De Houwer, J. (2014). A Propositional Model of Implicit Evaluation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 8, 342-353.
Implicit evaluation can be defined as the automatic effect of stimuli on evaluative responses. A major advantage of this definition is that it is neutral with regard to the mental processes and representations that mediate implicit evaluation. Whereas many existing models postulate that implicit evaluation is mediated by the automatic spreading of activation along associations in memory, it is also possible to entertain the idea that implicit evaluation is due to the automatic formation or activation of propositions. In line with such a propositional model of implicit evaluation, evidence suggests that implicit evaluation (a) can be based on instructions and inferences, (b) is sensitive to information about how stimuli are related, and (c) can reflect several propositions that differ only with regard to how stimuli are related. Although it might be difficult to differentiate between propositional models on the one hand and association-activation or dual-process models on the other hand, merely considering the idea that implicit evaluation might be mediated by propositions offers a new perspective on existing findings and leads to novel predictions about the conditions under which implicit evaluation occurs.
Kolinsky, R., & Fernandes, T. (2014). A cultural side effect: Learning to read interferes with object identity processing. Frontiers in Psychology. 5: 1224 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01224
Based on the "neuronal recycling hypothesis" (Dehaene and Cohen, 2007), we examined whether reading acquisition has a cost for the recognition of non-linguistic visual materials. More specifically, we checked whether the ability to discriminate between mirror images, which develops through literacy acquisition, interferes with object identity judgments, and whether interference strength varies as a function of the nature of the non-linguistic material. To these aims we presented illiterate, late literate (who learned to read at adult age), and early literate adults with an orientation-independent, identity-based same-different comparison task in which they had to respond “same” to both physically identical and mirrored or plane-rotated images of pictures of familiar objects (Experiment 1) or of geometric shapes (Experiment 2). Interference from irrelevant orientation variations was stronger with plane rotations than with mirror images, and stronger with geometric shapes than with objects. Illiterates were the only participants almost immune to mirror variations, but only for familiar objects. Thus, the process of unlearning mirror-image generalization, necessary to acquire literacy in the Latin alphabet, has a cost for a basic function of the visual ventral object recognition stream, i.e., identification of familiar objects. This demonstrates that neural recycling is not just an adaptation to multi-use but a process of at least partial exaptation.
Gabriel, R., Morais, J., & Kolinsky, R. (2016). A aprendizagem da leitura e suas implicações sobre a memória e a cognição. [Reading acquisition and its implications on memory and cognition]. Ilha do Desterro, 69(1), 61-78. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/2175-8026.2016v69n1p61. Can learning to read change the information process and expand the storage capacity of the human brain? The purpose of this article is to review and to discuss models of memory (working memory, short term and long term memory) in their relation to language, as well as the possible cognitive changes prompted by literacy. By reviewing models of memory and executive functions, we aim at identifying questions that have promoted theoretical evolution, as well as the matching and disagreement in the concepts available in the area. Differences in knowledge processing and storage in literates and illiterates are highlighted, taking into account behavioral and brain imaging data. The data suggest that literacy alters the way in which linguistic knowledge is stored and processed by bursting the refinement of the visual and auditory perceptual systems, necessary to the grapheme-phoneme association.
Rigoni, D., Pourtois, G., & Brass, M. (2014). 'Why should I care?' Challenging free will attenuates neural reaction to errors. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10, 262-268.
Whether human beings have free will or not has been a philosophical question for centuries. The debate about free will has recently entered the public arena through mass media and newspaper articles commenting on scientific findings that leave little to no room for free will. Previous research has shown that encouraging such a deterministic perspective influences behavior, namely by promoting cursory and antisocial behavior. Here we propose that such behavioral changes may, at least partly, stem from a more basic neurocognitive process related to response monitoring, namely a reduced error detection mechanism. Our results show that the Error-Related Negativity, a neural marker of error detection, was reduced in individuals led to disbelieve in free will. This finding shows that reducing the belief in free will has a specific impact on error detection mechanisms. More generally, it suggests that abstract beliefs about intentional control can influence basic and automatic processes related to action control.