New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Same Story, Different Story: The Neural Representation of Interpretive Frameworks

Yaara Yeshurun, Stephen Swanson, Erez Simony, Janice Chen, Christina Lazaridi, Christopher J. Honey, and Uri Hasson

Researchers investigated whether patterns of neural activity differ according to how people interpret similar information. Participants listened to an identical audio narrative about a husband and wife. In one condition, participants were primed to interpret the story as being about the wife cheating on her husband; in the other condition, participants were primed to interpret the story as being about a paranoid husband with a faithful wife. The researchers found that neural responses tended to be similar for participants within conditions but different for participants between conditions. In additional, the magnitude in the difference in neural responses was correlated with the magnitude of the difference in the interpretations of the story. These findings suggest that brain responses reflect similarities and differences in the way people interpret identical information.

Avoiding Accidents at the Champagne Reception: A Study of Joint Lifting and Balancing

Giovanni Pezzulo, Pierpaolo Iodice, Francesco Donnarumma, Haris Dindo, and Günther Knoblich

One view of how people plan joint action suggests that people create two distinct predictive models: one for their own action and one for partners’ actions. Joint actions are then facilitated by combining these two models. An alternative view suggests that people use their own action to help predict the outcomes of their partners’ actions. To investigate these two views, pairs of participants were instructed to balance on one hand a tray with a glass on it. The participants then simultaneously lifted the glass from their own tray (bimanual condition), simultaneously lifted the glass from each other’s tray (simultaneous-joint condition), or lifted the glass from each other’s tray one at a time (sequential-joint condition). Participants’ hand movements were measured using sensors attached to the backs of their hands. Participants’ compensatory movements were smaller in the simultaneous-joint condition than in the sequential-joint condition. This finding suggests that, rather than creating a distinct model of action for themselves and their partners, people plan joint action by using their own actions to help predict the actions of others.

Attention Modifies Spatial Resolution According to Task Demands

Antoine Barbot and Marisa Carrasco

How does attention influence spatial resolution? Researchers have found that exogenous (i.e., involuntary) attention automatically increases spatial resolution at the area receiving the attention. This increase improves performance when spatial resolution is too low for a specific texture scale but impairs performance when spatial resolution is too high for a specific texture scale. Endogenous (i.e., voluntary) attention has been shown to improve performance regardless of whether the texture scale is too large or small. The authors posit that endogenous attention is more flexible than exogenous attention and may actually decrease spatial resolution in appropriate contexts. The researchers tested this by combining spatial-frequency adaptation with a texture-segmentation task in which they manipulated participants’ endogenous attention. The researchers found that endogenous attention can decrease spatial resolution if the task demands it by reducing the contribution of high-spatial-frequency filters.

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