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Toward a neuropsychology of political orientation: exploring ideology in patients with frontal and midbrain lesions

Nam, H Hannah; Jost, John T; Meager, Michael R; Van Bavel, Jay J
How do people form their political beliefs? In an effort to address this question, we adopt a neuropsychological approach. In a natural experiment, we explored links between neuroanatomy and ideological preferences in two samples of brain lesion patients in New York City. Specifically, we compared the political orientations of patients with frontal lobe lesions, patients with amygdala lesions and healthy control subjects. Lesion type classification analyses revealed that people with frontal lesions held more conservative (or less liberal) beliefs than those with anterior temporal lobe lesions or no lesions. Additional analyses predicting ideology by extent of damage provided convergent evidence that greater damage in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-but not the amygdala-was associated with greater conservatism. These findings were robust to model specifications that adjusted for demographic, mood, and affect-related variables. Although measures of executive function failed to mediate the relationship between frontal lesions and ideology, our findings suggest that the prefrontal cortex may play a role in promoting the development of liberal ideology. Our approach suggests useful directions for future work to address the issue of whether biological developments precede political attitudes or vice versa-or both. This article is part of the theme issue 'The political brain: neurocognitive and computational mechanisms'.
PMID: 33611994
ISSN: 1471-2970
CID: 4794102

The Medial Temporal Lobe Is Critical for Spatial Relational Perception

Ruiz, Nicholas A; Meager, Michael R; Agarwal, Sachin; Aly, Mariam
The medial temporal lobe (MTL) is traditionally considered to be a system that is specialized for long-term memory. Recent work has challenged this notion by demonstrating that this region can contribute to many domains of cognition beyond long-term memory, including perception and attention. One potential reason why the MTL (and hippocampus specifically) contributes broadly to cognition is that it contains relational representations-representations of multidimensional features of experience and their unique relationship to one another-that are useful in many different cognitive domains. Here, we explore the hypothesis that the hippocampus/MTL plays a critical role in attention and perception via relational representations. We compared human participants with MTL damage to healthy age- and education-matched individuals on attention tasks that varied in relational processing demands. On each trial, participants viewed two images (rooms with paintings). On "similar room" trials, they judged whether the rooms had the same spatial layout from a different perspective. On "similar art" trials, they judged whether the paintings could have been painted by the same artist. On "identical" trials, participants simply had to detect identical paintings or rooms. Patients were significantly and selectively impaired on the similar room task. This work provides further evidence that the hippocampus/MTL plays a ubiquitous role in cognition by virtue of its relational and spatial representations and highlights its important contributions to rapid perceptual processes that benefit from attention.
PMID: 32427068
ISSN: 1530-8898
CID: 4444122

Patients with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex lesions are capable of discriminatory threat learning but appear impaired in cognitive regulation of subjective fear

Kroes, Marijn C W; Dunsmoor, Joseph E; Hakimi, Mathew; Oosterwaal, Sofie; Meager, Michael R; Phelps, Elizabeth A
Humans are able to cognitively regulate emotions by changing their thoughts. Neuroimaging studies show correlations between dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) activity and cognitive regulation of emotions. Here our objective was to investigate whether dlPFC damage is associated with impaired cognitive regulation of emotion. We therefore tested the ability of patients with dlPFC lesions (N = 6) and matched control participants (N = 19) to utilize a laboratory version of cognitive regulation training (CRT) to regulate subjective fear and autonomic threat responses following Pavlovian threat conditioning. We found that patients with dlPFC lesions were able to acquire conditioned threat but seemed impaired in their ability to utilize CRT to cognitively regulate subjective fear to a threatening stimulus. Despite inclusion of a limited number of lesion patients, our results suggest that the dlPFC is important for the cognitive regulation of subjective fear.
PMID: 31119295
ISSN: 1749-5024
CID: 3920792

Hippocampal Contributions to Model-Based Planning and Spatial Memory

Vikbladh, Oliver M; Meager, Michael R; King, John; Blackmon, Karen; Devinsky, Orrin; Shohamy, Daphna; Burgess, Neil; Daw, Nathaniel D
Little is known about the neural mechanisms that allow humans and animals to plan actions using knowledge of task contingencies. Emerging theories hypothesize that it involves the same hippocampal mechanisms that support self-localization and memory for locations. Yet limited direct evidence supports the link between planning and the hippocampal place map. We addressed this by investigating model-based planning and place memory in healthy controls and epilepsy patients treated using unilateral anterior temporal lobectomy with hippocampal resection. Both functions were impaired in the patient group. Specifically, the planning impairment was related to right hippocampal lesion size, controlling for overall lesion size. Furthermore, although planning and boundary-driven place memory covaried in the control group, this relationship was attenuated in patients, consistent with both functions relying on the same structure in the healthy brain. These findings clarify both the neural mechanism of model-based planning and the scope of hippocampal contributions to behavior.
PMID: 30871859
ISSN: 1097-4199
CID: 3733432

