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  • Neuro anatomical dissections of unilateral visual neglect symptoms: ALE meta-analysis of lesion-symptom mapping

    3 July 2018

    Unilateral visual neglect is commonly defined as impaired ability to attend to stimuli presented on the side of visual space contralateral to the brain lesion. However, behavioral analyses indicate that different neglect symptoms can dissociate. The neuroanatomy of the syndrome has been hotly debated. Some groups have argued that the syndrome is linked to posterior parietal cortex lesions, while others report damage within regions including the superior temporal gyrus, insula, and basal ganglia. Several recent neuroimaging studies provide evidence that heterogeneity in the behavioral symptoms of neglect can be matched by variations in the brain lesions, and that some of the discrepancies across earlier findings might have resulted from the use of different neuropsychological tests and/or varied measures within the same task for diagnosing neglect. In this paper, we review the evidence for dissociations between both the symptoms and the neural substrates of unilateral visual neglect, drawing on ALE (anatomic likelihood estimation) meta-analyses of lesion-symptom mapping studies. Specifically, we examine dissociations between neglect symptoms associated with impaired control of attention across space (in an egocentric frame of reference) and within objects (in an allocentric frame of reference). Results of ALE meta-analyses indicated that, while egocentric symptoms are associated with damage within perisylvian network (pre- and postcentral, supramarginal, and superior temporal gyri) and damage within sub-cortical structures, more posterior lesions including the angular, middle temporal, and middle occipital gyri are associated with allocentric symptoms. Furthermore, there was high concurrence in deficits associated with white matter lesions within long association (superior longitudinal, inferior fronto-occipital, and inferior longitudinal fasciculi) and projection (corona radiata and thalamic radiation) pathways, supporting a disconnection account of the syndrome. Using this evidence we argue that different forms of neglect link to both distinct and common patterns of gray and white matter lesions.The findings are discussed in terms of functional accounts of neglect and theoretical models based on computational studies of both normal and impaired attention functions. © 2012 Chechlacz, Rotshtein and Humphreys.

  • Epileptic discharges specifically affect intrinsic connectivity networks during absence seizures.

    3 July 2018

    Intrinsic connectivity network (ICN) technique provides a feasible way for evaluating cognitive impairments in epilepsy. This EEG-fMRI study aims to comprehensively assess the alterations of ICNs affected by generalized spike-and-wave discharge (GSWD) during absence seizure (AS). Twelve fMRI sessions with GSWD, and individually paired non-GSWD sessions were acquired from 16 patients with AS. Ten ICNs corresponding to seizure origination and cognitive processes were extracted using independent component analysis. Intra- and inter-network connectivity alterations of the ICNs were observed through comparisons between GSWD and non-GSWD sessions. Sequential correlation analysis between GSWD and the ICN time courses addressed the immediate effects of GSWD on ICNs during AS. GSWD-related increase of intra-network connectivity was found only in the thalamus, and extensive decreases were found in the ICNs corresponding to higher-order cognitive processes including the default-mode network, dorsal attention network, central executive network and salience network. The perceptive networks and motor network were less affected by GSWD. Sequential correlation analysis further demonstrated different responses of the ICNs to GSWD. In addition to GSWD-related functional excitation in the thalamus and functional suspension in the default-mode network, this study revealed extensive inhibitions in the other ICNs corresponding to higher-order cognitive processes, and spared perceptive and motor processes in AS. GSWD elevated synchronization of brain network activity and sequentially affected the ICNs.

  • Altered brain long-range functional interactions underlying the link between aberrant self-experience and self-other relationship in first-episode schizophrenia.

