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Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Katarzyna B Hooks, Jan Pieter Konsman, Maureen A O'Malley
Microbiota-gut-brain (MGB) research is a fast-growing field of inquiry with important implications for how human brain function and behaviour are understood. Researchers manipulate gut microbes ('microbiota') to reveal connections between intestinal microbiota and normal brain functions (e.g., cognition, emotion, memory) or pathological states (e.g., anxiety and mood disorders, neural developmental disorders such as autism). Many claims are made about causal relationships between gut microbiota and human behaviour...
September 12, 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Vikram K Jaswal, Nameera Akhtar
Progress in psychological science can be limited by a number of factors, not least of which are the starting assumptions of scientists themselves. We believe that some influential accounts of autism rest on a questionable assumption that many of its behavioral characteristics indicate a lack of social interest-an assumption that is flatly contradicted by the testimony of many autistic people themselves. In this paper, we challenge this assumption by describing alternative explanations for four such behaviors: (a) low levels of eye contact, (b) infrequent pointing, (c) motor stereotypies, and (d) echolalia...
June 19, 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Patrick Anselme, Onur Güntürkün
Food uncertainty has the effect of invigorating food-related responses. Psychologists have noted that mammals and birds respond more to a conditioned stimulus that unreliably predicts food delivery, and ecologists have shown that animals (especially small passerines) consume and/or hoard more food and can get fatter when access to that resource is unpredictable. Are these phenomena related? We think they are. Psychologists have proposed several mechanistic interpretations, while ecologists have suggested a functional interpretation: the effect of unpredictability on fat reserves and hoarding behavior is an evolutionary strategy acting against the risk of starvation when food is in short supply...
March 8, 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Dobromir Rahnev, Rachel N Denison
Human perceptual decisions are often described as optimal. Critics of this view have argued that claims of optimality are overly flexible and lack explanatory power. Meanwhile, advocates for optimality have countered that such criticisms single out a few selected papers. To elucidate the issue of optimality in perceptual decision making, we review the extensive literature on suboptimal performance in perceptual tasks. We discuss eight different classes of suboptimal perceptual decisions, including improper placement, maintenance, and adjustment of perceptual criteria, inadequate tradeoff between speed and accuracy, inappropriate confidence ratings, misweightings in cue combination, and findings related to various perceptual illusions and biases...
February 27, 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Harvey Whitehouse
Whether upheld as heroic or reviled as terrorism, throughout history people have been willing to lay down their lives for the sake of their groups. Why? Previous theories of extreme self-sacrifice have highlighted a range of seemingly disparate factors such as collective identity, outgroup hostility, and kin psychology. This paper attempts to integrate many of these factors into a single overarching theory based on several decades of collaborative research with a range of special populations, from tribes in Papua New Guinea to Libyan insurgents, and from Muslim fundamentalists in Indonesia to Brazilian football hooligans...
February 7, 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Denny Borsboom, Angélique Cramer, Annemarie Kalis
In the past decades, reductionism has dominated both research directions and funding policies in clinical psychology and psychiatry. However, the intense search for the biological basis of mental disorders has not resulted in conclusive reductionist explanations of psychopathology. Recently, network models have been proposed as an alternative framework for the analysis of mental disorders, in which mental disorders arise from the causal interplay between symptoms. In this paper, we show that this conceptualization can help understand why reductionist approaches in psychiatry and clinical psychology are on the wrong track...
