ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 6, Issue 3, 297-312, 2015
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An Experimental Examination of the Aberrant Salience Hypothesis Using a Salience Manipulation and a Behavioral Magical Thinking Task

  Nicole Karcher - University of Missouri
  David Cicero - University of Hawaii
  John Kerns - University of Missouri

Volume 6, Issue 3, 2015, Pages 297-312

A prominent hypothesis of delusions is that they reflect aberrant salience caused by increased striatal dopamine. For the first time, we conducted an experimental test of the aberrant salience hypothesis (n = 235 college students) as we manipulated salience and examined its effect on magical thinking (using a behavioral task). We also included a putative dopamine manipulation (performing a high reward or low reward task). Both the salience and the putative dopamine manipulations caused changes in magical thinking. Evidence supporting the validity of the magical thinking behavioral task included that it was associated with self-reported magical thinking and with another behavioral task (reversal learning) previously associated with striatal dopamine. In a manipulation check, the putative dopaminemanipulation also caused altered performance on the reversal learning task. Overall, these results seem to be consistent with the predictions of the aberrant salience hypothesis and are potentially consistent with a role for salience and dopamine in magical thinking.

Table of Contents
Magical thinking behavioral lab task.
Experimental Manipulations.
Salience Manipulation.
Putative Dopamine Manipulation.
Self-Reported Magical Thinking.
Magical Ideation Scale.
Peters et al. Delusions Inventory.
Aberrant Salience Inventory.
Reversal Learning Task.
Current Mood.
Data Analysis Plan
Effects of salience and putative dopamine manipulations.
Test of Validity of Magical Thinking Behavioral Measure.
Putative Dopamine Manipulation Check.
Current Mood.

Correspondence to
John G. Kerns, 214 McAlester Hall, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.

magical thinking, salience manipulation, reward manipulation, reversal learning, behavioral task

Received 13 Mar 2014; Revised 1 Oct 2014; Accepted 6 Jan 2015; In Press 2 Oct 2015

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