4,096 research outputs found

    Solving the detour problem in navigation: a model of prefrontal and hippocampal interactions.

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    Adapting behavior to accommodate changes in the environment is an important function of the nervous system. A universal problem for motile animals is the discovery that a learned route is blocked and a detour is required. Given the substantial neuroscience research on spatial navigation and decision-making it is surprising that so little is known about how the brain solves the detour problem. Here we review the limited number of relevant functional neuroimaging, single unit recording and lesion studies. We find that while the prefrontal cortex (PFC) consistently responds to detours, the hippocampus does not. Recent evidence suggests the hippocampus tracks information about the future path distance to the goal. Based on this evidence we postulate a conceptual model in which: Lateral PFC provides a prediction error signal about the change in the path, frontopolar and superior PFC support the re-formulation of the route plan as a novel subgoal and the hippocampus simulates the new path. More data will be required to validate this model and understand (1) how the system processes the different options; and (2) deals with situations where a new path becomes available (i.e., shortcuts)

    Strategic offloading of delayed intentions into the external environment.

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    In everyday life, we often use external artefacts such as diaries to help us remember intended behaviours. In addition, we commonly manipulate our environment, for example by placing reminders in noticeable places. Yet strategic offloading of intentions to the external environment is not typically permitted in laboratory tasks examining memory for delayed intentions. What factors influence our use of such strategies, and what behavioural consequences do they have? This article describes four online experiments (N = 1196) examining a novel web-based task in which participants hold intentions for brief periods, with the option to strategically externalize these intentions by creating a reminder. This task significantly predicted participants' fulfilment of a naturalistic intention embedded within their everyday activities up to one week later (with greater predictive ability than more traditional prospective memory tasks, albeit with weak effect size). Setting external reminders improved performance, and it was more prevalent in older adults. Furthermore, participants set reminders adaptively, based on (a) memory load, and (b) the likelihood of distraction. These results suggest the importance of metacognitive processes in triggering intention offloading, which can increase the probability that intentions are eventually fulfilled

    Strategic use of reminders: Influence of both domain-general and task-specific metacognitive confidence, independent of objective memory ability

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    How do we decide whether to use external artifacts and reminders to remember delayed intentions, versus relying on unaided memory? Experiment 1 (N=400) showed that participants' choice to forgo reminders in an experimental task was independently predicted by subjective confidence and objective ability, even when the two measures were themselves uncorrelated. Use of reminders improved performance, explaining significant variance in intention fulfilment even after controlling for unaided ability. Experiment 2 (N=303) additionally investigated a pair of unrelated perceptual discrimination tasks, where the confidence and sensitivity of metacognitive judgments was decorrelated from objective performance using a staircase procedure. Participants with lower confidence in their perceptual judgments set more reminders in the delayed-intention task, even though confidence was unrelated to objective accuracy. However, memory confidence was a better predictor of reminder setting. Thus, propensity to set reminders was independently influenced by (a) domain-general metacognitive confidence; (b) task-specific confidence; and (c) objective ability

    Comment on "Wandering minds: The default network and stimulus-independent thought"

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    Mason et al. (Reports, 19 January 2007, p. 393) attributed activity in certain regions of the "resting" brain to the occurrence of mind-wandering. However, previous research has demonstrated the difficulty of distinguishing this type of stimulus-independent thought from stimulus-oriented thought (e.g., watchfulness). Consideration of both possibilities is required to resolve this ambiguity

    Cognitive Offloading

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    If you have ever tilted your head to perceive a rotated image, or programmed a smartphone to remind you of an upcoming appointment, you have engaged in cognitive offloading: the use of physical action to alter the information processing requirements of a task so as to reduce cognitive demand. Despite the ubiquity of this type of behavior, it has only recently become the target of systematic investigation in and of itself. We review research from several domains that focuses on two main questions: (i) what mechanisms trigger cognitive offloading, and (ii) what are the cognitive consequences of this behavior? We offer a novel metacognitive framework that integrates results from diverse domains and suggests avenues for future research

    The effect of metacognitive training on confidence and strategic reminder setting

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    Individuals often choose between remembering information using their own memory ability versus using external resources to reduce cognitive demand (i.e. ‘cognitive offloading’). For example, to remember a future appointment an individual could choose to set a smartphone reminder or depend on their unaided memory ability. Previous studies investigating strategic reminder setting found that participants set more reminders than would be optimal, and this bias towards reminder-setting was predicted by metacognitive underconfidence in unaided memory ability. Due to the link between underconfidence in memory ability and excessive reminder setting, the aim of the current study was to investigate whether metacognitive training is an effective intervention to a) improve metacognitive judgment accuracy, and b) reduce bias in strategic offloading behaviour. Participants either received metacognitive training which involved making performance predictions and receiving feedback on judgment accuracy, or were part of a control group. As predicted, metacognitive training increased judgment accuracy: participants in the control group were significantly underconfident in their memory ability, whereas the experimental group showed no significant metacognitive bias. However, contrary to predictions, both experimental and control groups were significantly biased toward reminder-setting, and did not differ significantly. Therefore, reducing metacognitive bias was not sufficient to eliminate the bias towards reminders. We suggest that the reminder bias likely results in part from erroneous metacognitive evaluations, but that other factors such as a preference to avoid cognitive effort may also be relevant. Finding interventions to mitigate these factors could improve the adaptive use of external resources

