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Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Winfried Menninghaus, Valentin Wagner, Julian Hanich, Eugen Wassiliwizky, Thomas Jacobsen, Stefan Koelsch
Why are negative emotions so central in art reception far beyond tragedy? Revisiting classical aesthetics in light of recent psychological research, we present a novel model to explain this much-discussed (apparent) paradox. We argue that negative emotions are an important resource for the arts in general rather than a special license for exceptional art forms only. The underlying rationale is that negative emotions have been shown to be particularly powerful in securing attention, intense emotional involvement, and high memorability-and hence precisely in what artworks strive for...
February 20, 2017: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Johannes Mahr, Gergely Csibra
Episodic memory has been analyzed in a number of different ways in both philosophy and psychology, and most controversy has centered on its self-referential, 'autonoetic' character. Here, we offer a comprehensive characterization of episodic memory in representational terms, and propose a novel functional account on this basis. We argue that episodic memory should be understood as a distinctive epistemic attitude taken towards an event simulation. On this view, episodic memory has a metarepresentational format and should not be equated with beliefs about the past...
January 19, 2017: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Gillian V Pepper, Daniel Nettle
Socioeconomic differences in behaviour are pervasive and well documented, but their causes are not yet well understood. Here, we make the case that there is a cluster of behaviours associated with lower socioeconomic status, which we call the behavioural constellation of deprivation. We propose that the relatively limited control associated with lower socioeconomic status curtails the extent to which people can expect to realise deferred rewards, leading to more present-oriented behaviour in a range of domains...
January 11, 2017: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Lee Jussim
Social Perception and Social Reality (Jussim 2012) reviews the evidence in social psychology and related fields and reaches three conclusions: (1) Although errors, biases, and self-fulfilling prophecies in person perception are real, reliable, and occasionally quite powerful, on average, they tend to be weak, fragile, and fleeting. (2) Perceptions of individuals and groups tend to be at least moderately, and often highly accurate. (3) Conclusions based on the research on error, bias, and self-fulfilling prophecies routinely greatly overstate their power and pervasiveness, and consistently ignore evidence of accuracy, agreement, and rationality in social perception...
January 2017: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
John M Doris
Does it make sense for people to hold one another responsible for what they do, as happens in countless social interactions every day? One of the most unsettling lessons from recent psychological research is that people are routinely mistaken about the origins of their behavior. Yet philosophical orthodoxy holds that the exercise of morally responsible agency typically requires accurate self-awareness. If the orthodoxy is right, and the psychology is to be believed, people characteristically fail to meet the standards of morally responsible agency, and we are faced with the possibility of skepticism about agency...
November 29, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Holly P Branigan, Martin J Pickering
Within the cognitive sciences, most researchers assume that it is the job of linguists to investigate how language is represented, and that they do so largely by building theories based on explicit judgments about patterns of acceptability - whereas it is the task of psychologists to determine how language is processed, and that in doing so, they do not typically question the linguists' representational assumptions. We challenge this division of labor, by arguing that structural priming provides an implicit method of investigating linguistic representations that should end the current reliance on acceptability judgments...
November 29, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Brenden M Lake, Tomer D Ullman, Joshua B Tenenbaum, Samuel J Gershman
Recent progress in artificial intelligence (AI) has renewed interest in building systems that learn and think like people. Many advances have come from using deep neural networks trained end-to-end in tasks such as object recognition, video games, and board games, achieving performance that equals or even beats humans in some respects. Despite their biological inspiration and performance achievements, these systems differ from human intelligence in crucial ways. We review progress in cognitive science suggesting that truly human-like learning and thinking machines will have to reach beyond current engineering trends in both what they learn, and how they learn it...
November 24, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Tali Leibovich, Naama Katzin, Maayan Harel, Avishai Henik
In this review, we are pitting two theories against each other: the more accepted theory-the 'number sense' theory-suggesting that a sense of number is innate and non-symbolic numerosity is being processed independently of continuous magnitudes (e.g., size, area, density); and the newly emerging theory suggesting that (1) both numerosities and continuous magnitudes are processed holistically when comparing numerosities, and (2) a sense of number might not be innate. In the first part of this review, we discuss the 'number sense' theory...
August 17, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Judith M Burkart, Michèle N Schubiger, Carel P van Schaik
The presence of general intelligence poses a major evolutionary puzzle, which has led to increased interest in its presence in nonhuman animals. The aim of this review is to critically evaluate this puzzle, and to explore the implications for current theories about the evolution of cognition. We first review domain-general and domain-specific accounts of human cognition in order to situate attempts to identify general intelligence in nonhuman animals. Recent studies are consistent with the presence of general intelligence in mammals (rodents and primates)...
