Vince Polito

Vince Polito
Macquarie University · Department of Cognitive Science

PhD in Cognitive Science

About

63
Publications
21,519
Reads
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523
Citations
Introduction
I’m a Research Fellow in the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University. I’m interested in self representation, in particular how we monitor feelings of control over our actions (sense of agency) and how we track our bodies in space (body representation). My research focuses on developing measures of how our sense of self changes in different contexts, clinical conditions, and altered states of consciousness.
Additional affiliations
January 2015 - April 2021
Macquarie University
Position
  • Senior Researcher
December 2013 - present
Macquarie University
Position
  • Associate Investigator
January 2013 - December 2014
Macquarie University
Position
  • Fellow

Publications

Publications (63)
Article
Full-text available
Two experiments report on the construction of the Sense of Agency Rating Scale (SOARS), a new measure for quantifying alterations to agency. In Experiment 1, 370 participants completed a preliminary version of the scale following hypnosis. Factor analysis revealed two underlying factors: Involuntariness and Effortlessness. In Experiment 2, this two...
Article
Full-text available
Building on Hilgard’s (1965) classic work, the domain of hypnosis has been conceptualized by Barnier, Dienes, and Mitchell (2008) as comprising 3 levels that represent distinct aspects of hypnotic phenomena: a) responses to different types of hypnotic suggestions, b) varying patterns of response over the phases of a suggestion, and c) the impact of...
Article
Full-text available
Much attention has been paid recently to the role of anomalous experiences in the aetiology of certain types of psychopathology, e.g. in the formation of delusions. We examine, instead, the top-down influence of pre-existing beliefs and affective factors in shaping an individual's characterisation of anomalous sensory experiences. Specifically we i...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined stimulus-driven and willed action in schizophrenic patients and healthy controls using an easy finger-tap task and a more demanding peg-placement task under unimanual, bimanual and dual-task conditions. Peg-placement externally cued by a metronome was also examined, as were practice effects. Patients with marked negative symptom...
Article
The use of low doses of psychedelic substances (microdosing) is attracting increasing interest. This systematic review summarises all empirical microdosing research to date, including a set of infrequently cited studies that took place prior to prohibition. Specifically, we reviewed 44 studies published between 1955 and 2021, and summarised reporte...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. This likely relates to a growing body of research linking mindfulness to a range of psychological outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and increased subjective wellbeing. However, while mindfulness has received a great deal of attention in clinical research, the evidence for wor...
Article
Full-text available
Background Burns and related procedures are painful and distressing for children, exposing them to acute and chronic sequelae that can negatively affect their physiological, psychological, and social functions. Non-pharmacological interventions such as distraction techniques are beneficial adjuncts to pharmacological agents for procedural pain, sta...
Article
Full-text available
The use of psychedelic substances at sub-sensorium ‘ microdoses’, has gained popular academic interest for reported positive effects on wellness and cognition. The present study describes microdosing practices, motivations and mental health among a sample of self-selected microdosers ( n = 4050) and non-microdosers ( n = 4653) via a mobile applicat...
Preprint
To explain the teleology of something is to describe its purpose. Certain things, such as goal directed behaviour or intentional design, clearly have a purpose. However, other things, such as biological and nonbiological natural entities, do not. A prominent theory of teleological reasoning suggests that teleological acceptance is driven by an earl...
Preprint
Agency is the subjective sense of control we have over our actions. According to an influential model, this arises when the predicted sensory effects of movements match actual sensory feedback. Consistent with this, previous research found that mechanically manipulating the sensory consequences of actions creates the illusion that they are external...
Preprint
To describe something in terms of its purpose or function is to describe its teleology. Previous studies have found that teleological beliefs are positively related to anthropomorphism, and that anthropomorphism decreases the perceived unpredictability of non-human agents. In the current study, we explore these relationships using the highly salien...
Preprint