    Excessive use of reminders: Metacognition and effort-minimisation in cognitive offloading

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    People often use external reminders to help remember delayed intentions. This is a form of "cognitive offloading". Individuals sometimes offload more often than would be optimal (Gilbert et al., 2020). This bias has been linked to participants' erroneous metacognitive underconfidence in their memory abilities. However, underconfidence is unlikely to fully explain the bias. An additional, previously-untested factor that may contribute to the offloading bias is a preference to avoid cognitive effort associated with remembering internally. The present Registered Report examined evidence for this hypothesis. One group of participants received payment contingent on their performance of the task (hypothesised to increase cognitive effort, and therefore reduce the bias towards offloading); another group received a flat payment for taking part, as in the earlier experiment. The offloading bias was significantly reduced (but not eliminated) in the rewarded group, suggesting that a preference to avoid cognitive effort influences cognitive offloading

    Age Differences in Strategic Reminder Setting and the Compensatory Role of Metacognition

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    Previous research has shown that older adults can have difficulty remembering to fulfill delayed intentions. In the present study, we explored whether age differences in prospective memory are affected when participants are permitted to set reminders to help them remember. Furthermore, we examined whether metacognition can influence the use of such strategies and help older adults compensate for age-related memory decline. In this pre-registered study (N = 88) we administered a computerized task requiring a sample of older (aged 65-84) and younger (aged 18-30) participants to remember delayed intentions for a brief period, manipulating the possibility of setting reminders to create an external cue. Performance of the older group was significantly poorer than the younger group. Moreover, older adults were overconfident in their memory abilities and did not fully compensate for impaired performance, even when strategic reminder setting was permitted. These findings suggest that older adults possess limited metacognitive knowledge about their prospective memory limits and may not fully utilize cognitive offloading strategies to compensate for memory decline. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

    Confidence guides spontaneous cognitive offloading

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    BACKGROUND: Cognitive offloading is the use of physical action to reduce the cognitive demands of a task. Everyday memory relies heavily on this practice; for example, when we write down to-be-remembered information or use diaries, alerts, and reminders to trigger delayed intentions. A key goal of recent research has been to investigate the processes that trigger cognitive offloading. This research has demonstrated that individuals decide whether or not to offload based on a potentially erroneous metacognitive evaluation of their mental abilities. Therefore, improving the accuracy of metacognitive evaluations may help to optimise offloading behaviour. However, previous studies typically measure participants' use of an explicitly instructed offloading strategy, in contrast to everyday life where offloading strategies must often be generated spontaneously. RESULTS: We administered a computer-based task requiring participants to remember delayed intentions. One group of participants was explicitly instructed on a method for setting external reminders; another was not. The latter group spontaneously set reminders but did so less often than the instructed group. Offloading improved performance in both groups. Crucially, metacognition (confidence in unaided memory ability) guided both instructed and spontaneous offloading: Participants in both groups set more reminders when they were less confident (regardless of actual memory ability). CONCLUSIONS: These results show that the link between metacognition and cognitive offloading holds even when offloading strategies need to be spontaneously generated. Thus, metacognitive interventions are potentially able to alter offloading behaviour, without requiring offloading strategies to be explicitly instructed

    Representing and analysing molecular and cellular function in the computer

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    Determining the biological function of a myriad of genes, and understanding how they interact to yield a living cell, is the major challenge of the post genome-sequencing era. The complexity of biological systems is such that this cannot be envisaged without the help of powerful computer systems capable of representing and analysing the intricate networks of physical and functional interactions between the different cellular components. In this review we try to provide the reader with an appreciation of where we stand in this regard. We discuss some of the inherent problems in describing the different facets of biological function, give an overview of how information on function is currently represented in the major biological databases, and describe different systems for organising and categorising the functions of gene products. In a second part, we present a new general data model, currently under development, which describes information on molecular function and cellular processes in a rigorous manner. The model is capable of representing a large variety of biochemical processes, including metabolic pathways, regulation of gene expression and signal transduction. It also incorporates taxonomies for categorising molecular entities, interactions and processes, and it offers means of viewing the information at different levels of resolution, and dealing with incomplete knowledge. The data model has been implemented in the database on protein function and cellular processes 'aMAZE' (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/research/pfbp/), which presently covers metabolic pathways and their regulation. Several tools for querying, displaying, and performing analyses on such pathways are briefly described in order to illustrate the practical applications enabled by the model
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