cognitive reframing helps delay gratification

Here is a fascinating bit of work from Magen et. al., who show that a simple cognitive reframing of the classic immediate or delayed gratification test makes energy requiring willpower less necessary.

In our paradigm, instead of presenting choices in a traditional hidden-zero format (e.g., “Would you prefer [A] $5 today OR [B] $10 in a month?”), choices are presented in an explicit-zero format, which references the nonreward consequences of each choice (e.g., “Would you prefer [A] $5 today and $0 in a month OR [B] $0 today and $10 in a month?”). Including future outcomes in all choice options has been argued to reduce the attentional bias toward immediate rewards that contributes to impulsive behavior.

via Deric Bownds’ MindBlog.

via Deric Bownds’ MindBlog.


Shocking but true: students prefer jolt of pain than being made to sit and think | Science | The Guardian

Shocking but true: students prefer jolt of pain than being made to sit and think | Science | The Guardian.

“It was not so much how hard people found the challenge, but how far they would go to avoid it that left researchers gobsmacked. The task? To sit in a chair and do nothing but think.


So unbearable did some find it that they took up the safe but alarming opportunity to give themselves mild electric shocks in an attempt to break the tedium.


Two-thirds of men pressed a button to deliver a painful jolt during a 15-minute spell of solitude. One man – an outlier – found thinking so disagreeable he opted for a shock 190 times.”

Does ‘free will’ stem from brain noise? — ScienceDaily

Does ‘free will’ stem from brain noise? — ScienceDaily.

via Does ‘free will’ stem from brain noise? — ScienceDaily.


Spontaneous Neural Fluctuations Predict Decisions to Attend


Jesse J. Bengson, Todd A. Kelley, Xiaoke Zhang, Jane-Ling Wang, and George R. Mangun

University of California, Davis

Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience


Early Access

Posted Online April 16, 2014.


PDF (521 KB)| PDF Plus (424 KB)

Ongoing variability in neural signaling is an intrinsic property of the brain. Often this variability is considered to be noise and ignored. However, an alternative view is that this variability is fundamental to perception and cognition and may be particularly important in decision-making. Here, we show that a momentary measure of occipital alpha-band power (8–13 Hz) predicts choices about where human participants will focus spatial attention on a trial-by-trial basis. This finding provides evidence for a mechanistic account of decision-making by demonstrating that ongoing neural activity biases voluntary decisions about where to attend within a given moment.

Deric Bownds’ MindBlog: When being a control-freak doesn’t help….

Deric Bownds’ MindBlog: When being a control-freak doesn’t help…..

via Deric Bownds’ MindBlog: When being a control-freak doesn’t help…..


In order to engage in goal-directed behavior, cognitive agents have to control the processing of task-relevant features in their environments. Although cognitive control is critical for performance in unpredictable task environments, it is currently unknown how it affects performance in highly structured and predictable environments. In the present study, we showed that, counterintuitively, top-down control can impair and interfere with the otherwise automatic integration of statistical information in a predictable task environment, and it can render behavior less efficient than it would have been without the attempt to control the flow of information. In other words, less can sometimes be more (in terms of cognitive control), especially if the environment provides sufficient information for the cognitive system to behave on autopilot based on automatic processes alone.


doi: 10.1177/0956797614528522

The Achromatic ‘Philosophical Zombie’, a Syndrome of Cerebral Achromatopsia with Color Anopsognosia

The Achromatic ‘Philosophical Zombie’, a Syndrome of Cerebral Achromatopsia with Color Anopsognosia.

We describe a patient with persistent cerebral achromatopsia occurring after bilateral occipital strokes. Blinded color recognition was assessed with a computerized experimental paradigm and the patient reported the degree of confidence in the response exactness on a visual percent scale. Color recognition was accurate and above chance (Fisher’s exact test, p < 0.002). The degree of confidence in the answers showed a significant correlation with recognition scores (Spearman rank order correlation, p < 0.0001). These findings constitute the exceptional condition of what we called color anopsognosia (not knowing of seeing colors) and recall the theoretic figure of the ‘philosophical zombie’. However, the cognitive mechanisms of the dissociation between a subjective colorless vision and good performance for color naming still remain poorly understood.

Biases against non-native accent

Political skill: Explaining the effects of nonnative accent on managerial hiring and entrepreneurial investment decisions.
By Huang, Laura; Frideger, Marcia; Pearce, Jone L.
Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 98(6), Nov 2013, 1005-1017.
We propose and test a new theory explaining glass-ceiling bias against nonnative speakers as driven by perceptions that nonnative speakers have weak political skill. Although nonnative accent is a complex signal, its effects on assessments of the speakers’ political skill are something that speakers can actively mitigate; this makes it an important bias to understand. In Study 1, White and Asian nonnative speakers using the same scripted responses as native speakers were found to be significantly less likely to be recommended for a middle-management position, and this bias was fully mediated by assessments of their political skill. The alternative explanations of race, communication skill, and collaborative skill were nonsignificant. In Study 2, entrepreneurial start-up pitches from national high-technology, new-venture funding competitions were shown to experienced executive MBA students. Nonnative speakers were found to have a significantly lower likelihood of receiving new-venture funding, and this was fully mediated by the coders’ assessments of their political skill. The entrepreneurs’ race, communication skill, and collaborative skill had no effect. We discuss the value of empirically testing various posited reasons for glass-ceiling biases, how the importance and ambiguity of political skill for executive success serve as an ostensibly meritocratic cover for nonnative speaker bias, and other theoretical and practical implications of this work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

via Biases against non-native accent.