Science posts

See science posts on page 1 below.

    • 2016
    • Jonas T. Kaplan et. al
    • Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence
    • People often discount evidence that contradicts their firmly held beliefs. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms that govern this behavior. We used neuroimaging to investigate the neural systems involved in maintaining belief in the face of counterevidence, presenting 40 liberals with arguments that contradicted their strongly held political and non-political views. Challenges to political beliefs produced increased activity in the default mode network—a set of interconnected structures associated with self-representation and disengagement from the external world. Trials with greater belief resistance showed increased response in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and decreased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex. We also found that participants who changed their minds more showed less BOLD signal in the insula and the amygdala when evaluating counterevidence. These results highlight the role of emotion in belief-change resistance and offer insight into the neura..
    • 2016
    • L. Gebauer et.a l
    • Oxytocin improves synchronisation in leader-follower interaction
    • The neuropeptide oxytocin has been shown to affect social interaction. Meanwhile, the underlying mechanism remains highly debated. Using an interpersonal finger-tapping paradigm, we investigated whether oxytocin affects the ability to synchronise with and adapt to the behaviour of others. Dyads received either oxytocin or a non-active placebo, intranasally. We show that in conditions where one dyad-member was tapping to another unresponsive dyad-member – i.e. one was following another who was leading/self-pacing – dyads given oxytocin were more synchronised than dyads given placebo. However, there was no effect when following a regular metronome or when both tappers were mutually adapting to each other. Furthermore, relative to their self-paced tapping partners, oxytocin followers were less variable than placebo followers. Our data suggests that oxytocin improves synchronisation to an unresponsive partner’s behaviour through a reduction in tapping-variability. Hence..
    • 2016
    • Regan M. Bernhard et. al
    • Variation in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with differences in moral judgment
    • Moral judgments are produced through the coordinated interaction of multiple neural systems, each of which relies on a characteristic set of neurotransmitters. Genes that produce or regulate these neurotransmitters may have distinctive influences on moral judgment. Two studies examined potential genetic influences on moral judgment using dilemmas that reliably elicit competing automatic and controlled responses, generated by dissociable neural systems. Study 1 (N = 228) examined 49 common variants (SNPs) within 10 candidate genes and identified a nominal association between a polymorphism (rs237889) of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and variation in deontological vs utilitarian moral judgment (that is, judgments favoring individual rights vs the greater good). An association was likewise observed for rs1042615 of the arginine vasopressin receptor gene (AVPR1A). Study 2 (N = 322) aimed to replicate these findings using the aforementioned dilemmas as well as a new set of structurall..
    • 2017
    • Sebastian Reinig et. al
    • The Descending Diencephalic Dopamine System Is Tuned to Sensory Stimuli
    • The vertebrate diencephalic A11 system provides the sole dopaminergic innervation of hindbrain and spinal cord and has been implicated in modulation of locomotion and sensory processes. However, the exact contributions of sensory stimuli and motor behavior to A11 dopaminergic activity remain unclear. We recorded cellular calcium activity in four anatomically distinct posterior tubercular A11-type dopaminergic subgroups and two adjacent hypothalamic dopaminergic groups in GCaMP7a-transgenic, semi-restrained zebrafish larvae. Our analyses reveal the contributions of different sensory modalities and motor states to dopaminergic activity. Each posterior tubercular and hypothalamic subgroup showed distinct activity patterns, while activity was synchronous within individual subgroups. Caudal and dorsomedial hypothalamic dopaminergic neurons are activated following vigorous tail movements and stay active for about 10 s, revealing predominantly post-motor activity. In contrast, posterior tub..
    • 2016
    • Patty Van Cappellen et al.
    • Effects of oxytocin administration on spirituality and emotional responses to meditation
    • The oxytocin (OT) system, critically involved in social bonding, may also impinge on spirituality, which is the belief in a meaningful life imbued with a sense of connection to a Higher Power and/or the world. Midlife male participants (N = 83) were randomly assigned to receive intranasal OT or placebo. In exploratory analyses, participants were also genotyped for polymorphisms in two genes critical for OT signaling, the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR rs53576) and CD38 (rs6449182 and rs3796863). Results showed that intranasal OT increased self-reported spirituality on two separate measures and this effect remained significant a week later. It also boosted participants’ experience of specific positive emotions during meditation, at both explicit and implicit levels. Furthermore, the effect of OT on spirituality was moderated by OT-related genotypes. These results provide the first experimental evidence that spirituality, endorsed by millions worldwide, ap..
