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Highlights of the Research Results

Please find below a list of selected research results from all Centers of the Institute since 2011.

Health education films in the twentieth century

Titel:

Health education films in the twentieth century

Cover Health Education Films
© University of Rochester Press
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

During the twentieth century, film came to be seen as a revolutionary technology that could entertain, document, instruct, and transform a mass audience. In the fields of medicine and public health, doctors, educators, health advocates, and politicians were especially enthusiastic about the potential of the motion picture for communicating about health-related topics, including sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, tuberculosis, smoking, alcoholism, and contraception.

Focusing on the period from the 1910s to the 1960s, this book is the first collection to examine the history of the public health education film in Europe and North America. It explores how a variety of commercial, governmental, medical, and public health organizations in Europe and North America turned to movies to educate the public, reform their health behaviors, and manage their anxieties and hopes about health, illness, and medical and public health interventions. Moreover, by looking at categories of movies as well as individual examples, the book tackles questions of the representativeness of individual films and the relationship between the public health film and other forms of motion picture.

Contributors: Christian Bonah, Tim Boon, David Cantor, Ursula von Keitz, Anja Laukötter, Elizabeth Lebas, Vincent Lowy, Miriam Posner, Kirsten Ostherr, Alexandre Sumpf

Bonah, Ch., Cantor, D., Laukötter, A. (Eds.)(2018). Health education films in the twentieth century. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture

Titel:

Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture

Paper
© Elsevier
Center: 
Adaptive Rationality
Abstract: 

Several theories of cognition distinguish between strategies that differ in the mental effort that their use requires. But how can the effort—or cognitive costs—associated with a strategy be conceptualized and measured? We propose an approach that decomposes the effort a strategy requires into the time costs associated with the demands for using specific cognitive resources. We refer to this approach as resource demand decomposition analysis (RDDA) and instantiate it in the cognitive architecture Adaptive Control of Thought–Rational (ACT-R).

ACT-R provides the means to develop computer simulations of the strategies. These simulations take into account how strategies interact with quantitative implementations of cognitive resources and incorporate the possibility of parallel processing. Using this approach, we quantified, decomposed, and compared the time costs of two prominent strategies for decision making, take-the-best and tallying. Because take-the-best often ignores information and foregoes information integration, it has been considered simpler than strategies like tallying. However, in both ACT-R simulations and an empirical study we found that under increasing cognitive demands the response times (i.e., time costs) of take-the-best sometimes exceeded those of tallying. The RDDA suggested that this pattern is driven by greater requirements for working memory updates, memory retrievals, and the coordination of mental actions when using take-the-best compared to tallying. The results illustrate that assessing the relative simplicity of strategies requires consideration of the overall cognitive system in which the strategies are embedded.

Fechner, H. B., Schooler, L. J., & Pachur, T. (2018). Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture. Cognition, 170, 102-122. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.09.003

Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition

Titel:

Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition

Cover Trends in Cognitive Science
© Elsevier
Center: 
Lifespan Psychology
Abstract: 

Research on human brain changes during skill acquisition has revealed brain volume expansion in task-relevant areas. However, the large number of skills that humans acquire during ontogeny militates against plasticity as a perpetual process of volume growth. Building on animal models and available theories, we promote the expansion–renormalization model for plastic changes in humans.

The model predicts an initial increase of gray matter structure, potentially reflecting growth of neural resources like neurons, synapses, and glial cells, which is followed by a selection process operating on this new tissue leading to a complete or partial return to baseline of the overall volume after selection has ended. The model sheds new light on available evidence and current debates and fosters the search for mechanistic explanations.

