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    ABSTRACT: Despite implications for theory and treatment, commonality in responding to non-bereavement and bereavement losses are not well explicated. This study identified the factor structure of the three most common responses to bereavement, prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress, and major depression in a bereaved community sample (n=151, 59% female, 68% white) from the U.S. recruited from Amazon's MTurk using a cross-sectional survey design, then cross-validated the structure in samples where people had lost other potentially self-defining roles; one's employment (n=157, 47% female, 69% white) and one's marriage (n=116, 62% female, 80% white). Results indicated that symptoms of prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress, and major depression were distinct factors in the bereaved sample, the three-factor solution was a good fit for the job-loss and divorce samples, and levels of grief in each sample appeared to be best predicted by time since loss and centrality of the loss to one's identity. Limitations include potential sample bias due to convenience sampling, and the cross-sectional design did not allow examination of the stability of factors over time. These results suggest that grief is not a unique response to loss of loved one but instead may be a common phenomenology across types of loss. This implies that facilitating meaningful engagement in self-defining activities that compensate for the disrupting loss might be efficacious in promoting grief resolution without the need for working through individuals' emotional attachment to a specific individual or processing one's emotional responses to the loss.
    Journal of affective disorders 06/2014; 161:136-43.
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    ABSTRACT: Alexithymia is a term used to describe individuals who seem unable to experience or at least describe emotions. This paper offers a theoretical interpretation of alexithymia from a radical behaviorist perspective. While there have been attempts to explain the etiology of alexithymia, the current analysis is unique in that it provides direct treatment implications. The pragmatic analysis described focuses on the verbal behavior of individuals rather than looking “inside” for explanations. This is supported by a review of experimental research that has failed to find consistencies among alexithymic individuals’ physiological responding. Descriptions of the various discriminative and consequential stimulus conditions involved in the complex learning histories of individuals that could result in an alexithymic presentation are provided. This analysis helps situate the alexithymia construct in a broader behavior analytic understanding of emotions. Finally this paper outlines implications for assessment and treatment, which involve influencing discriminative and consequential interpersonal stimulus conditions to shape verbal behavior about emotions.
    Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. 04/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: A recent study showed that color synesthetes have increased color sensitivity but impaired motion perception. This is exciting because little research has examined how synesthesia affects basic perceptual processes outside the context of synesthetic experiences. The results suggest that synesthesia broadly impacts perception with greater neural implications than previously considered.
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 02/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Objective: This study examined the feasibility of a prototype Web-based acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) program for preventing mental health problems among college students. Participants: Undergraduate first-year students (N = 76) participated between May and November 2011. Methods: Participants were randomized to ACT or a waitlist, with assessments conducted at baseline, posttherapy, and 3-week follow-up. Waitlist participants accessed the program after the second assessment. Results: Program usability/usage data indicated high program acceptability. Significant improvements were found for ACT knowledge, education values, and depression with ACT relative to waitlist. Subgroup analyses indicated that ACT decreased depression and anxiety relative to waitlist among students with at least minimal distress. Within the ACT condition, significant improvements were observed from baseline to 3-week follow-up on all outcome and process measures. Conclusions: Results provide preliminary support for the feasibility of a Web-based ACT prevention program.
    Journal of American College Health 01/2014; 62(1):20-30.
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    ABSTRACT: In grapheme-color synesthesia, graphemes (e.g., numbers or letters) evoke color experiences. It is generally reported that the opposite is not true: colors will not generate experiences of graphemes or their associated information. However, recent research has provided evidence that colors can implicitly elicit symbolic representations of associated graphemes. Here, we examine if these representations can be cognitively accessed. Using a mathematical verification task replacing graphemes with color patches, we find that synesthetes can verify such problems with colors as accurately as with graphemes. Doing so, however, takes time: ∼250ms per color. Moreover, we find minimal reaction time switch-costs for switching between computing with graphemes and colors. This demonstrates that given specific task demands, synesthetes can cognitively access numerical information elicited by physical colors, and they do so as accurately as with graphemes. We discuss these results in the context of possible cognitive strategies used to access the information.
    Consciousness and Cognition 10/2013; 22(4):1384-1392.
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    ABSTRACT: Grapheme-color synesthetes experience color, not physically present, when viewing symbols. Synesthetes cannot remember learning these associations. Must synesthetic percepts be formed during a sensitive period? Can they form later and be consistent? What determines their nature? We tested grapheme-color synesthete, MC2, before, during and after she studied Hindi abroad. We investigated whether novel graphemes elicited synesthetic percepts, changed with familiarity, and/or benefited from phonemic information. MC2 reported color percepts to novel Devanagari and Hebrew graphemes. MC2 monitored these percepts over 6months in a Hindi-speaking environment. MC2 and synesthete DN, reported synesthetic percepts for Armenian graphemes, or Cyrillic graphemes+phonemes over time. Synesthetes, not controls, reported color percepts for novel graphemes that gained consistency over time. Phonemic information did not enhance consistency. Thus, synesthetes can form and consolidate percepts to novel graphemes as adults. These percepts may depend on pre-existing grapheme-color relationships but they can flexibly shift with familiarity.
