Os textos são da exclusiva responsabilidade dos autores

Os textos são da exclusiva responsabilidade dos autores
All texts are of the exclusive responsibility of the authors
Stephen Whitmarsha,b, Julia Udden a,c,d, Karl-Magnus Petersson a,c,d,e , Ole Jensena, Henk Barendregta,b
a) Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging,
Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands
b) Radboud University, Faculty of Science, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
c) Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
d) Cognitive Neurophysiology Research Group, Stockholm Brain Institute, Karolinska Institutet,
Stockholm, Sweden
e) Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group, Universidade do Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Grant nº 122/08
Intuition and uncertainty are inescapable in many instances of decision-making, in particular within
clinical situations. Consequently, biases and heuristics may operate, distorting the decision-making
process. Since uncertainty can be reduced but never completely eliminated, most decision-making
contains an irreducible intuitive element aimed at resolving uncertainty and guiding decisions. Given that
little is known about this mechanism, both its strengths and weaknesses in such critical situations cannot
be addressed properly yet. Our objective is to contribute to the emerging understanding of the intuitive
decision-making by investigating the effectiveness and psycho-physiologically basis of the “gut-feeling”,
as well as its individual differences. In addition, the effectiveness of relevant emotional sensitivity and
coping skills, and indirectly of mindfulness training programs, will be tested. We will use an artificial
grammar learning (AGL) paradigm typical of investigations of higher order implicit learning. Participants
will be presented with consonant-sequences generated according to a complex rule system. While not
providing information about the actual rules, they are asked to classify a set of 128 items as grammatical
or not based on their immediate intuitive impression (i.e., guessing based on ‘gut feeling’). In training
sessions they are given feedback if their response was correct, creating the ability to learn an implicit
representation of the grammar. In a classification session they will have to respond to a set of novel items
without any feedback. According to the Somatic Marker Theory we expect the sympathetic system to
provide emotionally coded information about the learned implicit associations. In parallel to both learning
and classification sessions we will therefore measure heart rate, galvanic skin response (GSR) and pupil
diameter in response to the (un)grammatical items. Subjects will respond to several questionnaires
measuring diverse affective and motivational personality traits. Although still optimizing the experimental
paradigm, preliminary results are in line with previous findings. As expected, subjects were not able to
formulate correct explicit rules, while performing above change level. Most importantly, the GSR
response is shown to differentiate between right and wrong decisions before any feedback, substantiating
the idea that the “gut-feeling” is objectively measurable and informative when explicit reasoning is not.