Posted by & filed under Consciousness, selfies, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology, The Self.

Description: OK your new dating site profile is almost ready to go, or your new professional network or social network posting is ready to go and all you have to do is add a profile picture. You have 12 pictures of yourself to choose from. Who should pick the one you post you or a total stranger? Well in this age of selfies surely we would be the best judge of which picture of ourselves to post right? Read the article linked below and see what research has to say on this increasing everyday question.

Source: Let a Stranger Pick Your Profile Picture, Janice Wood, PsychCentral.

Date: April 15, 2017

Photo Credit:  ‘Choosing face infographic’ by David White

Links:  Article Link — https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/04/15/let-a-stranger-pick-your-profile-picture/119135.html

So, let a stranger pick every time! Did you see that result coming? Total strangers pick pictures of us that are rated as more attractive, more professional, more competent, than we pick ourselves. The researchers showed that result very clearly but they were NOT able to say anything about why this result occurs.  So as future research is needed, think a bit about what sorts of things we should look at as we (well as the searchers) try to figure out why strangers do better than the profile owner in selecting the “best pictures” for the site.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of things go into making a picture of someone look more attractive? More professional,? More competent?
  2. When do strangers do better than the profile owners in picking profile pictures? Does this prediction vary depending upon the site involved?
  3. What sorts of things might be worth looking at in trying to sort out why strangers pick better profile pictures than we do?

References (Read Further):

White, David, Sutherland, Clare A. M. and Burton, Amy L.  (2017) Choosing face: The curse of self in profile image selection. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 20172:23 https://cognitiveresearchjournal.springeropen.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s41235-017-0058-3?site=cognitiveresearchjournal.springeropen.com

Vazire, S., & Carlson, E. N. (2011). Others sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(2), 104-108. http://skiplab.org/files/113006116.pdf

Kenny, D. A., & DePaulo, B. M. (1993). Do people know how others view them? An empirical and theoretical account. Psychological bulletin, 114(1), 145.  http://www.simine.com/407/readings/Kenny_and_DePaulo_1993.pdf

 

Posted by & filed under Assessment: Intellectual-Cognitive Measures, Attitude Formation Change, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Personality, Social Psychology.

Description: Imagine you are going to hire someone to work for you. What information would you want to gather before making a hiring decision? Would you want to interview the applicants who looked good on paper? How much weight would the interview have in your decision about who to hire? How about if you were asked to predict the GPA of a number of students in the upcoming term and you were offered their GPA from last term, their schedule and an opportunity (or not) to interview them? How much do you think the information you could gather from an interview, if you were allowed to conduct one, increase the accuracy of your GPA predictions? Well the title of the article linked below suggests particular answers to these questions. Give it a read and see if the results of the research it discusses surprises you.

Source: The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews, Jason Dana, Gray Matter, New York Times.

Date: April 8, 2017

Photo Credit:  Jun Cen, New York Times

Links:  Article Link — https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/08/opinion/sunday/the-utter-uselessness-of-job-interviews.html

So did you expect that the answer to the question as to whether interviews lead to better hiring decision or more accurate predictions be “no, they usually make things worse”? Even when told that the best predictor of upcoming GPA is past GPA students in the study discussed wanted an interview and had faith that they would improve their predictions if they used the interview information. The bottom line seems to consistently be that we (humans) are not particularly good at making detailed decisions about others based on a short “chat”. Much of what comes up in interviews is not relevant to the job or to the prediction being considered. The solution…? Well in some situations dispensing entirely with the interview is the best course of action. In others Industrial Organizational psychologists tell us that the “interview time” should be used to have job candidates deal with directly job-relevant situations or to ensure that each candidate is asked exactly the same questions. The final advice is the most important…. “be humble about the likelihood that out interview based impressions actually tell us much that will be useful in making hiring decisions”.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How well do interviews work in assisting us to make good hiring or predictive decisions?
  2. What sort of information should we use when hiring someone?
  3. In what ways could interview time be managed that would actually improve our hiring decisions?

References (Read Further):

Dana, J., Dawes, R., & Peterson, N. (2013). Belief in the unstructured interview: The persistence of an illusion. Judgment and Decision making, 8(5), 512. http://journal.sjdm.org/12/121130a/jdm121130a.html

Kausel, E. E., Culbertson, S. S., & Madrid, H. P. (2016). Overconfidence in personnel selection: When and why unstructured interview information can hurt hiring decisions. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 137, 27-44. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Edgar_Kausel2/publication/306079421_Overconfidence_in_personnel_selection_When_and_why_unstructured_interview_information_can_hurt_hiring_decisions/links/57ae267d08ae95f9d8ecf96a.pdf

Roulin, N., Bangerter, A., & Levashina, J. (2014). Interviewers’ perceptions of impression management in employment interviews. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(2), 141-163. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Nicolas_Roulin/publication/235636549_Interviewers_perceptions_of_impression_management_in_employment_interviews/links/54db83ad0cf233119bc637f7.pdf

Levashina, J., Hartwell, C. J., Morgeson, F. P., & Campion, M. A. (2014). The structured employment interview: Narrative and quantitative review of the research literature. Personnel Psychology, 67(1), 241-293. https://msu.edu/~morgeson/levashina_hartwell_morgeson_campion_2014.pdf

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Child Development, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Human Development, Language Development, Language-Thought, Student Success.

Description: Children raised in low socioeconomic status (SES) families do not do as well in school as children from high SES families. Why do you think that might be the case? You should be able to generate a long list of possible hypotheses. Perhaps the schools they go to are not as well supplied or as well run as the ones in the “better” parts of town. Perhaps the genetics that contributed to their parents’ not doing very well themselves are expressed in the children they send to poorer schools as well. Or perhaps…..? As you think about possibilities think also about whether the possibilities you are coming up with represent things that can or could be changed. For example, while we cannot change genetics (yet) we CAN fix schools. What sorts of things could be looked at throughout the years of infancy and preschool that could be open to intervention? Obviously we need to look at the size of the effects in whatever we come up with but what could we look at? Once you have a few thoughts in mind have a read through the article linked below and see what the researchers whose work it talks about have studied.

Source: Low Income Kids May Miss Out on Complex Language Skills, Traci Peterson, News, Parenting, PsychCentral.

Date: April 16, 2017

Photo Credit:  PsychCentral

Links:  Article Link — https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/04/16/low-income-kids-have-fewer-opportunities-to-build-complex-language-skills/119147.html

So were vocabulary and the richness of early language part of your list of hypotheses? Were the results discussed surprising to you? Well, think a bit about how we use language. Certainly we use it to communicate. However, we also use it to think. We use language to help us map, analyze and understand our experiences and our world. Young children develop their language abilities though their interactions with their caregivers. Caregivers that pay attention to what the child they are caring for is looking at and expand upon the child’s experience by talking about what they are seeing, or by engaging the child in talking and thinking about the things in the world around them are helping the child develop not just a larger vocabulary but they are also helping them see a more complex, nuanced world. They are helping the child get ready to engage actively with the world in ways that prepare them to do more and more of just that as they enter the school system. Lower SES children enter the school system in grade one with HALF the vocabulary of High SES children. This disadvantage only increases and requires more and more detailed interventions to even begin to address as children move forward through school. You have likely heard the saying “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. Well vocabulary is a big part of how that comes into play (it’s not all job connections!). So what should we do about this? Well, think about it…. and talk about it!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why are the vocabularies of low SES children lower than those of high SES children as school entry?
  2. Should schools do things differently with low as opposed to high SES students?
  3. What sorts of infancy and preschool level interventions should we be running to address these issues?

References (Read Further):

Neuman, Susan B.; Kaefer, Tanya; Pinkham, Ashley M.  (2017) A Double Dose of Disadvantage: Language Experiences for Low-Income Children in Home and School. Journal of Educational Psychology, Apr 13 , 2017, No Pagination Specified. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000201

Rowe, M. L. (2008). Child-directed speech: relation to socioeconomic status, knowledge of child development and child vocabulary skill. Journal of child language, 35(01), 185-205. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Seung-Hee_Son/publication/223491490_Teacher_qualifications_classroom_practices_family_characteristics_and_preschool_experience_Complex_effects_on_first_graders’_vocabulary_and_early_reading_outcomes/links/00b7d51800659be5bb000000.pdf

Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A., & Weisleder, A. (2013). SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental science, 16(2), 234-248. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582035/

Marulis, L. M., & Neuman, S. B. (2010). The effects of vocabulary intervention on young children’s word learning: A meta-analysis. Review of educational research, 80(3), 300-335. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Loren_Marulis/publication/258182786_The_Effects_of_Vocabulary_Intervention_on_Young_Childrens_Word_Learning_A_Meta-Analysis/links/0deec528ba9432c7bc000000.pdf

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health and Prevention In Aging, Memory, Physiology.

