Cognition Workshop 10/19/22: Henry Jones & Dr. Michael Cohen

First speaker: Henry Jones [link], a Ph.D. student in Awh/Vogel labEEG Decoding Reveals Distinct Processes for Directing Spatial Attention and Encoding into Working MemoryWe know that attention operates at both early and late stages of processing, affecting both low-level sensory processing and the selection/prioritization of perceived objects. In EEG, these aspects of attention have been studied via covert spatial attention, captured by spatially-selective alpha, and the number of items currently held in working memory (WM load), captured by raw voltage patterns across the scalp. Recent work has found evidence that spatially-selective alpha and load voltage signals diverge in some circumstances, suggesting that they reflect 2 separate forms of voluntary attentional control. However, the previous literature has made use of relatively coarse measures. To address this, I’ll be presenting a new task that lets us independently manipulate the relevant spatial area to attend to and the relevant number of objects to encode into WM. In combination with more sensitive measures, we find a double dissociation of results, such that alpha signals are impacted by changes to the attended spatial area, but not the number of objects, and load signals are impacted by the number of relevant items, but not changes to the attended spatial area. I’ll propose that this provides evidence for at least 2 forms of voluntary attentional control, and discuss how this could reframe other attentional effects.Second speaker: Michael Cohen [link], a postdoctoral researcher (senior research analyst) in Decety labIndividual differences in and Neural mechanisms of Continued Influence Effects from false political accusations.We examined how misinformation influences subsequent judgments and decisions, following prior work on Continued Influence Effects (CIEs). We developed a set of novel political candidate stimuli with accusations and refutations based on true stories. We observed robust within-participant CIEs: candidates targeted by corrected accusations evoke lower feeling thermometer ratings than candidates not targeted by accusations. In two experiments examining individual differences in CIEs, we found that self-reported reliance on intuition/feelings is associated with larger CIEs, while digital literacy knowledge is associated with lessened CIEs. Affective polarization may predict larger CIEs, but this finding was not consistently observed. CIEs are not predicted by Republican political orientation or Actively Open-Minded Thinking, two factors that are strong predictors of headline accuracy discernment (a different way of assessing misinformation vulnerability).  An fMRI experiment also showed that lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC) and L TPJ are associated with dislike of candidates targeted with accusations regardless of correction, suggesting an important role for socioemotional processing in CIEs. Finally, between individuals, brain activity indicative of greater mentalizing/empathy towards candidates, and activity in executive control regions suggesting more analytic thinking while processing refutations, are associated with lessened CIEs.

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