Can I have your attention please: The impact of smartphone-related distractions on sustained attention in light and heavy smartphone users

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in the modern world. However, it remains vague whether and how a relation with mobile devices affects our cognitive functioning. Hence, in this study we investigated the impact of smartphone-related auditory distractions and smartphone usage on sustained attention. 31 participants were asked to perform a Continuous Performance Task in 3 separate conditions: one with a smartphone-related distractor, one with a neutral auditory distractor, and finally one without any distracting sounds. In addition to behavioral measures, electrophysiological methods were utilized in order to test in-depth effects on attentional and distractor processing. In order to examine whether smartphone usage has an effect on our attentional processing and to obtain objective usage characteristics a tracking mobile application was installed on participant’s smartphones. The results indicated that both (smartphone related and neutral) distractors had no impact on task performance. However, the participants exhibited a stronger orienting reaction towards a smartphone related distractor. Moreover, increased social media app usage appeared to change attentional target processing and prolonged the indexing of the distracting stimuli. These findings show preliminary evidence that smartphone usage might negatively influence our ability to keep attention focused on one task, as well as our capability to filter out and process smartphone-related auditory distractions. The matter of smartphone-related cognitive alterations is quite contemporary and uncharted. Because of the hasty development of technology and the fact that we are becoming more and more dependent on it, further research is necessary to help us better understand those relations and their implications.

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Trait impulsivity associated with altered resting-state functional connectivity within the somatomotor network Nov. 18, 2020, 2:30 p.m. - Aleksandra Herman, PhD - LOBI

Knowledge of brain mechanisms underlying self-regulation can provide valuable insights into how people regulate their thoughts, behaviours, and emotional states, and what happens when such regulation fails. Self-regulation is supported by coordinated interactions of brain systems. Hence, behavioural dysregulation, and its expression as impulsivity, can be usefully characterised using functional connectivity methodologies applied to resting brain networks. I am going to present the results from the study testing whether individual differences in trait impulsivity are reflected in the functional architecture within and between resting-state brain networks. Thirty healthy individuals completed a self-report measure of trait impulsivity and underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. We identified across participants ten networks of regions (resting-state networks) with temporally correlated time courses. We then explored how individual expression of these spatial networks covaried with trait impulsivity. Across participants, we observed that greater self-reported impulsivity was associated with decreased connectivity of the right lateral occipital cortex with the somatomotor network. No supratheshold differences were observed in between-network connectivity. Our findings implicate the somatomotor network, and its interaction with sensory cortices, in the control of (self-reported) impulsivity. The observed 'decoupling' may compromise effective integration of early perceptual information (from visual and somatosensory cortices) with behavioural control programmes, potentially resulting in negative consequences.

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How emotions interact with cognition in patients with sexual preference disorders Oct. 21, 2020, 2:30 p.m. - Jan Szczypinski, Msc - LOBI/WUM

The pedophilic disorder is characterized by a sexual preference for children and leads to child sexual abuse (CSA) in half of the patients. Studies showed that pedophiles with a history of CSA (CSA+) are inferior, in inhibitory control, to those without (CSA-). Inhibitory control may be influenced by negative affectivity, which was shown to be a state factor facilitating sexual abuse. Nevertheless, it is not known if distress influence CSA+ and CSA- equally. We recruited three groups of participants: healthy controls (HC) CSA+ and CSA- who performed an emotional Go-NoGo block task. The task was design specifically to correspond to a situation in which an individual is opposed by a negative life event. In each trial, participants were presented with photographs, either of neutral or negative valence, which did not require reaction. After the photographs, a circle (Go stimuli) or a square (NoGo stimuli) was presented. We found that HC and CSA- had slower reaction time in negative compared to neutral condition (regardless of the block type), while CSA+ did not. Consequently, HC and CSA- showed increased activation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in negative compared to the neutral condition, what was not observed in CSA+. DLPFC is crucial for cognitive control, however, the activity of this region is modulated by emotional valence. Reduced engagement of dlPFC in CSA+ in negative condition (irrespectively of the task instructions), suggest that negative emotions in CSA+ disrupt also other aspects of cognitive control, rather than inhibition specifically.

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