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Harvard scientists are beginning to provide answers to one of the thorniest questions in psychology: How do we think?Human thought generally can be divided into two modes, the visual and the verbal. When you think about your next vacation and imagine sitting under a palm tree and sipping a cold drink, you’re probably thinking visually. If you’re thinking what you’ll say when you make a presentation at work, you’re likely thinking in words and sentences, creating inner speech.But are the two always separate? Can you utilize one without the other popping up? A new Harvard study suggests that the answer depends on which mode of thinking you’re talking about.Led by Elinor Amit, an affiliate of the Psychology Department, and Evelina Fedorenko of Harvard Medical School, the study found that even when they were prompted to use verbal thinking, people created visual images to accompany their inner speech, suggesting that visual thinking is deeply ingrained in the brain. The study is described in a paper recently published in the journal NeuroImage.“The question we wanted to answer was: Can you engage in one without the other modality popping up?” Amit said. “Can you use one without invoking the other unintentionally?”To understand better how humans use each mode of thought, Amit and colleagues designed a series of experiments that began in the lab and later moved to MRI scanners.In the first experiment, volunteers were asked to create either images or sentences based on pairs of words. The first was always an occupation, such as ballerina, policeman, or teacher. In half of the trials the second word was an object, while in the other half it was a place.After creating an image or sentence using the words, participants were asked one of four questions: How clear were the images or sentences they were asked to create, or how clear were any images or sentences they unintentionally created?“So in one trial you might be asked to create an image, and we would ask you how clear that image was,” Amit explained. “In the next trial, we might ask you to create an image again, but then ask you how clear was the sentence you unintentionally created.”The experiment was run twice, once using volunteers in the lab, and once using online volunteers recruited through the internet labor market Amazon Mechanical Turk. In both cases, Amit said, the results were the same.“What we found was there was no difference in the vividness of images,” Amit said. “The subjects didn’t care if we asked them to create an image or not; it was vivid regardless of what we asked them to do.” However, the clarity of the sentence was affected by instructions. The inner speech produced by the subjects was clearer when the participants intended to create sentences than when they did not.While those results were significant, they still relied on participants’ self-reporting on the vividness of images or inner speech. To overcome this limitation, Amit and colleagues turned to functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to track subjects’ brain activity.For the fMRI test, researchers first trained participants using a series of both engaging sentences and images, each of which could be recalled using a “cue.” As they recalled the sentences or images, Amit and colleagues used fMRI to monitor the brain’s language network, as well as brain regions known to be involved in recognizing faces and bodies.“We found that people generated more robust verbal representations during deliberate inner speech … but they generated visual images regardless of whether their intent was to visualize something or to think verbally.”Interestingly, Amit said, the fMRI tests also revealed that even when participants consciously tried to think visually, their brains showed relatively low levels of activity in the visual region, leading to questions about exactly what it is that people are visualizing.“This raises an interesting question,” Amit said. “It suggests that even though we visualize things all the time, it may be that they are relatively impoverished and not like a movie that runs in our heads.”Going forward, Amit said, the study poses intriguing questions about whether humans must be tied to the here and now.In earlier research, Amit and colleagues found that people tend to think visually about things that are close to them (temporally, socially, or geographically), but use inner speech when contemplating far-off things.“So if you think about Harvard Square versus San Francisco, you’re probably visualizing the former, but thinking verbally about the latter,” Amit said. “The same goes for whether you think about yourself or someone else, or in-group versus outgroup, or tomorrow versus 10 years from now.”Her new study, however, finds that even when people consciously attempt to think verbally, visual thinking nearly always intrudes, suggesting that people are grounded in the present even when they try to use a mode of thinking typically reserved for the future.“This suggests that we can’t really go beyond the here and now and think in abstract ways about other people, places, or times,” Amit said. “This is the way our brains are wired, and there may be an evolutionary reason for this [because] we haven’t always been verbalizers. For a long time, we understood our world visually, so maybe language is an add-on.“That has important implications because if we are truly grounded in the here and now, what does that mean about how we develop public policy?” she added. “Do we need to help people overcome their bias to focusing on the here and now? This is something we may need to be aware of.”
