Simple heuristics exploit basic human abilities, such as recognition memory, to make decisions based on sparse information. Based on the relative speed of recognizing two objects, the fluency heuristic infers that the one recognized more quickly has the higher value with respect to the criterion of interest. Behavioral data show that reliance on retrieval fluency enables quick inferences. Our goal with the present functional magnetic resonance imaging study was to isolate fluency-heuristic-based judgments to map the use of fluency onto specific (...) brain areas that might give a better understanding of the heuristic’s underlying processes. Activation within the claustrum for fluency heuristic decisions was found. Given that claustrum activation is thought to reflect the integration of perceptual and memory elements into a conscious gestalt, we suggest this activation correlates with the experience of fluency. (shrink)
Mental state reasoning or theory-of-mind has been the subject of a rich body of imaging research. Although such investigations routinely tap a common set of regions, the precise function of each area remains a contentious matter. With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we sought to determine which areas are involved when processing mental state or intentional metarepresentations by focusing on the relational aspect of such representations. Using non-intentional relational representations such as spatial relations between persons and between (...) objects as a contrast, the results ascertained the involvement of the precuneus, the temporal poles, and the medial prefrontal cortex in the processing of intentional representations. In contrast, the anterior superior temporal sulcus and the left temporo-parietal junction were implicated when processing representations that refer to the presence of persons in relational contexts in general. The right temporo-parietal junction, however, was specifically activated for persons entering spatial relations. The level of representational complexity, a previously unexplored factor, was also found to modulate the neural response in some brain regions, such as the medial prefrontal cortex and the right temporo-parietal junction. These findings highlight the need to take into account the critical roles played by an extensive network of neural regions during mental state reasoning. (shrink)
We criticize the lack of neuroanatomical precision in the Grodzinsky target article. We propose a more precise neuroanatomical characterization of syntactic processing and suggest that syntactic procedures are supported by the left frontal operculum in addition to the anterior part of the superior temporal gyrus, which appears to be associated with syntactic knowledge representation.
Even though there is ample evidence from the sentence- comprehension literature for specialized working memory systems in normal and patient populations, some open questions remain. One of them is an explanation for a missing “post-interpretive” processing deficit in a variety of accuracy-judgment tasks in an aphasic patient with a severe verbal working memory problem.