Publications by authors named "Janet Wessler"

4 Publications

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A meta-analysis of Libet-style experiments.

Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2021 Jun 10;128:182-198. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Department of Psychology, Saarland University, Campus, Geb. A2.4, 66123, Saarbrücken, Germany. Electronic address:

In the seminal Libet experiment (Libet et al., 1983), unconscious brain activity preceded the self-reported, conscious intention to move. This was repeatedly interpreted as challenging the view that (conscious) mental states cause behavior and, prominently, as challenging the existence of free will. Extensive discussions in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and jurisprudence followed, but further empirical findings were heterogeneous. However, a quantitative review of the literature summarizing the evidence of Libet-style experiments is lacking. The present meta-analysis fills this gap. The results revealed a temporal pattern that is largely consistent with the one found by Libet and colleagues. Remarkably, there were only k = 6 studies for the time difference between unconscious brain activity and the conscious intention to move - the most crucial time difference regarding implications about conscious causation and free will. Additionally, there was a high degree of uncertainty associated with this meta-analytic effect. We conclude that some of Libet et al.'s findings appear more fragile than anticipated in light of the substantial scientific work that built on them.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.06.018DOI Listing
June 2021

Facial mimicry is independent of stimulus format: Evidence for facial mimicry of stick figures and photographs.

Acta Psychol (Amst) 2021 Feb 8;213:103249. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

University of Salzburg, Austria.

The present research investigated facial mimicry of the basic emotions joy, anger, and sadness in response to stimuli in different formats. Specifically, in an electromyography study, 120 participants rated the expressions of joyful, angry, and sad faces presented as photographs or stick figures while facial muscle activity was measured. Using both frequentist and Bayesian approaches to hypothesis testing, we found strong support for a facial mimicry effect: Participants showed higher zygomaticus major and orbicularis oculi activity (smiling) towards joyful faces, while they showed higher corrugator supercilii activity (frowning) towards angry and sad faces. Although participants rated the stick figures as more abstract and less interesting stimuli, the mimicry effect was equally strong and independent of the format in which the faces were presented (photographs or stick figures). Additionally, participants showed enhanced emotion recognition for stick figures compared to photographs, which, however, was unrelated to mimicry. The findings suggest that facial mimicry occurs in response to stimuli varying in their abstractness and might be more robust to social-cognitive influences than previously assumed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103249DOI Listing
February 2021

The effect of psychological distance on automatic goal contagion.

Compr Results Soc Psychol 2016 Sep 21;1(1-3):51-85. Epub 2017 Mar 21.

Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria.

We investigated how psychological distance influences goal contagion (the extent to which people automatically adopt another person's goals). On the basis of construal-level theory, we predicted people would be more prone to goal contagion when primed with psychological distance (vs. closeness) because they would construe the other person's behavior in terms of its underlying goal. Alternatively, we predicted people primed with psychological closeness (vs. distance) would be more prone to goal contagion because closeness may increase the personal relevance of another's goals - a process not mediated by construal level. In two preregistered studies, participants read about a student whose behavior implied either an academic or a social goal. We manipulated (a) participants' level of mental construal with a mind-set task (Study 1) and (b) their social distance from another person who showed academic or social behaviors (Study 2). We measured performance on an anagram task as an indicator of academic goal contagion. For Study 1, we predicted that participants reading about academic (vs. social) behaviors would show a better anagram performance, especially when primed with an abstract mind-set. For Study 2, we predicted that construal level and relevance effects might cancel each other out, because distance triggers both high-level construal and less relevance. In contrast to the construal-level hypothesis, the mind-set manipulation did not affect goal contagion in Study 1. In accordance with the relevance hypothesis, psychological proximity goal contagion in Study 2. We discuss how the findings relate to previous findings on goal contagion and imitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23743603.2017.1288877DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644154PMC
September 2016

Intranasally applied L-DOPA alleviates parkinsonian symptoms in rats with unilateral nigro-striatal 6-OHDA lesions.

Brain Res Bull 2012 Feb 15;87(2-3):340-5. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Düsseldorf, Universitaetstrasse 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.

l-3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) remains the most effective drug for therapy of Parkinson's disease. However, the current clinical route of L-DOPA administration is variable and unreliable because of problems with drug absorption and first-pass metabolism. Administration of drugs via the nasal passage has been proven an effective alternate route for a number of medicinal substances. Here we examined the acute behavioral and neurochemical effects of intranasally (IN) applied L-DOPA in rats bearing unilateral lesions of the medial forebrain bundle, with severe depletion (97%) of striatal dopamine. Turning behavior in an open field, footslips on a horizontal grid and postural motor asymmetry in a cylinder were assessed following IN L-DOPA or vehicle administration with, or without, benserazide pre-treatment. IN L-DOPA without benserazide pre-treatment mildly decreased ipsilateral turnings and increased contralateral turnings 10-20 min after the treatment. IN L-DOPA with saline pre-treatment reduced contralateral forelimb-slips on the grid while no effects were evident in the cylinder test. These results support the hypothesis that L-DOPA can bypass the blood-brain barrier by the IN route and alleviate behavioral impairments in the hemiparkinsonian animal model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2011.11.004DOI Listing
February 2012