Description: As we age we tend to note that we do not seem to sleep as well as we did when we were younger (OK take my word for it). How are the different facets of our night’s sleep affected by ageing and what are the consequences? After you have collected your hypotheses on these questions read the article linked below to see what recent research has to say on this question.

Source: Deep sleep may act as fountain of youth in old age, ScienceDaily.

Date: April 5, 2017

Links:  Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170405144431.htm

So sleep may be a new frontier in research into healthy aging. Medical tendencies to prescribe sedatives are problematic as they further influence the quality of sleep (and not in good directions). Given the number of serious ailments and issues associated with poor sleep quality and especially with poor quality and low amounts of restful deep sleep we need more research into this area. We need to look at people who sleep well or even better as they age and we need to figure out ways, and not just pharmaceutical ways, to influence how we sleep as we age.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What typically happen to our sleep patterns and quality as we age?
  2. What do these changes impact in the way of health factors?
  3. Who (psychologists, physicians, sleep expertsd?) should take primary responsibility for directing efforts into “future research” in this area and why?

References (Read Further):

Bryce A. Mander, Joseph R. Winer, Matthew P. Walker (2017) Neuron, Vol. 94, Issue 1, p19–36

Published in issue: April 05, 2017 http://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(17)30088-0

Ohayon, M., Wickwire, E. M., Hirshkowitz, M., Albert, S. M., Avidan, A., Daly, F. J., … & Hazen, N. (2017). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep quality recommendations: first report. Sleep Health, 3(1), 6-19.

Mattis, J., & Sehgal, A. (2016). Circadian rhythms, sleep, and disorders of aging. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 27(4), 192-203.

Varga, A. W., Ducca, E. L., Kishi, A., Fischer, E., Parekh, A., Koushyk, V., … & Burschtin, O. E. (2016). Effects of aging on slow-wave sleep dynamics and human spatial navigational memory consolidation. Neurobiology of aging, 42, 142-149.

Mander, B. A., Winer, J. R., Jagust, W. J., & Walker, M. P. (2016). Sleep: a novel mechanistic pathway, biomarker, and treatment target in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease?. Trends in Neurosciences, 39(8), 552-566. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bryce_Mander/publication/304191436_Sleep_A_Novel_Mechanistic_Pathway_Biomarker_and_Treatment_Target_in_the_Pathology_of_Alzheimer’s_Disease/links/5775841b08ae4645d60bad5e.pdf

 

 

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Health Psychology, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Close your eyes and imagine yourself competing at the Olympics. Imagine the race, imagine what you need to do to compete well and then imagine winning a medal! OK nice daydream but you are probably not going to the Olympics and you may not even do the sport you were dreaming about doing. We are told as children; well I was told anyway, that daydreaming does not accomplish anything. I have even stated in Introductory Psychology classes that mental imagery (practice) only helps if you are already really good at something. But guess what?! Mental imagery may actually help us non-Olympians perform better. Read the linked article and follow up on the research cited to see what might be possible! Next stop? (no not the Olympics but maybe the pool!)

Source: How to daydream your way to better athletic performance, Greg Chertok, Wellness, Eat and Run, US News.

Date: April 3, 2017

Photo Credit:  Getty Images

Links:  Article Link — https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/03/well/missing-keys.html

Sport Psychology is having a HUGE impact in upper end competitive sports. Over 90% of Olympic athletes are using some form of mental imagery to enhance their performance (better than drugs, that is for sure!). Why does it work? Well the same brain pathways we use to DO our activities are activated when we think about or mentally visualize doing those same things. It is practice without obvious activity. The article suggests a number of areas of performance where mental imagery or mental practice can help with real, “game day” performance.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Does mental imagery help real performance?
  2. If the answer to question 1 is yes, how does it work?
  3. Are there other areas, beyond performance athletics, where this way of practicing might have application?