Previous research suggests that people implicitly believe that biological and nonbiological natural entities exist to fulfil certain functions (i.e., people hold implicit teleological beliefs). The standard experimental paradigm used to demonstrate this is to compare rates of teleological acceptance in an un-speeded condition to acceptance in a spe...
Article
Full-text available
Teleology involves an appeal to function to explain why things are the way they are. Among scientists and philosophers, teleological explanations are widely accepted for human-made artefacts and biological traits, yet controversial for biological and nonbiological natural entities. Prior research shows a positive relationship between religiosity an...
Preprint
Full-text available
Preprint of a paper which investigates the claim that speeded decision-making provides evidence for an enduring teleological bias.
Article
It is well established that beliefs provide powerful cues that influence reasoning. Over the last decade research has revealed that judgments based upon logical structure may also pre-empt deliberative reasoning. Evidence for ‘intuitive logic’ has been claimed using a range of measures (i.e. confidence ratings or latency of response on conflict pro...
Article
Estimating the size of bodies is crucial for interactions with physical and social environments. Body‐size perception is malleable and can be altered using visual adaptation paradigms. However, it is unclear whether such visual adaptation effects also transfer to other modalities and influence, for example, the perception of tactile distances. In t...
Article
Full-text available
Backround and aims Having entered the recent public and research zeitgeist, microdosing involves consuming sub-perceptual doses of psychedelic drugs, allegedly to enhance performance, creativity, and wellbeing. The results of research to date have been mixed. Whereas most studies have reported positive impacts of microdosing, some microdosers have...
Preprint
Full-text available
Teleology involves an appeal to function to explain why things are the way they are. Amongst scientists and philosophers, teleological explanations are widely accepted for human-made artefacts and biological traits, yet controversial for biological and non-biological natural entities. Prior research shows a positive relationship between religiosity...
Article
Objective: Inadequately treated pain and distress elicited by medical procedures can put children at higher risks of acute and chronic biopsychosocial sequelae. Children can benefit from hypnotherapy, a psychological tailored intervention, as an adjunct to pharmacological agents to address the multiple components of pain and distress. Despite prov...
Article
Full-text available
Chanting is a form of rhythmic, repetitive vocalization practiced in a wide range of cultures. It is used in spiritual practice to strengthen community, heal illness, and overcome psychological and emotional difficulties. In many traditions, chanting is used to induce mystical states, an altered state of consciousness characterised by a profound se...
Preprint
Estimating the size of bodies is crucial for interactions with physical and social environments. Body size perception is malleable and can be altered using visual adaptation paradigms. However, it is unclear whether such visual adaptation effects also transfer to other modalities and influence, for example, the perception of tactile distances. In t...
Article
Teleological beliefs about the natural world often exist implicitly, and there is a positive re- lationship between teleological endorsement and belief in supernatural agents. In the current study, participants judged a series of scientifically unwarranted teleological explanations of biological organisms and natural non-living objects, under speed...
Preprint
Teleological beliefs about the natural world often exist implicitly, and there is a positive relationship between teleological endorsement and belief in supernatural agents. In the current study, participants judged a series of scientifically unwarranted teleological explanations of biological organisms and natural non-living objects, under speeded...
Preprint
Research in cognitive science is rapidly increasing our understanding of the cognitive mechanisms that give rise to our sense of being a unified conscious self, and that allow us to interact in purposeful ways with the external environment. Laboratory research has shown that experimental manipulations involving computer based tasks can alter aspect...
Article
Full-text available
The phenomenon of ‘microdosing’, that is, regular ingestion of very small quantities of psychedelic substances, has seen a rapid explosion of popularity in recent years. Individuals who microdose report minimal acute effects from these substances yet claim a range of long-term general health and wellbeing benefits. There have been no published empi...
Data
Supporting information. (DOCX)
Preprint
Passivity phenomena in schizophrenia are characterized by a sense of diminished agency. Clinical research into sense of agency has focused primarily on demonstrating impaired monitoring of self-generated actions in patients with passivity symptoms. Less attention has been paid to patients’ subjective experiences and clinical correlates of their sen...