    • 2016
    • Chelsea A. Myers et al.
    • The matter of motivation: Striatal resting-state connectivity is dissociable between grit and growth mindset
    • The current study utilized resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine how two important non-cognitive skills, grit and growth mindset, are associated with cortico-striatal networks important for learning. Whole-brain seed-to-voxel connectivity was examined for dorsal and ventral striatal seeds. While both grit and growth mindset were associated with functional connectivity between ventral striatal and bilateral prefrontal networks thought to be important for cognitive-behavioral control. There were also clear dissociations between the neural correlates of the two constructs. Grit, the long-term perseverance towards a goal or set of goals, was associated with ventral striatal networks including connectivity to regions such as the medial prefrontal and rostral anterior cingulate cortices implicated in perseverance, delay and receipt of reward. Growth mindset, the belief that effort can improve talents, notably intelligence, was associated with both ventral an..
    • 2016
    • Adam E. Green et al.
    • Thinking Cap Plus Thinking Zap: tDCS of Frontopolar Cortex Improves Creative Analogical Reasoning and Facilitates Conscious Augmentation of State Creativity in Verb Generation
    • Recent neuroimaging evidence indicates neural mechanisms that support transient improvements in creative performance (augmented state creativity) in response to cognitive interventions (creativity cueing). Separately, neural interventions via tDCS show encouraging potential for modulating neuronal function during creative performance. If cognitive and neural interventions are separately effective, can they be combined? Does state creativity augmentation represent “real” creativity, or do interventions simply yield divergence by diminishing meaningfulness/appropriateness? Can augmenting state creativity bolster creative reasoning that supports innovation, particularly analogical reasoning? To address these questions, we combined tDCS with creativity cueing. Testing a regionally specific hypothesis from neuroimaging, high-definition tDCS-targeted frontopolar cortex activity recently shown to predict state creativity augmentation. In a novel analogy finding task, participant..
    • 2016
    • Adam E. Green et al.
    • Semantic Distance and Dynamic State Creativity in Relational Thinking and Reasoning
    • Human reasoning and creativity represent perhaps the two highest evolutionary reaches of cognition. These two capacities are distinct from each other, but research on creativity in analogical reasoning has identified a point of convergence between them at one of the farthest forward and most recently evolved reaches of the brain. Analogy is a form of relational cognition because analogies form connections that relate otherwise separate concepts. Quantitative tools for measuring the semantic distance between concepts have advanced the measurement of creativity in relational cognition (more creative relational cognition forms connections across greater semantic distance). These tools are especially useful for the emerging neuroscience of creativity. I describe this semantic-distance approach and how it is being leveraged in my laboratory and elsewhere to investigate not only differences in creative ability between individuals but also creativity as a dynamic state that varies across ti..
    • 2010
    • Stephen M. Fleming et al.
    • Relating Introspective Accuracy to Individual Differences in Brain Structure
    • The ability to introspect about self-performance is key to human subjective experience, but the neuroanatomical basis of this ability is unknown. Such accurate introspection requires discriminating correct decisions from incorrect ones, a capacity that varies substantially across individuals. We dissociated variation in introspective ability from objective performance in a simple perceptual-decision task, allowing us to determine whether this interindividual variability was associated with a distinct neural basis. We show that introspective ability is correlated with gray matter volume in the anterior prefrontal cortex, a region that shows marked evolutionary development in humans. Moreover, interindividual variation in introspective ability is also correlated with white-matter microstructure connected with this area of the prefrontal cortex. Our findings point to a focal neuroanatomical substrate for introspective ability, a substrate distinct from that supporting primary perception.
    • 2008
    • J W Buckholtz et al.
    • Genetic variation in MAOA modulates ventromedial prefrontal circuitry mediating individual differences in human personality
    • Little is known about neural mechanisms underlying human personality and temperament, despite their considerable importance as highly heritable risk mediators for somatic and psychiatric disorders. To identify these circuits, we used a combined genetic and imaging approach focused on Monoamine Oxidase A (MAOA), encoding a key enzyme for monoamine metabolism previously associated with temperament and antisocial behavior. Male carriers of a low-expressing genetic variant exhibited dysregulated amygdala activation and increased functional coupling with ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Stronger coupling predicted increased harm avoidance and decreased reward dependence scores, suggesting that this circuitry mediates a part of the association of MAOA with these traits. We utilized path analysis to parse the effective connectivity within this system, and provide evidence that vmPFC regulates amygdala indirectly by influencing rostral cingulate cortex function. Our data implicate a n..