    29 June 2018

    Self-experience anomalies are elementary features of schizophrenic pathology. Such deficits can have a profound impact on self-other relationship, but how they are related through aberrant brain function remains poorly understood. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we provide new evidence for a cortical link between aberrant self-experience and social cognition in first-episode schizophrenia (FES). As identified in previous studies, ventral premotor cortex (vPMC) and posterior insula (pIC) are candidate brain regions underlying disturbances in both self-experience and self-other relationship due to their processing of predominantly externally guided (vPMC; goal-oriented behavior) and internally guided (pIC; interoception) stimuli. Results from functional interaction analysis in a sample of 24 FES patients and 22 healthy controls show aberrant functional interactions (background/intrinsic connectivity) of right vPMC and bilateral pIC with posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), a midline region that has been shown central in mediating self-experience. More specifically, our results show increased functional coupling between vPMC and PCC, which positively correlated with basic symptoms (subjective self-experience disturbances). pIC showed reduced functional coupling with PCC and postcentral gyrus and increased functional interactions with anterior insula. Taken together, our results suggest an imbalance in the processing between internally and externally guided information and its abnormal integration with self-referential processing as mediated by PCC. Due to our correlation findings, we suggest this imbalance to be closely related to basic symptoms in FES and thus anomalous self-experience. The findings further disentangle the cortical basis of how self-experience anomalies may pervade the social domain.

  • Reading comprehension impairments in Autism Spectrum Disorders

    3 July 2018

    Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have impairments in reading comprehension alongside relatively spared word reading; however, studies investigating reading profiles in ASD have been small in scale and few have examined whether word reading skills are underpinned by key foundation skills (e.g., phonological decoding) that need to be in place to support the switch to reading for meaning. This study examined reading (word and text reading accuracy, reading comprehension), phonological decoding (nonword reading) and oral language comprehension (receptive vocabulary) in 49 children and adolescents with ASD and 49 typical peers of the same age. Levels of word and text reading accuracy were within age appropriate levels, but reading comprehension and vocabulary were below average; 31% of the sample showed a significant discrepancy between reading comprehension and word reading accuracy (compared to only 10% of a group of typically developing peers). Even when children with ASD were equated with typical peers on word reading they showed significant nonword decoding difficulties. Variance in phonological decoding was also a significant predictor of reading comprehension for the ASD group (but not for the typical peers).These data suggest that apparent strengths in word reading in ASD may mask basic difficulties with phonological decoding, which, together with weaknesses in oral language comprehension, constrain the development of reading comprehension.

  • Propositional learning is a useful research heuristic but it is not a theoretical algorithm

    3 July 2018

    Mitchell et al.'s claim, that their propositional theory is a single-process theory, is illusory because they relegate some learning to a secondary memory process. This renders the single-process theory untestable. The propositional account is not a process theory of learning, but rather, a heuristic that has led to interesting research. © 2009 Cambridge University Press.

  • Maybe this old dinosaur isn't extinct: What does Bayesian modeling add to associationism?

    3 July 2018

    We agree with Jones & Love (J&L) that much of Bayesian modeling has taken a fundamentalist approach to cognition; but we do not believe in the potential of Bayesianism to provide insights into psychological processes. We discuss the advantages of associative explanations over Bayesian approaches to causal induction, and argue that Bayesian models have added little to our understanding of human causal reasoning. © 2011 Cambridge University Press.

  • A role for CS-US contingency in Pavlovian conditioning.

    3 July 2018

    Two experiments evaluated the role of conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus (CS-US) contingency in appetitive Pavlovian conditioning in rats. In both experiments, some groups received a positively contingent CS signaling an increased likelihood of the US relative to the absence of the CS. These groups were compared with control treatments in which the likelihood of the US was the same in the presence and absence of the CS. A trial marker served as a trial context. Experiment 1 found contingency sensitivity. There was a reciprocal relationship between responding to the CS and the trial marker. Experiment 2 showed that this result was not stimulus or response specific. These results are consistent with associative explanations and the idea that rats are sensitive to CS-US contingency.

  • Alumni

    3 October 2013

    Who was here, and what are they doing now?

