ordering) “looping” for the duration of the delay period.


Cox, W. T. L., Devine, P. G., & Plant, E. A. The Obama Effect: Decreasing Implicit Prejudice and Stereotyping

This project explores the impact of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and the resulting high levels of exposure to a positive, counter-stereotypic Black exemplar on prejudice and stereotyping among nonBlack participants. In Study 1, we found dramatically decreased levels of implicit anti-Black prejudice and stereotyping as compared with bias observed previously at the same institutions and in the literature. Providing some insight why the bias was reduced, Study 2 demonstrated that participants had positive Black exemplars come to mind or anticipated that other people have positive exemplars come to mind when they thought of Black people and this was associated with low levels of racial prejudice. These findings indicate that the extensive exposure to Obama resulted in a drop in implicit bias.


Drwecki, B. B., Kortenkamp, K. V., & Moore, C. F. Moral Judgments and Cognitive Focus: A Mediation Model

This study examined the effect of cognitive focus on moral decision making. We tested whether reading footbridge and trolley dilemmas primes either a moral rule or moral math focus by having participants respond to both lexical and mathematical decision tasks and examining reaction times. We found that performance on the lexical decision task mediated the effect of dilemma type on moral judgments. In follow-up experiments we examined the effect of individual differences in cognitive focus on moral judgments and we directly manipulated cognitive focus to further test the mediation model.


Eggen, A. T., Miyamoto, Y., & Uchida, Y. Cultural Grounding of Explicit vs. Implicit Communication in Close Relationships

Different modes of communication are employed across cultures, with Easterners using a more implicit mode (i.e. attending to contextual cues) and Westerners using a more explicit mode (i.e. relying on words) (i.e., Hall, 1976). Through vignettes presented to American and East Asian students at UW-Madison, the authors examined whether these cultural differences in modes of communication manifest in close relationships and if they are linked to perceived relationship quality. Americans found explicit communication more important in relationship communication than East Asians did, while both cultures placed equal importance on implicit communication. Additionally, Americans perceived relationships employing explicit communication as higher quality than East Asians did, while East Asians perceived relationships employing implicit communication as higher quality than Americans did.

Fox, A. S., Snozzi, R., Schneider, F., Davidson, R. J., Singer, T., & Fehr, E. Temporal Unpredictability Increases Amygdala Activation and Decreases Trust

Trust is ubiquitous in human society and is critical for interpersonal interaction. Recent work investigating the biological bases of trust has implicated evolutionarily old brain structures, such as the amygdala, in judgments of trustworthiness and the decision to trust an anonymous individual. In our study we examined the effect of experimentally induced amygdala activation on trust behavior in a simple economic game, called the Trust Game. In the Trust Game, we gave participants 10 Monetary Units (MU’s; paid in Swiss Franc’s) and offered them the opportunity to invest any number of MU’s in an anonymous individual designated as the trustee. For each MU invested by the participant, the trustee received 3 MU’s that they could distribute between themselves and the participant as they saw fit. If the participant believes the trustee to be trustworthy they will maximize their gains by investing all of their MU’s, whereas if the participant believes the trustee to be untrustworthy they retain the most MU’s by investing nothing. In our experiment, while participants (n=55) were making this decision we exposed them to unpredictably spaced auditory stimuli, which are known to activate the amygdala. Additionally, approximately half the subjects (n=28) underwent fMRI while making these decisions. Results demonstrated that altering the temporal predictability of an auditory stimulus both increased amygdala activation and decreased investment amounts in the Trust Game, as predicted. These data suggest that task-irrelevant manipulation of amygdala activity influences the decision to trust.


Grupe, D. W., Schultz, R. T., Hunyadi, E., Herrington, J. D., & Riley, M. E. The Influence of Socially Salient Stimuli on Cognitive Control in Autism Spectrum Disorders: An fMRI Investigation

