Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:
Sarah L. Dziura and James C. Thompson
Research has suggested that with an increase in the complexity of humans’ social groups comes a corresponding enhancement of the brain areas involved in social processing. Participants viewed point-light arrays displaying biological or scrambled motion while they were being scanned in an fMRI machine. Participants also completed a social network index that assessed the complexity of their social network. Activation in the posterior superior temporal sulcus and the amygdala — regions involved in the perception of nonverbal social signals — in response to social stimuli were correlated with differences in participants’ social network complexity. The authors suggest that increased functioning of these brain regions may aid in the detection and interpretation of nonverbal cues encountered during social interactions.
Nathan Faivre, Liad Mudrik, Naama Schwartz, and Christof Koch
Is consciousness necessary for multisensory integration? Participants completed a task in which a paired written and spoken digit served as a prime for a paired written and spoken letter. The experimenters varied whether only one component or both components of the prime were presented unconsciously and whether participants received a consciously presented training session before completing the task. The researchers found that multisensory integration occurred regardless of whether one or both components of the prime were presented unconsciously, but only in experiments in which participants first received training. The authors suggest that conscious training may improve the independent processing of each component of the prime, facilitating their unconscious integration.
Jean-Rémy Hochmann and Liuba Papeo
Adults are able to recognize the same consonants embedded in different syllables despite variations in the sound of the consonant — something known as the invariance problem. Are infants also able to solve the invariance problem? Three- and 6-month-old infants heard four words that began with the same consonant (standard trial) or three words that began with the same consonant and a fourth word that began with another consonant (deviant trial). The researchers found larger increases in the pupil diameter of 6-month-old — but not 3-month-old — infants in response to the deviant compared with the standard trials. This suggests that the ability to solve the invariance problem develops early in infancy and before consistent speech production.