January 24, 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
David C Rubin
Mahr & Csibra (M&C) include interesting ideas about the nature of memory from outside of the field of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. However, the target article's inaccurate claims about those fields limit its usefulness. I briefly review the most serious omissions and distortions of the literature by the target article, including its misrepresentation of event memory, and offer suggestions for forwarding the goal of understanding the communicative function of memory.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
John Morton
Dissociative identity disorder is characterised by the presence in one individual of two or more alternative personality states (alters). For such individuals, the memory representation of a particular event can have full episodic, autonoetic status for one alter, while having the status of knowledge or even being inaccessible to a second alter. This phenomenon appears to create difficulties for a purely representational theory and is presented to Mahr & Csibra (M&C) for their consideration.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Markus Werning, Sen Cheng
Episodic memories are distinct from semantic memories in that they are epistemically generative and privileged. Whereas Mahr & Csibra (M&C) develop a metarepresentational account of epistemic vigilance, we propose an explanation that builds on our notion of scenario construction: The way an event of the past is presented in episodic memory recall explains the epistemic generativity and privilegedness of episodic memory.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Johannes B Mahr, Gergely Csibra
In response to the commentaries, we clarify and defend our characterization of both the nature and function of episodic memory. Regarding the nature of episodic memory, we extend the distinction between event and episodic memory and discuss the relational role of episodic memory. We also address arguments against our characterization of autonoesis and argue that, while self-referential, it needs to be distinguished from an agentive notion of self. Regarding the function of episodic memory, we review arguments about the relation between future mental time travel and memory veridicality; clarify the relation between autonoesis, veridicality, and confidence; and finally discuss the role of episodic memory in diachronic commitments...
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Tayler Eaton, Adam K Anderson
In this commentary, we discuss how one's internal body state and the appraisals an individual utilizes at encoding alter later episodic memory irrespective of social discourse. We suggest that the purpose of episodic memory is originally the preservation of the self, which may have been co-opted to navigating the social world.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Karl K Szpunar, Jason C K Chan
Mahr & Csibra (M&C) propose that episodic memory evolved to support epistemic authority in social communication. We argue for a more parsimonious interpretation whereby episodic memory subserves a broader preparatory function for both social and non-social behavior. We conclude by highlighting that functional accounts of episodic memory may need to consider the complex interrelations between self and subjective time.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Daniel L Schacter, Alexis C Carpenter, Aleea Devitt, Reece P Roberts, Donna Rose Addis
According to Mahr & Csibra (M&C), the view that the constructive nature of episodic memory is related to its role in simulating future events has difficulty explaining why memory is often accurate. We hold this view, but disagree with their conclusion. Here we consider ideas and evidence regarding flexible recombination processes in episodic retrieval that accommodate both accuracy and distortion.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Sarah Robins
Mahr & Csibra (M&C) claim that episodic remembering's autonoetic character serves as an indicator of epistemic authority. This proposal is difficult to reconcile with the existence of confabulation errors - where participants fabricate memories of experiences that never happened to them. Making confabulation errors damages one's epistemic authority, but these false memories have an autonoetic character.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Philipp Rau, George Botterill
Improved control of agency is likely to be a prior and more important function of episodic memory than the epistemic-communicative role pinpointed by Mahr & Csibra (M&C). Taking the memory trace upon which scenario construction is based to be a stored internal model produced in past perceptual processing promises to provide a better account of autonoetic character than metarepresentational embedding.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Steven Samuel, Nicola Clayton
Mahr & Csibra's (M&C's) account of the communicative function of episodic memory relies more heavily on the case against episodic memory in nonhumans than their description suggests. Although the communicative function of episodic memory may be accurate as it pertains to human behaviour, we question whether Morgan's canon is a suitable foundation on which to build theories of supposedly human-specific traits.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Jonathan Redshaw, Thomas Suddendorf
Mahr & Csibra (M&C) fail to make the important distinction between why a trait originally evolved, why it was maintained over time, and what its current utility is. Here we point out that episodic memory may have originally evolved as a by-product of a general metarepresentational capacity, and that it may have current functions beyond the communicative domain.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Katherine Nelson
Two arguments imply that Mahr & Csibra's (M&C's) functional theory is insufficient as an explanation of episodic memory: (1) The developmental course supports a different social cultural division of episodic and semantic memory, and (2) the existence of long-term autobiographical memory is not explained in the functional theory but can be seen in a broader cultural framework.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Robert A Nash
Mahr & Csibra (M&C) make a compelling case for a communicative function of episodic remembering, but a less compelling case that this is its primary function. Questions arise on whether confirming their predictions would support their account sufficiently, on the communicative function of preserving rich, nonbelieved memories, and on the epistemic benefits of developing false memories via the acceptance of misinformation.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Kourken Michaelian
Mahr & Csibra (M&C) view autonoesis as being essential to episodic memories and construction as being essential to the process of episodic remembering. These views imply that episodic memory is systematically misleading, not because it often misinforms us about the past, but rather because it often misinforms us about how it informs us about the past.
January 2018: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
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