New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

White Matter Morphometric Changes Uniquely Predict Children’s Reading Acquisition

Chelsea A. Myers, Maaike Vandermosten, Emily A. Farris, Roeland Hancock, Paul Gimenez, Jessica M. Black, Brandi Casto, Miroslav Draho, Mandeep Tumber, Robert L. Hendren, Charles Hulme, and Fumiko Hoeft

Researchers have found several predictors of early reading ability, including family history and phonological awareness. In this study, the researchers examined whether variations in structural brain development could also serve as an early predictor of reading ability. Children completed reading-related psychoeducational assessments at age 5 or 6 and again 3 school years later. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to track children’s structural brain development during this time period. Increases in the volume of two left temporo-parietal white matter clusters predicted reading outcomes even after the authors controlled for other factors important for literacy development. This link helps explain why children vary in their reading ability and may help us better understand reading-related disabilities.  

Value-Driven Attentional Capture in Adolescence

Zachary J. J. Roper, Shaun P. Vecera, and Jatin G. Vaidya

Do rewards similarly influence the attentional control of adults and adolescents? Adolescent and adult participants completed a training task during which they were rewarded for correctly identifying red or green rings placed among distractor rings of various colors. Participants then completed a similar test task in which they had to identify a blue diamond shape among various circular distractors — some of which were red or green. On the test task, both adults’ and adolescents’ attention was captured by the previously rewarded green and red rings; however, this effect was quickly extinguished in adults but persisted in adolescents. The influence of rewards on adolescents’ attention could help explain why attention-related substance-use issues and clinical disorders seem to emerge during this developmental period.

Endogenous Cortisol Predicts Decreased Loss Aversion in Young Men

J. R. Chumbley, I. Krajbich, J. B. Engelmann, E. Russell, S. Van Uum, G. Koren, and E. Fehr

Research has shown that humans pay more attention to loss than they do to a similar amount of gain — a phenomenon called loss aversion. To examine whether exposure to the stress hormone cortisol is related to loss aversion, the researchers had male participants complete a risk- and-loss-aversion task. The researchers found that men’s exposure to cortisol in the 2 months preceding testing (assessed through hair sampling) was negatively related to loss aversion but unrelated to risk aversion. This indicates that people with lower chronic cortisol levels display stronger loss aversion, whereas people with higher cortisol levels weigh gains and losses more equally, suggesting that cortisol may reduce oversensitivity to losses.

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