Taking tests in the magnet: Brain mapping standardized tests.

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Standardized psychometric tests are sophisticated, well-developed, and consequential instruments; test outcomes are taken as facts about people that impact their lives in important ways. As part of an initial demonstration that human brain mapping techniques can add converging neural-level evidence to understanding standardized tests, our participants completed items from standardized tests during an fMRI scan. We compared tests for diagnosing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the correlated measures of Neuroticism, Attachment, and Centrality of Event to a general-knowledge baseline test. Twenty-three trauma-exposed participants answered 20 items for each of our five tests in each of the three runs for a total of 60 items per test. The tests engaged different neural processes; which test a participant was taking was accurately predicted from other participants' brain activity. The novelty of the application precluded specific anatomical predictions; however, the interpretation of activated regions using meta-analyses produced encouraging results. For instance, items on the Attachment test engaged regions shown to be more active for tasks involving judgments of others than judgments of the self. The results are an initial demonstration of a theoretically and practically important test-taking neuroimaging paradigm and suggest specific neural processes in answering PTSD-related tests. Hum Brain Mapp 38:5706-5725, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.





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Rubin, David C, Dawei Li, Shana A Hall, Philip A Kragel and Dorthe Berntsen (2017). Taking tests in the magnet: Brain mapping standardized tests. Human brain mapping, 38(11). pp. 5706–5725. 10.1002/hbm.23761 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19031.

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David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

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