Philosophical concept is one of the facets of musical expression. Because music does not contain language-like semantics, music listeners often find it difficult to understand philosophical concepts in music. The proposed research examines the cognitive and neural bases of the processing of philosophical concepts in musicians and non-musicians through three experiments: philosophical meaning emerging from non-symbolic musical themes, from symbolic musical themes, and from large-scale relations. The findings will reveal the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the perception of philosophical concepts as induced by different extramusical signals, and the effect of musical training on the processing of extramusical meaning. This will provide clear evidence as to whether and to what extent the understanding of musical meaning is universal in humans.
In the past few years, the news that reported the negative aspects of the two-children families have not been rare. Particularly, news has been frequently reported that firstborn children have difficulties in adapting the newborn’s birth and parents have difficulties in coping with the firstborn children’s adaptation. Do all firstborn children have negative reactions in response to the newborn's birth? Do they have positive reactions also? In addition, no matter whether they have negative or positive reactions, who will be more likely to have such kind of reactions after the arrival of a second child? Furthermore, are there any protective factors which may promote firstborn’s adjustment and risk factors which may lead to difficulties in adjustment? To answer the questions above, this project includes three studies. The first study examines the biological and psychological change trajectories over time in how the firstborn sibling may cope with the transition to siblinghood. The second study will analyze how the potential individual factors (e.g., temperament and empathy) influence such changes. And the third study will examine how the potential family factors (e.g., parent-child attachment, and marital quality) influence such changes. The results of the project may have practical implications for the mental health education and counselling for families with two children.
The tense rhythm of modern society makes people feel that time is decreasing, which results in a perception of time famine. We call this phenomenon “Time Poverty”. We propose a significant influence of “Time Poverty” on individual's cognitive judgment, emotion, and behavior regulation. Integrating the approaches of behavioral science and cognitive neuroscience, this project explores the impact of “Time Poverty” on individual's intertemporal choices and proactive behavior at three levels: behavioral, psychological, and neural mechanism. The objectives of this project are to investigate (1) the influence of “Time Poverty” on individual’s cognitive judgment, emotion, and behavior regulation, (2) the influence of “Time Poverty” on individual’s intertemporal choice, and (3) the impact of “Time Poverty” on employee proactive behavior in organizations. Via a series of studies, we attempt to address three critical questions: (1) How does “Time Poverty” affect people’s cognitive judgment? Does it lead to irrational decisions? (2) What is the brain mechanism of the influence of “Time Poverty” on individual's cognitive function and intertemporal choice? (3) what managerial challenges does “Time Poverty” put forward? By answering these questions, we intend to further behavioral decision theory and provide a practical guide for effective management design and the avoidance of “Time Poverty Trap” (employee and organization).
The relationship between density and numerosity cognition is a crucial question in numerosity research fields which could decide the existence of an independent mechanism in numerosity cognition. However, improvements are necessary for the discussion about the relationship in previous studies. Firstly, experimental studies should be more efficient in discriminating the density and numerosity processes. Secondly, related perspectives should be more comprehensive in demonstrating the relationship and mechanisms underlying these two processes. Thirdly, the cognitive models based on the existed theories should pay more attention on their theoretical meaning. In this review, these issues will be further discussed. Feature researches should discuss the probability on integrating the processing of numerosity based on the processing of density. Based on the discussion, a framework which integrated numerosity and density processing would be suggested.
Testing effect refers to the improvement of subsequent memory performance for test compared to restudy. Most theories argue that testing effect is a function of the retrieval mechanism. Recently, many research findings have supported elaborative retrieval theory. But the Episodic Context Account, proposed by Karpicke and colleages in 2014, contends that context reinstatement in retrieval mode, rather than semantic elaboration, plays a key role in the formation of testing effect. This review involves current theories of testing effect. On the basis of the Episodic Context Account and neuroscience studies of retrieval processes, the mechanism of testing effect could be explored more deeply from the angles of retrieval mode and retrieval orientation.
Recent studies suggest that interference control can be modified with training. Researchers often choose children, adults, the aged, and special groups as subjects. In the current study, interference control ability was trained by using Stroop and flanker tasks. The training comprised 76 to 2200 trials for five days to five weeks. Further, behavioral parameters and brain activity were measured using brain imaging techniques to evaluate the training effects. Our study found that interference control ability improved after training and the training effects were transferred to other related tasks. In addition, the training effects may be affected by multiple factors such as type of training and evaluation tasks, and individual differences. Furthermore, after cognitive training, there is a decrease in the anterior cingulate cortex activity, which is involved in conflict monitoring, and the activation of the prefrontal cortex that is associated with conflict resolution increases, thereby enhancing the degree of top-down control. Therefore, future research needs to further investigate the mechanism of interference control and to assess the retention periods of practice-related improvement.
