Creativity on tap? Effects of alcohol intoxication on creative cognition.

Benedek, M., Panzierer, L., Jauk, E. & Neubauer, A.C. (in press). Creativity on tap? Effects of alcohol intoxication on creative cognition. Consciousness and Cognition.

Abstract

Anecdotal reports link alcohol intoxication to creativity, while cognitive research highlights the crucial role of cognitive control for creative thought. This study examined the effects of mild alcohol intoxication on creative cognition in a placebo-controlled design. Participants completed executive and creative cognition tasks before and after consuming either alcoholic beer (BAC of 0.03) or non-alcoholic beer (placebo). Alcohol impaired executive control, but improved performance in the Remote Associates Test, and did not affect divergent thinking ability. The findings indicate that certain aspects of creative cognition benefit from mild attenuations of cognitive control, and contribute to the growing evidence that higher cognitive control is not always associated with better cognitive performance.

 

Self-viewing is associated with negative affect rather than reward in highly narcissistic men: an fMRI study.

Jauk, E., Benedek, M., Koschutnig, K., Kedia, G. & Neubauer, A.C. (2017). Self-viewing is associated with negative affect rather than reward in highly narcissistic men: an fMRI study. Scientific Reports, 7, 5804.

Abstract

Subclinical narcissism is a personality trait with two faces: According to social-cognitive theories it is associated with grandiosity and feelings of superiority, whereas psychodynamic theories emphasize vulnerable aspects like fluctuating self-esteem and emotional conflicts. The psychodynamic view, however, is commonly not supported by self-report studies on subclinical narcissism. Personality neuroscience might help to better understand the phenomenon of narcissism beyond the limits of self-report research. While social-cognitive theory would predict that self-relevant processing should be accompanied by brain activity in reward-related areas in narcissistic individuals, psychodynamic theory would suggest that it should be accompanied by activation in regions pointing to negative affect or emotional conflict. In this study, extreme groups of high and low narcissistic individuals performed a visual self-recognition paradigm during fMRI. Viewing one’s own face (as compared to faces of friends and strangers) was accompanied by greater activation of the dorsal and ventral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in highly narcissistic men. These results suggest that highly narcissistic men experience greater negative affect or emotional conflict during self-relevant processing and point to vulnerable aspects of subclinical narcissism that might not be apparent in self-report research.

The influence of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) on fluid intelligence: An fMRI study.

Neubauer, A.C., Wammerl, M., Benedek. M., Jauk, E. & Jausovec. N. (2017). The influence of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) on fluid intelligence: An fMRI study. Personality and Individual Differences, 118, 50-55.

Abstract

The past decades have witnessed a huge interest in uncovering the neural bases of intelligence (e.g., Stelmack, & Houlihan, 1995; Stelmack, Knott, & Beauchamp, 2003). This study investigated the influence of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) on fluid intelligence performance and corresponding brain activation. Previous findings showed that left parietal theta tACS leads to a transient increase in fluid reasoning performance. In an attempt to extend and replicate these findings, we combined theta tACS with fMRI. In a double-blind sham-controlled experiment, N = 20 participants worked on two intelligence tasks (matrices and paper folding) after theta tACS was applied to the left parietal cortex. Stimulation-induced brain activation changes were recorded during task processing using fMRI. Results showed that theta tACS significantly increased fluid intelligence performance when working on difficult items in the matrices test; no effect was observed for the visuo-spatial paper folding test. Whole-brain analyses showed that left parietal brain stimulation was accompanied by lower activation in task-irrelevant brain areas. Complemental ROI analyses revealed a tendency towards lower activation in the left inferior parietal cortex. These findings corroborate the functional role of left parietal theta activity in fluid reasoning and are in line with the neural efficiency hypothesis.