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Intuitive decision making as a gradual process: investigating semantic intuition-based and priming-based decisions with fMRI.

Zander T, Horr NK, Bolte A, Volz KG - Brain Behav (2015)

Bottom Line: We realized this by priming participants with concepts associated with incoherent triads in separate priming blocks prior to the coherence judgments.For intuition-based decisions, imaging results mainly revealed activity within the orbitofrontal cortex, within the inferior frontal gyrus and the middle temporal gyrus.Regarding research question 2, we can draw the preliminary conclusion of a qualitative difference between intuition-based and priming-based decisions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative NeuroscienceUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany; International Max Planck Research SchoolTübingenGermany; Department of PsychologyUniversity of BaselSwitzerland.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Intuition has been defined as the instantaneous, experience-based impression of coherence elicited by cues in the environment. In a context of discovery, intuitive decision-making processes can be conceptualized as occurring within two stages, the first of which comprises an implicit perception of coherence that is not (yet) verbalizable. Through a process of spreading activation, this initially non-conscious perception gradually crosses over a threshold of awareness and thereby becomes explicable. Because of its experiential basis, intuition shares conceptual similarities with implicit memory processes. Based on these, the study addresses two research questions: (1) Is the gradual nature of intuitive processes reflected on a neural level? (2) Do intuition-based decisions differ neurally from priming-based decisions?

Methods: To answer these questions, we conducted an fMRI study using the triads task and presented participants with coherent word triads that converge on a common fourth concept, and incoherent word triads that do not converge on a common fourth concept. Participants had to perform semantic coherence judgments as well as to indicate whether they immediately knew the fourth concept. To enable investigating intuition-based and priming-based decisions within the same task and with the same participants, we implemented a conceptual priming procedure into the coherence judgment task. We realized this by priming participants with concepts associated with incoherent triads in separate priming blocks prior to the coherence judgments.

Results: For intuition-based decisions, imaging results mainly revealed activity within the orbitofrontal cortex, within the inferior frontal gyrus and the middle temporal gyrus. Activity suppression in the right temporo-occipital complex was observed for priming-based decisions.

Conclusions: With respect to research question 1, our data support a continuity model of intuition because the two intuitive stages show quantitatively distinct brain activation patterns. Regarding research question 2, we can draw the preliminary conclusion of a qualitative difference between intuition-based and priming-based decisions.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Experimental design behavioral pre‐study. (A) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a non‐word in the lexical decision task. (B) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a semantically unrelated word, and (C) depicts a coherent triad, followed by the actual (i.e., preordained) solution (i.e., the CA). Incoherent triads were only used as controls and could be either followed by a non‐word or by a word semantically unrelated to all its constituents. Participants were not informed about the existence of the two different triad types (coherent/incoherent); they were just instructed to read the three words and to perform the lexical decision task. To ensure that participants indeed read the three words in the beginning of each trial, they were told that we would re‐present them with some of the words after the experiment and that they had to discriminate then between old and new words.
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brb3420-fig-0001: Experimental design behavioral pre‐study. (A) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a non‐word in the lexical decision task. (B) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a semantically unrelated word, and (C) depicts a coherent triad, followed by the actual (i.e., preordained) solution (i.e., the CA). Incoherent triads were only used as controls and could be either followed by a non‐word or by a word semantically unrelated to all its constituents. Participants were not informed about the existence of the two different triad types (coherent/incoherent); they were just instructed to read the three words and to perform the lexical decision task. To ensure that participants indeed read the three words in the beginning of each trial, they were told that we would re‐present them with some of the words after the experiment and that they had to discriminate then between old and new words.

Mentions: For coherent triads (e.g., SALT, DEEP, FOAM), words in the lexical decision task were either the actual CAs of the triad (i.e., SEA), or semantically unrelated words (e.g., DESK) or non‐words (e.g., WUNECIL). For incoherent triads (e.g., CADET, CAPSULE, BOAT), words in the lexical decision task were either semantically unrelated words (e.g., BOTTLE) or non‐words (e.g., RABIHAL). For a detailed description of the design and trials of this behavioral pre‐study see Figure 1. We assumed that reaction times (RTs) in the lexical decision task would be faster when the participant encountered a corresponding solution concept (i.e., the CA), which would indicate that the ASA only becomes activated in the event of a coherent triad, where the three constituents internally prime the common concept of the three words. In accordance with the results of Bolte and Goschke (2005), who found out that participants were able to perform intuitive coherence judgments very quickly (within a time window of 1.5 sec), we expected t1 to be the critical time where we might prove the ASA and expected that RTs of corresponding CAs for coherent triads were faster only at t1, not at t2. The RT results did in fact show exactly this pattern, which can be seen in Table 1: Interestingly, only at the early time point (i.e., at t1) did the three clue words internally prime the solution concept, which is revealed by significantly faster RTs occurring exclusively in response to real solution concepts having been displayed in the lexical decision task (F(1, 29) = 30.28, P < 0.01). This was not the case with the later point in time (i.e., t2), where having faced a coherent triad did not give any advantage in responding to the corresponding solution concept. We interpret our results as demonstrating that the ASA can be elicited specifically by our stimulus material. Concretely, we were able to show that the ASA is specific to the processing of coherent word triads, thereby confirming the hypothesis that this holds true only at an early time point.


