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From Memory to Attitude: The Neurocognitive Process beyond Euthanasia Acceptance.

Enke M, Meyer P, Flor H - PLoS ONE (2016)

Bottom Line: Numerous questionnaire studies on attitudes towards euthanasia produced conflicting results, precluding any general conclusion.Reaction time data showed neither positive nor negative associations towards euthanasia.ERP analyses revealed an N400 priming effect with lower mean amplitudes when euthanasia was associated with negative words.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Numerous questionnaire studies on attitudes towards euthanasia produced conflicting results, precluding any general conclusion. This might be due to the fact that human behavior can be influenced by automatically triggered attitudes, which represent ingrained associations in memory and cannot be assessed by standard questionnaires, but require indirect measures such as reaction times (RT) or electroencephalographic recording (EEG). Event related potentials (ERPs) of the EEG and RT during an affective priming task were assessed to investigate the impact of automatically triggered attitudes and were compared to results of an explicit questionnaire. Explicit attitudes were ambivalent. Reaction time data showed neither positive nor negative associations towards euthanasia. ERP analyses revealed an N400 priming effect with lower mean amplitudes when euthanasia was associated with negative words. The euthanasia-related modulation of the N400 component shows an integration of the euthanasia object in negatively valenced associative neural networks. The integration of all measures suggests a bottom-up process of attitude activation, where automatically triggered negative euthanasia-relevant associations can become more ambiguous with increasing time in order to regulate the bias arising from automatic processes. These data suggest that implicit measures may make an important contribution to the understanding of euthanasia-related attitudes.

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Time course of the affective priming paradigm.
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pone.0153910.g001: Time course of the affective priming paradigm.

Mentions: All participants were confronted with an affective priming paradigm and were instructed to complete a questionnaire with multi-item scales. The time course of one trial of the affective priming paradigm is illustrated in Fig 1. One of three words appeared as a prime for 200 ms. A second word (target) was presented for 300 ms with a stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA) of 300 ms. Participants were instructed to judge whether the second word (target) affectively fit or did not fit the first word (prime), using two response keys. The participants were also instructed to give their responses as quickly and accurately as possible. Most importantly, a cover story was used so that the subjects were not aware that this paradigm was being used to measure attitudes. They solved the task assuming that affective neural networks in memory were being investigated using an ambivalent medical stimulus (the word euthanasia).


From Memory to Attitude: The Neurocognitive Process beyond Euthanasia Acceptance.

Enke M, Meyer P, Flor H - PLoS ONE (2016)

Time course of the affective priming paradigm.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4835050&req=5

pone.0153910.g001: Time course of the affective priming paradigm.
Mentions: All participants were confronted with an affective priming paradigm and were instructed to complete a questionnaire with multi-item scales. The time course of one trial of the affective priming paradigm is illustrated in Fig 1. One of three words appeared as a prime for 200 ms. A second word (target) was presented for 300 ms with a stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA) of 300 ms. Participants were instructed to judge whether the second word (target) affectively fit or did not fit the first word (prime), using two response keys. The participants were also instructed to give their responses as quickly and accurately as possible. Most importantly, a cover story was used so that the subjects were not aware that this paradigm was being used to measure attitudes. They solved the task assuming that affective neural networks in memory were being investigated using an ambivalent medical stimulus (the word euthanasia).

Bottom Line: Numerous questionnaire studies on attitudes towards euthanasia produced conflicting results, precluding any general conclusion.Reaction time data showed neither positive nor negative associations towards euthanasia.ERP analyses revealed an N400 priming effect with lower mean amplitudes when euthanasia was associated with negative words.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Numerous questionnaire studies on attitudes towards euthanasia produced conflicting results, precluding any general conclusion. This might be due to the fact that human behavior can be influenced by automatically triggered attitudes, which represent ingrained associations in memory and cannot be assessed by standard questionnaires, but require indirect measures such as reaction times (RT) or electroencephalographic recording (EEG). Event related potentials (ERPs) of the EEG and RT during an affective priming task were assessed to investigate the impact of automatically triggered attitudes and were compared to results of an explicit questionnaire. Explicit attitudes were ambivalent. Reaction time data showed neither positive nor negative associations towards euthanasia. ERP analyses revealed an N400 priming effect with lower mean amplitudes when euthanasia was associated with negative words. The euthanasia-related modulation of the N400 component shows an integration of the euthanasia object in negatively valenced associative neural networks. The integration of all measures suggests a bottom-up process of attitude activation, where automatically triggered negative euthanasia-relevant associations can become more ambiguous with increasing time in order to regulate the bias arising from automatic processes. These data suggest that implicit measures may make an important contribution to the understanding of euthanasia-related attitudes.

Show MeSH