Science posts

See science posts on page 10 below.

    • 2008
    • Ulrich Ettinger et al.
    • Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met Genotype is Associated with BOLD Response as a Function of Task Characteristic
    • The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) val158met single nucleotide polymorphism (rs4680) has been shown to be associated with brain activation during a number of neurocognitive and emotional tasks. The present study evaluated genotypic associations with brain function during measurement of cognitive stability (prosaccades) and plasticity (antisaccades). A total of 36 healthy volunteers were genotyped for rs4680 and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 1.5 T. Individuals with at least one val158 allele (val158 carriers, N=24) showed lower blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response in ventromedial and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex during antisaccades compared to val158 noncarriers, whereas met158 homozygotes (N=12) showed lower BOLD response in a cluster in the posterior cingulate and precuneus during prosaccades compared to val158 carriers. These findings suggest that associations of COMT val158met genotype with brain function may be mediated by task cha..
    • 2014
    • Michael S. Vendetti et al.
    • Far-Out Thinking Generating Solutions to Distant Analogies Promotes Relational Thinking
    • Is it possible to induce a mind-set that will affect relational thinking in a subsequent reasoning task involving unrelated materials? We investigated whether evaluating the validity of verbal analogies (Experiment 1a) or generating solutions for them (Experiment 1b) could induce a relational mind-set that would transfer to an unrelated picture-mapping task. The verbal analogies were based on either near or far semantic relations. We found that generating (but not evaluating) solutions for semantically distant analogies increased the proportion of relational mappings on the transfer task, even after we controlled for fluid intelligence and response time. Solving near analogies did not produce transfer. Generation of solutions to far analogies appears to provide a potent method for triggering a mind-set that can enhance relational thinking in a different task.
    • 2010
    • Emmanuelle Volle et al.
    • Specialization of the Rostral Prefrontal Cortex for Distinct Analogy Processes
    • Analogical reasoning is central to learning and abstract thinking. It involves using a more familiar situation (source) to make inferences about a less familiar situation (target). According to the predominant cognitive models, analogical reasoning includes 1) generation of structured mental representations and 2) mapping based on structural similarities between them. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to specify the role of rostral prefrontal cortex (PFC) in these distinct processes. An experimental paradigm was designed that enabled differentiation between these processes, by temporal separation of the presentation of the source and the target. Within rostral PFC, a lateral subregion was activated by analogy task both during study of the source (before the source could be compared with a target) and when the target appeared. This may suggest that this subregion supports fundamental analogy processes such as generating structured representations of stimuli but is ..
    • 2014
    • Marcella Brunetti et al.
    • Do You Know What I Mean? Brain Oscillations and the Understanding of Communicative Intentions
    • Pointing gesture allows children to communicate their intentions before the acquisition of language. In particular, two main purposes seem to underlie the gesture: to request a desired object (imperative pointing) or to share attention on that object (declarative pointing). Since the imperative pointing has an instrumental goal and the declarative has an interpersonal one, only the latter gesture is thought to signal the infant’s awareness of the communicative partner as a mental agent. The present study examined the neural responses of adult subjects with the aim to test the hypothesis that declarative rather than imperative pointing reflects mentalizing skills. Fourteen subjects were measured in a magnetoencephalographic environment including four conditions, based on the goal of the pointing – imperative or declarative – and the role of the subject – sender or receiver of pointing. Time–frequency modulations of brain activity in each condition (declar..
    • 2014
    • Nicole Van Hoeck et al.
    • False belief and counterfactual reasoning in a social environment
    • Behavioral studies indicate that theory of mind and counterfactual reasoning are strongly related cognitive processes. In a neuroimaging study, we explored the common and distinct regions underlying these inference processes. We directly compared false belief reasoning (inferring an agent's false belief about an object's location or content) and counterfactual reasoning (inferring what the object's location or content would be if an agent had acted differently), both in contrast with a baseline condition of conditional reasoning (inferring what the true location or content of an object is). Results indicate that these three types of reasoning about social scenarios are supported by activations in the mentalizing network (left temporo-parietal junction and precuneus) and the executive control network (bilateral prefrontal cortex [PFC] and right inferior parietal lobule). In addition, representing a false belief or counterfactual state (both not directly observable in the external worl..
    • 2009
    • Abigail A. Marsh et al.