Wenger, E., Brozzoli, C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2017). Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21,930–939. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2017.09.008

See also press release: The Brain Auditions Different Cells

Emotional Cities

Titel:

Emotional Cities

Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

Emotional Cities offers an innovative account of the history of cities in the second half of the nineteenth century. Analyzing debates about emotions and urban change, it questions the assumed dissimilarity of the history of European and Middle Eastern cities during this period. The author shows that between 1860 and 1910, contemporaries in both Berlin and Cairo began to negotiate the transformation of the urban realm in terms of emotions. Looking at the ways in which a variety of urban dwellers, from psychologists to bar maids, framed recent changes in terms of their effect on love, honor, or disgust, the book reveals striking parallels between the histories of the two cities. By combining urban history and the history of emotions, Prestel proposes a new perspective on the emergence of different, yet comparable cities at the end of the nineteenth century.

Lint to publisher:
https://global.oup.com/academic/product/emotional-cities-9780198797562?c...

Prestel, J. B. (2017). Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-879756-2

Die Politik der Demütigung

Titel:

Die Politik der Demütigung

Cover Die Politik der Demütigung
© S. Fischer
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

Humiliation practices are common, for example, in parenting and education, on the internet, in penal law, and in politics. Thus, after 1944, many French women accused of liaising with Germans were degraded by having their hair shorn in public.
Die Politik der Demütigung investigates humiliation as an instrument of power in public settings over the past 250 years, demonstrating that modernity never relinquished the pillory but simply reinvented it. It is no longer the state that shames and humiliates but society.

Link to publisher:
http://www.fischerverlage.de/buch/die_politik_der_demuetigung/9783103972221

Frevert, U. (2017). Die Politik der Demütigung: Schauplätze von Macht und Ohnmacht. Frankfurt: S. Fischer. ISBN: 978-3-10-397222-1

Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence Lifespan Psychology

Titel:

Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence Lifespan Psychology

Cover Keresztes
© PNAS
Center: 
Lifespan Psychology
Abstract: 

Adaptive learning systems need to meet two complementary and partially conflicting goals: detecting regularities in the world versus remembering specific events. The hippocampus (HC) keeps a fine balance between computations that extract commonalities of incoming information (i.e., pattern completion) and computations that enable encoding of highly similar events into unique representations (i.e., pattern separation). Histological evidence from young rhesus monkeys suggests that HC development is characterized by the differential development of intrahippocampal subfields and associated networks. However, due to challenges in the in vivo investigation of such developmental organization, the ontogenetic timing of HC subfield maturation remains controversial. Delineating its course is important, as it directly influences the fine balance between pattern separation and pattern completion operations and, thus, developmental changes in learning and memory. Here, we relate in vivo, high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging data of HC subfields to behavioral memory performance in children aged 6–14 y and in young adults. We identify a multivariate profile of age-related differences in intrahippocampal structures and show that HC maturity as captured by this pattern is associated with age differences in the differential encoding of unique memory representations.

Significance
Children tend to extract schematic knowledge at the expense of learning and recollecting specific events. Our findings allow us to speculate that the heterogeneous development of subregions within the hippocampus—a brain region crucial for laying down novel memories—contributes to this developmental lag in memory. Specifically, we used in vivo high-resolution structural MRI and memory tests in a large sample of children aged 6–14 years and young adults to characterize hippocampal development. We show that hippocampal maturity as expressed in the multivariate pattern of age-related differences in hippocampal subregions is specifically related to the ability to lay down highly specific memories.

Keresztes, A., Bender, A. R., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., Shing, Y. L., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2017). Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114, 9212–9217. doi:10.1073/pnas.171065411

See also press release: Memory for Details Matures Gradually

Zornpolitik

Titel:

Zornpolitik

Cover Zornpolitik
© SV
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

Many worry about the recent rise of right-wing populism and extremism in Germany. Racism against foreigners and refugees has reached new levels. Emotions like fear, hatred or anger obviously play a major role in this development. Uffa Jensen explores the role of such emotions in prejudices by discussing the modern history of anti-Semitism, islamophobia, and racism.