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with deficits in face processing, and extensive evidence from neuroimaging studies suggests a disruption of the face processing network in ASD.  Most of these studies have focused largely on “bottom-up” perception of faces, and it is not well known how the disruption of this network might interact with “top-down” cognitive processing.  The present study seeks to investigate the interaction between bottom-up salience of socially relevant stimuli with top-down cognitive control processing to ascertain the degree to which abnormal processing of faces in autism influences activation associated with object-based attention.We conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on 12 children and adolescents with ASD and age- and IQ-matched typically developing controls (TDC) while they performed an object-based attentional control task using spatially overlapping faces and houses (see O’Craven et al., 1999).  In alternating experimental blocks, subjects were instructed to either attend to the face (AF) or attend to the house (AH) while performing a demanding one-back task based on the attended object.  Whole-brain analyses were used to identify main effects of task and group, as well as regions exhibiting a task-by-group interaction.  Additionally, group-by-condition ANOVAs were carried out across a priori regions of interest, including the fusiform face area (FFA), amygdala, and inferior frontal junction (IFJ), which were identified from previous studies.There were no significant group differences in accuracy or reaction time for either of the tasks, although there was a main effect of greater accuracy for the AH task.  Unlike previous studies of face perception in ASD, we found no group differences in the fusiform face area (FFA) or amygdala for the contrast AF > AH.  However, whole-brain and ROI analyses revealed significant group differences in several regions involved in maintenance of task representations and cognitive control, including anterior cingulate cortex, IFJ and the intraparietal sulcus.  These regions demonstrated a double dissociation, with greater activation in TDC for AH > AF and greater activation in ASD for AF > AH.  The increased recruitment of cognitive control regions in TDC during the AH condition could reflect greater interference from faces, reflecting greater social salience of faces in TDC.  These data suggest differences in the influence of socially salient stimuli on the mediation of cognitive control in ASD.


Hanson, J.L., Chung, M.K., Nacewicz, B.M., Sutterer, M.J., Pollak, S.D., & Davidson, R.J. Smaller Amygdalae are Associated with Early Social Deprivation in Childhood

Recent research has linked early neglect / deprivation of children with differences in emotional processing. Such adverse early experience may also result in changes in the neural circuitry involved with emotion, specifically the amygdala. In order to examine potential differences, amygdalae were quantified in previously neglected and typical developing adolescents using a rigorous and validated technique (Nacewicz et al., 2006). Significant differences were detected between groups, with Previously Neglected Adolescents having smaller amygdalae than Typical Developing Controls. Follow-up analyses using weighed spherical harmonic (SPHARM) representation were conducted to model amygdala surface and to localize possible volumetric alterations. Significant volumetric contractions were detected bilaterally. Shape differences were more intense and wide-spread in the right amygdala. Volumetric and surface modeling results will be presented in relation to behavioral and hormonal measures on these same children. These results will be discussed in terms of experience-dependent plasticity and emotional development.

Hanson, J. L., Shirtcliff, E. A., Chung, M. K., Oakes, T. R., Pollak, S. D., & Davidson, R. J.
Chronic Life Stress is Associated with Volumetric Reductions in the Corpus Callosum

The corpus callosum, the major white matter fiber bundle connecting the brain's two cerebral hemispheres, develops massively during childhood and adolescence (Thompson et al., 2001). This fiber bundle facilitates interhemispheric communication and individuals who have corpus callosum damage exhibit marked behavioral differences in perception, comprehension, and response (Lezak 1995; Ramaekers and Njiokiktjien 1991). A growing body of research (DeBellis et al., 1999, 2004; Jackowski et al., 2007; Teicher et al., 2004) has demonstrated smaller corpus callosum volumes in previously maltreated children. This study examined the morphometry of the corpus callosum in a sample of adolescents between the ages of 9 and 14 who have suffered extreme levels of chronic stress. One-hundred and twenty-nine  adolescents (67 male, 61 female), 9-14 years of age  (Mean = 141.939 months), underwent an MRI scan, provided saliva samples, and completed the Life Stress Interview (LSI). The LSI ( Rudolph and Hammen, 1999) is semi-structured interview conducted with both parent and adolescent about chronic stressful events at school, with peers, and in family relationships suffered by the adolescent. In the adolescents who reported the highest amounts of chronic stress on the LSI, smaller volumes were noted in the posterior mid-body of the corpus callosum were found.  Morning cortisol was significantly correlated with volumetric differences in the corpus callosum (r=-.272, n=75, p=.018). These changes fit well with previous work finding similar decreases in maltreated children with PTSD. This sample however did not meet diagnostic criteria for pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder (or any other psychopathology). These decreases in white matter may influence circuits that mediate the processing of emotional stimuli and various memory functions, as this area contains interhemispheric projections from posterior cingulate, insula, and somatosensory cortex.


