Source: Laboratories of Jonas T. Kaplan and Sarah I. Gimbel—University of Southern California
Imagine the sound of a bell ringing. What is happening in the brain when we conjure up a sound like this in the "mind's ear?" There is growing evidence that the brain uses the same mechanisms for imagination that it uses for perception.1 For example, when imagining visual images, the visual cortex becomes activated, and when imagining sounds, the auditory cortex is engaged. However, to what extent are these activations of sensory cortices specific to the content of our imaginations?
One technique that can help to answer this question is multivoxel pattern analysis (MPVA), in which functional brain images are analyzed using machine-learning techniques.2-3 In an MPVA experiment, we train a machine-learning algorithm to distinguish among the various patterns of activity evoked by different stimuli. For example, we might ask if imagining the sound of a bell produces different patterns of activity in auditory cortex compared with imagining the sound of a chainsaw, or the sound of a violin. If our classifier learns to tell apart the brain activity patterns produced by these three stimuli, then we can conclude that the auditory cortex is activated in a distinct …
Source: Diego Reinero & Jay Van Bavel—New York University
Whether it's refraining from having a second serving of ice cream, studying instead of attending a fun party, or deciding to put money away in a savings account, sacrificing short-term outcomes in favor of long-term outcomes (i.e., delaying gratification) is a central tenant of self-control. When people apply self control, they engage numerous psychological processes to help them achieve their goal. These self-regulatory processes have been studied by psychologists for decades.
A decision to resist tempting short-term rewards can depend on an individual's mindset and focus. Psychologists have found evidence that how someone construes an event can influence how they make judgments and decisions, a theory called Construal Level Theory (CLT). In particular, CLT asserts that the same object or event can be represented at multiple levels of abstractness or psychological distance, most commonly either a high-(abstract/distant) or low-(concrete/near) level of construal.1 Thinking about a situation with high-level construal entails emphasizing the global, superordinate, central features of an object or event (i.e,, zooming out and looking at the big picture), whereas thinking about a situation wi…