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Department of Psychology
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Department of Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have demonstrated a dissociation of the effects of illusion on perception and action, with perception generally reported to be susceptible to illusions, while actions are seemingly immune. These findings have been interpreted to support Milner and Goodale's Two Visual Systems model, which proposes the existence of separate visual processing streams for perception and action. However, an alternative interpretation suggests that this type of behavioral dissociation will occur for any illusion that is caused by a distortion of the observer's egocentric reference frame, without requiring the existence of separate perception and action systems that are differently affected by the illusion. In this scenario, movements aimed at illusory targets will be accurate if they are guided within the same distorted reference frame used for target encoding, since the error of motor guidance will cancel with the error of encoding (hence, for actions, two wrongs do make a right). We further test this Two-Wrongs model by examining two illusions for which the hypothesis makes very different predictions: the rod-and-frame illusion (which affects perception but not actions) and the simultaneous-tilt illusion (which affects perception and actions equally). We demonstrate that the rod-and-frame illusion is caused by a distortion of the observer's egocentric reference frame suitable for the cancellation of errors predicted by the Two-Wrongs model. In contrast, the simultaneous-tilt illusion is caused by local interactions between stimulus elements within an undistorted reference frame, precluding the cancellation of errors associated with the Two-Wrongs model such that the illusion is reflected in both perception and actions. These results provide evidence for a class of illusions that lead to dissociations of perception and action through distortions of the observer's spatial reference frame, rather than through the actions of functionally separate visual processing streams.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 03/2015; 9:140. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00140
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    ABSTRACT: The design and construction of non-natural products have fascinated and perplexed organic chemists for years. Their assembly, akin to what has been accomplished for the total synthesis of natural products, has stretched the limits of what can be prepared in the laboratory. Unlike many natural products, however, carbon-rich structures often lack heteroatoms, further complicating their construction. Consider some of the classical molecules in this genre: cubane and dodecahedrane. While highly symmetric, their assembly is far from trivial. These fascinating hydrocarbon targets have fueled the development of carbon–carbon bond-forming reactions, as new methods are needed to access these types of compounds.
    Accounts of Chemical Research 02/2015; 48(3). DOI:10.1021/ar5004253
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive self-regulation can strongly modulate pain and emotion. However, it is unclear whether self-regulation primarily influences primary nociceptive and affective processes or evaluative ones. In this study, participants engaged in self-regulation to increase or decrease pain while experiencing multiple levels of painful heat during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) imaging. Both heat intensity and self-regulation strongly influenced reported pain, but they did so via two distinct brain pathways. The effects of stimulus intensity were mediated by the neurologic pain signature (NPS), an a priori distributed brain network shown to predict physical pain with over 90% sensitivity and specificity across four studies. Self-regulation did not influence NPS responses; instead, its effects were mediated through functional connections between the nucleus accumbens and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This pathway was unresponsive to noxious input, and has been broadly implicated in valuation, emotional appraisal, and functional outcomes in pain and other types of affective processes. These findings provide evidence that pain reports are associated with two dissociable functional systems: nociceptive/affective aspects mediated by the NPS, and evaluative/functional aspects mediated by a fronto-striatal system.
    PLoS Biology 01/2015; 13(1):e1002036. DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002036

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Psychological Science 12/2014; In press. DOI:10.1177/0956797614534693
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