Trying to stop thinking unwanted, often repetitive thoughts is a familiar experience. However, being aware of such attempts implies that the thought has already reached consciousness. Can we preempt an unwanted thought from coming to mind in the first place?
It is known that compulsivity is linked to a problem in planning based on a cognitive map of the environment, which is necessary for predicting the consequences of our actions. Paul Sharp, from Dr. Eran Eldar’s lab, found that this problem is associated with a more fundamental impairment in learning the structure of cognitive maps. Paul demonstrated this impairment in three different experiments in collaboration with researchers from University College London.