Maswood and Rajaram examine the transmission of false memories across small and larger networks. While the spread of false memories is not inherently beneficial, Maswood & Rajaram argued that a better understanding of the formation and propagation of false memories has practical and societal implications. For example, by better understanding how false memories transmit across groups, we might be better equipped to prevent detrimental behaviors that arise as a result of “fake news.”.
It is hypothesised that threatening stimuli are detected better due to their salience or physical properties. However, these stimuli are typically embedded in a rich context, motivating the question whether threat detection is facilitated via learning of contexts in which threat stimuli appear. To address this question, we presented threatening face targets in new or old spatial configurations consisting of schematic faces and found that detection of threatening targets was faster in old configurations. This indicates that individuals are able to (...) learn regularities within visual contexts and use this contextual information to guide detection of threatening targets. Next, we presented threatening and non-threatening face targets embedded in new or old spatial configurations. Detection of threatening targets was facilitated in old configurations, and this effect was reversed for non-threatening targets. Present findings show that detection of threatening targets is driven not only by stimulus properties as theorised traditionally but also by learning of contexts in which threatening stimuli appear. Further, results show that context learning for threatening targets obstructs context learning for non-threatening targets. Overall, in addition to typically emphasised bottom-up factors, our findings highlight the importance of top-down factors such as context and learning in detection of salient, threatening stimuli. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn earlier work we showed that individuals learn the spatial regularities within contexts and use this knowledge to guide detection of threatening targets embedded in these contexts. While it is highly adaptive for humans to use contextual learning to detect threats, it is equally adaptive for individuals to flexibly readjust behaviour when contexts once associated with threatening stimuli begin to be associated with benign stimuli, and vice versa. Here, we presented face targets varying in salience in new or old spatial (...) configurations and changed the target salience halfway through the experiment to examine if contextual learning changes with the change in target salience. Detection of threatening targets was faster in old than new configurations and this learning persisted even after the target changed to non-threatening. However, the same pattern was not seen when the targets changed from non-threatening... (shrink)