Cognitive training has been widely used to delay age related cognitive decline in recent years. By collecting studies published between January 2008 and December 2014, we qualitatively examined the improvement of the performance on training tasks and the near and far transfer effects of cognitive training on healthy older adults. We found that most of the experiments revealed positive effects on training tasks. Moreover, the majority of the experiments which had reported maintenance of the training effect were based on cognitive control training or comprehensive cognitive training. Futhermore, most of the transfer effects were obtained in fluid intelligence related processes such as working memory and attention. By employing neuroimaging techniques, training related structural and functional changes were found, indicating neural plasticity mechanisms in cognitive training. Future studies should combine behavioral and neural indices to comprehensively test whether the efficacy and transfer effects of cognitive training could be applied/ transferred to daily life function in healthy older adults, and investigate the modulation or mediation effect of individual differences (e.g., trainability) on cognitive training.
Exposure to traumatic experience may result in the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The formation of emotional memories following exposure to a traumatic event is an important mechanism for the subsequent development of PTSD. Animal and human research suggests that the development of PTSD may involve the overconsolidation of memories of a traumatic experience. Noradrenergic signaling strengthens the consolidation and reconsolidation of emotional memory. Therefore, the enhancement of noradrenergic signaling during extinction may strengthen the consolidation of extinction memory, whereas the disruption of noradrenergic signaling during consolidation and reconsolidation may abolish the pathological emotional component of memories, thus alleviating PTSD.
Oxytocin is known as “social bonds hormone” which affects social behavior and cognition, including emotion recognition. At present, three views for the effect of oxytocin on emotion recognition to have been proposed: (1) oxytocin selectively promotes the recognition of positive emotions and slow down the recognition of negative emotions; (2) oxytocin selectively enhances the identification of negative emotions; (3) oxytocin improves the recognition of all emotions regardless of emotional valence. The neural mechanisms for the influence of oxytocin on emotion recognition to focus on three aspects: emotional valence, gender differences and psychiatric diseases. In addition, the social salience hypothesis has been put forward to explain the effects of oxytocin on emotion recognition. Oxytocin has the potential as a treatment for psychiatric diseases of emotion recognition disorders. Future research is expected to further investigate the relationship between oxytocin and emotional valence, as well as consider the influence of individual factors such as gender. There is also a need to deeply explore the clinical application of oxytocin and expand the research scope.
Optimism is generalized positive expectations for the future. It brings many benefits. For instance, optimism can improve individual’s physical health, well-being and promote success. One possible mechanism behind these phenomena is optimists’ positive bias in attention, perception, memory, explanatory styles, coping strategies, emotion, expectations and motivation, etc. Empirical evidence shows that positive bias of optimism is related to the activation level of rostral anterior cingulate cortex and prefrontal cortex. To deeply explore the mechanisms of optimism, it’s essential to take expectations, core of dispositional optimism, as the focus of research, integrating expectancy-value theory, personality theory, and neural basis in future studies.
Autism are characterized by difficulties in reciprocal social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive activities and narrow interests. A core diagnostic criterion of autism is abnormal implicit social cognition. Based on the assumption that mirror neuron system is the unified neural basis of implicit social processes, the “broken mirror” theory attributes most social deficits in autism to impairments in mirror neuron system, leading to the issues with social skills, imitation, empathy, and theory of mind seen in people with autism. However, after a decade of extensive examination and verification, this theory has been facing increasing challenges from behavioral, neuroscientific and clinical research. This paper outlines literatures examining the unified role of mirror neuron system for implicit social cognition, and systematically review studies testing a global dysfunction of the mirror system in autism. We conclude that mirror neuron system plays a sufficient but not necessary role for implicit social cognition and very few evidence supports that an all-or-nothing problem with the mirror neuron system can underlie autism. The implications and future research directions are also discussed.
Stress refers to systematically nonspecific reactions to actual or potential threats. It is accompanied with psychological experiences of nervousness and anxiety, excitation of the sympathetic nervous system, increment of glucocorticoid, and alternations in the brainstem-limbic-prefrontal neural circuit. Stress significantly influences risk-seeking and risk-aversive behaviors in risky decision making as well as proself and prosocial behaviors in social decision making. The cognitive basis of stress’s influences on decision making are formed by dysfunctional strategies, an increase of habitual and automatic responses, alterations in feedback processing and changes in reward and punishment sensitivity. On the other hand, the neural foundations of stress’s influences on decision making are formed by secretion of stress hormones and brain activation changes in areas that are crucial in decision making, such as prefrontal cortex, amygdala. Future studies should focus on the following topics: 1) revealing the relationship between individual differences in stress and diverse effects of stress on decision making; 2) measuring stress with multiple indexes; 3) investigating the temporal course of stress; 4) uncovering an individual’s optimal stress level; 5) strengthening research about the influence of chronic stress on decision making and the reversible effects; 6) unlocking the neural mechanism of how stress affects decision making.
Mindfulness meditation as a more beneficial approach to addictions has attracted increasing attention from researchers. Mindfulness meditation, whose practice involves consciously focusing on the experience of thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, is commonly defined as a method which pays attention to the present moment with an attitude of awareness, acceptance and non-judgment. The researcher conducted this paper in three perspectives, namely, the active role of the mindfulness meditation in modifying addictive behaviors, the importance of desire and pressure in it and the neural mechanism. As all studies up to now is preliminary, future explorations are expected to be further launched in areas like research methodology, explanatory mechanism, and application research.