    • Dominance and Submission: The Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex and Responses to Status Cues
    • Status hierarchies constitute a fundamental organizing principle of human society. However, little is known about the neural systems that process nonverbal cues that indicate status. Preliminary neuropsychological work has suggested a role for the ventrolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VLPFC/VMPFC) and the superior temporal cortex (STC). We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to delineate the nature of these roles. Analyses revealed signal changes in the right VLPFC in connection with two primary functions attributed to status cues. Status cues moderate behavior and the right VLPFC showed increased signal for high-status relative to neutral and low-status cues. The VLPFC also showed increased signal for high-status cues displayed by individuals of the opposite gender to the perceiver; this may be relevant to the role status cues play in moderating mate choice behavior. Connectivity results indicated significant positive connectivity between the VLPFC and both the VM..
    • 2014
    • Hikaru Takeuchi et al.
    • Regional Gray Matter Volume Is Associated with Empathizing and Systemizing in Young Adults
    • Empathizing is defined as the drive to identify the mental states of others for predicting their behavior and responding with an appropriate emotion. Systemizing is defined as the drive to analyze a system in terms of the rules that govern the system in order to predict its behavior. Using voxel-based morphometry and questionnaires in a large sample of normal, right-handed young adults, we investigated the regional gray matter volume (rGMV) correlates of empathizing and systemizing and additionally those of the D score, which is the difference between systemizing and empathizing, to reveal the comprehensive picture of those correlates. Negative rGMV correlates of empathizing and positive rGMV correlates of the D score (formed by the negative correlation between rGMV and empathizing), were found primarily in nodes in the default mode network, mirror neuron system, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and the lateral part of the prefrontal cortex together with other areas. Positive rGMV c..
    • 2013
    • Hikaru Takeuchi et al.
    • White matter structures associated with empathizing and systemizing in young adults
    • Empathizing is defined as the drive to identify the mental states of others in order to predict their behavior and respond with an appropriate emotion. Systemizing is defined as the drive to analyze a system in terms of the rules that govern it to predict its behavior. We undertook voxel-by-voxel investigations of regional white matter volume (rWMV) and fractional anisotropy (FA) of diffusion tensor imaging to discover the WM structural correlates of empathizing, systemizing, and their difference (D score: systemizing − empathizing). Whole brain analyses of covariance revealed that across both sexes, the D score was negatively correlated with rWMV in the WM area in the bilateral temporal lobe, near the right inferior frontal gyrus, near the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, and near the posterior cingulate cortex and positively correlated with FA in an area involving the superior longitudinal fasciculus. Post-hoc analyses revealed that these associations were generally formed b..
    • 2012
    • Emily A. Stone et al.
    • Is variability in mate choice similar for intelligence and personality traits? Testing a hypothesis about the evolutionary genetics of personality
    • This study tests the hypothesis presented by Penke, Denissen, and Miller (2007a) that condition-dependent traits, including intelligence, attractiveness, and health, are universally and uniformly preferred as characteristics in a mate relative to traits that are less indicative of condition, including personality traits. We analyzed between-culture mean standard deviations of preference ratings and rankings provided by nearly 10,000 people in 37 cultures for 18 characteristics in a potential mate. Contrary to the hypothesis, preferences for traits indicating agreeableness and conscientiousness were not more variable than preferences for intelligence, and preferences for traits indicating low neuroticism were more uniform than preferences for intelligence. Discussion addresses implications of these results for hypotheses about the evolutionary genetics of intelligence and personality.
    • 2007
    • Lars Penke et al.
    • The evolutionary genetics of personality.
    • Genetic influences on personality differences are ubiquitous, but their nature is not well understood. A theoretical framework might help, and can be provided by evolutionary genetics. We assess three evolutionary genetic mechanisms that could explain genetic variance in personality differences: selective neutrality, mutation-selection balance, and balancing selection. Based on evolutionary genetic theory and empirical results from behaviour genetics and personality psychology, we conclude that selective neutrality is largely irrelevant, that mutation-selection balance seems best at explaining genetic variance in intelligence, and that balancing selection by environmental heterogeneity seems best at explaining genetic variance in personality traits. We propose a general model of heritable personality differences that conceptualises intelligence as fitness components and personality traits as individual reaction norms of genotypes across environments, with different fitness consequenc..

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