Havas, D. A., Glenberg, A. M., Gutowski, K. A., Lucarelli, M. J., & Davidson, R. J.Cosmetic Use of Botulinum Toxin Affects Processing of Emotional Language

How does language convey emotions? We found 1) comprehending emotional sentences elicits spontaneous facial muscle activity for corresponding emotions, and 2) paralysis of the frown muscle with Botox selectively hinders comprehension of sad and angry, but not happy, emotional sentences, suggesting that one way language conveys emotional meaning is by moving the face.


Hefner, K., Jaber, J., Grant, A., & Curtin, J. Alcohol Intoxication: Selective Reduction of Anxiety in the Face of Uncertain Threat

Recent research indicates that fear and anxiety are distinct processes with
separable neurobiological substrates. Experimental procedures using
predictable vs. unpredictable shock administration have been used to elicit
fear vs. anxiety, respectively (Grillon et al, 2004). Using these procedures, our lab has demonstrated that alcohol reduces anxiety to unpredictable shock but not fear to predictable shock (Moberg & Curtin, in press). However, this manipulation of predictability varied both the probability and temporal precision of shock threat, raising crucial questions as to which stimulus characteristics are central to both the elicitation of anxiety and the anxiolytic effects of alcohol. To disentangle these two
characteristics, we developed a novel paradigm to systematically vary threat
probability, holding the temporal precision of threat constant. Intoxicated (0.08% BAC) and placebo participants viewed a series of 6s visual cues. The probability of shock administration (at 4.5s post cue onset) varied across blocks (20% vs. 60% vs. 100%). High probability shock cues (100%) were equivalent to predictable shock cues that elicited fear in earlier research. Lower probability shock cues (20% & 60%) were designed to elicit anxiety due to the unpredictable nature of the threat during any individual cue. The inter-trial interval (ITI) modeled anxiety in anticipation of temporally uncertain, distal (during future cues) shock. Startle potentiation (SP)
relative to matched cue and ITI periods in no-shock blocks provided the
primary measure of affective response.


Heller, A. S., Johnstone, T., Kalin, N. H., & Davidson, R. J. Effect of Repetition of Affective Stimuli on Striatal Structures in Depression     .

Anhedonia is a hallmark symptom of major depressive disorder in which individuals are not able to derive pleasure in response to previously rewarding stimuli. However, to date, relatively few functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have attempted to investigate the effects of disordered reward processing in the depressed brain. One brain region that has been implicated as having a role in reward in healthy individuals is the striatum, which receives dense dopaminergic projections from the substantia nigra. However, the role of the striatum in depression is not well characterized. We hypothesized that as a consequence of abnormal reward circuitry, individuals with major depression would find positive stimuli less positive as an fMRI session proceeded, and show a corresponding decrease in the neural response to these stimuli in reward related areas. Twenty medication-free adults satisfying the DSM-IV criteria for unipolar major depressive disorder and sixteen control subjects participated in an fMRI experiment in which they performed a picture viewing emotion regulation task. At a first-level analysis, separate regressors were used for the first and second half of the scan session to investigate the univariate effects of reward on neural processing. A mixed effects ANOVA was then performed at the group level to identify brain areas implicated in the Group (depressed vs. control) x Time (1st Half vs. 2nd Half) interaction for positive stimuli.Group Analyses yielded significant (p < .05, corrected) clusters in reward related areas of the Basal Ganglia (bilaterally) and Left Putamen. Simple effects deconstructing the significant interactions indicated that while controls showed a slight increase in activity in these areas to positive stimuli across time, patients showed a sharp decrease in activity in these areas across time. Analyses with negative stimuli yielded a cluster in Left middle Insula, in which patients showed increases in activity across time, whereas the controls showed no change, suggesting that effects observed with positive stimuli were not merely due to dropping attention in patients.Results suggest that in response to affective images, individuals with depression show different changes in activation across time than do healthy controls. These changes may reflect abnormal reward processing and an inability to continue to derive positive affect in response to emotional stimuli. Thus, anhedonia may be, in part, an inability to sustain positive affect in response to continued positive events in one’s environment.


