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Edited by Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar

Empathy is sometimes –for unfathomable reasons– a surprisingly evasive emotion. It is indeed a problem open to discussion. It can be particularly problematic since, for one thing, it is in appearance the emotion responsible for stitching together a shared experience with our common fellow. It is the emotion essential to bridging the gap between subjects – to making a community. Some answers in this volume have their place of reference in the welcoming chambers of Mansfield College, at the University of Oxford (UK). The Empathy Project held its third Global Meeting within the premises of ye olde constituent college at Mansfield Road from Thursday 14th to Saturday 16th of July 2016. This volume looks for the common ground between both the results of the conducted research and our experiences: Digital Media ideas on the subject worked just fine elbow to elbow with those proposed by fields like Nursing or Health and Social Care; and Psychiatry, Psychology and Philosophy got along quite well with the lines of inquiry of Education, Literature and Dramatic Performance. Contributors are Victoria Aizkalna, Rosa Elena Belvedresi, Giovanna Costantini, Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar, Irina Ionita, Nina Lex, Gerardo López Sastre, Barış Mete, Paulus Pimomo, Johannes Rohbeck, Judy Rollins, Josefa Ros Velasco and Christopher J. Staley.
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Marina Kunchulia, Khatuna Parkosadze and Roland Thomaschke

The ability to form time-based event expectancies is one of the most important determinants of anticipative behavior. The aim of the present study was to determine whether healthy aging influences the formation of time-based event expectancies. Ten older adults with ages ranging between 60 and 73 years and ten younger adults with ages ranging between 20 and 32 years participated. We employed a binary choice response task mimicking a computer game, in which two target stimuli and two pre-target intervals appeared overall equally often. One of the targets was paired with the short interval and the other target with the long interval in 80% of the trials. Our results showed that younger adults responded more rapidly to frequent interval–target combinations than to infrequent combinations, suggesting that the young participants formed time-based event expectancies. In contrast, the ability to form time-based event expectancies was reduced for older participants. The formation of time-based event expectancies seems to change during healthy aging. We propose that this age-related difference is due to age-related expectation deficits or a reduction of attentional capacities, rather than to deficits in timing abilities.

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Lachlan Kent

Duration perception is not the same as perception duration. Time is an object of perception in its own right and is qualitatively different to exteroceptive or interoceptive perception of concrete objects or sensations originating within the self. In reviewing evidence for and against the experienced moment, White (2017, Psychol. Bull., 143, 735–756) proposed a model of global integration of information dense envelopes of integration. This is a valuable addition to the literature because it supposes that, like Tononi’s (2004, BMC Neurosci., 5, 42) Integrated Information Theory, consciousness is an integral step above perception of objects or the self. Consciousness includes the perception of abstract contents such as time, space, and magnitude, as well as post-perceptual contents drawn from memory. The present review takes this logic a step further and sketches a potential neurobiological pathway through the salience, default mode, and central executive networks that culminates in a candidate model of how duration perception and consciousness arises. Global integration is viewed as a process of Bayesian Prediction Error Minimisation according to a model put forward by Hohwy, Paton and Palmer (2016, Phenomenol. Cogn. Sci., 15, 315–335) called ‘distrusting the present’. The proposed model also expresses global integration as an intermediate stage between perception and memory that spans an approximate one second duration, an analogue of Wittmann’s (2011, Front. Integr. Neurosci., 5, 66) experienced moment.

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Aurore Malet-Karas, Marion Noulhiane and Valérie Doyère

Time and space are commonly approached as two distinct dimensions, and rarely combined together in a single task, preventing a comparison of their interaction. In this project, using a version of a timing task with a spatial component, we investigate the learning of a spatio-temporal rule in animals. To do so, rats were placed in front of a five-hole nose-poke wall in a Peak Interval (PI) procedure to obtain a reward, with two spatio-temporal combination rules associated with different to-be-timed cues and lighting contexts. We report that, after successful learning of the discriminative task, a single Pavlovian session was sufficient for the animals to learn a new spatio-temporal association. This was seen as evidence for a beneficial transfer to the new spatio-temporal rule, as compared to control animals that did not experience the new spatio-temporal association during the Pavlovian session. The benefit was observed until nine days later. The results are discussed within the framework of adaptation to a change of a complex associative rule involving interval timing processes.

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Yee Mun Lee and Steve M. J. Janssen

Because the general population may be familiar with the phenomenon that life appears to speed up as people become older, participants’ preconceptions may affect how they answer questionnaires about the subjective experience of time. To be able to account for these preconceptions in future research, we assessed laypeople’s beliefs about the phenomenon. Participants (N = 313) were asked whether they were familiar with the phenomenon, whether they experienced the phenomenon themselves, and what they thought that the cause or causes of the phenomenon might be. More than 80% of the participants had read or heard about the phenomenon prior to the study, suggesting that the phenomenon is well known among the general population. Furthermore, although most participants experienced the phenomenon themselves, familiarity with the phenomenon affected whether they felt that life appeared to be speeding up and whether time passed fast for them. Familiarity also affected whether participants attributed the phenomenon to changes in objective or subjective time but not the endorsement of the phenomenon’s causes. Finally, participants also had preconceptions about what time periods represent ‘the present’ and ‘the past’. Whereas nearly all participants considered the past to have lasted more than one year, two-third of the participants felt that the present represented a period less than one year.

