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A Mechanistic Account of the Relation between Working Memory Capacity and Fluid Intelligence

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Working memory capacity and fluid intelligence are important predictors of performance in educational settings. Thus, understanding the processes underlying the relation between working memory capacity and fluid intelligence is important. Three large scale individual differences experiments were conducted to determine

Working memory capacity and fluid intelligence are important predictors of performance in educational settings. Thus, understanding the processes underlying the relation between working memory capacity and fluid intelligence is important. Three large scale individual differences experiments were conducted to determine the mechanisms underlying the relation between working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. Experiments 1 and 2 were designed to assess whether individual differences in strategic behavior contribute to the variance shared between working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. In Experiment 3, competing theories for describing the underlying processes (cognitive vs. strategy) were evaluated in a comprehensive examination of potential underlying mechanisms. These data help inform existing theories about the mechanisms underlying the relation between WMC and gF. However, these data also indicate that the current theoretical model of the shared variance between WMC and gF would need to be revised to account for the data in Experiment 3. Possible sources of misfit are considered in the discussion along with a consideration of the theoretical implications of observing those relations in the Experiment 3 data.

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2018

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Experimental Manipulation of Motivation and Self-Efficacy for Self-Control

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Self-control has been shown to be an important influence behind a variety of risk and protective behaviors, such as substance abuse. Although prior research points to the existence of multiple dimensions of self-control, this concept is not consistently defined and

Self-control has been shown to be an important influence behind a variety of risk and protective behaviors, such as substance abuse. Although prior research points to the existence of multiple dimensions of self-control, this concept is not consistently defined and frequently only studied as a conglomerate in clinical research. The current study sought to examine how two experimental manipulations of subcomponents of self-control (motivation and self-efficacy) affect real-world consumptive behavior after accounting for executive function. Additionally, the validity and reliability of a brief state survey measure of perceived self-control capacity, internal motivation, and external motivation was tested. The goal was to examine how basic scientific principles involved in self-control translate into clinically relevant behaviors, which may inform understanding of momentary lapses in self-control behavior, potentially leading to novel prevention and intervention efforts. 94 college students completed a 1-2 hour laboratory protocol during which they completed survey and laboratory-based tasks of self-control and related behaviors, executive function, and ad libitum alcohol consumption. Results showed that the self-efficacy manipulation successfully increased perceived self-control capacity, although this did not lead to a significant reduction in consumption. The motivation manipulation neither increased motivation nor reduced consumption in this sample. However, the brief state survey measure of self-control subcomponents demonstrated strong test-retest reliability and distinction from trait self-control, demonstrating its viability for use in future research. By elucidating the relationships between specific mechanisms of self-control, laboratory-based tasks and manipulations, and real-world consumptive behaviors, prevention and intervention efforts for problems such as alcohol abuse may be tailored to the needs of the individual and made more impactful and cost-effective.

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2020

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Hippocampal Contributions to the Temporal Dynamics of Behavior

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The capacity to track time in the seconds-to-minutes range, or interval timing, appears to be at least partially dependent on intact hippocampal (HPC) function. The current dissertation sought to dissociate timed responses, non-timed responses, and motivational aspects of behavior in

The capacity to track time in the seconds-to-minutes range, or interval timing, appears to be at least partially dependent on intact hippocampal (HPC) function. The current dissertation sought to dissociate timed responses, non-timed responses, and motivational aspects of behavior in order to propose a role of the HPC in specific timing sub-processes. In Chapter 2, effects of dorsal HPC (dHPC) lesions on temporal responding in a switch-timing task revealed a critical role of dHPC in the acquisition of interval timing criteria. Following dHPC lesions, the start time of responding was systemically shortened, in a manner that was enhanced and sustained when encoding a novel long interval, consistent with a memory-based account of dHPC function in timed responding. Chapter 3 investigated effects of chronic stress, which has been shown to reliably induce HPC dendritic retraction, on interval timing, utilizing response-initiated schedules of reinforcement, which facilitate deconvolution of timing and motivation. This revealed task-dependent effects on interval timing and motivation, where stress induced transient effects on motivation in a prospective timing task, but transient effects on the variability of timed responding in a retrospective timing task, consistent with an effect on memory function in interval timing. Chapter 4 sought to bring timed responding, motivation, and non-timed behaviors under stronger procedural control, through the implementation of a response-initiated timing-with-opportunity-cost task, in which a cost is imposed on temporal food-seeking by the presence of a concurrent source of probabilistic reinforcement. This arrangement garnered strong schedule control of behavior, and revealed individual-subject differences in the effects of reward devaluation, such that it affected motivation in some rats, but temporal responding in others. Using this methodology, Chapter 5 investigated initial temporal entrainment of behavior under pharmacological deactivation of dHPC and revealed its critical involvement in updating memory to new temporal contingencies. Together, data from this dissertation contrast with prior conclusions that the HPC is not involved in learning temporal criteria, and instead suggest that its function is indeed critical to encoding temporal intervals in memory.

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2022