Jensen, U. (2017). Zornpolitik. Suhrkamp Verlag (edition suhrkamp 2720). ISBN: 978-3-518-12720-9

Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies

Titel:

Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies

Cover nature human behaviour
© nature human behaviour
Center: 
Adaptive Rationality
Abstract: 

Social learning is a fundamental element of human cognition. Learning from others facilitates the transmission of information that helps individuals and groups rapidly adjust to new environments and underlies adaptive cultural evolution. While basic human propensities for social learning are traditionally assumed to be species-universal recent empirical studies show that they vary between individuals and populations. Yet the causes of this variation remain poorly understood. Here we show that interdependence in everyday social and economic activities can strongly amplify social learning. Using an experimental decision-making task, we examine individual versus social learning in three recently diverged populations of a single-ethnicity group, whose subsistence styles require varying degrees of interdependence. Interdependent pastoralists and urban dwellers have markedly higher propensities for social learning than independent horticulturalists, who predominantly rely on individual payoff information. These results indicate that everyday social and economic practices can mould human social learning strategies and they highlight the flexibility of human cognition to change with local ecology. Our study further suggests that shifts in subsistence styles—which can occur when humans inhabit new habitats or cultural niches—can alter reliance on social learning and may therefore impact the ability of human societies to adapt to novel circumstances.

Glowacki, L., & Molleman, L. (2017). Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies. Nature Human Behavour, 1:0098. doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0098

Special Issue Feeling Communities

Titel:

Special Issue Feeling Communities

Cover The Indian Economic and Social History Review
© IESH
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

This special issue investigates the role emotions played and play in the creation of feeling communities in South Asia. The topics range from the central role, which appeals to compassion had in the creation of the Muslim community in the 19th century (Margrit Pernau), the contributions of novels to the mobilization of feelings and people in the 20th century (Christina Oesterheld), the way emotions were evoked through their performance in poetic gatherings and in sermons (Carla Petievich, Max Stille), the contribution of Telugu films played in mass mobilization through anger and compassion (Imke Rajamani) and finally the emotional world views of young men in Pakistan with jihadi affiliations (Amélie Blom).

Pernau, M. (Guest ed.). (2017). "Feeling communities [Special issue]". Indian Economic and Social History Review, 54(1).

How the twain can meet: Prospect theory and models of heuristics in risky choice

Titel:

How the twain can meet: Prospect theory and models of heuristics in risky choice

Artikel in Cognitive Psychology
© Cognitive Psychology
Center: 
Adaptive Rationality
Abstract: 

Two influential approaches to modeling choice between risky options are algebraic models (which focus on predicting the overt decisions) and models of heuristics (which are also concerned with capturing the underlying cognitive process). Because they rest on fundamentally different assumptions and algorithms, the two approaches are usually treated as antithetical, or even incommensurable. Drawing on cumulative prospect theory (CPT; Tversky & Kahneman, 1992) as the currently most influential instance of a descriptive algebraic model, the authors demonstrate how the two modeling traditions can be linked.

CPT’s algebraic functions characterize choices in terms of psychophysical (diminishing sensitivity to probabilities and outcomes) as well as psychological (risk aversion and loss aversion) constructs. Models of heuristics characterize choices as rooted in simple informationprocessing principles such as lexicographic and limited search. In computer simulations, the researchers estimated CPT’s parameters for choices produced by various heuristics. The resulting CPT parameter profiles portray each of the choice-generating heuristics in psychologically meaningful ways—capturing, for instance, differences in how the heuristics process probability information. Furthermore, CPT parameters can reflect a key property of many heuristics, lexicographic search, and track the environment-dependent behavior of heuristics. Finally, the authors show, both in an empirical and a model recovery study, how CPT parameter profiles can be used to detect the operation of heuristics. Pachur et.al. also address the limits of CPT’s ability to capture choices produced by heuristics. Our results highlight an untapped potential of CPT as a measurement tool to characterize the information processing underlying risky choice.

Pachur, T., Suter, R. S., & Hertwig, R. (2017). How the twain can meet: Prospect theory and models of heuristics in risky choice. Cognitive Psychology, 93, 44—73. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.01.001