Katz-Wise, S. L., Priess, H. A., & Hyde, J. S Egalitarian to Traditional: Changes in Attitudes and Behavior in First-Time and Experienced Parents Following the Birth of a Child

Based on social structural theory and identity theory, the current study examined changes in gender-role attitudes and behavior across the first-time transition to parenthood, and following the birth of a second child for experienced mothers and fathers. Data were analyzed from the ongoing longitudinal Wisconsin Study of Families and Work. Gender-role attitudes, work and family identity salience, and division of household labor were measured for 205 first-time and 198 experienced mothers and fathers across four time points from five months pregnant to 12 months postpartum. Multi-level latent growth curve analysis was used to analyze the data. In general, parents became more traditional in their gender-role attitudes and behavior following the birth of a child, women changed more than men, and first-time parents changed more than experienced parents. Findings suggest that changes in gender-role
attitudes and behavior following the birth of a child may be attributed both to transitioning to parenthood for the first time, and to negotiating the demands of having a new baby in the family.

 

Komeda, H., & Sadato, N. The Embodied Emotion During Experiencing Protagonists’ Physical Activities in Narrative Comprehension

Readers construct mental representations associated with their experiential traces, such as motor and emotional representations in narrative comprehension. According to embodied cognition framework (Barsalou, 1999; Zwaan, 2004), understanding words about actions activates action-related brain areas. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to test our hypothesis that reader’s motor representation is activated when judging the increase of protagonists’ physical activities. We constructed story-reading tasks, in which situation-sentences describing degree of protagonists’ physical activities (low, middle, or high) were presented, followed by the target-sentences with high physical activities, with emotional valences (positive or negative). In high increasing stories about protagonist’s physical activities, situation-sentences describe low activities and target-sentences do high activities. Low increasing stories starts from middle activities and result in high activities. Non-increasing stories are high activities consistently. Thus, the task was a 3 x 2 factorial design: the effect of degree of physical activities (high, low, and non-increase) and the effect of stories’ emotional valences (positive vs. negative). The activation related to the target-sentence was positively correlated with the degree of increases in physical activities in the supplementary motor area, premotor cortex, primary motor area, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and supramarginal gyrus. As the supplementary motor and premotor cortex represents motor imaginary, they were activated in all stories about protagonists’ physical activities. In the case of positive stories, medial orbitofrontal cortex and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex were activated. In conclusion, understanding protagonist’s physical states activates reader’s motor representation. In addition, medial orbitofrontal cortex is involved in the embodiment of emotions (Kringelbach, 2005).


Lewis-Peacock, J., & Postle, B. R. Classification Reveals Distraction-Resistant Representations in Working Memory

Delay-period activity in inferior temporal (IT) cortex of the monkey can represent both retrospective and prospective information, and by one account only the latter is robust to interference (Takeda et al., 2005). We explored the effects of visual distraction on the short-term retention of information in humans. First, subjects performed delayed recognition in the fMRI scanner and a pattern classifier learned to identify delay-period activity associated with the retention of faces, scenes, and objects. Second, subjects learned (offline) arbitrary cross-category pairings of stimuli from the original set. Third, subjects returned to the scanner to perform delayed paired-associate recognition with distraction from irrelevant stimuli, and the pattern
classifier was used to decode delay-period activity. Half of the subjects were instructed to concentrate on the initial target stimulus during the delay period (and thus engage a retrospective code), and half to concentrate on the anticipated memory probe (a prospective code). Performance was near ceiling. Delay-period classification results from the “prospective” group indicated that prospective representations in IT cortex (and other posterior brain regions) were eclipsed while distractors were on the screen, but re-emerged following the offset of distraction. In “retrospective” subjects, however, these regions were seemingly unable to sustain a retrospective representation across distracted delay periods, instead switching over to a prospective code with the onset of distraction. Thus, the pattern of robust prospective coding vs. mutable retrospective coding extends to humans. More generally, it is consistent with the view that the brain prioritizes preparing for the future over remembering the past.