Preprint
Building on Hilgard’s (1965) classic work, the domain of hypnosis has been conceptualised by Barnier, Dienes, and Mitchell (2008) as comprising three levels: (1) classic hypnotic items, (2) responding between and within items, and (3) state and trait. The current experiment investigates sense of agency across each of these three levels. Forty-six h...
Preprint
The Clever Hands task (Wegner, Fuller, & Sparrow, 2003) is a behavioral illusion in which participants make responses to a trivia quiz for which they have no sense of agency. Sixty high hypnotizable participants completed two versions of the Clever Hands task. Quiz one was a replication of the original study. Quiz two was a hypnotic adaptation usin...
Article
Nonword reading measures are widely used to index children’s phonics knowledge, and are included in the Phonics Screening Check currently implemented in England and under consideration in Australia. However, critics have argued that the use of nonword measures disadvantages good readers, as they will be influenced by their strong lexical knowledge...
Preprint
The phenomenon of ‘microdosing’, that is, regular ingestion of very small quantities of psychedelic substances, has seen a rapid explosion of popularity in recent years. Individuals who microdose report minimal acute effects from these substances yet claim a range of long-term general health and wellbeing benefits. There have been no published empi...
Article
Full-text available
The Clever Hands task (Wegner, Fuller, & Sparrow, 2003) is a behavioral illusion in which participants make responses to a trivia quiz for which they have no sense of agency. Sixty high hypnotizable participants completed two versions of the Clever Hands task. Quiz One was a replication of the original study. Quiz Two was a hypnotic adaptation usin...
Article
Recent studies link meditation expertise with enhanced low-level attention, measured through auditory event-related potentials (ERPs). In this study, we tested the reliability and validity of a recent finding that the N1 ERP in first-time meditators is smaller during meditation than non-meditation - an effect not present in long-term meditators. In...
Article
Full-text available
Conspiracy theories play a troubling role in political discourse. Online forums provide a valuable window into everyday conspiracy theorizing, and can give a clue to the motivations and interests of those who post in such forums. Yet this online activity can be difficult to quantify and study. We describe a unique approach to studying online conspi...
Article
According to the Two-Factor theory of delusional belief (see e.g. Coltheart at al., 2011), there exists a cognitive system dedicated to the generation, evaluation, and acceptance or rejection of beliefs. Studies of the neuropsychology of delusion provide evidence that this system is neurally realized in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC)...
Article
Full-text available
Embodiment and agency are key aspects of how we perceive ourselves that have typically been associated with independent mechanisms. Recent work, however, has suggested that these mechanisms are related. The sense of agency arises from recognising a causal influence on the external world. This influence is typically realised through bodily movements...
Preprint
Conspiracy theories play a troubling role in political discourse, yet the motivations of conspiracy endorsers can be obscure to outsiders. Online forums provide a valuable window into the day-to-day discourse of conspiracy theorizing, but one that is difficult to quantify. We used non-negative matrix factorization to create a topic model of the r/c...
Article
Full-text available
The primary phenomenological feature of a response to hypnotic suggestion is the perception that a person is not the author of their actions and experiences. This distortion in volition during hypnotic responding, known as the classic suggestion effect, has the potential to illuminate the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying hypnosis and inform bro...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of self-representation is commonly decomposed into three component constructs (sense of embodiment, sense of agency, and sense of presence), and each is typically investigated separately across different experimental contexts. For example, embodiment has been explored in bodily illusions; agency has been investigated in hypnosis researc...
Article
Full-text available
Background Impaired ability to make inferences about what another person might think or feel (i.e., social cognition impairment) is recognised as a core feature of schizophrenia and a key determinant of the poor social functioning that characterizes this illness. The development of treatments to target social cognitive impairments as a causal facto...
Article
The findings of a study by Cahn and Polich (2009) suggests that there is an effect of a meditative state on three event-related potential (ERP) brain markers of “low-level” auditory attention (i.e., acoustic representations in sensory memory) in expert meditators: the N1, the P2, and the P3a. The current study built on these findings by examining t...