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Susanne Yvette Young, Martin Kidd and Soraya Seedat

Substance Use Disorders (SUD) lead to brain structural and functional deficits associated with cognitive and social functioning in affected individuals and can impact on treatment outcomes. The lack of behavioural autonomy is underpinned by direct reward, high impulsivity and difficulties in planning behaviour. The motor cortex — as part of a neural mechanism accounting for action and intention — plays a fundamental role in complex cognition, motor performance and coordination. The study sample consisted of 74 abstinent patients, aged 18–60 years, diagnosed with alcohol and/or cocaine dependence who were all inpatients at a private treatment programme for drug/alcohol dependence in South Africa. The main questions addressed were whether motor timing abilities would improve over time (as a function of recovery) in patients admitted to a rehabilitation programme for SUD, and if there were between-group differences. Timing abilities in SUD improved with prolonged abstinence. Timing in decision making (cognitive control) did not improve over time, nor did movement coordination. Rhythmic abilities and synchronisation with external events, as well as spatial abilities, improved with prolonged abstinence. The recovery of rhythmic and synchronisation abilities differed between the groups. This study shows for the first time that motor timing abilities can recover significantly with prolonged abstinence with differences in recovery between SUD populations. Improvements in interval timing only (both in time and in space) were observed. Not all motor timing abilities, and not every type of SUD, recovered equally, thereby suggesting that different substances may affect the brain differently with regard to timing abilities. These findings suggest that motor timing should further be investigated in different clinical settings.

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G. M. Hanada, J. Ahveninen, F. J. Calabro, A. Yengo-Kahn and L. M. Vaina

Abstract

The everyday environment brings to our sensory systems competing inputs from different modalities. The ability to filter these multisensory inputs in order to identify and efficiently utilize useful spatial cues is necessary to detect and process the relevant information. In the present study, we investigate how feature-based attention affects the detection of motion across sensory modalities. We were interested to determine how subjects use intramodal, cross-modal auditory, and combined audiovisual motion cues to attend to specific visual motion signals. The results showed that in most cases, both the visual and the auditory cues enhance feature-based orienting to a transparent visual motion pattern presented among distractor motion patterns. Whereas previous studies have shown cross-modal effects of spatial attention, our results demonstrate a spread of cross-modal feature-based attention cues, which have been matched for the detection threshold of the visual target. These effects were very robust in comparisons of the effects of valid vs. invalid cues, as well as in comparisons between cued and uncued valid trials. The effect of intramodal visual, cross-modal auditory, and bimodal cues also increased as a function of motion-cue salience. Our results suggest that orienting to visual motion patterns among distracters can be facilitated not only by intramodal priors, but also by feature-based cross-modal information from the auditory system.

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Pia Hauck and Heiko Hecht

Abstract

Previous research has shown that auditory cues can influence the flavor of food and drink. For instance, wine tastes better when preferred music is played. We have investigated whether a music background can modify judgments of the specific flavor pattern of a beverage, as opposed to mere preference. This was indeed the case. We explored the nature of this crosstalk between auditory and gustatory perception, and hypothesized that the ‘flavor’ of the background music carries over to the perceived flavor (i.e., descriptive and evaluative aspects) of beverages. First, we collected ratings of the subjective flavor of different music pieces. Then we used a between-subjects design to cross the music backgrounds with taste evaluations of several beverages. Participants tasted four different samples of beverages under two contrasting audio conditions and rated their taste experiences. The emotional flavor of the music had the hypothesized effects on the flavor of the beverages. We also hypothesized that such an effect would be stronger for music novices than for music experts, and weaker for aqueous solutions than for wines. However, neither music expertise nor liquid type produced additional effects. We discuss implications of this audio-gustatory interaction.

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The Pathogenesis of Fear

Mapping the Margins of Monstrosity

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Edited by Elizabeth Ann Hollis Berry

The Pathogenesis of Fear gathers together diverse conversations about cultural constructions of the monstrous. Interdisciplinary essays map the margins of monstrosity as follows: the cannibalistic paradox in Kleist’s late-Romantic Penthesilea; intersections of the monstrous-feminine and the new Victorian psycho-physiology of consciousness in George Eliot’s early novels; the monster-formed citizens of Dickensian and later dystopias; the killing of African Americans targeted as monstrous entities in US cities; the post-human anguish of a television zombie-world; the monstrous mutilations of a Spanish horror film; psychosocial aberration in Martin Millar’s werewolf fiction; the demonization of the Other on the war-torn streets of Ireland; Derridean devouring sovereignty. Discursively correlated with different categories of body and mind, monstrosity, these essays argue, persists in taking many forms. Contributors are Elizabeth Hollis Berry, Niculae Gheran, Sarah Harris, Fiona Harris-Ramsby and Mubarak Muhammad, Michaela Marková, Kimberley McMahon Coleman, Judith Rahn, Cindy Smith and Marita Vyrgioti.
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Silvia Convento, Kira A. Wegner-Clemens and Jeffrey M. Yau

Abstract

In both audition and touch, sensory cues comprising repeating events are perceived either as a continuous signal or as a stream of temporally discrete events (flutter), depending on the events’ repetition rate. At high repetition rates (>100 Hz), auditory and tactile cues interact reciprocally in pitch processing. The frequency of a cue experienced in one modality systematically biases the perceived frequency of a cue experienced in the other modality. Here, we tested whether audition and touch also interact in the processing of low-frequency stimulation. We also tested whether multisensory interactions occurred if the stimulation in one modality comprised click trains and the stimulation in the other modality comprised amplitude-modulated signals. We found that auditory cues bias touch and tactile cues bias audition on a flutter discrimination task. Even though participants were instructed to attend to a single sensory modality and ignore the other cue, the flutter rate in the attended modality is perceived to be similar to that of the distractor modality. Moreover, we observed similar interaction patterns regardless of stimulus type and whether the same stimulus types were experienced by both senses. Combined with earlier studies, our results suggest that the nervous system extracts and combines temporal rate information from multisensory environmental signals, regardless of stimulus type, in both the low- and high temporal frequency domains. This function likely reflects the importance of temporal frequency as a fundamental feature of our multisensory experience.