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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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Effects of response facilitation upon the N400 amplitude at two exemplary right fronto-lateral electrode sites (F2 and FC2) around 400 ms after target onset.The amplitude of the dashed waveform, reflecting the response to negative targets, is significantly lower than the solid waveform, reflecting the response to positive targets, when the word euthanasia acted as prime. In the upper right the scalp distribution of the difference between euthanasia-positive and euthanasia-negative between 380 to 420 ms is mapped.
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pone.0153910.g003: Effects of response facilitation upon the N400 amplitude at two exemplary right fronto-lateral electrode sites (F2 and FC2) around 400 ms after target onset.The amplitude of the dashed waveform, reflecting the response to negative targets, is significantly lower than the solid waveform, reflecting the response to positive targets, when the word euthanasia acted as prime. In the upper right the scalp distribution of the difference between euthanasia-positive and euthanasia-negative between 380 to 420 ms is mapped.

Mentions: The repeated-measures ANOVA revealed a significant main effect of condition (F(3,57) = 4.36, p = .008, partial η2 = .187). Post-hoc analyses showed that the (negative) ERP mean amplitude in the condition ‘euthanasia-negative’ was significantly lower than in the condition ‘euthanasia-positive’ (t(19) = -2.59, p = .018; Fig 3). The mean amplitudes in the conditions ‘congruent’ vs. ‘incongruent’ did not differ significantly (t(19) = .17, p = .868). While the mean amplitude in the condition ‘congruent’ was significantly lower than that in ‘euthanasia-positive’ (t(19) = -2.31, p = .032), there was no significant difference between ‘congruent’ vs. ‘euthanasia-negative’ (t(19) = .66, p = .515). However, the mean amplitude in the condition ‘incongruent’ was also significantly lower in comparison to ‘euthanasia-positive’ (t(19) = -2.65, p = .016) and was also not significantly different from ‘euthanasia-negative’ (t(19) = .75, p = .462).


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

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

Effects of response facilitation upon the N400 amplitude at two exemplary right fronto-lateral electrode sites (F2 and FC2) around 400 ms after target onset.The amplitude of the dashed waveform, reflecting the response to negative targets, is significantly lower than the solid waveform, reflecting the response to positive targets, when the word euthanasia acted as prime. In the upper right the scalp distribution of the difference between euthanasia-positive and euthanasia-negative between 380 to 420 ms is mapped.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone.0153910.g003: Effects of response facilitation upon the N400 amplitude at two exemplary right fronto-lateral electrode sites (F2 and FC2) around 400 ms after target onset.The amplitude of the dashed waveform, reflecting the response to negative targets, is significantly lower than the solid waveform, reflecting the response to positive targets, when the word euthanasia acted as prime. In the upper right the scalp distribution of the difference between euthanasia-positive and euthanasia-negative between 380 to 420 ms is mapped.
Mentions: The repeated-measures ANOVA revealed a significant main effect of condition (F(3,57) = 4.36, p = .008, partial η2 = .187). Post-hoc analyses showed that the (negative) ERP mean amplitude in the condition ‘euthanasia-negative’ was significantly lower than in the condition ‘euthanasia-positive’ (t(19) = -2.59, p = .018; Fig 3). The mean amplitudes in the conditions ‘congruent’ vs. ‘incongruent’ did not differ significantly (t(19) = .17, p = .868). While the mean amplitude in the condition ‘congruent’ was significantly lower than that in ‘euthanasia-positive’ (t(19) = -2.31, p = .032), there was no significant difference between ‘congruent’ vs. ‘euthanasia-negative’ (t(19) = .66, p = .515). However, the mean amplitude in the condition ‘incongruent’ was also significantly lower in comparison to ‘euthanasia-positive’ (t(19) = -2.65, p = .016) and was also not significantly different from ‘euthanasia-negative’ (t(19) = .75, p = .462).

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