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Lecture 7

PSY370H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation

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John Vervaeke

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Scarcity of replicable incubation effect
Not trying to show incubation doesn’t exist – trying to come up with alternative way of
explaining incubation
Assumption going through all previous one is the idea that incubation is an internally driven
process – going on through the mind
Instead, there’s an important variable to incubation that hasn’t been studied – the environmental
context – significant role in incubation – specifically a change in environment
Opportunistic hypothesis
Two sides to incubation – prepared mind but has to be conjoined with facilitory context – actual
environmental context
Reason previous results are so mixed is because they were only looking at half of the equation
If you don’t control for variable it confounds your results
Idea is you have the prepared mind and if it comes across context it’s capable of rapidly
assimilating – results in insight
Environment has to provide the opportunity for assimilation process to occur
Shifted to an interactional approach – predicted encoding, storing failure
Created the affordance for environment to transfer in you
Experiments: give people a problem they can’t solve, give them incubation situation, and when
they’re incubated you have 2 groups – one is just in the context, the other is in same context but
in environment that helps them solve the problem
Only if there was both a change of context and if the change contained relevant information to
solving the problem
No good evidence for spontaneous growth during incubation
Memory for failed problems is better than that for solved problems
Crucial that the impasses and failures be subject generated
Can’t be that reason for failure is external driver
How information about failures may be better for insight than previous successes
Idea that what’s needed from environment is the information that will help address the impasse –
that’s why sheer time away isn’t good enough
Smith proposed alternative explanation for what incubation is doing – tries to understand
incubation as a process over which we overcome memory interference effects
Way in which hes proposing to understand fixation
Tip of the tongue phenomenon – people report an interference effect; trying to recall the name of
something but something else is coming up – your retrieval process picks up on this info but cues
the wrong thing
You prime the wrong answer more and more
we can get into mental ruts – we have a block which when we retrieve that block becomes salient
but it tends to prime the features the block emphasizes
Try to incubate when you have a tip of the tongue phenomenon
What incubation is an attempt to break out of these mental ruts by trying to disrupt the cycle that
goes on when we’re blocked
Basically have three accounts of whats going on in incubation – 1. The notion of opportunistic
assimilation, 2. Mental set transformation (trying to get rid of feedback loops, 3. Idea that what’s
going on in incubation is you’re trying to overcome the auditicity of your process
First two are in theoretical competition with each other becomes
1. First proposes a passive model and second proposes an active model
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condition has to be doing something significant
third view is not in competition - talks about manner of processing – more compatible with
mental set
there’ a strong emphasis of procedural knowledge to transfer
empirical evidence didn’t get that much better – review Sio & Omernd 2009 and Dodds et al.
these two reviews converge on same conclusion – points to incubation existing but the results are
very mixed
Segal 2004 attempted this – tried to study connection to insight problem solving and breaks were
taken only after impasse – segal was arguing for attention withdrawal hypothesis – idea is that
chances for assimilating cue are low until attention is withdrawn from appropriate
What’s happening in incubation is attention is being withdrawn from what caused the impasse in
first place
Brain’s sole function is to divert attention from the inappropriate framing – no unconscious work
going on
This redirection of attention alters the salience of cues and information is this is what affords
binging in the relevant information that was missing before
Found that duration of break was irrelevant, breakers did better than non breakers
A demanding task in break was better than a nondemanding task - diverts attention
If you give demanding task during break, its facilitory to coming back and solving the problem
Degree to which it captures attention
Significant procedural similarity between demanding task and insight problem – demanding task
was puzzle solving
Procedural similarity – this experiment is hard to put together with opportunistic assimilation
Differences between OA and
In OA, the environment is necessary
In MS, the environment is not necessary
Degree to which we’re claiming the environment is necessary of optional for incubation
Still might be something about relationship to environment that’s crucial
Perhaps what is needed is a balance between too demanding a task and not demanding enough
Too demanding – possibility it could engage procedural processes that could interfere
Not demanding enough – won’t result in transformation
Independent of content – two extremes that are not beneficial but deleterious – have to get right
degree of demand on distraction in order to facilitate the incubation effect
Shifting of attention must be skilled to properly afford the mental desolution
Evidence: Kohn 2005 – showing that moderating the level of distraction does in fact improve the
incubation effect – when people are moderately distracted from task, they are better at solving it –
environment is playing a role but in providing the right area of distraction
Situation that gets right kind of redirection of attention and redistribution of salience
You’ll grt a good incubation effect
Don’t want it to be exactly the same but it can’t be completely different because it won’t connect
Shifting attention may be the overall best strategy
Some evidence – visual search is better with concurrent unrelated task – prevents a narrow
attentional focus – trying to get just at attentional focus – why is too narrow an attentional focus a
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