July 28, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Daniel Nettle, Clare Andrews, Melissa Bateson
Integrative explanations of why obesity is more prevalent in some sectors of the human population than others are lacking. Here, we outline and evaluate one candidate explanation, the insurance hypothesis (IH). The IH is rooted in adaptive evolutionary thinking: the function of storing fat is to provide a buffer against shortfall in the food supply. Thus, individuals should store more fat when they receive cues that access to food is uncertain. Applied to humans, this implies that an important proximate driver of obesity should be food insecurity rather than food abundance per se...
July 28, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Nazim Keven, Kathleen A Akins
Over 35 years ago, Meltzoff and Moore (1977) published their famous article 'Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates'. Their central conclusion, that neonates can imitate, was and continues to be controversial. Here we focus on an often neglected aspect of this debate, namely on neonatal spontaneous behaviors themselves. We present a case study of a paradigmatic orofacial 'gesture', namely tongue protrusion and retraction (TP/R). Against the background of new research on mammalian aerodigestive development, we ask: How does the human aerodigestive system develop and what role does TP/R play in the neonate's emerging system of aerodigestion? We show that mammalian aerodigestion develops in two phases: (1) from the onset of isolated orofacial movements in utero to the post-natal mastery of suckling at 4 months after birth, and; (2) thereafter, from preparation to the mastery of mastication and deglutition of solid foods...
July 14, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Dario Maestripieri, Andrea Henry, Nora Nickels
Financial and prosocial biases in favor of attractive individuals have been documented in the labor market, in everyday life social transactions, and in studies involving experimental economic games. Different explanations have been proposed by economists, social psychologists, and evolutionary psychologists. Some of these explanations assume that attractiveness is a marker of personality, intelligence, trustworthiness, professional competence, or productivity while others suggest that attractive individuals are favored because they are preferred sexual partners...
June 10, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Paul A M Van Lange, Maria I Rinderu, Brad J Bushman
Worldwide there are substantial differences within and between countries in aggression and violence. Although there are various exceptions, a general rule is that aggression and violence increase as one moves closer to the equator, which suggests the important role of climate differences. While this pattern is robust, theoretical explanations for these large differences in aggression and violence within countries and around the world are lacking. Most extant explanations focus on the influence of average temperature as a factor that triggers aggression (The General Aggression Model), or the notion that warm temperature allows for more social interaction situations (Routine Activity Theory) in which aggression is likely to unfold...
May 23, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Matthew M Gervais, Daniel M T Fessler
Contempt is typically studied as a uniquely human moral emotion. However, this approach has yielded inconclusive results. We argue this is because the folk affect concept "contempt" has been inaccurately mapped onto basic affect systems. "Contempt" has features that are inconsistent with a basic emotion, especially its protracted duration and frequently cold phenomenology. Yet other features are inconsistent with a basic attitude. Nonetheless, the features of "contempt" functionally cohere. To account for this we revive and reconfigure the sentiment construct using the notion of evolved functional specialization...
March 22, 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
David Sloan Wilson
The target article is a major step toward integrating the biological and human-related sciences. It is highly relevant to economics and public policy formulation in the real world, in addition to its basic scientific import. My commentary covers a number of points, including avoiding an excessively narrow focus on agriculture, the importance of multilevel selection and complex systems theory, and utopic versus dystopic scenarios for the future.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
John Tooby, Leda Cosmides
The properties of individual carbon atoms allow them to chain into complex molecules of immense length. They are not limited to structures involving only a few atoms. The design features of our evolved neural adaptations appear similarly extensible. Individuals with forager brains can link themselves together into unprecedentedly large cooperative structures without the need for large group-beneficial modifications to evolved human design. Roles need only be intelligible to our social program logic, and judged better than alternatives...
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Matthew L Stanley, Felipe De Brigard
Neural reuse allegedly stands in stark contrast against a modular view of the brain. However, the development of unique modularity algorithms in network science has provided the means to identify functionally cooperating, specialized subsystems in a way that remains consistent with the neural reuse view and offers a set of rigorous tools to fully engage in Anderson's (2014) research program.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
William O'Grady
I focus on two challenges that processing-based theories of language must confront: the need to explain why language has the particular properties that it does, and the need to explain why processing pressures are manifested in the particular way that they are. I discuss these matters with reference to two illustrative phenomena: proximity effects in word order and a constraint on contraction.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Karen Emmorey
Signed and spoken languages emerge, change, are acquired, and are processed under distinct perceptual, motor, and memory constraints. Therefore, the Now-or-Never bottleneck has different ramifications for these languages, which are highlighted in this commentary. The extent to which typological differences in linguistic structure can be traced to processing differences provides unique evidence for the claim that structure is processing.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Chen Hou
Complementary to Gowdy & Krall's comparison between ants and humans, I use economy scaling laws to discuss the similarity and difference between them quantitatively. I hypothesize that individual variations in society result in higher energetic efficiency in larger groups, and that the difference in the sustainability between these species originates from the driving forces of growth with different scaling powers.
January 2016: Behavioral and Brain Sciences
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