Seems so

Kevin Lewis

November 17, 2018

Memory experts’ beliefs about repressed memory
Lawrence Patihis et al.
Memory, forthcoming


What we believe about how memory works affects the decisions we make in many aspects of life. In Patihis, Ho et al. [Patihis, L., Ho, L. Y., Tingen, I. W., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Loftus, E. F. (2014). Are the “memory wars” over? A scientist–practitioner gap in beliefs about repressed memory. Psychological Science, 25, 519–530.], we documented several group's beliefs on repressed memories and other aspects of how memory works. Here, we present previously unreported data on the beliefs of perhaps the most credible minority in our dataset: memory experts. We provide the statistics and written responses of the beliefs for 17 memory experts. Although memory experts held similarly sceptical beliefs about repressed memory as other research-focused groups, they were significantly more sceptical about repressed memory compared to practitioners, students and the public. Although a minority of memory experts wrote that they maintained an open mind about repressed memories – citing research such as retrieval inhibition – all of the memory experts emphasised the dangers of memory distortion.

Exploring the effect of microdosing psychedelics on creativity in an open-label natural setting
Luisa Prochazkova et al.
Psychopharmacology, forthcoming

Methods: During a microdosing event organized by the Dutch Psychedelic Society, we examined the effects of psychedelic truffles (which were later analyzed to quantify active psychedelic alkaloids) on two creativity-related problem-solving tasks: the Picture Concept Task assessing convergent thinking and the Alternative Uses Task assessing divergent thinking. A short version of the Ravens Progressive Matrices task assessed potential changes in fluid intelligence. We tested once before taking a microdose and once while the effects were expected to be manifested.

Results: We found that both convergent and divergent thinking performance was improved after a non-blinded microdose, whereas fluid intelligence was unaffected.

Increased frequency of mind wandering in healthy women using oral contraceptives
Catherine Raymond et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, March 2019, Pages 121-127


Oral contraceptive (OC) is the most common type of contraceptive method used in industrialized countries. A recent epidemiological study showed that OC use was associated with the onset of depression in young women. Mind wandering, a cognitive process associated with spontaneous thoughts unrelated to the task at-hand, has previously been associated with depressive thinking. Consequently, mind wandering might be a precursor for cognitive vulnerability in individuals who are at-risk for mood disorders. The purpose of this study was to examine the frequency and nature of mind wandering in women using OC in comparison to two control groups: naturally cycling women and men. We recruited 71 participants (28 women currently using OC, 14 naturally cycling women in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle and 29 men) aged between 18 and 35 years, and measured the frequency and nature (guilt/fear oriented and positive) of mind wandering using the short version of the Imaginal Process Inventory. In all analyses, we controlled for depressive symptoms to delineate the unique association between OC use and mind wandering. We also measured estradiol, progesterone and testosterone to confirm expected group differences in sex hormones concentrations. Results show that women using OC presented increased frequency of mind wandering when compared to naturally cycling women and men who did not differ between each other. The three groups did not differ in terms of the nature of mind wandering. These results show that OC use is associated with increased frequency of mind wandering and suggest that the association between OC use and dysphoric mood described in previous studies may be partially explained by the impact of OC use on cognitive processes underlying mind wandering.

Preference for curved contours across cultures
Gerardo Gómez-Puerto et al.
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, November 2018, Pages 432-439


We postulate that humans’ preference for curvature is an expression of a natural propensity for aesthetics, understood as a set of perceptual, cognitive, and affective abilities and biases that orient humans toward the sort of sensory features that are used to convey culturally relevant meanings. Here we investigate whether preference for curved contours, observed previously in Western large-scale societies, is also present in 2 small-scale societies relatively uninfluenced by Western culture. We asked participants from Oaxaca (Mexico) and Bawku (Ghana), and also from Mallorca (Spain), to perform a 2-alternative, forced-choice task consisting in choosing between photographs of curved and sharp-angled versions of the same real objects presented for 80 milliseconds. The task required minimal instructions, aiming to avoid confounds arising from translations. Our results show that participants in each of the 3 countries chose the curved-contour alternative significantly more often than the sharp-angled one (Spain: .59; Mexico: .55; Ghana: .58) and that these proportions did not differ significantly. We conclude that preference for curved-contour objects is common across cultures and conjecture that it is a constituent of a natural propensity for aesthetics.

Behavioural and neural evidence for self-reinforcing expectancy effects on pain
Marieke Jepma et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, November 2018, Pages 838–855


Beliefs and expectations often persist despite evidence to the contrary. Here we examine two potential mechanisms underlying such ‘self-reinforcing’ expectancy effects in the pain domain: modulation of perception and biased learning. In two experiments, cues previously associated with symbolic representations of high or low temperatures preceded painful heat. We examined trial-to-trial dynamics in participants’ expected pain, reported pain and brain activity. Subjective and neural pain responses assimilated towards cue-based expectations, and pain responses in turn predicted subsequent expectations, creating a positive dynamic feedback loop. Furthermore, we found evidence for a confirmation bias in learning: higher- and lower-than-expected pain triggered greater expectation updating for high- and low-pain cues, respectively. Individual differences in this bias were reflected in the updating of pain-anticipatory brain activity. Computational modelling provided converging evidence that expectations influence both perception and learning. Together, perceptual assimilation and biased learning promote self-reinforcing expectations, helping to explain why beliefs can be resistant to change.


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