Preprint
Full-text available
A recent meta-analysis emphasises that meditation can improve attention in healthy adults (Sedlmeier et al., 2012). The findings of a study by Cahn and Polich (2009) suggests that there is an effect of a meditative state on three event-related potential (ERP) brain markers of low-level auditory attention in expert meditators: the N1, the P2, and th...
Preprint
Full-text available
A recent meta-analysis emphasises that meditation can improve attention in healthy adults (Sedlmeier et al., 2012). The findings of a study by Cahn and Polich (2009) suggests that there is an effect of a meditative state on three event-related potential (ERP) brain markers of low-level auditory attention in expert meditators: the N1, the P2, and th...
Article
Full-text available
Chanting is a pervasive practice in almost every tradition all over the world. It has been found to improve attention and reduce depressive symptoms, stress and anxiety. The current study aimed to determine whether chanting " Om " for 10 minutes would improve attention, positive mood and increase feelings of social cohesion. The effects of vocal an...
Chapter
Full-text available
Hypnosis and meditation both involve private, subjective experiences. As a result, they can be difficult to investigate in empirical studies. This chapter discusses some of the theoretical and methodological challenges in conducting such research, and ways of addressing these. It focuses, in particular, on four conceptual issues in hypnosis researc...
Article
Full-text available
Passivity phenomena in schizophrenia are characterized by a sense of diminished agency. Clinical research into sense of agency has focused primarily on demonstrating impaired monitoring of self-generated actions in patients with passivity symptoms. Less attention has been paid to patients’ subjective experiences and clinical correlates of their sen...
Article
Full-text available
Sense of agency is an area of growing research interest with important implications for our understanding of consciousness; motor control; psychiatric symptoms, such as passivity phenomena; hypnosis; and the neuropsychological basis of moral and legal responsibility. These seemingly disparate research topics all overlap in a push toward increasingl...
Article
There is compelling evidence that hypnotic suggestions can be used to model clinical delusions in the laboratory. In two studies, we investigated the role that personality factors, delusion proneness and schizotypy, played in shaping such hypnotic models. In the first study, 398 participants were screened on measures of hypnotisability, delusion pr...
Article
Mirrored-self misidentification is the delusional belief that one's own reflection in the mirror is a stranger. In two experiments, we tested the ability of hypnotic suggestion to model this condition. In Experiment 1, we compared two suggestions based on either the delusion's surface features (seeing a stranger in the mirror) or underlying process...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Social cognition is profoundly impaired in patients with schizophrenia. This study describes 'Mental-State Reasoning Training for Social Cognitive Impairment' (SoCog-MSRT), a 5-week program developed to improve social cognition in patients with schizophrenia. We aimed to investigate the feasibility of implementing SoCog-MSRT in a rehabi...
Article
Mirrored-self misidentification is the delusional belief that one's reflection in the mirror is a stranger. According to an influential theory, the content of this delusion can arise from either impaired face processing (and hence a difficulty in recognizing oneself) or mirror agnosia (an inability to use mirror knowledge when interacting with mirr...

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Projects (6)
Project
The theory of intention-based teleology suggests that we explain the natural world in terms of its function because of an early-developing understanding that intentional agents (i.e., humans) have purposes. This project aims to test several of the implications of this theory, including: 1. The relationship between teleology and anthropomorphism. 2. The consequences of an anthropomorphic and teleological world-view. 3. The notion that teleological beliefs can be conceptualised within a dual-process framework.
Project
The proposed correlational study is designed to gather quantitative and qualitative cognitive performance and mental health data regarding the use of microdosing psychedelic substances compared to a non-microdosing group. Participants will enroll anonymously online and data will be collected via self-report surveys and active tasks administered through a mobile app. We will measure daily fluctuations in psychological functioning as well as monthly changes in sensory processing and mental health in a large sample of microdosers and non-microdosers. The data collected in this study will be used to refine research questions and establish the feasibility of conducting further research in this area. Recruitment of participants will be online through a website: https://microdose.me/