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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2017) 29 (11): 1908–1917.
Published: 01 November 2017
AbstractView article PDF
We cannot see the minds of others, yet people often spontaneously interpret how they are viewed by other people (i.e., meta-perceptions) and often in a self-flattering manner. Very little is known about the neural associations of meta-perceptions, but a likely candidate is the ventromedial pFC (VMPFC). VMPFC has been associated with both self- and other-perception as well as motivated self-perception. Does this function extend to meta-perceptions? The current study examined neural activity while participants made meta-perceptive interpretations in various social scenarios. A drift-diffusion model was used to test whether the VMPFC is associated with two processes involved in interpreting meta-perceptions in a self-flattering manner: the extent to which the interpretation process involves the preferential accumulation of evidence in favor of a self-flattering interpretation versus the extent to which the interpretation process begins with an expectation that favors a self-flattering outcome. Increased VMPFC activity was associated with the extent to which people preferentially accumulate information when interpreting meta-perceptions under ambiguous conditions and marginally associated with self-flattering meta-perceptions. Together, the present findings illuminate the neural underpinnings of a social cognitive process that has received little attention to date: how we make meaning of others' minds when we think those minds are pointed at us.
Decomposing Decision Components in the Stop-signal Task: A Model-based Approach to Individual Differences in Inhibitory Control
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2014) 26 (8): 1601–1614.
Published: 01 August 2014
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The stop-signal task, in which participants must inhibit prepotent responses, has been used to identify neural systems that vary with individual differences in inhibitory control. To explore how these differences relate to other aspects of decision making, a drift-diffusion model of simple decisions was fitted to stop-signal task data from go trials to extract measures of caution, motor execution time, and stimulus processing speed for each of 123 participants. These values were used to probe fMRI data to explore individual differences in neural activation. Faster processing of the go stimulus correlated with greater activation in the right frontal pole for both go and stop trials. On stop trials, stimulus processing speed also correlated with regions implicated in inhibitory control, including the right inferior frontal gyrus, medial frontal gyrus, and BG. Individual differences in motor execution time correlated with activation of the right parietal cortex. These findings suggest a robust relationship between the speed of stimulus processing and inhibitory processing at the neural level. This model-based approach provides novel insight into the interrelationships among decision components involved in inhibitory control and raises interesting questions about strategic adjustments in performance and inhibitory deficits associated with psychopathology.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2014) 26 (2): 247–268.
Published: 01 February 2014
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To overcome unhealthy behaviors, one must be able to make better choices. Changing food preferences is an important strategy in addressing the obesity epidemic and its accompanying public health risks. However, little is known about how food preferences can be effectively affected and what neural systems support such changes. In this study, we investigated a novel extensive training paradigm where participants chose from specific pairs of palatable junk food items and were rewarded for choosing the items with lower subjective value over higher value ones. In a later probe phase, when choices were made for real consumption, participants chose the lower-valued item more often in the trained pairs compared with untrained pairs. We replicated the behavioral results in an independent sample of participants while they were scanned with fMRI. We found that, as training progressed, there was decreased recruitment of regions that have been previously associated with cognitive control, specifically the left dorsolateral pFC and bilateral parietal cortices. Furthermore, we found that connectivity of the left dorsolateral pFC was greater with primary motor regions by the end of training for choices of lower-valued items that required exertion of self-control, suggesting a formation of a stronger stimulus–response association. These findings demonstrate that it is possible to influence food choices through training and that this training is associated with a decreasing need for top–down frontoparietal control. The results suggest that training paradigms may be promising as the basis for interventions to influence real-world food preferences.