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The primary taste cortex consists of the insula and operculum. Previous work has indicated that neurons in the primary taste cortex respond solely to sensory input from taste receptors and lingual somatosensory receptors. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show here that expectancy modulates these neural responses in humans. When subjects were led to believe that a highly aversive bitter taste would be less distasteful than it actually was, they reported it to be less aversive than when they had accurate information about the taste and, moreover, the primary taste cortex was less strongly activated. In addition, the activation of the right insula and operculum tracked online ratings of the aversiveness for each taste. Such expectancy-driven modulation of primary sensory cortex may affect perceptions of external events.
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It is widely believed that children's social-emotional growth and academic learning are inextricably connected. Pressured by high-stakes assessments, however, school professionals find it difficult to devote adequate time to children's social/behavioral development. As a response, we developed and piloted Social-Emotional Learning Foundations (SELF), a curriculum for students at risk for emotional or behavioral problems that merges instruction in social-emotional learning with early literacy skills. Designed for small-group instruction, the SELF curriculum provides teachers multiple opportunities to extend language and promote emotional and behavioral self-regulation while teaching early literacy skills that include vocabulary development and comprehension. This preliminary study was used to explore intervention feasibility, pilot implementation, and measurement protocols and to provide some evidence in support of further study. Findings from the pilot implementation in eight kindergarten classrooms indicated that SELF lessons improved teacher-reported executive function, internalizing behavior, and school-related competence. As a preface to a more rigorously designed efficacy study, the pilot study results provide preliminary evidence that integrating social-emotional learning and literacy instruction may be a viable strategy for promoting self-regulation in the service of positive social and academic outcomes for children at risk.

School staff who supervise playgrounds, hallways, cafeterias, study halls, parking lots, and hangout areas can apply school-wide positive behavior support strategies to keep these common areas safe.

Mindfulness has been described as an orienting of attention to the present moment, with openness and compassion. Individuals displaying high trait mindfulness exhibit this tendency as a more permanent personality attribute. Given the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with mindfulness, there is a great interest in understanding the neural substrates of this trait. The purpose of the current research was to examine how individual differences in trait mindfulness associated with functional connectivity in five resting-state networks related to cognition and attention: the default mode network (DMN), the salience network (SN), the central executive network (CEN), and the dorsal and ventral attention networks (DAN and VAN). Twenty-eight undergraduate participants completed the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), a self-report measure of trait mindfulness which also provides scores on five of its sub-categories (Observing, Describing, Acting with Awareness, Non-judging of Inner Experience, and Non-reactivity to Inner Experience). Participants then underwent a structural MRI scan and a 7-min resting state functional MRI scan. Resting-state data were analyzed using independent-component analyses. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed to determine the relationship between each resting state network and each FFMQ score. These analyses indicated that: (1) trait mindfulness and its facets showed increased functional connectivity with neural regions related to attentional control, interoception, and executive function; and (2) trait mindfulness and its facets showed decreased functional connectivity with neural regions related to self-referential processing and mind wandering. These patterns of functional connectivity are consistent with some of the benefits of mindfulness-enhanced attention, self-regulation, and focus on present experience. This study provides support for the notion that non-judgmental attention to the present moment facilitates the integration of regions in neural networks that are related to cognition, attention, and sensation.