Publication date: March 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 49 Author(s): H. Merckelbach, I. Boskovic, D. Pesy, M. Dalsklev, S.J. Lynn We discuss a phenomenon that has received little attention to date in research on dissociative phenomena, namely that self-reports of these phenomena overlap with the tendency to overendorse eccentric items. We review the literature documenting the dissociation-overreporting link and then briefly discuss various interpretations of this link: (1) overreporting is an artifact of measuring dissociative symptoms; (2) dissociative psychopathology engenders overreporting of eccentric symptoms through fantasy proneness or impairments in internal monitoring; (3) an overreporting response style as is evident in malingerers, for example, promotes reports of dissociative symptoms. These three interpretations are not mutually exclusive. Also, the dissociation-overreporting link may have different origins among different samples. Because overreporting may introduce noise in datasets, we need more research specifically aimed at disentangling the dissociation-overreporting link. We suggest various avenues to accomplish this goal.
Despite the success of available medical and psychosocial treatments, a sizable subgroup of individuals with commonly co-occurring disorders, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), fail to make sufficient treatment gains thereby prolonging their deficits in life functioning and satisfaction. Clinically, these patients often display temperamental features reflecting heightened sensitivity to underlying motivational systems related to threat/safety and reward/loss (e.g., somatic anxiety) as well as inordinate negative self-referential processing (e.g., worry, rumination). This profile may reflect disruption in two important neural networks associated with emotional/motivational salience (e.g., salience network) and self-referentiality (e.g., default network). Emotion Regulation Therapy (ERT) was developed to target this hypothesized profile and its neurobehavioral markers. In the present study, 22 GAD patients (with and without MDD) completed resting state MRI scans before receiving 16 sessions of ERT. To test study hypotheses, we examined the associations between baseline patterns of intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) of the insula and of hubs within the default network (anterior and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex [MPFC] and posterior cingulate cortex [PCC]) and treatment-related changes in worry, somatic anxiety symptoms, and decentering. Results suggest that greater treatment linked reductions in worry were associated with iFC clusters in both the insular and parietal cortices. Greater treatment linked gains in decentering, a metacognitive process that involves the capacity to observe items that arise in the mind with healthy psychological distance that is targeted by ERT, was associated with iFC clusters in the anterior and posterior default network. The current study adds to the growing body of research implicating disruptions in the default and salience networks as promising targets of treatment for GAD with and without co-occurring MDD.
Empirical evidence indicates that detecting one's own mistakes can serve as a signal to improve task performance. However, little work has focused on how task constraints, such as the response–stimulus interval (RSI), influence post-error adjustments. In the present study, event-related potential (ERP) and behavioral measures were used to investigate the time course of error-related processing while humans performed a difficult visual discrimination task. We found that error commission resulted in a marked reduction in both task performance and sensory processing on the following trial when RSIs were short, but that such impairments were not detectable at longer RSIs. Critically, diminished sensory processing at short RSIs, indexed by the stimulus-evoked P1 component, was predicted by an ERP measure of error processing, the Pe component. A control analysis ruled out a general lapse in attention or mind wandering as being predictive of subsequent reductions in sensory processing; instead, the data suggest that error detection causes an attentional bottleneck, which can diminish sensory processing on subsequent trials that occur in short succession. The findings demonstrate that the neural system dedicated to monitoring and improving behavior can, paradoxically, at times be the source of performance failures.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The performance-monitoring system is a network of brain regions dedicated to monitoring behavior to adjust task performance when necessary. Previous research has demonstrated that activation of the performance monitoring system following incorrect decisions serves to improve future task performance. However, the present study provides evidence that, when perceptual decisions must be made rapidly (within approximately half a second of each other), activation of the performance-monitoring system is predictive of impaired task-related attention on the subsequent trial. The data illustrate that the cognitive demands imposed by error processing can interfere with, rather than enhance, task-related attention when subsequent decisions need to be made quickly.
Publication date: Available online 22 February 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition Author(s): Sébastien M. Crouzet, Lyudmyla Y. Kovalenko, Simon Hviid del Pin, Morten Overgaard, Niko A. Busch Object-substitution masking (OSM) occurs when a briefly displayed target in a search array is surrounded by a mask, which remains onscreen after the target has disappeared. It has been suggested that OSM results from a specific interference with reentrant visual processing, while the initial feedforward processing is left intact. Here, we tested the prediction that the fastest saccadic responses towards a masked target, supposedly triggered before the onset of reentrant processing, are not impaired by OSM. Indeed, saccades faster than 350ms “escaped” the influence of the mask. Notably, participants’ judgements of subjective awareness indicated that stimulus processing during this early stage is not entirely devoid of conscious awareness. Furthermore, the N2pc event-related potential component indicated shifts of spatial attention towards the masked targets on trials with correct fast saccades, suggesting that both target detection and spatial attention can be based on the computations accomplished during the initial feedforward sweep.
