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Neuroimaging Highlights Emotion Perception and Memory

This is a photo of family photographs hanging on a clothesline in front of a cloudy sky.Perception often is thought of in terms of sensory stimuli — what we see, hear, and smell — but it extends beyond the five senses, including complex function of emotional perception. We also can turn this perception inward, toward our own appraisal of an emotional stimulus.

Thus, emotional perception can be split into two categories depending on the direction of attention: Focusing our attention outward to stimuli in our external environments is known as external perceptual orienting (EPO), while interoceptive self-orienting (ISO) is the opposite — directing our attention toward our own…


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Ellen Langer to be Honored at Liberty Science Center Genius Gala

APS James McKeen Cattell Fellow Ellen Langer is among four leading figures in science and technology being honored on May 20th at the Liberty Science Center Genius Gala, an annual celebration of science and creativity. The recipient of four distinguished scientist awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship joins world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, paleontologist Jack Horner, and astrophysicist Kip Thorne among the 2016 honorees announced by the nonprofit Liberty Science Center (LSC), an interactive museum in Jersey City, New Jersey.

LSC is honoring Langer — a Harvard social psychologist — in recognition of her achievements as the “mother of mindfulness.” Langer has written extensively on the illusion of control, aging, stress, decision-making, health, and of course, mindfulness. She is particularly well-known for her findings on the power of social cues to make us feel and act younger and healthier than our chronological age. In…


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Brain Reconciles Sight and Sound in Different Ways

This is an illustration of sound waves approaching a person's ear.A new study from psychology researchers at UCLA provides insights into how the brain combines sound and vision. The research suggests that there is not one sole mechanism in the brain that governs how much our senses work together to process information.

Among the implications of the study: It might not be as easy as many people had assumed to categorize the way in which we perceive and learn.

“We should be cautious not to make blanket statements about how we process information, like ‘I’m a visual learner,’” said Ladan Shams, an associate professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior author of the research. “That’s not necessarily true across the board. For example, your brain may combine sights and sounds a lot in one task — watching TV,…


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Long-Term Pot Use Linked to Financial, Social Problems in Midlife

This is a photo of a person smoking a joint.A research study that followed children from birth up to age 38 has found that people who smoked cannabis four or more days of the week over many years ended up in a lower social class than their parents, with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular cannabis smokers.

These regular and persistent users also experienced more financial, work-related and relationship difficulties, which worsened as the number of years of regular cannabis use progressed.

The study, conducted by an international team of researchers led by Magdalena Cerdá at the University of California, Davis, Health System, and Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt at Duke University, appears in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

“Our research does not support arguments for or against cannabis legalization,” said…


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Rise of Science Linked With Greater Attention to Cause and Effect

This is an illustration depicting a brain and various science concepts.A new study shows that as science, education, and technology have taken on prominent roles in society over the past two centuries, the frequency of cause-and-effect language used in English texts has also increased, suggesting links between culture and cognition over time.

Led by University of Michigan researcher Robert Axelrod and Rumen Iliev, a former University of Michigan postdoctoral researcher, the study builds on previous studies that link cognitive processing to cultural and societal factors. Unlike previous cross-cultural work that compared different cultures at the same point of time, this project focused on comparing the same culture at different time points.

The findings are published in Psychological Science.

Traditionally, the researchers of culture and cognition have assumed that cross-cultural differences can be traced back to ancient times, yet there has…


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