Montag, J. L., & MacDonald, M. C. Measuring Production Difficulty in Object Relative Clauses

While passive sentences are generally rare in English, they are common in relative clauses (RCs, Roland et al., 2007), especially those headed by animate nouns (Gennari et al., 2005).  If the animacy of the head strongly promotes a passive RC choice (the child being carried by the woman), are inanimate-headed RCs, for which there is no clear choice (the chair that the woman is carrying, the chair being carried by the woman),harder to produce?  In this study, we investigated production difficulty for passive and active RCs. A picture description task was used to elicit RCs.  We pre-trained participants on verbs that would appear in the pictures to stabilize planning time across pictures and collected initiation latencies as a measure of planning difficulty.  Participants (N=52) viewed color illustrations that contained humans acting upon human and inanimate entities.  For example, one picture contained a girl hugging a toy and a second girl hugging a grandfather.  Two seconds after the picture onset, an auditory question was presented.  In 10 critical trials, the question referred to the animate patient (grandfather) e.g. “Who is wearing blue?”  In 10 inanimate trials, the question referred to the inanimate theme (toy), e.g. “What is orange?” There were multiple toys and people in the scene, so participants tended answer with RCs, such as "The toy that the girl is hugging," (active) or "The man who's being hugged by the girl" (passive).  43 filler trials contained other question types.  Dependent variables were the rate of passive RCs and initiation latencies measured from question offset.  Non-RC productions (e.g. The man on the left) constituted 27% of responses to animate questions and 39% to inanimate questions and were not analyzed.  Consistent with previous studies, 98.6% of animate-head RCs were passive vs 52.6% inanimate-head RCs. Initiation latencies were longer after inanimate questions than after animate ones (p=0.01).  This result might indicate competition between active vs. passive RCs for inanimate-headed RCs, or it might reflect other factors, such as inanimate entities being less salient in the pictures than animate ones.  A finer analysis of productions following inanimate questions revealed that 17 participants produced exclusively passive inanimate-head RCs, 17 produced exclusively active inanimate-head RCs and 18 produced significant numbers of each structure.  Within each group, we compared initiation latencies of animate-headed RCs (always passive, regardless of group) to latencies to inanimate-headed RCs (structure varied by group).  In the Active-Inanimate RC group, latencies to initiate animate-headed (passive) RCs were shorter than for the inanimate-headed (active) RCs (p=0.002).  In the Mixed-Inanimate group, animate (passive) latencies were shorter than for inanimate-head passives (p=0.005) but not inanimate-head actives (p=0.12).  Finally, the Passive-Inanimate group had equal latencies for animate and inanimate-head RCs.  As the latency differences varied as a function of speakers’ structure consistency, picture characteristics are an unlikely source.  Individuals who produced different structures across animacy conditions were slower in the inanimate condition where they had multiple available structure options.  These results may suggest a competitive component to structure choice.

 

Oden, K. D., Vendlinski, M. K., Vlach, B. A., Gernsbacher, M. A., & Goldsmith, H. H. Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and the Assessment and Prevalence of Anxious and Depressive Symptoms

Until recently, a paucity of research addressed the co-occurrence of autism spectrum conditions (ASC) with behavioral symptoms (see Matson & Nebel-Schwalm, 2005). This study investigates the association of autism with anxiety and depression, and more specifically the study asks whether anxiety and depression are characteristic of children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. This topic has recently received attention, with increasing speculation that individuals with ASC diagnoses could be at elevated risk for psychopathologies. However, few studies directly assess the co-occurrence of ASC with anxiety and depression. Only one study has incorporated the ASC individuals’ self-reports in the analysis (Burnette et al., 2005). Overall, research in this area suggests that ASC individuals are at increased risk for anxiety and depression. However, most studies utilized small samples, lacked controls, or used non-systematic sampling methods. We assessed the prevalence of depressive and anxious symptoms in ASC children and their cotwins without and ASC diagnosis using child self-reports, parent reports, and post observational ratings. We used cotwins (siblings) as controls for many demographic and familial factors. An additional comparison group of children from the Wisconsin Twin Project (WTP), matched on cognitive ability, age, gender, and parental income was used (and outcomes based on this second comparison group to be added to the results later). We administered the Berkeley Puppet Interview (BPI), an age appropriate psychopathology measure to 112 twin children. The primary care provider completed the Health and Behavior Questionnaire (HBQ), which was developed in tandem with the BPI to measure child psychopathology through parent reports. Research staff, blind to the child’s diagnosis, observed the assessments and rated each child on a general anxiety scale. We also collected information on cognitive ability, measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-III) to assess covariance. The means on the BPI subscales were not significantly different between children with an ASC diagnosis and their cotwins (discordant pairs only included in this analysis). For discordant pairs only, parent reports of Depression and Separation Anxiety were not significantly different between children with ASC and their cotwins. Consistent with nonsignificant trends for the other two scales, Overanxious symptom means were significantly greater for the ASC children than their cotwins (d=.59, p < .05). However, this effect was not statistically significant when cognitive ability, measured by PPVT-III standardized scores, was statistically controlled. The means were not significantly different for the discordant pairs between children with an ASC diagnosis and     their cotwins on the post observer ratings of anxiety. Findings also suggested that ASC children serve as useful informants on their psychopathological symptoms, based on subscale reliability and significant correlations with the HBQ. Further analyses examine the relationships between the ASC children and their cotwins and the WTP matched group.Findings indicate that ASC children and adolescents may exhibit only slightly  more anxious symptoms than their cotwins. The assertion that an ASC diagnosis is associated with higher rates of psychopathology, particularly depression and anxiety (see Howlin, 2000) has implications for screening and treatment of ASC individuals, including medication regimes. Erroneously expecting ASC individuals to experience significantly higher rates of anxiety or depression could exacerbate the already existent over-medication problem in ASC children (Aman et al., 1995).


