Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2017

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



People constantly make predictions about what will happen in the near future. People anticipate how other people around them will act, what other people will say, and what actions will help them achieve the greatest rewards. Because all of these behaviors are typically called prediction, it is easy to make the assumption that performance across all of these types of tasks is driven by the same underlying mechanism. However, there has been little investigation into whether the mechanisms underlying prediction are the same across multiple task modalities. Therefore, in the current study, 226 participants completed four types of tasks that putatively involve prediction to determine whether there is a common factor that can account for performance on these tasks. Fluid and crystallized intelligence were also assessed to ensure that general intelligence did not drive correlations among the tasks. Preliminary evidence from a recent study suggested that people with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have difficulty with predicting future activity; therefore, participants also completed a questionnaire screening for symptoms of PTSD. Performance across the four prediction tasks was not correlated, and PTSD severity was not significantly correlated with any of the tasks in the study. These results suggest that there is not an integrative prediction mechanism in the brain, but rather that there are multiple prediction systems operating in parallel within the brain. In addition, these results suggest that PTSD may only be associated with a subset, if any, of prediction tasks. Future researchers studying prediction must be careful to investigate performance on various prediction tasks separately, rather than assuming that prediction performance is stable across tasks.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Jeffrey Thomas M. Zacks Rodebaugh

Committee Members

Todd Braver, Deanna Barch, David Balota, Larry Snyder,


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