    Consciousness and Cognition 07/2013; 22(3):944-954.
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    ABSTRACT: A number of recent authors have compared acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and traditional cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The present article describes ACT as a distinct and unified model of behavior change, linked to a specific strategy of scientific development, which we term "contextual behavioral science." We outline the empirical progress of ACT and describe its distinctive development strategy. A contextual behavioral science approach is an inductive attempt to build more adequate psychological systems based on philosophical clarity; the development of basic principles and theories; the development of applied theories linked to basic ones; techniques and components linked to these processes and principles; measurement of theoretically key processes; an emphasis on mediation and moderation in the analysis of applied impact; an interest in effectiveness, dissemination, and training; empirical testing of the research program across a broad range of areas and levels of analysis; and the creation of a more effective scientific and clinical community. We argue that this is a reasonable approach, focused on long-term progress, and that in broad terms it seems to be working. ACT is not hostile to traditional CBT, and is not directly buoyed by whatever weaknesses traditional CBT may have. ACT should be measured at least in part against its own goals as specified by its own developmental strategy.
    Behavior therapy 06/2013; 44(2):180-98.
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    ABSTRACT: Visual working memory (VWM) is essential for many cognitive processes, yet it is notably limited in capacity. Visual perception processing is facilitated by Gestalt principles of grouping, such as connectedness, similarity, and proximity. This introduces the question, do these perceptual benefits extend to VWM? If so, can this be an approach to enhance VWM function by optimizing the processing of information? Previous findings have demonstrated that several Gestalt principles (connectedness, common region, and spatial proximity) do facilitate VWM performance in change detection tasks (Jiang, Olson, & Chun, 2000; Woodman, Vecera, & Luck, 2003; Xu, 2002, 2006; Xu & Chun, 2007). However, one prevalent Gestalt principle, similarity, has not been examined with regard to facilitating VWM. Here, we investigated whether grouping by similarity benefits VWM. Experiment 1 established the basic finding that VWM performance could benefit from grouping. Experiment 2 replicated and extended this finding by showing that similarity was only effective when the similar stimuli were proximal. In short, the VWM performance benefit derived from similarity was constrained by spatial proximity, such that similar items need to be near each other. Thus, the Gestalt principle of similarity benefits visual perception, but it can provide benefits to VWM as well.
    Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The present paper argues that traditional approaches to treatment development, including a technological approach, a stage model, and existing inductive approaches such as functional analysis are inadequate in various ways. Treatment developing needs to focus more on theoretical development, practicality, and the fit with clients and practitioners. We argue that progress requires greater philosophical clarity, and steps to ensure a connection between philosophy of science assumptions and an analytic agenda which fits naturally with applied psychology. Theoretical progress requires distinguishing between clinical and basic models and harmonizing their relationship, and more focus on the manipulable context of action. Applied psychology needs to join in a common cause with basic psychology in domains of mutual interest, and develop basic analyses and mid-level terms that can be both scientifically progressive and clinically useful. Issues of practicality, capacity for dissemination, and public health impact need to be considered at the beginning and throughout treatment development. Issues of effectiveness, change processes, mediation, moderation, training, active components, and similar issues should be part of the evaluation system from the beginning. It is time to create a more coherent approach to treatment innovation.
    Clinical psychology review 04/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Color losses of central origin (cerebral achromatopsia and dyschromatopsia) can result from cortical damage and are most commonly associated with stroke. Such cases have the potential to provide useful information regarding the loci of the generation of the percept of color. One available tool to examine this issue is the chromatic visual evoked potential (cVEP). The cVEP has been used successfully to objectively quantify losses in color vision capacity in both congenital and acquired deficiencies of retinal origin but has not yet been applied to cases of color losses of cortical origin. In addition, it is not known with certainty which cortical sites are responsible for the generation of the cVEP waveform components. Here we report psychophysical and electrophysiological examination of a patient with color deficits resulting from a bilateral cerebral infarct in the ventral occipitotemporal region. Although this patient demonstrated pronounced color losses of a general nature, the waveform of the cVEP remains unaffected. Contrast response functions of the cVEP are also normal for this patient. The results suggest that the percept of color arises after the origin of the cVEP and that normal activity in those areas that give rise to the characteristic negative wave of the cVEP are not sufficient to provide for the normal sensation of color.
    Journal of Vision 01/2013; 13(10).
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