Kawaii (a Japanese word meaning “cute”) things are popular because they produce positive feelings. However, their effect on behavior remains unclear. In this study, three experiments were conducted to examine the effects of viewing cute images on subsequent task performance. In the first experiment, university students performed a fine motor dexterity task before and after viewing images of baby or adult animals. Performance indexed by the number of successful trials increased after viewing cute images (puppies and kittens; M ± SE = 43.9±10.3% improvement) more than after viewing images that were less cute (dogs and cats; 11.9±5.5% improvement). In the second experiment, this finding was replicated by using a non-motor visual search task. Performance improved more after viewing cute images (15.7±2.2% improvement) than after viewing less cute images (1.4±2.1% improvement). Viewing images of pleasant foods was ineffective in improving performance (1.2±2.1%). In the third experiment, participants performed a global-local letter task after viewing images of baby animals, adult animals, and neutral objects. In general, global features were processed faster than local features. However, this global precedence effect was reduced after viewing cute images. Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing. For future applications, cute objects may be used as an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.
Adults and children are spending more time interacting with media and technology and less time participating in activities in nature. This life-style change clearly has ramifications for our physical well-being, but what impact does this change have on cognition? Higher order cognitive functions including selective attention, problem solving, inhibition, and multi-tasking are all heavily utilized in our modern technology-rich society. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests that exposure to nature can restore prefrontal cortex-mediated executive processes such as these. Consistent with ART, research indicates that exposure to natural settings seems to replenish some, lower-level modules of the executive attentional system. However, the impact of nature on higher-level tasks such as creative problem solving has not been explored. Here we show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers. Our results demonstrate that there is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting. We anticipate that this advantage comes from an increase in exposure to natural stimuli that are both emotionally positive and low-arousing and a corresponding decrease in exposure to attention demanding technology, which regularly requires that we attend to sudden events, switch amongst tasks, maintain task goals, and inhibit irrelevant actions or cognitions. A limitation of the current research is the inability to determine if the effects are due to an increased exposure to nature, a decreased exposure to technology, or to other factors associated with spending three days immersed in nature.
- Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA
- Published almost 6 years ago
An individual’s birth month has a significant impact on the diseases they develop during their lifetime. Previous studies reveal relationships between birth month and several diseases including atherothrombosis, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and myopia, leaving most diseases completely unexplored. This retrospective population study systematically explores the relationship between seasonal affects at birth and lifetime disease risk for 1688 conditions.
Functional brain networks demonstrate significant temporal variability and dynamic reconfiguration even in the resting state. Currently, most studies investigate temporal variability of brain networks at the scale of single (micro) or whole-brain (macro) connectivity. However, the mechanism underlying time-varying properties remains unclear, as the coupling between brain network variability and neural activity is not readily apparent when analysed at either micro or macroscales. We propose an intermediate (meso) scale analysis and characterize temporal variability of the functional architecture associated with a particular region. This yields a topography of variability that reflects the whole-brain and, most importantly, creates an analytical framework to establish the fundamental relationship between variability of regional functional architecture and its neural activity or structural connectivity. We find that temporal variability reflects the dynamical reconfiguration of a brain region into distinct functional modules at different times and may be indicative of brain flexibility and adaptability. Primary and unimodal sensory-motor cortices demonstrate low temporal variability, while transmodal areas, including heteromodal association areas and limbic system, demonstrate the high variability. In particular, regions with highest variability such as hippocampus/parahippocampus, inferior and middle temporal gyrus, olfactory gyrus and caudate are all related to learning, suggesting that the temporal variability may indicate the level of brain adaptability. With simultaneously recorded electroencephalography/functional magnetic resonance imaging and functional magnetic resonance imaging/diffusion tensor imaging data, we also find that variability of regional functional architecture is modulated by local blood oxygen level-dependent activity and α-band oscillation, and is governed by the ratio of intra- to inter-community structural connectivity. Application of the mesoscale variability measure to multicentre datasets of three mental disorders and matched controls involving 1180 subjects reveals that those regions demonstrating extreme, i.e. highest/lowest variability in controls are most liable to change in mental disorders. Specifically, we draw attention to the identification of diametrically opposing patterns of variability changes between schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder/autism. Regions of the default-mode network demonstrate lower variability in patients with schizophrenia, but high variability in patients with autism/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, compared with respective controls. In contrast, subcortical regions, especially the thalamus, show higher variability in schizophrenia patients, but lower variability in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The changes in variability of these regions are also closely related to symptom scores. Our work provides insights into the dynamic organization of the resting brain and how it changes in brain disorders. The nodal variability measure may also be potentially useful as a predictor for learning and neural rehabilitation.
Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) is an online crowdsourcing service where anonymous online workers complete web-based tasks for small sums of money. The service has attracted attention from experimental psychologists interested in gathering human subject data more efficiently. However, relative to traditional laboratory studies, many aspects of the testing environment are not under the experimenter’s control. In this paper, we attempt to empirically evaluate the fidelity of the AMT system for use in cognitive behavioral experiments. These types of experiment differ from simple surveys in that they require multiple trials, sustained attention from participants, comprehension of complex instructions, and millisecond accuracy for response recording and stimulus presentation. We replicate a diverse body of tasks from experimental psychology including the Stroop, Switching, Flanker, Simon, Posner Cuing, attentional blink, subliminal priming, and category learning tasks using participants recruited using AMT. While most of replications were qualitatively successful and validated the approach of collecting data anonymously online using a web-browser, others revealed disparity between laboratory results and online results. A number of important lessons were encountered in the process of conducting these replications that should be of value to other researchers.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with adverse outcomes and elevated societal costs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2011 guidelines recommend “behavior therapy” over medication as first-line treatment for children aged 4-5 years with ADHD; these recommendations are consistent with current guidelines from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for younger children. CDC analyzed claims data to assess national and state-level ADHD treatment patterns among young children.
Cooperative decision rules have so far been shown experimentally mainly in mammal species that have variable and complex social networks. However, these traits should not necessarily be restricted to mammals. Therefore, we tested cooperative problem solving in ravens. We showed that, without training, nine ravens spontaneously cooperated in a loose-string task. Corroborating findings in several species, ravens' cooperative success increased with increasing inter-individual tolerance levels. Importantly, we found this in both a forced dyadic setting, and in a group setting where individuals had an open choice to cooperate with whomever. The ravens, moreover, also paid attention to the resulting reward distribution and ceased cooperation when being cheated upon. Nevertheless, the ravens did not seem to pay attention to the behavior of their partners while cooperating, and future research should reveal whether this is task specific or a general pattern. Given their natural propensity to cooperate and the results we present here, we consider ravens as an interesting model species to study the evolution of, and the mechanisms underlying cooperation.
Amphetamine was discovered over 100 years ago. Since then, it has transformed from a drug that was freely available without prescription as a panacea for a broad range of disorders into a highly restricted Controlled Drug with therapeutic applications restricted to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. This review describes the relationship between chemical structure and pharmacology of amphetamine and its congeners. Amphetamine’s diverse pharmacological actions translate not only into therapeutic efficacy, but also into the production of adverse events and liability for recreational abuse. Accordingly, the balance of benefit/risk is the key challenge for its clinical use. The review charts advances in pharmaceutical development from the introduction of once-daily formulations of amphetamine through to lisdexamfetamine, which is the first d-amphetamine prodrug approved for the management of ADHD in children, adolescents and adults. The unusual metabolic route for lisdexamfetamine to deliver d-amphetamine makes an important contribution to its pharmacology. How lisdexamfetamine’s distinctive pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic profile translates into sustained efficacy as a treatment for ADHD and its reduced potential for recreational abuse is also discussed.
One of the brain’s key roles is to facilitate foraging and feeding. It is presumably no coincidence, then, that the mouth is situated close to the brain in most animal species. However, the environments in which our brains evolved were far less plentiful in terms of the availability of food resources (i.e., nutriments) than is the case for those of us living in the Western world today. The growing obesity crisis is but one of the signs that humankind is not doing such a great job in terms of optimizing the contemporary food landscape. While the blame here is often put at the doors of the global food companies - offering addictive foods, designed to hit ‘the bliss point’ in terms of the pleasurable ingredients (sugar, salt, fat, etc.), and the ease of access to calorie-rich foods - we wonder whether there aren’t other implicit cues in our environments that might be triggering hunger more often than is perhaps good for us. Here, we take a closer look at the potential role of vision; Specifically, we question the impact that our increasing exposure to images of desirable foods (what is often labelled ‘food porn’, or ‘gastroporn’) via digital interfaces might be having, and ask whether it might not inadvertently be exacerbating our desire for food (what we call ‘visual hunger’). We review the growing body of cognitive neuroscience research demonstrating the profound effect that viewing such images can have on neural activity, physiological and psychological responses, and visual attention, especially in the ‘hungry’ brain.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) mainly affects the academic performance of children and adolescents. In addition to bringing physical and mental health benefits, physical activity has been used to prevent and improve ADHD comorbidities; however, its effectiveness has not been quantified. In this study, the effect of physical activity on children’s attention was measured using a computer game. Intense physical activity was promoted by a relay race, which requires a 5-min run without a rest interval. The proposed physical stimulus was performed with 28 volunteers: 14 with ADHD (GE-EF) and 14 without ADHD symptoms (GC-EF). After 5 min of rest, these volunteers accessed the computer game to accomplish the tasks in the shortest time possible. The computer game was also accessed by another 28 volunteers: 14 with ADHD (GE) and 14 without these symptoms (GC). The response time to solve the tasks that require attention was recorded. The results of the four groups were analyzed using D'Agostino statistical tests of normality, Kruskal-Wallis analyses of variance and post-hoc Dunn tests. The groups of volunteers with ADHD who performed exercise (GE-EF) showed improved performance for the tasks that require attention with a difference of 30.52% compared with the volunteers with ADHD who did not perform the exercise (GE). The (GE-EF) group showed similar performance (2.5% difference) with the volunteers in the (GC) group who have no ADHD symptoms and did not exercise. This study shows that intense exercise can improve the attention of children with ADHD and may help their school performance.