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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Genes for Emotion-Enhanced Remembering Are Linked to Enhanced Perceiving

Rebecca M. Todd, Daniel J. Müller, Daniel H. Lee, Amanda Robertson, Tayler Eaton, Natalie Freeman, Daniela J. Palombo, Brian Levine, and Adam K. Anderson

A deletion variant of the ADRA2B gene has been linked to emotional enhancement of memory and susceptibility to traumatic memories. The authors investigated whether this gene variant is also related to affective biases, particularly for negative stimuli. Participants were genotyped for the ADRA2B gene and took part in an attentional-blink task that contained positive, negative, and neutral words. ADRA2B-deletion carriers demonstrated a reduced attentional blink in response to negative words, which suggests that this deletion may be related to emotional biases in perception and later memory.

Nonverbal Expressions of Status and System Legitimacy: An Interactive Influence on Race Bias

Max Weisbuch, Michael L. Slepian, Collette P. Eccleston, and Nalini Ambady

Many different animal species use nonverbal expression and posture to express social standing, but little research has examined these expressions in human intergroup relations. In the last of three studies, participants completed a race Implicit Association Test that consisted of White and Black faces displaying high-, low-, or neutral-status expressions and a system-legitimacy questionnaire. System supporters displayed a stronger pro-White bias when viewing high-status expressions than when viewing low-status or neutral-status expressions. The opposite pattern was found in system rejecters. This suggests that the relationship between nonverbal status cues and racial bias may depend on support for the current system’s stratification.

Object Shape and Orientation Do Not Routinely Influence Performance During Language Processing

Joost Rommers, Antje S. Meyer, and Falk Huettig

Researchers are uncertain whether visual representation is a crucial component of language processing. Participants read a sentence about an object and then saw a picture that either matched or did not match the orientation or the shape of the object featured in the sentence. Participants had to name the object or determine whether the pictured object was the one mentioned in the sentence. Shape information — but not orientation information — affected performance on the tasks. The influence of shape information was dependent on the demands of the task, which indicates that visual representation is not critical for general language processing.

Sustained Striatal Activity Predicts Eudaimonic Well-Being and Cortisol Output

Aaron S. Heller, Carien M. van Reekum, Stacey M. Schaefer, Regina C. Lapate, Barry T. Radler, Carol D. Ryff, and Richard J. Davidson

Research has indicated a connection between psychological well-being and good physical health, but the neurological underpinnings of this relationship are not well understood. Participants viewed positive, neutral, and negative faces while undergoing fMRI. Participants were also assessed for eudaimonic well-being (a sense of purpose and positive engagement with life), hedonic well-being (the momentary experience of pleasure), and cortisol level (a measure of physiological stress). Greater activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and striatum in response to positive images was associated with higher levels of well-being and lower levels of cortisol, suggesting that these areas of the brain may serve as the neurobiological links between well-being and improved health.