Science of Learning Research Centre

SLRC Seminar Series: Interaction between our belief and logical systems

Presented by Dr Maryam Ziaei (co-authored by Dr Mohammadreza Bonyadi and Professor David Reutens)Postdoctoral Research Fellow,  Centre for Advanced Imaging & Science of Learning Research Centre at the University of Queensland

Wednesday 8th March, 4.30 to 6pm
Level 7 Seminar Room, Queensland Brain Institute, 79 Upland Road, St Lucia

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Interaction between our belief and logical systems

In daily life, we encounter situations which require us to evaluate the assumptions, facts, or our current knowledge to make reasonable conclusions. This ability forms the basis of logical reasoning. However, often people draw unwarranted conclusions when influenced by their beliefs and prior knowledge overshadows their reasoning; this is known as belief bias. When the logical statements are in accordance with our beliefs, they can facilitate our reasoning but when they contradict our beliefs, they can hinder our ability to reason. Belief bias may have implications for social stigma and stereotypes (e.g. the topical stereotype: ‘all Muslims are terrorists’) as well as for problem-solving and critical thinking because the inability to inhibit beliefs may impair logical inference. The primary aim of this study is to investigate the underlying neural correlates of interaction between belief and logical systems. Thirty younger adults (18-25 years old) participated in an fMRI study and responded to a series of syllogistic arguments while the believability of the given assumptions and conclusions was manipulated independently. Our results show that the believability of the assumptions has a critical impact on logical reasoning and the recruitment of underlying brain networks. This study highlights the importance of assumptions and prior beliefs in daily decision making and logical reasoning processes. Based on these findings, training programs can be designed to improve students’ abilities in logical reasoning.

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