Share Tweet Share Former Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A Haitian judge says he has finished his investigation of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier but is not ready to publicly reveal his conclusion.Magistrate Carves Jean says he must still notify the former leader known as “Baby Doc” of the results of his yearlong investigation into whether Duvalier can face trial on charges dating back to his 15-year rule in the 1970s and 1980s.Jean’s ruling must also be reviewed by the country’s attorney general before it becomes public. He spoke to reporters outside court Monday.Duvalier is accused of corruption and human rights violations before he was ousted in a popular uprising and forced into exile. His lawyers have argued that the statute of limitations has expired.Jamaica Observer Share 8 Views no discussions Sharing is caring! NewsRegional Former Haiti dictator to receive judge’s ruling by: – January 30, 2012
Press Association “We could have won here in our first season (in the Premier League) and they were holding on. “Yes we can get three points against them, but they’ll be thinking the same.” The game pits Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ben Davies against their former clubs with Swansea having had by far the best so far from a summer swap deal which also saw Dutch goalkeeper Michel Vorm move to Tottenham. Icelandic international Sigurdsson has scored twice and had eight assists in the Premier League this season – second only to Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas – since rejoining Swansea for a second spell, while Wales defender Davies has just recently broken into the Spurs first-team and Vorm is very much understudy to the France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at White Hart Lane. “People talk in hindsight about the deal, but I just felt we needed the attacking player like Gylfi,” said Monk. “In terms of losing Ben, it was the risk of losing someone at that position to gain someone in the attacking position. “It’s proved a good decision but it wasn’t about who was getting the better of the deal. “What we’re seeing from Gylfi is the reason I wanted him. I knew him and he’s come back a better player. “When I knew I had the chance (to sign him) I pushed for it and this is the reason why, he’s effective in the position he plays and his contribution has been fantastic. “I don’t think he hold grudges against Tottenham, he loved the club and had a fantastic time. “Yes, he wanted to play more than he did but he developed at Tottenham as a player. “Maybe he has the motivation to prove people wrong and show them what he can do and, hopefully, we can see it more from Gylfi and on the weekend.” Swansea could certainly do with a lift after being bullied by Andy Carroll and company at West Ham, surrendering a lead once again to slip to eighth spot, where they are one point and two places better off than Tottenham. Monk’s men have now lost a league-high 16 points from winning positions but the manager says there are mitigating circumstances in that damaging statistic. “It’s a valid question to a point but a lot of situations that happen in games are not always in your control, so the total is a bit misleading,” said Monk. “At certain times we can manage the games better and come away with more points but we’re still in a good position. “We’ve not been outside the top eight so far and that shows we’re doing things right. “It’s the first time last week where we didn’t warrant any points because other games where we’ve dropped points we’ve deserved more. “It’s not something that’s playing on our minds but we spoke quite honestly after the West Ham game that we weren’t at the standards we’ve set. “We didn’t reach them so we’ve got to put to bed a performance that we weren’t happy with.” “The club’s not had any contacts from any authorities whatsoever and I’m not sure how much truth is in that (story),” Monk said. “But if it is and the right authorities get in touch with us then we’ll deal with that when it comes. “At this moment in time have had no contact and it’s not alarming because I’m not sure of the details. “With a situation like that it’s not necessarily them (the players) involved. I’ve seen it before where they might want to speak to the whole team involved in a game – players, staff, management – at that time whatever it is.” Swansea seek to bounce back from their 3-1 defeat at West Ham at home to Tottenham on Sunday – a club they have not beaten in six Barclays Premier League attempts. Indeed, Swansea have lost five of those games but Monk says he does not see the visit of Mauricio Pochettino’s side as a psychological hurdle. “They’re not a bogey side, they’re a good team,” Monk said. “When you play against teams with that kind of power it will always be difficult. The 25-year-old summer signing from Morelia was on loan at Levante three years ago and their 2-1 defeat to Real Zaragoza on the final day of the 2010-11 Primera Division season is currently facing scrutiny from Spanish prosecutors. The winger could be interviewed as a witness as one of the players who played in that match. Swansea manager Garry Monk says the Barclays Premier League club will comply with any Spanish match-fixing investigation which could involve their Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero.