Falk, Emily B

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 45
  • Publication
    Time-Evolving Dynamics in Brain Networks Forecast Responses to Health Messaging
    (2018-05-01) Cooper, Nicole; Garcia, Javier O; Tompson, Steven; O'Donnell, Matthew B; Falk, Emily B; Vettel, Jean M
    Neuroimaging measures have been used to forecast complex behaviors, including how individuals change decisions about their health in response to persuasive communications, but have rarely incorporated metrics of brain network dynamics. How do functional dynamics within and between brain networks relate to the processes of persuasion and behavior change? To address this question, we scanned forty-five adult smokers using functional magnetic resonance imaging while they viewed antismoking images. Participants reported their smoking behavior and intentions to quit smoking before the scan and one month later. We focused on regions within four atlas-defined networks and examined whether they formed consistent network communities during this task (measured as allegiance). Smokers who showed reduced allegiance among regions within the default mode and frontoparietal networks also demonstrated larger increases in their intentions to quit smoking one month later. We further examined dynamics of the VMPFC, as activation in this region has been frequently related to behavior change. The degree to which VMPFC changed its community assignment over time (measured as flexibility) was positively associated with smoking reduction. These data highlight the value in considering brain network dynamics for understanding message effectiveness and social processes more broadly.
  • Publication
    Global Brain Dynamics during Social Exclusion Predict Subsequent Behavioral Conformity
    (2018-02-01) Wasylyshyn, Nick; Falk, Brett H; Garcia, Javier O; Cascio, Christopher N; O'Donnell, Matthew B; Bingham, C. R; Simons-Morton, Bruce G; Vettel, Jean M; Falk, Emily B
    Individuals react differently to social experiences; for example, people who are more sensitive to negative social experiences, such as being excluded, may be more likely to adapt their behavior to fit in with others. We examined whether functional brain connectivity during social exclusion in the fMRI scanner can be used to predict subsequent conformity to peer norms. Adolescent males (n = 57) completed a two-part study on teen driving risk: a social exclusion task (Cyberball) during an fMRI session and a subsequent driving simulator session in which they drove alone and in the presence of a peer who expressed risk-averse or risk-accepting driving norms. We computed the difference in functional connectivity between social exclusion and social inclusion from each node in the brain to nodes in two brain networks, one previously associated with mentalizing (medial prefrontal cortex, temporoparietal junction, precuneus, temporal poles) and another with social pain (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula). Using predictive modeling, this measure of global connectivity during exclusion predicted the extent of conformity to peer pressure during driving in the subsequent experimental session. These findings extend our understanding of how global neural dynamics guide social behavior, revealing functional network activity that captures individual differences.
  • Publication
    A Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Replication of the Sunscreen Persuasion Paradigm
    (2018-05-01) Burns, Shannon M; Barnes, Lianne N; Katzman, Perri L; Ames, Daniel L; Falk, Emily B; Lieberman, Matthew D
    Activity in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during persuasive messages predicts future message-consistent behavior change, but there are significant limitations to the types of persuasion processes that can be invoked inside an MRI scanner. For instance, real world persuasion often involves multiple people in conversation. Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) allows us to move out of the scanner and into more ecologically valid contexts. As a first step, the current study used fNIRS to replicate an existing fMRI persuasion paradigm (i.e. the sunscreen paradigm) to determine if mPFC shows similar predictive value with this technology. Consistent with prior fMRI work, activity in mPFC was significantly associated with message-consistent behavior change, above and beyond self-reported intentions. There was also a difference in this association between previous users and non-users of sunscreen. Activity differences based on messages characteristics were not observed. Finally, activity in a region of right dorsolateral PFC (dlPFC), which has been observed with counterarguing against persuasive messages, correlated negatively with future behavior. The current results suggest it is reasonable to use fNIRS to examine persuasion paradigms that go beyond what is possible in the MRI scanner environment.
  • Publication
    Predicting Persuasion-Induced Behavior Change From the Brain
    (2010-06-23) Falk, Emily B; Berkman, Elliot T; Mann, Traci; Harrison, Brittany; Lieberman, Matthew D
    Although persuasive messages often alter people's self-reported attitudes and intentions to perform behaviors, these self-reports do not necessarily predict behavior change. We demonstrate that neural responses to persuasive messages can predict variability in behavior change in the subsequent week. Specifically, an a priori region of interest (ROI) in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) was reliably associated with behavior change (r = 0.49, p < 0.05). Additionally, an iterative cross-validation approach using activity in this MPFC ROI predicted an average 23% of the variance in behavior change beyond the variance predicted by self-reported attitudes and intentions. Thus, neural signals can predict behavioral changes that are not predicted from self-reported attitudes and intentions alone. Additionally, this is the first functional magnetic resonance imaging study to demonstrate that a neural signal can predict complex real world behavior days in advance.
  • Publication
    Can Text Messages Increase Empathy and Prosocial Behavior? The Development and Initial Validation of Text to Connect
    (2015-09-01) Konrath, Sara H; Falk, Emily B; Fuhrel-Forbis, Andrea; Liu, Mary; Swain, James; Tolman, Richard; Cunningham, Rebecca; Walton, Maureen
    To what extent can simple mental exercises cause shifts in empathic habits? Can we use mobile technology to make people more empathic? It may depend on how empathy is measured. Scholars have identified a number of different facets and correlates of empathy. This study is among the first to take a comprehensive, multidimensional approach to empathy to determine how empathy training could affect these different facets and correlates. In doing so, we can learn more about empathy and its multifaceted nature. Participants (N = 90) were randomly assigned to receive either an empathy-building text message program (Text to Connect) or one of two control conditions (active versus passive). Respondents completed measures of dispositional empathy (i.e. self-perceptions of being an empathic person), affective empathy (i.e. motivations to help, immediate feelings of empathic concern), and prosocial behavior (i.e. self-reports and observer-reports) at baseline, and then again after the 14 day intervention period. We found that empathy-building messages increased affective indicators of empathy and prosocial behaviors, but actually decreased self-perceptions of empathy, relative to control messages. Although the brief text messaging intervention did not consistently impact empathy-related personality traits, it holds promise for the use of mobile technology for changing empathic motivations and behaviors.
  • Publication
    Neural Responses to Exclusion Predict Susceptibility to Social Influence
    (2014-05-01) Falk, Emily B; Cascio, Christopher N; O'Donnell, Matthew Brook; Carp, Joshua; Tinney, Francis J; Bingham, C Raymond; Shope, Jean T; Ouimet, Marie Claude; Pradhan, Anuj K; Simons-Morton, Bruce G
    Purpose Social influence is prominent across the lifespan, but sensitivity to influence is especially high during adolescence and is often associated with increased risk taking. Such risk taking can have dire consequences. For example, in American adolescents, traffic-related crashes are leading causes of nonfatal injury and death. Neural measures may be especially useful in understanding the basic mechanisms of adolescents' vulnerability to peer influence. Methods We examined neural responses to social exclusion as potential predictors of risk taking in the presence of peers in recently licensed adolescent drivers. Risk taking was assessed in a driving simulator session occurring approximately 1 week after the neuroimaging session. Results Increased activity in neural systems associated with the distress of social exclusion and mentalizing during an exclusion episode predicted increased risk taking in the presence of a peer (controlling for solo risk behavior) during a driving simulator session outside the neuroimaging laboratory 1 week later. These neural measures predicted risky driving behavior above and beyond self-reports of susceptibility to peer pressure and distress during exclusion. Conclusions These results address the neural bases of social influence and risk taking; contribute to our understanding of social and emotional function in the adolescent brain; and link neural activity in specific, hypothesized, regions to risk-relevant outcomes beyond the neuroimaging laboratory. Results of this investigation are discussed in terms of the mechanisms underlying risk taking in adolescents and the public health implications for adolescent driving.
  • Publication
    Social Influence and the Brain: Persuasion, Susceptibility to Influence and Retransmission
    (2015-06-01) Cascio, Christopher N; Scholz, Christin; Falk, Emily B
    Social influence is an important topic of research, with a particularly long history in the social sciences. Recently, social influence has also become a topic of interest among neuroscientists. The aim of this review is to highlight current research that has examined neural systems associated with social influence, from the perspective of being influenced as well as influencing others, and highlight studies that link neural mechanisms with real-world behavior change beyond the laboratory. Although many of the studies reviewed focus on localizing brain regions implicated in influence within the lab, we argue that approaches that account for networks of brain regions and that integrate neural data with data beyond the laboratory are likely to be most fruitful in understanding influence.
  • Publication
    Getting the Word Out: Neural Correlates of Enthusiastic Message Propagation
    (2012-11-26) Falk, Emily B; O'Donnell, Matthew Brook; Liberman, Matthew D
    What happens in the mind of a person who first hears a potentially exciting idea? We examined the neural precursors of spreading ideas with enthusiasm, and dissected enthusiasm into component processes that can be identified through automated linguistic analysis, gestalt human ratings of combined linguistic and non-verbal cues, and points of convergence/divergence between the two. We combined tools from natural language processing (NLP) with data gathered using fMRI to link the neurocognitive mechanisms that are set in motion during initial exposure to ideas and subsequent behaviors of these message communicators outside of the scanner. Participants' neural activity was recorded as they reviewed ideas for potential television show pilots. Participants' language from video-taped interviews collected post-scan was transcribed and given to an automated linguistic sentiment analysis (SA) classifier, which returned ratings for evaluative language (evaluative vs. descriptive) and valence (positive vs. negative). Separately, human coders rated the enthusiasm with which participants transmitted each idea. More positive sentiment ratings by the automated classifier were associated with activation in neural regions including medial prefrontal cortex; MPFC, precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex; PC/PCC, and medial temporal lobe; MTL. More evaluative, positive, descriptions were associated exclusively with neural activity in temporal-parietal junction (TPJ). Finally, human ratings indicative of more enthusiastic sentiment were associated with activation across these regions (MPFC, PC/PCC, DMPFC, TPJ, and MTL) as well as in ventral striatum (VS), inferior parietal lobule and premotor cortex. Taken together, these data demonstrate novel links between neural activity during initial idea encoding and the enthusiasm with which the ideas are subsequently delivered. This research lays the groundwork to use machine learning and neuroimaging data to study word of mouth communication and the spread of ideas in both traditional and new media environments.
  • Publication
    Young Adult Smokers' Neural Response to Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels
    (2016-06-01) Green, Adam E; Mays, Darren; Falk, Emily B; Vallone, Donna; Gallagher, Natalie; Richardson, Amanda; Tercyak, Kenneth P; Abrams, David B; Niaura, Raymond S
    Introduction: The study examined young adult smokers' neural response to graphic warning labels (GWLs) on cigarette packs using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Methods: Nineteen young adult smokers (M age 22.9, 52.6% male, 68.4% non-white, M 4.3 cigarettes/day) completed pre-scan, self-report measures of demographics, cigarette smoking behavior, and nicotine dependence, and an fMRI scanning session. During the scanning session participants viewed cigarette pack images (total 64 stimuli, viewed 4 s each) that varied based on the warning label (graphic or visually occluded control) and pack branding (branded or plain packaging) in an event-related experimental design. Participants reported motivation to quit (MTQ) in response to each image using a push-button control. Whole-brain blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional images were acquired during the task. Results: GWLs produced significantly greater self-reported MTQ than control warnings (p < .001). Imaging data indicate stronger neural activation in response to GWLs than the control warnings at a cluster-corrected threshold p < .001 in medial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, medial temporal lobe, and occipital cortex. There were no significant differences in response to warnings on branded versus plain cigarette packages. Conclusions: In this sample of young adult smokers, GWLs promoted neural activation in brain regions involved in cognitive and affective decision-making and memory formation and the effects of GWLs did not differ on branded or plain cigarette packaging. These findings complement other recent neuroimaging GWL studies conducted with older adult smokers and with adolescents by demonstrating similar patterns of neural activation in response to GWLs among young adult smokers.
  • Publication
    Experimental Effects of Pre-Drive Arousal on Teenage Simulated Driving Performance in the Presence of a Teenage Passenger
    (2015-01-01) Simons-Morton, Bruce G; Bingham, C. R; Li, Kaigang; Slope, Jean; Pradhan, Anuj K; Falk, Emily B; Albert, Paul S
    Teenage passengers increase teenage driving risk, but this may be conditional on events and emotions immediately preceding driving. An experimental simulation study evaluated the effect of pre-drive arousal on risky driving in the presence of a confederate teenage passenger. In a two-by-two between-subjects design, participants were randomized to high or low pre-drive arousal and passenger present or not present conditions. Prior to the drive participants played the Nintendo Wii video game, Rock BandTM. In the high-arousal condition participants stood while playing high-energy Beatles songs; in the low arousal condition participants sat while playing low-energy Beatles songs. The manipulation produced differences in arousal by group. Group differences in risky driving were in the expected direction, but were not statistically significant at p = .05 on any of the three outcome measures, which included Failed to Stop (failing to stop at signalized intersections in the dilemma zone), Percent Time in Red (in intersections), and Pass Slow Vehicle (electing to pass a slow vehicle).