An introduction to congenital and normal pressure hydrocephalus

Chapter by: Meager, Michael R.; Kelly, Dana; Costello, Rosalia; Shepard, Paula; London, Michelle; Frim, David M.; Lacy, Maureen A.
in: Handbook of Medical Neuropsychology: Applications of Cognitive Neuroscience by
[S.l.] : Springer International Publishing, 2019
pp. 301-322
ISBN: 9783030148942
CID: 4543882

Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's thyroiditis: Mechanisms, diagnosis, neuropsychological phenotypes, and treatments

Chapter by: Bernal, Sonia Y.; Meager, Michael R.
in: Handbook of Medical Neuropsychology: Applications of Cognitive Neuroscience by
[S.l.] : Springer International Publishing, 2019
pp. 549-579
ISBN: 9783030148942
CID: 4544022

Neuropsychological Assessment

Chapter by: Schaefer, Lynn A.; Meager, Michael R.
in: Statpearls by
Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019-
pp. -
CID: 4187322

Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's thyroiditis: Mechanisms, diagnosis, neuropsychological phenotypes, and treatments

Chapter by: Bernal, Sonia Y; Meager, Michael R
in: Handbook of medical neuropsychology: Applications of cognitive neuroscience., 2nd ed by Armstrong, Carol L [Ed]; Morrow, Lisa A [Ed]
Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland AG; Switzerland, 2019
pp. 549-579
ISBN: 978-3-030-14894-2
CID: 4694662

Understanding perirhinal contributions to perception and memory: Evidence through the lens of selective perirhinal damage

Inhoff, Marika C; Heusser, Andrew C; Tambini, Arielle; Martin, Chris B; O'Neil, Edward B; Köhler, Stefan; Meager, Michael R; Blackmon, Karen; Vazquez, Blanca; Devinsky, Orrin; Davachi, Lila
Although a memory systems view of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) has been widely influential in understanding how memory processes are implemented, a large body of work across humans and animals has converged on the idea that the MTL can support various other decisions, beyond those involving memory. Specifically, recent work suggests that perception of and memory for visual representations may interact in order to support ongoing cognition. However, given considerations involving lesion profiles in neuropsychological investigations and the correlational nature of fMRI, the precise nature of representations supported by the MTL are not well understood in humans. In the present investigation, three patients with highly specific lesions to MTL were administered a task that taxed perceptual and mnemonic judgments with highly similar face stimuli. A striking double dissociation was observed such that I.R., a patient with a cyst localized to right posterior PRc, displayed a significant impairment in perceptual discriminations, whereas patient A.N., an individual with a lesion in right posterior parahippocampal cortex and the tail of the right hippocampus, and S.D., an individual with bilateral hippocampal damage, did not display impaired performance on the perceptual task. A.N. and S.D. did, however, show impairments in memory performance, whereas patient I.R. did not. These results causally implicate right PRc in successful perceptual oddity judgments, however they suggest that representations supported by PRc are not necessary for correct mnemonic judgments, even in situations of high featural overlap.
PMID: 30594569
ISSN: 1873-3514
CID: 3563202

Dissociable Contributions of the Prefrontal Cortex in Group-Based Cooperation

Wills, Julian; FeldmanHall, Oriel; Meager, Michael R; Van Bavel, Jay J
The success of our political institutions, environmental stewardship, and evolutionary fitness all hinge on our ability to prioritize collective-interest over self-interest. Despite considerable interest in the neuro-cognitive processes that underlie group cooperation, the evidence to date is inconsistent. Several papers support models of prosocial restraint, while more recent work supports models of prosocial intuition. We evaluate these competing models using a sample of lesion patients with damage to brain regions previously implicated in intuition and deliberation. Compared to matched control participants (brain damaged and healthy controls), we found that patients with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) damage were less likely to cooperate in a modified public goods game, whereas patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) damage were more likely to cooperate. In contrast, we observed no association between cooperation and amygdala damage relative to controls. These findings suggest that the dlPFC, rather than the vmPFC or amygdala, plays a necessary role in group-based cooperation. These findings suggest cooperation does not solely rely on intuitive processes. Implications for models of group cooperation are discussed.
PMID: 29618117
ISSN: 1749-5024
CID: 3024672