Peterson, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. Consequences of Peer Sexual Harassment Victimization: Distress and Disordered Eating

Research with adults has found an association between sexual harassment and
disordered eating behaviors, yet no research to date has examined this association in youth, when these behaviors are likely to emerge. The current study used latent growth curve modeling to examine trends in peer sexual harassment and distress caused by peer harassment as predictors of disordered eating behaviors. 346 adolescents completed questionnaires about peer harassment and distress in 5th, 7th and 9th grades. Disordered eating behaviors were measured at 9th grade. Results indicated that peer sexual harassment increased and there was no change in distress from 5th to 9th grade. Instead, distress mediated the relationship between sexual harassment and disordered eating behaviors in adolescents. The association between peer harassment and distress fully mediated the relationship between gender and
disordered eating behaviors, indicating that both boys and girls are vulnerable to disordered eatin g if they are victims of distressing sexual harassment.


Romberg, A. R., & Saffran, J. R. Infants’ Online Expectations of Linguistic Input

Language contains regularities at every grain of analysis, and adult listeners who are sensitive to these statistics can make predictions about future input. Can infants also use statistics to anticipate what will come next? What kind of information can they use to inform their predictions? In this experiment we familiarized 16-month-old infants with three-word sentences; in some sentences the adjective alone was predictive of which noun would follow, in others it was not. Each noun was pictured at a specific location on a screen and the infants’ eye movements were tracked. Infants used the adjective to anticipate the noun, looking more to the target location (on a blank screen) before the onset of the noun when the adjective was predictive than when it was not. A follow-up study confirmed that the infants’ predictions depended on the referential link between the auditory and visual stimuli. Together, these studies provide evidence that infants are making real-time predictions about linguistic input that are informed by distributional information.


Romens, S. E., MacCoon, D. G., Abramson, L. Y., Pollak, S. D. Negative Attributional Stimuli Reduce the Attentional Blink in Individuals with Negative Cognitive Style

Negative cognitive style is an important risk factor for depression; however, the mechanism linking cognitive vulnerability to depression is unknown. One possibility is that stable, global inferences made by individuals with a negative cognitive style in response to a negative event make it difficult to disengage from ruminative thinking. New negative environmental content may be particularly salient because it is congruent with ruminations, and recruit increased attention. The current study examined attention in individuals high and low in negative cognitive style using an attentional blink (AB) task. Participants identified two target words presented 1-4 positions from each other in a string of longer words; the first target was neutral (e.g. fabric), and the second target was a neutral, negative (e.g. blood), or negative
and attributional (e.g. failure). At the second position, individuals high in negative cognitive style successfully identified more second target negative attributional words than neutral words. In contrast, individuals low in negative cognitive style successfully identified more second target neutral words than negative attributional words. Negative attributional words reduced the AB in individuals high in negative cognitive style, which may suggest these words require fewer attentional resources to process and may be particularly salient for cognitively vulnerable individuals.


Stevenson, J. L., Kellett, K. A., Schweigert, E. K., Goldsmith, H. H., & Gernsbacher, M. A. 
Whole Brain Structural Imagining in Autistic Children: A Comparison of Spatial Normalization to Adult Versus Pediatric Template

Autistic individuals are characterized by atypicalities in communication and social interaction as well as atypically focused interests. Differences between autistic and typically developing individuals' behavior are believed to be manifested by differences in their brains' structure. This study investigates neuroanatomical differences between autistic and typically developing children (7-18 years) whose speech and motor behavior are well-characterized. This is the first study of autistic children to examine whether the use of a pediatric brain template yields different results than the more commonly used adult template. These results advise best practices for spatial normalization when investigating neuroanatomical differences between autistic and typically developing children.


Wilken, B. N., Miyamoto, Y., & Uchida, Y. The Road to Preference Consistency Across Cultures: Identity Expression and Preference Domain

Research has shown that Americans are more consistent than Japanese in their self-descriptions across situations (Cousins, 1989). However, no one has yet examined what effect this may have on the consistency of individual’s preferences across cultures. Since choices are viewed as an extension of the “self” (Belk, 1988), Americans may also be more consistent in their preferences across time. Furthermore, because Westerners use choices to express themselves more (Kim & Sherman, 2007), it is proposed that expression may make individuals more consistent in their preferences, particularly for items that are important in signaling identity (i.e., identity-signaling items; Berger & Heath, 2007). European American and Japanese participants were primed to think about either how their choices express them (i.e., expression condition) or the function of their choices (i.e., control condition). Subsequently, they reported their preference consistency. Results indicated that expression was driving these cultural differences, particularly for items that were important in signaling identity. Implications and future directions are discussed.


Willette, A. A., Bendlin, B. B., McLaren, D. G., Canu, E., Kastman, E. K., Kosmtka, K. J.,
Xu, G., Field, A. S., Alexander, A. L., Colman, R. J., Weindruch, R., Coe, C. L., & Johnson, S. C. Associations Between Age-Induced Neural Atrophy, Interleukin-6, and the Effect of a Caloric Restriction Diet in Aged Rhesus Monkeys


Willits, J. A., & Seidenberg, M. S. Semantic Priming: Comparing Normative and Statistical Word Associations


Willits, J. A., Sussman, R.S.,& Amato, M.S. Event Knowledge vs. Verb Knowledge

Two kinds of knowledge are often confounded: knowledge about events occurring in the physical world, and knowledge about words occurring in language. We present two studies designed to show that these are distinct, that this distinction is important, and that it is difficult to determine which kind of knowledge is responsible for certain
behaviors. In Study 1, we show that priming from verbs to nouns is both capable of and perhaps best explained by knowledge from distributions of word use rather than distributions of experiential knowledge of events. In Study 2, we show that differences in the scope of generalizations one might make, based on distributional statistics in language, can allow us to make testable predictions about whether the source of the knowledge is language-based or experience-based. This oftenoverlooked difference between experiential knowledge and word knowledge is important for developing a theory about how all knowledge is structured and used.

Young, A. G., Kalish, C. W., & Alibali, M. W. Do Others’ Hypotheses Affect Children’s Evaluations of Evidence?

Do children learn better from the interventions of those who agree ordisagree with them? In light of recent evidence suggestingchildren’s causal learning is influenced by social and intentionalfactors, we examined whether children are sensitive to the hypotheses of others’ when evaluating evidence they have generated. Children completed a causal learning task in which they were asked to endorse one of two plausible causal hypotheses introduced via evidence. A collaborating agent then selected a hypothesis and generated a final piece of evidence. Two within subjects
factors were manipulated. The agent’s hypothesis either agreed or disagreed with the participant’s. In addition, the agent’s evidence either confirmed or disconfirmed the participant’s hypothesis. Children’s sorting of objects before and after agent generated evidence suggests children learned more from disagreeing than agreeing agents when evidence was disconfirming. Thus, children’s evaluations were sensitive to others’ hypotheses.



 
 
BE PART OF THE          
DISCOVERY
  
1202 WEST JOHNSON ST, MADISON, WI 53706-1969 OFFICE: (608) 262.1040 or (608) 262.1041 FAX: (608) 262.4029