  • Positive and negative asymmetry of intergroup contact: A dynamic approach

    21 December 2015

    Whilst intergroup contact can be positive (e.g., having outgroup friends) it can also be negative (e.g., being bullied by an ethnic outgroup member). Diverse settings (e.g., schools, neighbourhoods) could potentially have unintended consequences of actually increasing prejudice because they may expose people to greater frequency of both positive and negative contact (which may undermine positive effects of contact). This project asks: What is the net effect on outgroup attitudes of a mix of both positive and negative contact; how and when do such effects arise dyadically, in social networks, and at the context-level; and what possible consequences might result from their interplay? Preliminary correlational evidence indicates that negative contact has stronger effects on attitudes than positive contact does (although positive contact is more common); we refer to this effect as a Positive-Negative Asymmetry of Contact (PNAC) effect. The broad objectives of the research are to explore the independent and combined consequences of positive and negative contact at interpersonal, network, and context levels, integrating both social-psychological and sociological approaches. We focus on dynamic effects to provide insights into the short- and long-term consequences of having both positive and negative contact with diverse outgroup members. We use a mixed-methods approach complementing laboratory experiments with a diary study, longitudinal surveys, and social networks surveys, using sample populations from three different countries. This allows us to exploit the strengths of different approaches in terms of internal and external validity, and to increase the generalizability of our results. We will also evaluate the dynamic interplay of positive and negative contact in a large-scale social intervention aimed at improving intergroup relations. The proposed research has 5 main aims, using various theoretical and methodological perspectives, spanning sociology and social psychology, and encompassing a variety of research designs: 1. To assess the extent to which negative contact effects threaten the efficacy of positive contact to reduce prejudice, across multiple paradigms (experiments, social networks, longitudinal surveys, intervention-evaluation). 2. To investigate dynamic PNAC effects over time. 3. To test whether PNAC effects are mediated by category salience and moderated by intensity, consistency, order of valenced contact, and majority-minority status. 4. To investigate evidence for buffering, augmentation and poisoning effects at interpersonal-, network- and context-levels. 5. To simultaneously examine the interdependent formation and dynamics of positive and negative contact by testing (a) how positive contact influences negative contact and vice versa and (b) how positive and negative contact influence attitudes.

  • Making Words Stick: Lexical Consolidation Effects in Learning to Read

    24 July 2015

    To become skilled readers, children need to move from sounding words out to recognising them rapidly via access to rich, long-term memory representations. Little is known about how this transition is achieved, and why some children have difficulty. This project will address these questions in a set of learning studies with typically-developing and reading-impaired children, focussing particularly on the long-term consolidation of word representations. We will explore the role of sleep in promoting the consolidation process, in both children and adults. The findings will directly inform theory and practice in reading acquisition and enhance the treatment of reading difficulties.

  • Nurturing a Lexical Legacy: Understanding the Transition From Novice-to-Expert in Children's reading Development

    24 July 2015

    How do children move from slow and effortful reading, where they "sound-out" words and struggle with fluency, to develop the fast, efficient and effective word recognition system that characterises skilled visual word recognition? Our new programme of research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will help us answer this question.

  • Eye Movements and Literary Reading

    24 July 2015

    This project explores the utility of eye-tracking in the study of literary devices characteristic of both Modernist literature and the popular crime/thriller genre. Experimenters typically use simple texts of only a sentence or two rather than real literary texts. Our studies will increase scientific understanding of how authentic literary texts are read, as well as demonstrate the value of complementing theoretical claims about literary devices with empirical testing.

  • Archive

    30 September 2015

    Presentations given by members of the Project Team at earlier stages of the Wellcome Language and Reading Project

  • Useful resources

    30 September 2015

    Project newsletters and updates

  • Case studies

    30 September 2015

    Two cases studies featuring children involved in the project

  • Project overview

    30 September 2015

  • Research Impact

    23 August 2017

    The societal and economic impact of medical research is fast becoming an integral part of research assessment. Here you can explore some of the recent impact case studies from Experimental Psychology researchers.