Publication date: 15 May 2017 Source:NeuroImage, Volume 152 Author(s): Tae-Ho Lee, Michelle E. Miernicki, Eva H. Telzer Despite emerging evidence suggesting a biological basis to our social tiles, our understanding of the neural processes which link two minds is unknown. We implemented a novel approach, which included connectome similarity analysis using resting state intrinsic networks of parent-child dyads as well as daily diaries measured across 14 days. Intrinsic resting-state networks for both parents and their adolescent child were identified using independent component analysis (ICA). Results indicate that parents and children who had more similar RSN connectome also had more similar day-to-day emotional synchrony. Furthermore, dyadic RSN connectome similarity was associated with children's emotional competence, suggesting that being neurally in-tune with their parents confers emotional benefits. We provide the first evidence that dyadic RSN similarity is associated with emotional synchrony in what is often our first and most essential social bond, the parent-child relationship.
Who am I? What is the self and where does it come from? This may be one of the oldest problems in philosophy. Beyond traditional philosophy, only very recently approaches from neuroscience (in particular imaging studies) have tried to address these questions, too. So what are neural substrates of our self? An increasing body of evidence has demonstrated that a set of structures labeled as cortical midline structures are fundamental components to generate a conscious self. Moreover, recent theories on embodied cognition propose that this conscious self might be supplemented by additional structures, for example, in the somatosensory cortices, which enable our brain to create an ‘embodied mind’. While the self based on cortical midline structures may be related to a conscious self, we here propose that the embodied facet of the self may be linked to something we call unconscious self. In this article we describe problems of this model of a conscious and unconscious self and discuss possible solutions from a theoretical point of view.
Publication date: May 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 51 Author(s): Jonne O. Hietanen, Jari K. Hietanen The effect of eye contact on self-awareness was investigated with implicit measures based on the use of first-person singular pronouns in sentences. The measures were proposed to tap into self-referential processing, that is, information processing associated with self-awareness. In addition, participants filled in a questionnaire measuring explicit self-awareness. In Experiment 1, the stimulus was a video clip showing another person and, in Experiment 2, the stimulus was a live person. In both experiments, participants were divided into two groups and presented with the stimulus person either making eye contact or gazing downward, depending on the group assignment. During the task, the gaze stimulus was presented before each trial of the pronoun-selection task. Eye contact was found to increase the use of first-person pronouns, but only when participants were facing a real person, not when they were looking at a video of a person. No difference in self-reported self-awareness was found between the two gaze direction groups in either experiment. The results indicate that eye contact elicits self-referential processing, but the effect may be stronger, or possibly limited to, live interaction.
Publication date: March 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 49 Author(s): Ausiàs Cebolla, Daniel Campos, Laura Galiana, Amparo Oliver, Jose Manuel Tomás, Albert Feliu-Soler, Joaquim Soler, Javier García-Campayo, Marcelo Demarzo, Rosa María Baños Several meditation practices are associated with mindfulness-based interventions but little is known about their specific effects on the development of different mindfulness facets. This study aimed to assess the relations among different practice variables, types of meditation, and mindfulness facets. The final sample was composed of 185 participants who completed an on-line survey, including information on the frequency and duration of each meditation practice, lifetime practice, and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. A Multiple Indicators Multiple Causes structural model was specified, estimated, and tested. Results showed that the Model’s overall fit was adequate: χ 2 (1045)=1542.800 (p <0.001), CFI=0.902, RMSEA=0.042. Results revealed that mindfulness facets were uniquely related to the different variables and types of meditation. Our findings showed the importance of specific practices in promoting mindfulness, compared to compassion and informal practices, and they pointed out which one fits each mindfulness facet better.
Publication date: March 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 49 Author(s): Cherise Rosen, Nev Jones, Kayla A. Chase, Jennifer K. Melbourne, Linda S. Grossman, Rajiv P. Sharma Understanding alterations in perceptual experiences as a component of the basic symptom structure of psychosis may improve early detection and the identification of subtle shifts that can precede symptom onset or exacerbation. We explored the phenomenological construct of absorption and psychotic experiences in both clinical (bipolar psychosis and schizophrenia spectrum) and non-clinical participants. Participants with psychosis endorsed significantly higher absorption compared to the non-clinical group. Absorption was positively correlated with all types of hallucinations and multiple types of delusions. The analysis yielded two distinct cluster groups that demarcated a distinction along the continuum of self-disturbance: on characterized by attenuated ego boundaries and the other stable ego boundaries. The study suggests that absorption is a potentially important but under-researched component of psychosis that overlaps with, but is not identical to the more heavily theorized constructs of aberrant salience and hyperreflexivity.
