Using the Stroop paradigm, we have previously shown that a specific suggestion can remove or reduce involuntary conflict and alter information processing in highly suggestible individuals . In the present study, we carefully matched less suggestible individuals to HSIs on a number of factors. We hypothesized that suggestion would influence HSIs more than LSIs and reduce the Stroop effect in the former group. As well, we conducted secondary post hoc analyses to examine negative priming – the apparent disruption of the (...) response to a previously-ignored item. Our present findings indicate that suggestion reduces Stroop effects in HSIs. Secondary analyses show that LSIs had an NP effect at baseline and that suggestion influenced the NP condition. Thus, at least in this experimental context, suggestion seems to dampen a deeply-engrained and largely automatic process – reading – by wielding a larger influence on HSIs relative to comparable LSIs. (shrink)
Forcing occurs when a magician influences the audience's decisions without their awareness. To investigate the mechanisms behind this effect, we examined several stimulus and personality predictors. In Study 1, a magician flipped through a deck of playing cards while participants were asked to choose one. Although the magician could influence the choice almost every time (98%), relatively few (9%) noticed this influence. In Study 2, participants observed rapid series of cards on a computer, with one target card shown longer than (...) the rest. We expected people would tend to choose this card without noticing that it was shown longest. Both stimulus and personality factors predicted the choice of card, depending on whether the influence was noticed. These results show that combining real-world and laboratory research can be a powerful way to study magic and can provide new methods to study the feeling of free will. (shrink)
Cognitive scientists distinguish between automatic and controlled mental processes. Automatic processes are either innately involuntary or become automatized through extensive practice. For example, reading words is a purportedly automatic process for proficient readers and the Stroop effect is consequently considered the “gold standard” of automated performance. Although the question of whether it is possible to regain control over an automatic process is mostly unasked, we provide compelling data showing that posthypnotic suggestion reduced and even removed Stroop interference in highly hypnotizable (...) individuals. Drawing on a large sample of highly hypnotizable participants, we examined the effects of suggestion on Stroop performance both with and without a posthypnotic suggestion to perceive the input stream as meaningless symbols. We show that suggestion administered to highly hypnotizable persons significantly reduced Stroop interference and derailed a seemingly automatic process. (shrink)
Disparate theoretical viewpoints construe hypnotic suggestibility either as a stable trait, largely determined by underlying cognitive aptitude, or as a flexible skill amenable to attitudinal factors including beliefs and expectations. Circumscribed findings support both views. The present study attempted to consolidate these orthogonal perspectives through the lens of expectancy modification. We surreptitiously controlled light and sound stimuli to convince participants that they were responding strongly to hypnotic suggestions for visual and auditory hallucinations. Extending our previous findings, we indexed hypnotic suggestibility (...) by de-automatizing an involuntary audiovisual phenomenon—the McGurk effect. Here we show that, regardless of expectancy modification, the experimental procedure led to heightened expectations concerning future hypnotic response. We found little effect of expectation, however, on actual response to suggestion. Our findings intimate that, at least in the present experimental context, expectation hardly correlates with—and is unlikely to be a primary determinant of—high hypnotic suggestibility. (shrink)
Recent data indicate that under a specific posthypnotic suggestion to circumvent reading, highly suggestible subjects successfully eliminated the Stroop interference effect. The present study examined whether an optical explanation could account for this finding. Using cyclopentolate hydrochloride eye drops to pharmacologically prevent visual accommodation in all subjects, behavioral Stroop data were collected from six highly hypnotizables and six less suggestibles using an optical setup that guaranteed either sharply focused or blurred vision. The highly suggestibles performed the Stroop task when naturally (...) vigilant, under posthypnotic suggestion not to read, and while visually blurred; the less suggestibles ran naturally vigilant, while looking away, and while visually blurred. Although visual accommodation was precluded for all subjects, posthypnotic suggestion effectively eliminated Stroop interference and was comparable to looking away in controls. These data strengthen the view that Stroop interference is neither robust nor inevitable and support the hypothesis that posthypnotic suggestion may exert a top-down influence on neural processing. (shrink)
Cognitive scientists routinely distinguish between controlled and automatic mental processes. Through learning, practice, and exposure, controlled processes can become automatic; however, whether automatic processes can become deautomatized – recuperated under the purview of control – remains unclear. Here we show that a suggestion derails a deeply ingrained process involving involuntary audiovisual integration. We compared the performance of highly versus less hypnotically suggestible individuals in a classic McGurk paradigm – a perceptual illusion task demonstrating the influence of visual facial movements on (...) auditory speech percepts. Following a posthypnotic suggestion to prioritize auditory input, HSIs but not LSIs manifested fewer illusory auditory perceptions and correctly identified more auditory percepts. Our findings demonstrate that a suggestion deautomatized a ballistic audiovisual process in HSIs. In addition to guiding our knowledge regarding theories and mechanisms of automaticity, the present findings pave the road to a more scientific understanding of top-down effects and multisensory integration. (shrink)
The general applicability of forward models in brain function has previously been recognized. Grush's contribution centers largely on broadening the extent and scope of forward models. However, in his effort to expand and generalize, important distinctions may have been overlooked. A better grounding in the underlying physiology would have helped to illuminate such valuable differences and similarities.
Next SectionIncreasingly a focus of research as well as media reports and online forums, the use of placebos in clinical medicine extends beyond sugar pills and saline injections. Physician surveys conducted in various countries invariably report that placebos are routinely used clinically, impure placebos more frequently than the pure ones, and that physicians consider them to be of legitimate therapeutic value. Inconsistent study methodologies and physician conceptualisations of placebos may complicate the interpretation of survey data, but hardly negate the valuable (...) insights these research findings provide. Because impure placebos are often not recognised as such by practitioners, they remain at the fringe of many placebo-related debates, hence quietly absent from discussions concerning policy and regulation. The apparent popularity of impure placebos used in clinical practice thus presents unresolved ethical concerns and should direct future discussion and research. (shrink)
Sprinkled with humor, social psychology illuminates cognition in Wegner's beautifully written and cleverly crafted book. However, scantily exploiting such themes as psychopathology, development, and neural correlates of consciousness, Wegner's account does not fully project into cognitive neuroscience. Broaching the topic of self-regulation, we outline neurocognitive data supplementing the notion that voluntariness is perhaps more post hoc ascriptions than bona fide introspection.
Charmed by Corballis's presentation, we challenge the use of mirror neurons as a supporting platform for the gestural theory of language, the link between vocalization and cerebral specialization, and the relationship between gesture and language as two separate albeit coupled systems of communication. We revive an alternative explanation of lateralization of language and handedness.
Erdelyi grants emotional and cognitive qualities that can modulate consciousness and probably overlap with what is typically attributed to Such a broad appellation of repression explains virtually all behavior and lacks specificity. Repression and attention elucidate behavior in different clinical, cognitive, and cultural contexts. Refining these influences, we identify a few lacunae in Erdelyi's account.