References (Read Further):

Ryan, E. D., & Simons, J. (1981). Cognitive demand, imagery, and frequency of mental rehearsal as factors influencing acquisition of motor skills. Journal of Sport Psychology, 3(1), 35-45. http://fitnessforlife.org/AcuCustom/Sitename/Documents/DocumentItem/8538.pdf

Sobierajewicz, J., Szarkiewicz, S., Przekoracka-Krawczyk, A., Jaśkowski, W., & van der Lubbe, R. (2016). To What Extent Can Motor Imagery Replace Motor Execution While Learning a Fine Motor Skill?. Advances in cognitive psychology, 12(4), 179. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5280057/

Kehoe, R., & Rice, M. (2016). Reality, virtual reality, and imagery: Quality of movement in novice dart players. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(4), 244-251. http://utdr.utoledo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1569&context=graduate-projects

Posted by & filed under Language-Thought, Memory, Motivation-Emotion, Stress Coping - Health.

Description: OK so remember a time when you could not find your keys? What did you do? When you found them (assuming the cat or the elves did not steal them) how far were they from where they were supposed to be? Did you employ a systematic search strategy or did you simply curse, swear and wander aimlessly around the house looking for them? Well psychologists have looked at this question. Read the article linked below to see what you should have done!

Source: How to find your missing keys and stop losing other things, Christopher Mele, Well, New York Times.

Date: April 3, 2017

Photo Credit:  Getty Images

Links:  Article Link — https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/03/well/missing-keys.html

So have you internalized all the search tips in the article? The trick, of course is not just recalling them on this pop quiz but actually implementing them when you need to. So remember, do not waste time looking where you know things are NOT; search thoroughly and then do NOT go back and re-search areas you have already cleared; is your “help” planting false suggestions or actually helping? Do you make your valuables more “find-able”, such as leaving your cell phones ringer on so you can call it? Or, go high tech and attach GPS tracking units to your stuff. Above all else remember that forgetting clears space for new important stuff so it is just natural AND adaptive!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why do we have trouble finding common things like keys and cell phones?
  2. What search strategies can help us when keys vanish? What do we do to work against ourselves in those situations?
  3. What additional research should be done in this area?

References (Read Further):

Solomon, P (2008) How to find lost objects, Baltimore, Top Hat Press, http://www.professorsolomon.com/  download link: http://www.professorsolomon.com/lobookpage.html

Nakada, T., Kanai, H., & Kunifuji, S. (2005, September). A support system for finding lost objects using spotlight. In Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Human computer interaction with mobile devices & services (pp. 321-322). ACM. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dd3d/5e036097e94baf984b5f02610f357d3c9812.pdf

Nowakowska, A., Clarke, A. D., & Hunt, A. R. (2017, February). Human visual search behaviour is far from ideal. In Proc. R. Soc. B (Vol. 284, No. 1849, p. 20162767). The Royal Society.

https://theconversation.com/why-you-are-constantly-searching-for-your-keys-72996

Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Intervention: Identifying Key Elements of Change, mental illness, Neuroscience, Psychological Disorders, Research Methods in CP, Schizophrenia, Sensation-Perception, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: Quick pop-quiz! What does the cerebellum do? It is involved in producing smooth motor movement right (balance, equilibrium etc.)? Yes, right, but what else is it involved in? Well, how about schizophrenia? As our understanding of the neurological factors involved in psychological functions and dysfunctions expands we are increasingly realizing more clearly something neuroscientists have been telling us for years…. that our brains are not full of many hyper-specialized processing centers (e.g., a mood center, a decision center, a social processing center etc). Rather, areas of the brain work together to produce complex human behaviour or dysfunction together to produce the symptoms of complex human disorders such as schizophrenia. So, how is the cerebellum involved in the symptoms of schizophrenia, well read the linked article below to find out.

Source: Brain stimulation improves schizophrenia-like cognitive problems, ScienceDaily.

