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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science.

Maternal Stress and Infant Mortality: The Importance of the Preconception Period

Quetzal A. Class, Ali S. Khashan, Paul Lichtenstein, Niklas Långström, and Brian M. D’Onofrio

Does exposure to preconception and prenatal stress affect levels of infant mortality? Researchers examined women who had experienced a stressful event (death of a first-degree relative) in the 6 months prior to conception and during pregnancy. They found that preconception stress was associated with an increased risk for infant mortality. No relationship was found between stress during pregnancy and risk of infant mortality. The authors posit that epigenetic changes brought on by preconception stress may influence a woman’s body’s preparedness for pregnancy and thus the future health of her child.

Foraging for Thought: An Inhibition-of-Return-Like Effect Resulting From Directing Attention Within Working Memory

Matthew R. Johnson, Julie A. Higgins, Ken A. Norman, Per B. Sederberg, Troy A. Smith, and Marcia K. Johnson

Inhibition of return (IOR) is a phenomenon characterized by slower responses to a stimulus presented at the same location as an earlier cue. Does IOR also occur with stimuli that are the subjects of reflective attention? Participants saw two items and then a cue directing them to reflect on one of the items. They then had to identify either the reflected-upon item, the other item, or a novel item. Participants were slower to identify the reflected-upon item, indicating that IOR does occur for stimuli that are the subject of reflective attention.

Face-Space Architectures: Evidence for the Use of Independent Color-Based Features

Adrian Nestor, David C. Plaut, and Marlene Behrmann

Researchers often use principle component analysis (PCA) to capture aspects of psychological face space, but there may be better methods. Participants were shown two faces and asked to rate their similarity or to determine whether the faces belonged to the same person. Independent component analysis fit the participants’ behavioral responses better than did PCA or linear discriminant analysis, a result that challenges the use of PCA for capturing psychological face space.

Shifting Selection May Control Apparent Motion

Yangqing Xu, Satoru Suzuki, and Steven L. Franconeri

How does the visual system take ambiguous perceptual signals and turn them into a clear representation of motion? Participants viewed apparent motion that could be perceived as occurring side to side or up and down. An electrophysiological correlate was used to track the position of participants’ spatial selection when viewing the apparent motion. A difference was seen in the waveforms generated when participants perceived up-and-down and side-to-side motion, indicating a temporal link between an observer’s perception of object correspondence and neural correlates of attentional selection and tracking.