The brain is limited in its capacity to consciously process information, necessitating gating of information. While conscious perception is robustly associated with sustained, recurrent interactions between widespread cortical regions, subcortical regions, including the striatum, influence cortical activity. Here, we examined whether the ventral striatum, given its ability to modulate cortical information flow, contributes to conscious perception. Using intracranial EEG, we recorded ventral striatum activity while 7 patients performed an attentional blink task in which they had to detect two targets (T1 and T2) in a stream of distractors. Typically, when T2 follows T1 within 100–500 ms, it is often not perceived (i.e., the attentional blink). We found that conscious T2 perception was influenced and signaled by ventral striatal activity. Specifically, the failure to perceive T2 was foreshadowed by a T1-induced increase in α and low β oscillatory activity as early as 80 ms after T1, indicating that the attentional blink to T2 may be due to very early T1-driven attentional capture. Moreover, only consciously perceived targets were associated with an increase in θ activity between 200 and 400 ms. These unique findings shed new light on the mechanisms that give rise to the attentional blink by revealing that conscious target perception may be determined by T1 processing at a much earlier processing stage than traditionally believed. More generally, they indicate that ventral striatum activity may contribute to conscious perception, presumably by gating cortical information flow.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT What determines whether we become aware of a piece of information or not? Conscious access has been robustly associated with activity within a distributed network of cortical regions. Using intracranial electrophysiological recordings during an attentional blink task, we tested the idea that the ventral striatum, because of its ability to modulate cortical information flow, may contribute to conscious perception. We find that conscious perception is influenced and signaled by ventral striatal activity. Short-latency (80–140 ms) striatal responses to a first target determined conscious perception of a second target. Moreover, conscious perception of the second target was signaled by longer-latency (200–400 ms) striatal activity. These results suggest that the ventral striatum may be part of a subcortical network that influences conscious experience.
Publication date: February 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 48 Author(s): Aida Grabauskaitė, Mindaugas Baranauskas, Inga Griškova-Bulanova Interoception is involved in both somatic and mental disorders with different prevalence between genders; however, gender differences are often neglected. To examine the potential gender differences in interoceptive awareness, we recruited 376 healthy subjects (51% males, aged 17–30years), to fill in the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA). Of that sample, in a subgroup of 40 subjects (50% males), interoceptive accuracy was assessed by heartbeat counting task (HCT). The results on interroceptive awareness suggest that females tendto notice bodily sensations more often, better understand relations between bodily sensations and emotional states, worry or experience more emotional distress with sensations of pain or discomfort and see body as less safe. The results of interoceptive accuracy further suggest that females are less efficient in consciously detecting heartbeats. Therefore, gender should be considered when interoceptive evaluation is performed in disorders associated to bodily sensations and to the emotional/mood states.
Deciding to control emotional responses is a fundamental means of responding to environmental challenges, but little is known about the neural mechanisms that predict the outcome of such decisions. We used fMRI to test whether human brain responses during initial viewing of negative images could be used to predict decisions to regulate affective responses to those images. Our results revealed the following: (1) decisions to regulate were more frequent in individuals exhibiting higher average levels of activity within the amygdala and regions of PFC known a priori to be involved in the cognitive control of emotion and (2) within-person expression of a distributed brain pattern associated with regulating emotion predicted choosing to regulate responses to particular stimuli beyond the predictive value of stimulus intensity or self-reports of emotion. These results demonstrate the behavioral relevance of variability in brain responses to aversive stimuli and provide a model that leverages this variability to predict behavior.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Everyone experiences stressors, but how we respond to them can range from protracted disability to resilience and growth. One key process underlying this variability is the agentic decision to exert control over emotional responses. We present an fMRI-based model predicting decisions to control emotion, finding that activity in brain regions associated with the generation and regulation of emotion was predictive of which people choose to regulate frequently and a distributed brain pattern associated with regulating emotion was predictive of which stimuli regulation was chosen. These brain variables predicted future decisions to regulate emotion beyond what could be predicted from stimulus and self-report variables.