Date: March 28, 2017

Photo Credit:  http://www.neuroskills.com/brain-injury/cerebellum.php

Links:  Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170328132228.htm

So if losses in the ability to track and modulate time in relation to brain activities is a part of what happens in schizophrenia then finding out how the brain monitors and manages time and how we might intervene and adjust this process might be important in our understanding and treatment of schizophrenia. The work described in the article linked above suggests that the cerebellum might play a role in time managing brain events. Rats showing schizophrenia-like symptoms showed substantial improvement in functioning when the cerebellum areas of their brains were stimulated. Understanding just how the brain functions that are impaired or lost in schizophrenia are managed in “normally functioning” individuals take us a long way towards understanding this complex disorder and eventually towards devising treatments or perhaps even cures for the disorder.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What functions does the cerebellum serve in relation to how we move around in the environment?
  2. How might the timing of mental events (as in how they are temporally managed) matter in relation to the pattern of symptoms we recognize as reflecting schizophrenia?
  3. What are some of the treatment/management implications of cerebellum stimulation in schizophrenics? What else must be done before we can get beyond the rat models used in the study described in the linked article to understand and potentially treat schizophrenia?

References (Read Further):

K L Parker, Y C Kim, R M Kelley, A J Nessler, K-H Chen, V A Muller-Ewald, N C Andreasen, N S Narayanan. Delta-frequency stimulation of cerebellar projections can compensate for schizophrenia-related medial frontal dysfunction. Molecular Psychiatry, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2017.50

Carroll, C. A., O’donnell, B. F., Shekhar, A., & Hetrick, W. P. (2009). Timing dysfunctions in schizophrenia as measured by a repetitive finger tapping task. Brain and cognition, 71(3), 345-353.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2783288

Alústiza, I., Radua, J., Pla, M., Martin, R., & Ortuño, F. (2017). Meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of timing and cognitive control in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: Evidence of a primary time deficit. Schizophrenia Research.

Giersch, A., Lalanne, L., & Isope, P. (2016). Implicit Timing as the Missing Link between Neurobiological and Self Disorders in Schizophrenia?. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4913093/

 

Posted by & filed under Consciousness, Industrial Organizational Psychlology, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Language-Thought, Neuroscience, Social Influence.

Description: OK, this sounds like a weird question perhaps but what music would you predict would be most likely to get you to say “YES” to the question “would you like fries with that?” The picture below (if you recognize ED) gives the answer away but the more important questions are why does this work and what do we NOW need to be aware of and on our guards about when we are out shopping and/or eating?

Source: Why the sound of Ed Sheeran helps sell fries, Chitra Ramaswamy, Retail Industry, short Cuts, The Guardian.
Date: April 2, 2017

Photo Credit:  Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty Images

Links:  Article Link — https://www.theguardian.com/business/shortcuts/2017/apr/02/why-the-sound-of-ed-sheeran-helps-sell-fries

We have known (maybe always?) that music triggers certain associations in our brains. That is what music does right? It can intensify our terror in a horror movie, encourage tears in poignant sappy scenes in romantic or tragic films and, apparently, it can tune us to the brand or brands around us when we enter certain stores or restaurants. And now, as with many things tied into “big data” consultants are using data to help retail establishments tune the music they play in the background so that we spend more in general or so that we are more likely to buy burgers, fries or desserts. We can be “primed” by music to do all manner of things and while the effects may not lead to purchase decisions for everyone all the time it ups the likelihood that sales will occur and from a business point of view that’s money!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are several ways you are already aware of that music affects your moods and perhaps even your behaviour?
  2. What are some of the ways in which the music we are exposed to as “background” top our shopping or eating experiences might influence our consumer behaviour?
  3. What, if anything, can or should we do in our day-to-day lives as consumers in relation to these research findings? Are there ethical issues involved here?

References (Read Further):

We grow business with music, https://www.soundtrackyourbrand.com/

 

LaRose, R. A. (2016). The Language of Music and Math: An Investigation of Cross-Domain Effects of Structural Priming. http://publish.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1929&context=honorstheses

Feezell, J. T. (2017). It’s Not Only Rock and Roll: The Influence of Music Preferences. Music as a Platform for Political Communication, 167.

Zellner, D., Geller, T., Lyons, S., Pyper, A., & Riaz, K. (2017). Ethnic congruence of music and food affects food selection but not liking. Food Quality and Preference, 56, 126-129.

Lang, M., Mitkidis, P., Kundt, R., Nichols, A., Krajčíková, L., & Xygalatas, D. (2016). Music as a sacred cue? Effects of religious music on moral behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4894891/

Hsu, D. Y., Huang, L., Nordgren, L. F., Rucker, D. D., & Galinsky, A. D. (2015). The music of power: perceptual and behavioral consequences of powerful music. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(1), 75-83. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.909.7414&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

Posted by & filed under Basic Cognitive Functions In Aging: Information Processing Attention Memory, Child Development, Cognitive Development: Piagetian and Vygotskian Approaches, Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach, Human Development, Learning, Neuroscience, The Self.

Description: We know that preschoolers have trouble with (but are quite cute about) their understanding of other people’s thoughts, especially when other people’s thoughts are different than their own. If you show a 3.5 year old that a box of smarties (they are like M and M’s but are British/Canadian) contains short golf pencils rather than those delicious little round chocolate candies and then ask then to predict what a newly arriving, naïve to the boxes’ contents, friend would say is in the box the 3.5 year old will usually say “pencils” (and will usually sound depressed about it at the same time). What Piaget referred to as egocentrism (an inability to get past one’s own knowledge to predict likely different expectations in others) and what more recent theorists and researchers have called the development of a Theory of Mind has been the focus a much explanatory debate in recent years. What has always been rather amazing is the consistent finding that the loss of egocentrism or the onset of a functional theory of mind seems to be a qualitative developmental achievement – not there and then there, in fairly short order. Why do you think that might be? The article linked below is offering evidence for a possible brain maturation based explanation.

Source: The importance of relating to others: Why we only learn to understand other people after the age of four, Science Daily.

Date: March 27, 2017

Photo Caption/Credit:  The maturation of fibers of a brain structure called the arcuate fascicle (green) between the ages of three and four years establishes a connection between two critical brain regions: A region at the back of the temporal lobe (brown) that supports adults thinking about others and their thoughts and a region in the frontal lobe (red) that is involved in keeping things at different levels of abstraction and, therefore, helps us to understand what the real world is and what the thoughts of others are. Credit: © MPI CBS

Links:  Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170327083433.htm

The research reported upon in the linked article is a wonderful example (one of two I will be posting on today – the other having to do with the cerebellum and schizophrenia) of how our brain accomplishes its amazing tasks using process that are distributed throughout the brain. In this case properly taking another person’s perspective when their thoughts or expectations are different than our own requires the development and functioning of a fibrous brain connective structure called the arcuate fascilicle. This connective pathway links a region in the temporal lobe that enables thinking about others and about their thoughts and a region in the frontal lobe that facilitates thinking in layers (e.g., like when you are playing poker or trying to fool someone…”they are thinking that I am thinking that they are thinking …”). Working together allows these two regions to help us build a predictively accurate theory of mind and stop behaving in egocentric manners.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do we mean when we say that a preschool child is “egocentric” or that they lack a “theory of mind”?
  2. If preschoolers had to “learn” a theory of mind what sorts of experiences would be involved in facilitating such “learning”?
  3. How might your answer to question 2 above relate to the results discussed in the article linked above?

References (Read Further):

Charlotte Grosse Wiesmann, Jan Schreiber, Tania Singer, Nikolaus Steinbeis, Angela D. Friederici. White matter maturation is associated with the emergence of Theory of Mind in early childhood. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 14692 http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14692

Schug, J., Takagishi, H., Benech, C., & Okada, H. (2016). The development of theory of mind and positive and negative reciprocity in preschool children. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4925699/

Baker, S. T., Leslie, A. M., Gallistel, C. R., & Hood, B. M. (2016). Bayesian change-point analysis reveals developmental change in a classic theory of mind task. Cognitive Psychology, 91, 124-149. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010028515300621

Westra, E., & Carruthers, P. (2017). Pragmatic development explains the Theory-of-Mind Scale. Cognition, 158, 165-176. http://faculty.philosophy.umd.edu/pcarruthers/The%20theory-of-mind%20scale.pdf