Sources of mathematical thinking: behavioral and brain-imaging evidence.
Does the human capacity for mathematical intuition depend on linguistic competence or on visuo-spatial representations? A series of behavioral and brain-imaging experiments provides evidence for both sources. Exact arithmetic is acquired in a language-specific format, transfers poorly to a different language or to novel facts, and recruits networks involved in word-association processes. In contrast, approximate arithmetic shows language independence, relies on a sense of numerical magnitudes, and recruits bilateral areas of the parietal lobes involved in visuo-spatial processing. Mathematical intuition may emerge from the interplay of these brain systems. (+info)
The importance of intuition in the occupational medicine clinical consultation.
Clinical consultation involves unspoken elements which flow between doctor and patient. They are vital ingredients of successful patient management but are not easily measured, objective or evidence-based. These elements include empathy and intuition for what the patient is experiencing and trying to express, or indeed suppressing. Time is needed to explore the instinctive feeling for what is important, particularly in present day society which increasingly recognizes the worth of psychosocial factors. This time should be available in the occupational health consultation. In this paper the importance of intuition and its essential value in the clinical interview are traced through history. Differences between intuition and empathy are explored and the use of intuition as a clinical tool is examined. (+info)
Intuitions, principles and consequences.
Some approaches to the assessment of moral intuitions are discussed. The controlled ethical trial isolates a moral issue from confounding factors and thereby clarifies what a person's intuition actually is. Casuistic reasoning from situations, where intuitions are clear, suggests or modifies principles, which can then help to make decisions in situations where intuitions are unclear. When intuitions are defended by a supporting principle, that principle can be tested by finding extreme cases, in which it is counterintuitive to follow the principle. An approach to the resolution of conflict between valid moral principles, specifically the utilitarian and justice principles, is considered. It is argued that even those who justify intuitions by a priori principles are often obliged to modify or support their principles by resort to the consideration of consequences. (+info)
Predictability modulates human brain response to reward.
Certain classes of stimuli, such as food and drugs, are highly effective in activating reward regions. We show in humans that activity in these regions can be modulated by the predictability of the sequenced delivery of two mildly pleasurable stimuli, orally delivered fruit juice and water. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the activity for rewarding stimuli in both the nucleus accumbens and medial orbitofrontal cortex was greatest when the stimuli were unpredictable. Moreover, the subjects' stated preference for either juice or water was not directly correlated with activity in reward regions but instead was correlated with activity in sensorimotor cortex. For pleasurable stimuli, these findings suggest that predictability modulates the response of human reward regions, and subjective preference can be dissociated from this response. (+info)
Anticipation of increasing monetary reward selectively recruits nucleus accumbens.
Comparative studies have implicated the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) in the anticipation of incentives, but the relative responsiveness of this neural substrate during anticipation of rewards versus punishments remains unclear. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated whether the anticipation of increasing monetary rewards and punishments would increase NAcc blood oxygen level-dependent contrast (hereafter, "activation") in eight healthy volunteers. Whereas anticipation of increasing rewards elicited both increasing self-reported happiness and NAcc activation, anticipation of increasing punishment elicited neither. However, anticipation of both rewards and punishments activated a different striatal region (the medial caudate). At the highest reward level ($5.00), NAcc activation was correlated with individual differences in self-reported happiness elicited by the reward cues. These findings suggest that whereas other striatal areas may code for expected incentive magnitude, a region in the NAcc codes for expected positive incentive value. (+info)
Reward unpredictability inside and outside of a task context as a determinant of the responses of tonically active neurons in the monkey striatum.
Tonically active neurons (TANs) in the monkey striatum are involved in detecting motivationally relevant stimuli. We recently provided evidence that the timing of conditioned stimuli strongly influences the responsiveness of TANs, the source of which is likely to be the monkey's previous experience with particular temporal regularities in sequential task events. To extend these findings, we investigated the relationship of TAN responses to a primary liquid reward, the timing of which is more or less predictable to the monkey either outside of a task or during instrumental task performance. Reward predictability was indexed by the timing characteristics of the mouth movements. The responsiveness of TANs to reward increased with the range and variability of time periods before reward, notably when the liquid was delivered outside of a task. A change in the temporal order of events in a task context produced an increase of response to reward, suggesting an influence of the predicted nature of the event in addition to its time of occurrence. By contrast, we observed no substantial changes in neuronal activity at the expected time of reward when this event failed to occur, suggesting that these neurons do not appear to carry information about an error in reward prediction. These results demonstrate that TANs constitute a neuronal system that is involved in detecting unpredicted reward events, irrespective of the specific behavioral situation in which such events occur. The responses influenced by stimulus prediction may constitute a neuronal basis for the notion that striatal processing is crucial for habit learning. (+info)
Does anticipation of pain affect cortical nociceptive systems?
Anticipation of pain is a complex state that may influence the perception of subsequent noxious stimuli. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study changes of activity of cortical nociceptive networks in healthy volunteers while they expected the somatosensory stimulation of one foot, which might be painful (subcutaneous injection of ascorbic acid) or not. Subjects had no previous experience of the noxious stimulus. Mean fMRI signal intensity increased over baseline values during anticipation and during actual stimulation in the putative foot representation area of the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex (SI). Mean fMRI signals decreased during anticipation in other portions of the contralateral and ipsilateral SI, as well as in the anteroventral cingulate cortex. The activity of cortical clusters whose signal time courses showed positive or negative correlations with the individual psychophysical pain intensity curve was also significantly affected during the waiting period. Positively correlated clusters were found in the contralateral SI and bilaterally in the anterior cingulate, anterior insula, and medial prefrontal cortex. Negatively correlated clusters were found in the anteroventral cingulate bilaterally. In all of these areas, changes during anticipation were of the same sign as those observed during pain but less intense ( approximately 30-40% as large as peak changes during actual noxious stimulation). These results provide evidence for top-down mechanisms, triggered by anticipation, modulating cortical systems involved in sensory and affective components of pain even in the absence of actual noxious input and suggest that the activity of cortical nociceptive networks may be directly influenced by cognitive factors. (+info)
Intuition and evidence--uneasy bedfellows?
Intuition is a decision-making method that is used unconsciously by experienced practitioners but is inaccessible to the novice. It is rapid, subtle, contextual, and does not follow simple, cause-and-effect logic. Evidence-based medicine offers exciting opportunities_for improving patient outcomes, but the 'evidence-burdened' approach of the inexperienced, protocol-driven clinician is well documented Intuition is not unscientific. It is a highly creative process, fundamental to hypothesis generation in science. The experienced practitioner should generate and follow clinical hunches as well as (not instead of applying the deductive principles of evidence-based medicine. The educational research literature suggests that we can improve our intuitive powers through systematic critical reflection about intuitive judgements--for example, through creative writing and dialogue with professional colleagues. It is time to revive and celebrate clinical storytelling as a method for professional education and development. The stage is surely set for a new, improved--and, indeed, evidence-based--'Balint'group. (+info)