Fibromyalgia is a widespread chronic pain disease characterized by generalized musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. It substantially affects patients’ relationship with their bodies and quality of life, but few studies have investigated the relationship between pain and body awareness in fibromyalgia. We examined exteroceptive and interoceptive aspects of body awareness in 30 women with fibromyalgia and 29 control participants. Exteroceptive body awareness was assessed by a body-scaled action-anticipation task in which participants estimated whether they could pass through apertures of different widths. Interoceptive sensitivity (IS) was assessed by a heartbeat detection task where participants counted their heartbeats during different time intervals. Interoceptive awareness was assessed by the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA). The “passability ratio” (the aperture size for a 50% positive response rate, divided by shoulder width), assessed by the body-scaled action-anticipation task, was higher for fibromyalgia participants, indicating disrupted exteroceptive awareness. Overestimating body size correlated positively with pain and its impact on functionality, but not with pain intensity. There was no difference in IS between groups. Fibromyalgia patients exhibited a higher tendency to note bodily sensations and decreased body confidence. In addition, the passability ratio and IS score correlated negatively across the whole sample, suggesting an inverse relationship between exteroceptive and interoceptive body awareness. There was a lower tendency to actively listen to the body for insight, with higher passability ratios across the whole sample. Based on our results and building on the fear-avoidance model, we outline a proposal that highlights possible interactions between exteroceptive and interoceptive body awareness and pain. Movement based contemplative practices that target sensory-motor integration and foster non-judgmental reconnection with bodily sensations are suggested to improve body confidence, functionality, and quality of life.
Publication date: 15 May 2017 Source:NeuroImage, Volume 152 Author(s): Abhrajeet V. Roy, Keith W. Jamison, Sheng He, Stephen A. Engel, Bin He Binocular rivalry is a phenomenon in which perception spontaneously shifts between two different images that are dichoptically presented to the viewer. By elucidating the cortical networks responsible for these stochastic fluctuations in perception, we can potentially learn much about the neural correlates of visual awareness. We obtained concurrent EEG-fMRI data for a group of 20 healthy human subjects during the continuous presentation of dichoptic visual stimuli. The two eyes’ images were tagged with different temporal frequencies so that eye specific steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP) signals could be extracted from the EEG data for direct comparison with changes in fMRI BOLD activity associated with binocular rivalry. We additionally included a smooth replay condition that emulated the perceptual transitions experienced during binocular rivalry as a control stimulus. We evaluated a novel SSVEP-informed fMRI analysis in this study in order to delineate the temporal dynamics of rivalry-related BOLD activity from both an electrophysiological and behavioral perspective. In this manner, we assessed BOLD activity during rivalry that was directly correlated with peaks and crosses of the two rivaling, frequency-tagged SSVEP signals, for comparison with BOLD activity associated with subject reported perceptual transitions. Our findings point to a critical role of a right lateralized fronto-parietal network in the processing of bistable stimuli, given that BOLD activity in the right superior/inferior parietal lobules was significantly elevated throughout binocular rivalry and in particular during perceptual transitions, compared with the replay condition. Based on the SSVEP-informed analysis, rivalry was further associated with significantly enhanced BOLD suppression in the posterior mid-cingulate cortex during perceptual transitions, compared with SSVEP crosses. Overall, this work points to a careful interplay between early visual areas, the right posterior parietal cortex and the mid-cingulate cortex in mediating the spontaneous perceptual changes associated with binocular rivalry and has significant implications for future multimodal imaging studies of perception and awareness.
Publication date: March 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 49 Author(s): Mikaël Bastian, Sébastien Lerique, Vincent Adam, Michael S. Franklin, Jonathan W. Schooler, Jérôme Sackur Introspection and language are the cognitive prides of humankind, but their interactions in healthy cognition remain unclear. Episodes of mind-wandering, where personal thoughts often go unnoticed for some time before being introspected, offer a unique opportunity to study the role of language in introspection. In this paper, we show that inner speech facilitates awareness of mind-wandering. In two experiments, we either interfered with verbal working memory, via articulatory suppression (Exp. 1), or entrained it, via presentation of verbal material (Exp. 2), and measured the resulting awareness of mind-wandering. Articulatory suppression decreased the likelihood to spontaneously notice mind-wandering, whereas verbal material increased retrospective awareness of mind-wandering. In addition, an ecological study using smartphones confirmed that inner speech vividness positively predicted mind-wandering awareness (Exp. 3). Together, these findings support the view that inner speech facilitates introspection of one’s thoughts, and therefore provides empirical evidence for a positive relation between language and consciousness.
Publication date: May 2017 Source:Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 51 Author(s): Lauren E. Moore, Bruce Greyson Near-death experiences are vivid, life-changing experiences occurring to people who come close to death. Because some of their features, such as enhanced cognition despite compromised brain function, challenge our understanding of the mind-brain relationship, the question arises whether near-death experiences are imagined rather than real events. We administered the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire to 122 survivors of a close brush with death who reported near-death experiences. Participants completed Memory Characteristics Questionnaires for three different memories: that of their near-death experience, that of a real event around the same time, and that of an event they had imagined around the same time. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire score was higher for the memory of the near-death experience than for that of the real event, which in turn was higher than that of the imagined event. These data suggest that memories of near-death experiences are recalled as “realer” than real events or imagined events.
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