New Research in Psychological Science

Predicting Real-Life Self-Control by Brain Activity Encoding the Value of Anticipated Future Outcomes
Klaus-Martin Krönke, Max Wolff, Holger Mohr, et al.

Neural mechanisms involved in the anticipation of future consequences may help to explain self-control in laboratory and real-life tasks. While researchers collected functional MRI data, participants read descriptions of actions with conflicting short-term and long-term consequences (e.g., play video games, study for an exam) and decided whether they would perform those actions. The researchers combined these data with a 7-day smartphone-based assessment of real-life self-control failures and found that participants who were more likely to make shortsighted decisions and commit self-control failures showed a reduced modulation of neural value signals in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex when processing long-term consequences.

Correlated Individual Differences in the Estimated Precision of Working Memory and Long-Term Memory: Commentary on the Study by Biderman, Luria, Teodorescu, Hajaj, and Goshen-Gottstein (2019)
Weizhen Xie, Hyung-Bum Park, Kareem A. Zaghloul, and Weiwei Zhang

Biderman and colleagues (2019) suggested that working memory (WM) and long-term memory (LTM) are separate memory systems that do not share the same constraints of fidelity or precision. Xie and colleagues propose an alternative approach using individual memory differences to test for the relationship between WM and LTM. Using this approach, WM and LTM limits of precision seem to be correlated, suggesting at least some shared mechanisms between WM and LTM. Xie and colleagues discuss possible causes for a correlation in precision estimates between WM and LTM.

A Specificity Principle of Memory: Evidence From Aging and Associative Memory
Nathaniel Greene and Moshe Naveh-Benjamin

Greene and Naveh-Benjamin tested young and older adults’ memory for pairs of faces and scenarios they previously studied (e.g., a face and a park). Relative to young adults, older adults showed deficits in retrieving specific associations (e.g., this face in this park), but they retrieved fuzzier details (e.g., this face was outside somewhere) to the same extent. Overall, older adults could remember the gist of where they previously encountered the faces but not the specific details of the encounter, suggesting that, for some associations in memory, age-related deficits may be limited to the retrieval of the specific representations.

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