Intuitive decision making as a gradual process: investigating semantic intuition-based and priming-based decisions with fMRI.

Zander T, Horr NK, Bolte A, Volz KG - Brain Behav (2015)

Experimental design behavioral pre‐study. (A) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a non‐word in the lexical decision task. (B) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a semantically unrelated word, and (C) depicts a coherent triad, followed by the actual (i.e., preordained) solution (i.e., the CA). Incoherent triads were only used as controls and could be either followed by a non‐word or by a word semantically unrelated to all its constituents. Participants were not informed about the existence of the two different triad types (coherent/incoherent); they were just instructed to read the three words and to perform the lexical decision task. To ensure that participants indeed read the three words in the beginning of each trial, they were told that we would re‐present them with some of the words after the experiment and that they had to discriminate then between old and new words.
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brb3420-fig-0001: Experimental design behavioral pre‐study. (A) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a non‐word in the lexical decision task. (B) depicts a coherent triad, followed by a semantically unrelated word, and (C) depicts a coherent triad, followed by the actual (i.e., preordained) solution (i.e., the CA). Incoherent triads were only used as controls and could be either followed by a non‐word or by a word semantically unrelated to all its constituents. Participants were not informed about the existence of the two different triad types (coherent/incoherent); they were just instructed to read the three words and to perform the lexical decision task. To ensure that participants indeed read the three words in the beginning of each trial, they were told that we would re‐present them with some of the words after the experiment and that they had to discriminate then between old and new words.
Mentions: For coherent triads (e.g., SALT, DEEP, FOAM), words in the lexical decision task were either the actual CAs of the triad (i.e., SEA), or semantically unrelated words (e.g., DESK) or non‐words (e.g., WUNECIL). For incoherent triads (e.g., CADET, CAPSULE, BOAT), words in the lexical decision task were either semantically unrelated words (e.g., BOTTLE) or non‐words (e.g., RABIHAL). For a detailed description of the design and trials of this behavioral pre‐study see Figure 1. We assumed that reaction times (RTs) in the lexical decision task would be faster when the participant encountered a corresponding solution concept (i.e., the CA), which would indicate that the ASA only becomes activated in the event of a coherent triad, where the three constituents internally prime the common concept of the three words. In accordance with the results of Bolte and Goschke (2005), who found out that participants were able to perform intuitive coherence judgments very quickly (within a time window of 1.5 sec), we expected t1 to be the critical time where we might prove the ASA and expected that RTs of corresponding CAs for coherent triads were faster only at t1, not at t2. The RT results did in fact show exactly this pattern, which can be seen in Table 1: Interestingly, only at the early time point (i.e., at t1) did the three clue words internally prime the solution concept, which is revealed by significantly faster RTs occurring exclusively in response to real solution concepts having been displayed in the lexical decision task (F(1, 29) = 30.28, P < 0.01). This was not the case with the later point in time (i.e., t2), where having faced a coherent triad did not give any advantage in responding to the corresponding solution concept. We interpret our results as demonstrating that the ASA can be elicited specifically by our stimulus material. Concretely, we were able to show that the ASA is specific to the processing of coherent word triads, thereby confirming the hypothesis that this holds true only at an early time point.

Bottom Line: We realized this by priming participants with concepts associated with incoherent triads in separate priming blocks prior to the coherence judgments.For intuition-based decisions, imaging results mainly revealed activity within the orbitofrontal cortex, within the inferior frontal gyrus and the middle temporal gyrus.Regarding research question 2, we can draw the preliminary conclusion of a qualitative difference between intuition-based and priming-based decisions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative NeuroscienceUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany; International Max Planck Research SchoolTübingenGermany; Department of PsychologyUniversity of BaselSwitzerland.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Intuition has been defined as the instantaneous, experience-based impression of coherence elicited by cues in the environment. In a context of discovery, intuitive decision-making processes can be conceptualized as occurring within two stages, the first of which comprises an implicit perception of coherence that is not (yet) verbalizable. Through a process of spreading activation, this initially non-conscious perception gradually crosses over a threshold of awareness and thereby becomes explicable. Because of its experiential basis, intuition shares conceptual similarities with implicit memory processes. Based on these, the study addresses two research questions: (1) Is the gradual nature of intuitive processes reflected on a neural level? (2) Do intuition-based decisions differ neurally from priming-based decisions?

Methods: To answer these questions, we conducted an fMRI study using the triads task and presented participants with coherent word triads that converge on a common fourth concept, and incoherent word triads that do not converge on a common fourth concept. Participants had to perform semantic coherence judgments as well as to indicate whether they immediately knew the fourth concept. To enable investigating intuition-based and priming-based decisions within the same task and with the same participants, we implemented a conceptual priming procedure into the coherence judgment task. We realized this by priming participants with concepts associated with incoherent triads in separate priming blocks prior to the coherence judgments.

Results: For intuition-based decisions, imaging results mainly revealed activity within the orbitofrontal cortex, within the inferior frontal gyrus and the middle temporal gyrus. Activity suppression in the right temporo-occipital complex was observed for priming-based decisions.

Conclusions: With respect to research question 1, our data support a continuity model of intuition because the two intuitive stages show quantitatively distinct brain activation patterns. Regarding research question 2, we can draw the preliminary conclusion of a qualitative difference between intuition-based and priming-based decisions.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus