Acta Psychologica


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Psychologie
Elsevier - JOURNALS DEPARTMENT Saunders/Mosby/Harcourt Health
0001-6918
jährlich 10 mal
Englisch
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Acta Psychologica publishes original articles and extended reviews on selected books in any area of experimental psychology. The focus of the Journal is on empirical studies and evaluative review articles that increase the theoretical understanding of human capabilities. The majority of papers deal with human performance, attention, perception, memory, and decision-making but papers concerned with social processes, development, psychopathology, neuroscience or computational modelling are also welcome provided that they are of direct importance to experimental psychologists and are written so as to be understandable to such a readership. The journal publishes occasional special issues devoted to single topics which merit particular attention. Examples of such volumes are: Fluency and Remembering (1998), Varieties in Inhibitory Control (1999) and Visual Object Perception (1999).
Meine Notizen
The characteristics of face configural effect in illiterates and literates
Literacy acquisition can modulate the way we process visual words and language. However, little is known about its function in reshaping how we process non-linguistic materials, like faces. In this study, we explored this question by comparing the facial recognition skills of illiterate and literate adults in China. Our results showed that illiterates were less sensitive to changes in spatial configuration among key features in upright faces when stimuli were presented simultaneously. The differences in sensitivity of spatial configuration between the literates and illiterates were also observed in house processing. These results thus provide evidence that literacy acquisition during childhood could reshape configural processing.
Associative learning of response inhibition affects perceived duration in a subsequent temporal bisection task
Interval timing, the ability to discern the duration of an event, is integral to appropriately navigating the world, from crossing the road to catching a ball. Several features of an event can affect its perceived duration, for example it has previously been shown that a large stimulus is perceived to last longer than a small stimulus. In the current article, participants performed either a Go/No-Go or variable foreperiod task prior to performing a temporal bisection task. In both the Go/No-Go and variable foreperiod tasks, participants learned an association between a particular response and a particular stimulus. Subsequently, the perceived duration of these stimuli was tested in a temporal bisection task. Our findings indicated that associating a stimulus with response inhibition (i.e. a No-Go stimulus) decreased perceived duration compared to a stimulus associated with a response (a Go stimulus). Associating a stimulus with either a short or long foreperiod, on the other hand, did not affect perceived duration. We relate this finding back to the coding efficiency theory and the processing principle. A No-Go stimulus requires more cognitive processing than a Go stimulus and would thus be predicted to increase, rather than decrease, perceived duration in both these time perception theories. Finally, we suggest how our findings might be used in future investigations of interval timing.
Directed forgetting in problem solving
In two experiments, we investigated intentional forgetting of problem-solving routines by adapting the list method of directed forgetting. In Experiment 1, participants practiced solving water-jar problems (Luchins, 1942). After working on a first series of problems that all could be solved by the same formula, one group of participants was instructed to forget the so-far presented items because these, allegedly, had only served as a warm-up, whereas another group did not receive a forget instruction. After practicing a different routine in a second series of problems, participants solved test problems that either could be solved by the formula previously practiced in the first or in the second series of problems. All test problems alternatively could be solved by a more direct formula. The forget instruction significantly reduced the number of test problems solved by the formula of the first series of practice problems. In Experiment 2, participants subsequently practiced two solution formulas in two series of to-be-solved anagrams. Here, a forget instruction regarding the first series of practice anagrams reduced solution speed for test anagrams that had to be solved by the same formula as the to-be-forgotten practice anagrams. Thus, in both experiments, participants relied less on a practiced routine after they had been instructed to intentionally forget the episode of acquiring that routine.
Asymmetries in flanker-target interference at different levels of number processing
Visual stimuli presented in peripheries can be barely recognized when they are surrounded by flankers (crowding). The target-flanker interference can be asymmetrical, and this asymmetry depends on a stimulus type. In particular, recognition of a letter or a number is more disturbed by the presence of a leftward flanker, reflecting the direction of reading. So far, such reading-related asymmetry has been observed with visual recognition tasks. In the following studies, we used numbers as stimuli to examine whether the leftward asymmetry in crowding extends to other levels of information processing, i.e. whether it is present when more abstract, semantic features are extracted. We presented participants with numerical triplets in the left or right visual field, and asked them to classify the middle number according to its magnitude (Experiment 1), physical characteristics (Experiment 2) or parity (Experiment 3). We observed that the leftward flanker interfered stronger with the target than the rightward flanker, but only when magnitude and physical characteristics were classified. Our findings suggest that the leftward asymmetry in crowding extends up to the semantic level of number processing, but only selectively, i.e. when a certain sort of information (magnitude) is extracted.
The contents of visual working memory delay the perceived offset of matching visual stimuli
Previous research suggests that the perception of stimulus onset can be accelerated by a match between the contents of visual working memory and the stimulus presented alone in the peripheral visual field. This onset acceleration effect might contribute to previously reported effects of working memory on perceived stimulus duration. However, it remains possible that the contents of visual working memory may also modulate the offset perception of matching visual stimuli, thereby contributing to the modulation of duration perception by working memory. The present study directly tested this possibility by using a simple reaction time task to assess the effect of visual working memory on perceived stimulus offset. Participants were asked to maintain a sample stimulus in working memory and subsequently had to respond to the offset of a single visual target. Across three experiments, we showed that the offset response was reliably slower when the target matched the sample held in visual working memory, as compared with when the target did not. This effect was not likely attributed to the mechanism of repetition priming from the presentation of the sample, because we failed to observe a priming effect either when the sample was only passively viewed without working memory demands or when the sample was initially encoded into memory but did not need to be actively maintained in mind by the time the offset target appeared. The findings provide direct evidence indicating that active maintenance of information in visual working memory delays the perceived offset of matching visual stimuli.
Dyad training protocols and the development of a motor sequence representation
The purpose of the experiment was to determine the extent to which observation and the inter-trial dialogue in a dyad training protocol enhance the development of a movement sequence representation. The task was to reproduce a 1300 ms spatial–temporal pattern of elbow extension/flexion movements. An inter-manual transfer design with a retention test and two effector transfer tests was used. The mirror transfer test required the same motor pattern of homologous muscle activation and a sequence of joint angles as experienced during the acquisition phase, and the non-mirror transfer test required the same visual-spatial pattern as practiced during acquisition. Participants (N = 40) were randomly assigned to one of four groups (50 practice acquisition trials): a dyad training group where two participants alternated between physical and observational practice and permitting an inter-trial dialogue, a dyad training group where two participants alternated between physical practice and permitting a dialogue without observation, a dyad training group where two participants alternated between physical and observational practice without a dialogue, and an individual practice control group where one participant learned the movement sequence. The practice duration was for all participants identical. The results indicated that participants involved in the dyad training protocols with either observation and/or the inter-trial dialogue developed a motor representation of the movement sequence.
Dissociating lexical and sublexical contributions to transposed-word effects
When two sequences of words are presented successively for 400 ms each, it is harder to decide that the two sequences differ when the difference is generated by transposing two words compared with a condition where the same two words are replaced by different words. Interestingly, this transposed-word effect is obtained even when the first sequence is ungrammatical. One account of the effect seen with ungrammatical sequences is that participants detect mismatching letters rather than words. Under this account, the migration of letter identities across adjacent words would make it harder to judge the transposed-word condition as being different. The present experiment put this account to test by comparing transposition effects to sequences of words vs. pseudowords. We hypothesized that if same-different judgments are made on the basis of sublexical orthographic information only, then we should observe similar effects for words and pseudowords. Although transposition effects were found with pseudoword stimuli, the effects were significantly reduced compared to word sequences. This suggests that the noisy bottom-up allocation of word identities to locations along a line of text is one key mechanism driving transposed-word effects.
The influence of self-referential stimuli on duration perception
Previous studies have shown that stimuli with subjective salience could affect duration estimation. Although self-referential stimuli possess high biological and social importance, no prior study has examined whether and how self-referential information affects duration perception. Experiment 1 used the temporal bisection task to investigate participants’ duration estimation of the presentation of their own name versus familiar and unfamiliar names. The results showed that participants overestimated the duration of their own name and became more sensitive to duration perception in such trials when compared with stranger’s names. Given the specificity of personal name, Experiment 2 used two types of personality-trait words in self-referential and friend-referential manner as the targets of duration perception. The duration of self-referential negative trait words was perceived to be longer relative to friend-referential negative trait words. The mechanism underlying the subjective time dilation effect of self-referential information possibly involves the engagement of increased attentional resources, which could allow the individual to preserve a certain level of stability and positivity of self-knowledge.
Is holistic processing of written words modulated by phonology'
Holistic processing, a hallmark of face processing, has been shown for written words, signaled by the word composite effect. Fluent readers find it harder to focus on one half of a written word (e.g., the first syllable of a CV.CV word) while ignoring the other half (e.g., the second syllable), especially when the two halves are aligned rather than misaligned. Given the linguistic nature of written words, in the present study, we examined whether the word composite effect is modulated by phonology. In Experiment 1, participants saw two sequentially presented CV.CV words and had to decide if the left half (first syllable) was the same or not, regardless of the right half. The word pairs were either phonologically consistent (univocal orthography to phonology mapping; e.g., TI is always /ti/ in Portuguese) or inconsistent (orthography can map into different phonological representations; e.g., CA can correspond to /ka/ or /kɐ/). The word composite effect was found for phonologically consistent words but not for phonologically inconsistent words. In Experiment 2, timing of trial events was reduced to test whether the influence of phonology was fast and automatic. Similar to what was found in Experiment 1, the word composite effect was found only for phonologically consistent words. The faster trial events in Experiment 2 rendered it less likely that the influence of phonology in word composite effect is merely a result of strategic processing. These findings suggest that holistic processing of visual words is modulated by fast and automatic activation of lexical phonological representations.
Tactile aesthetics: Textures that we like or hate to touch
Considering object identification and recognition as well as human interaction with objects, texture as a surface property plays a crucial role. A deeper understanding of tactile aesthetics can be useful in the applied field such as in product designs that appeal more to our senses and that are more effective in eliciting certain emotional responses from a potential consumer. In the present study, behavioral experiments were performed using unfamiliar custom-made dot pattern stimuli under two complementary questionings. The first question focused on the tactile perceptive attributes related to topographical characteristics of the textures exhibited by the material surfaces. The second question focused on the texture pleasantness related both to the perceptive attributes and to the topographical characteristics of the textures. The perspective of this work opens on complementary fields of research such as neurosciences to determine the brain mechanisms in the processing of the pleasantness of tactile stimuli.
Amplifying deceivers’ flawed metacognition: Encouraging disclosures after delays with a model statement
Truth tellers provide less detail in delayed than in immediate interviews (likely due to forgetting), whereas liars provide similar amounts of detail in immediate and delayed interviews (displaying a metacognitive stability bias effect). We examined whether liar’s flawed metacognition after delays could be exploited by encouraging interviewees to provide more detail via a Model Statement. Truthful and deceptive participants were interviewed immediately (n = 78) or after a three-week delay (n = 78). Half the participants in each condition listened to a Model Statement before questioning. In the Immediate condition, truth tellers provided more details than liars. This pattern was unaffected by the Model Statement. In the Delayed condition, truth tellers and liars provided a similar amount of detail in the Model Statement-absent condition, whereas in the Model Statement-present condition, liars provided more details than truth tellers.
Different processes in attractiveness assessments for unattractive and highly attractive faces—The role of presentation duration and rotation
Assessing facial attractiveness is a central aspect of the human ability to process the visual properties of faces. Recent studies have demonstrated that disrupting the upright orientation of faces by rotation can lead to enhanced attractiveness ratings, especially for unattractive faces, which might indicate that attractiveness assessments are mainly based on the absence of unattractive facial characteristics. Other studies have shown that shorter exposure times can result in greater facial attractiveness ratings. In the present experiment, we tested the influence of both rotation (0°, ±90°, 180°) and presentation duration (40 ms, 100 ms, 250 ms, 2000 ms) on attractiveness ratings for faces, while also controlling for their pre-rated attractiveness (which was assessed in upright orientation during a pre-test). We found that unattractive faces were rated as most attractive when observed for 40 ms, but presentation duration had no effect on ratings for highly attractive faces. Unattractive faces rotated by ±90° or inverted (rotated by 180°) were rated as more attractive than in the upright orientation and these effects were found under various presentation durations (40 ms, 250 ms, 2000 ms). Importantly, a contrary relationship was found for highly attractive faces, which were rated as less attractive when inverted, but only under intermediate presentation durations (100 ms or 250 ms). Our results support the notion that facial attractiveness can be assessed on the basis of both the absence of unattractive characteristics and the presence of attractive features, depending on the initial attractiveness of the face and its exposure time.
The asynchronous influence of facial expressions on bodily expressions
The ability to extract correct emotional information from facial and bodily expressions is fundamental for the development of social skills. Previous studies have shown that bodily expressions affect the recognition of basic facial expressions dramatically. However, few studies have considered the view that facial expressions may influence the recognition of bodily expressions. Further, previous studies have failed to consider a comprehensive set of emotional categories. The present study sought to examine whether facial expressions would impact the recognition of bodily expressions asynchronously, using four basic emotions. Participants performed an affective priming task, in which the priming stimuli included four facial expressions (happy, sad, fearful, and angry), and the target stimuli were bodily expressions matching the same emotions. The results indicated that the perception of affective facial expressions significantly influenced the accuracy and reaction time for body-based emotion categorization, particularly for bodily expression of happiness. The recognition accuracy of congruent expressions was higher, relative to that of incongruent expressions. The findings show that facial expressions influence the recognition of bodily expressions, despite the asynchrony.
The many faces of music: Attending to music and delight in the same music are governed by different rules of processing
Music generates manifold experiences in humans, some perceptual and some hedonic. Are these qualia governed by the same principles in processing' In particular, do the loudness and timbre of melodies combine to produce perception and likeability by the same rules of integration' In Experiment 1, we tested selective attention to loudness and timbre by applying Garner's speeded classification paradigm and found both to be perceptually integral dimensions. In Experiment 2, we tested liking for the same music by applying Norman Anderson's functional measurement model and found loudness and timbre to combine by an adding-type rule. In Experiment 3, we applied functional measurement for perception and found loudness and timbre to interact as in Experiment 1. These results show that people cannot or do not attend selectively or perceive separately any one music component, but that they nonetheless can isolate the components when they enjoy (or disenjoy) listening to music. We conclude that perception of the constituent components of a musical piece and the processing of the same components for liking are governed by different rules.
Different visual and auditory latencies affect cross-modal non-spatial repetition inhibition
The present study examined the effect of different latencies for processing visual and auditory stimuli in cross-modal non-spatial repetition inhibition. In two experiments, the cue validity of modality and identity between the prime and the target was manipulated in a “prime-neutral cue-target” paradigm. A distinct neutral event was presented after the prime and before the onset of the target. The prime probe was visual in Experiment 1 and auditory in Experiment 2. The results in both experiments showed that RTs for identity-cued trials were significantly slower than RTs for identity-cued trials regardless of whether the modality of the target was visual or auditory. In addition, RTs for visual trials were significantly faster than RTs for auditory trials, indicating different latencies of processing visual and auditory stimuli. This latency difference affects cross-modal non-spatial repetition inhibition in two aspects: 1) creating a new representation (identity uncued) that is delivered via visual modality is easier under audio-visual conditions, and 2) retrieving an inhibited representation (identity cued) that is delivered via auditory modality is more difficult under visual-audio conditions. We propose that cross-modal non-spatial repetition inhibition, which is distinct from unimodal repetition inhibition, can be easily influenced by different latencies of processing visual and auditory stimuli.
The reoccurrence of voluntary behavior in humans is reduced by retrieval cues from extinction
Changes in the temporal as well as the physical context produces the reappearance of extinguished behaviors. Furthermore, combining both kinds of contextual stimuli often causes greater levels of recovery. The current experiment explored the impact of extinction reminders on spontaneous recovery, renewal, and a combination of both effects using an instrumental learning task with humans. All participants learned to shoot at enemies in a videogame. Then, throughout extinction, the instrumental response was eliminated. We found a return of the extinguished behavior by introducing a retention interval of 48 h, by changing the physical background and by testing participants in a spatiotemporal context different from the extinction context. However, we also found that the presentation of a stimulus directly associated with extinction attenuates all three forms of operant reoccurrence. These results are consistent with the perspective that emphasizes that context plays a key role in response-recovery phenomena. Moreover, our findings may be promissory for therapeutic strategies involving relapse treatment.
Anticipating a future versus integrating a recent event' Evidence from eye-tracking
When comprehending a spoken sentence that refers to a visually-presented event, comprehenders both integrate their current interpretation of language with the recent event and develop expectations about future event possibilities. Tense cues can disambiguate this linking, but temporary ambiguity in these cues may lead comprehenders to also rely on further, experience-based (e.g., frequency or an actor's gaze) cues. How comprehenders reconcile these different cues in real time is an open issue. Extant results suggest that comprehenders preferentially relate their unfolding interpretation to a recent event by inspecting its target object. We investigated to what extent this recent-event preference could be overridden by short-term experiential and situation-specific cues. In Experiments 1–2 participants saw substantially more future than recent events and listened to more sentences about future-events (75% in Experiment 1 and 88% in Experiment 2). Experiment 3 cued future target objects and event possibilities via an actor's gaze. The event frequency increase yielded a reduction in the recent event inspection preference early during sentence processing in Experiments 1–2 compared with Experiment 3 (where event frequency and utterance tense were balanced) but did not eliminate the overall recent-event preference. Actor gaze also modulated the recent-event preference, and jointly with future tense led to its reversal in Experiment 3. However, our results showed that people overall preferred to focus on recent (vs. future) events in their interpretation, suggesting that while two cues (actor gaze and short-term event frequency) can partially override the recent-event preference, the latter still plays a key role in shaping participants' interpretation.
People's sensitivity to content vs. formal properties of visual stimuli: Evidence from category construction
Abstract
When people are asked to classify visual stimuli, they are often insensitive to formal properties, such as their 3D coherence or symmetry. We investigated whether this pattern of formal insensitivity would also be found using more familiar stimuli and properties: paintings that differ in their artistic style and words printed in two different typefaces. The experiments used the category formation paradigm in which subjects freely sort items into groups that seem most natural to them. They could sort each stimulus set up to three times. Only about half of the subjects in Experiment 1 ever sorted the paintings by artistic style, and only 12% did so on their first sort. Only 36% ever sorted by typeface, with many of the subjects stopping after two sorts and saying that no further categories were possible. Experiment 2 repeated the test of typeface using actual words cut out of newspapers and advertisements. Half the words were printed in boldface and half not. These items lacked any strong semantic connections, yet only 30% of subjects ever sorted the items into the bold and non-bold words. The results suggest that many people are not sensitive to the formal properties of stimuli that also have semantic content. Spontaneously noticing those differences may require a particular task with explicit instructions or experience in that domain (e.g., copyeditors or art students).
The link between working memory and fluid intelligence is dependent on flexible bindings, not systematic access or passive retention
Rather than working memory capacity acting as a distinct subordinate function of fluid intelligence, there is an emerging consensus that their relationship can be understood as an outcome of common functions dictated by the strength and flexibility of bindings which integrate representations relationally. The current study considers the Arithmetic Chain Task (Oberauer, Demmrich, Mayr, & Kliegl, 2001) which contrasts access (integrating previously stored information for use in the arithmetic processing) against mere retention (holding previously stored information for recall after the arithmetic processing). Participants (n = 122) completed the Arithmetic Chain Task (ACT) with a novel manipulation that split the access condition into fixed-order vs. random-order access. Both forms of access require integration of previously stored information into the arithmetic, but random-order access restricts systematic chunking, necessitating multiple flexible bindings that can be updated in light of new information. Participants also completed a measure of working memory and a measure of fluid intelligence. Results replicated Oberauer et al.'s findings on a demarcation between retention and access, though the current data indicate that random-order presentation is necessary to distinguish access from retention. Crucially, this random-order access is also required to link the ACT to a factor representing the commonality in WM and Gf. These results suggest that what is common to WM and Gf is the capacity to maintain multiple durable and flexible bindings.
Dyslexia-related impairments in sequence learning predict linguistic abilities
Dyslexia is often characterized by disordered word recognition and spelling, though dysfunction on various non-linguistic tasks suggests a more pervasive deficit may underlie reading and spelling abilities. The serial-order learning impairment in dyslexia (SOLID) hypothesis proposes that sequence learning impairments fundamentally disrupt cognitive abilities, including linguistic processes, among individuals with dyslexia; yet only some studies report sequence learning deficits in people with dyslexia relative to controls. Evidence may be mixed because traditional sequence learning tasks often require strong motor demands, working memory processes and/or executive functions, wherein people with dyslexia can show impairments. Thus, observed sequence learning deficits in dyslexia may only appear to the extent that comorbid motor-based processes, memory capacity, or executive processes are involved. The present study measured sequence learning in college-aged students with and without dyslexia using a single task that evaluates sequencing and non-sequencing components but without strong motor, executive, or memory demands. During sequencing, each additional link in a sequence of stimuli leading to a reward is trained step-by-step, until a complete sequence is acquired. People with dyslexia made significantly more sequencing errors than controls, despite equivalent performance on non-sequencing components. Mediation analyses further revealed that sequence learning accounted for a large portion of the variance between dyslexia status and linguistic abilities, particularly pseudo-word reading. These findings extend the SOLID hypothesis by showing difficulties in the ability to acquire sequences that may play an underlying role in literacy acquisition.
Lexical and syntactic target language interactions in translation
The aim of the study was to evaluate the possible interaction between syntactic and lexical properties of the target language (TL) in consecutive translation. To this end, participants read sentences in the source language (SL) to translate them into the TL (reading for translation) or to repeat them in the same language (reading for repetition). The cognate status of words at the beginning and at the end of sentences and the congruency in the syntactic structure of sentences in the SL and TL were manipulated. The results showed coactivation of the syntactic and lexical properties of the TL in the middle and final regions of the sentence. In addition, in the reading for translation, an interaction was observed between the cognate status and the syntactic congruency at the end of the sentence. The pattern of results suggests that the time course of syntactic and lexical activation in translation is interactive.
The role of forgetting cues in directed forgetting: Ceasing maintenance rehearsal
The effect of forgetting cues on maintenance rehearsal in item-method directed forgetting (DF) paradigm was explored from behavioral and electrophysiological evidence. In Experiment 1, maintenance rehearsal was induced by a maintenance cue. Specifically, after the studied word, a maintenance (M) cue was presented before the presentation of a remembering/forgetting cue. When an M cue appeared, participants were required to wait for the following remembering (M-R) or forgetting (M-F) cue to determine whether the word needs to be remembered or not, and words were kept in short-term memory with maintenance rehearsal until the presentation of M-R/M-F cues. Four conditions were utilized: maintain-remembering (M-R), maintain-forgetting (M-F), maintenance (M), and forgetting (F). The results showed that, 1) superior recognition was found for the M-R relative to the M-F words, revealing a typical DF effect; 2) No recognition difference was found between M and M-F words, indicating that M-F cues showed little effect in promoting forgetting; 3) Inferior recognition was found for F than M words, indicating that the maintenance rehearsal might cease or be reduced by the presentation of F cues. In Experiment 2, event related potentials time-locked to cue (M-R, M-F, M, and F cues) onset during study phase. An enhanced fronto-central P3a component was evoked for F relative to M cues, indicating a more intensive attention orienting or attentional inhibition process triggered by F cues. These results demonstrated that forgetting cues might trigger an inhibition process to terminate the maintenance rehearsal process.
The effect of symbolic meaning of speed on time to contact
The effects of moving task-irrelevant objects on time-to-contact (TTC) judgments are examined in six experiments. In particular, we investigated the effects of the symbolic meaning of speed on TTC by presenting images of objects recalling the symbolic meaning of high speed (motorbike, rocket, formula one, rabbit, cheetah and flying Superman) and low speed (bicycle, hot-air balloon, tank, turtle, elephant and static Superman). In all experiments, participants judged the TTC of these moving objects with a black line, indicating the end of the occlusion. Experiment 7 was conducted to disambiguate whether the effects on TTC, found in the previous experiments, were either a by-product of a speed illusion or they were rather elicited by the implicit timing task. In a two-interval forced choice task, participants were instructed to judge if “high-speed objects” moved actually faster than “slow-speed objects”. The results revealed no consistent speed illusion.
Taken together the results showed shorter TTC estimated with stimuli recalling the meaning of high compared to low speed, but only with the long occlusion duration (3.14 s). At shorter occlusion durations, the pattern was reversed (participant tend to have shorter TTC with stimuli recalling the meaning of low speed). We suggest that the symbolic meaning of speed works mainly at low speed and long TTC, because the semantic elaboration of the stimulus needs a deeper cognitive elaboration. On the other hand, at higher speeds, a small erroneous perceptual judgment affects the TTC, perhaps due to a speed expectancy violation of the expected “slow object”.
Smaller visual angles show greater benefit of letter boldness than larger visual angles
Research has shown that fonts viewed at a smaller visual angle benefit from greater letter boldness. Since small and large visual angles operate on different spatial frequencies, we examined whether the effect was dependent on font size. By applying a paradigm of single-letter exposure across two experiments, we showed that fonts of thinner letter strokes and of extreme boldness decreased recognition for all tested font sizes, and that there was a positive effect of boldness at small visual angles which did not occur at large visual angles. The paper provides evidence that bolder fonts are less effective at improving recognition at larger visual angles, and that over a scale of font weights there is a drop-off at the lightest and the heaviest extremes at all tested font sizes.
Sequence in a sequence: Learning of auditory but not visual patterns within a multimodal sequence
The current study investigates whether a unimodal visual and a unimodal auditory sequence is learned separately in a multimodal learning situation. In two experiments participants faced a modified version of the Serial Reaction-Time task, in which auditory and visual elements followed each other, forming a multimodal sequence as well as two unimodal sequences. Learning of both the multimodal and the unimodal sequences were tested. Results showed evidence of multimodal sequence learning. The unimodal sequence formed by the auditory stimuli was also learned, while participants did not acquire the concurrent visual sequence. The experiments argue for a domain- and modality-general sequence learning mechanism that is more sensitive to auditory and response-based information than to visual information.
Motor planning with and without motor imagery in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder
Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) demonstrate inefficient motor planning ability with a tendency to opt for non-optimal planning strategies. Motor imagery can provide an insight to this planning inefficiency, as it may be a strategy for improving motor planning and thereby motor performance for those with DCD. In this study, we investigated the prevalence of end-state-comfort (ESC) and the minimal rotation strategy using a grip selection task in children with DCD with and without motor imagery instructions. Boys with (n = 14) and without DCD (n = 18) aged 7–12 years completed one, two and three colour sequences of a grip selection (octagon) task. Two conditions were examined; a Motor Planning (MP) condition requiring only the performance of the task and a Motor Imagery and Planning (MIP) condition, which included an instruction to imagine performing the movement before execution. For the MP condition, children with DCD ended fewer trials in ESC for the one (p = 0.001) and two colour (p = 0.002) sequences and used a minimal rotation strategy more often than those without DCD. For the MIP condition, the DCD group significantly increased their use of the ESC strategy for the one colour sequences (p = 0.014) while those without DCD improved for the two colour (p = 0.008) sequences. ESC level of the DCD group on the MIP condition was similar to those without DCD at baseline for all colour sequences. Motor imagery shows potential as a strategy for improving motor planning in children with DCD. Implications and limitations are discussed.
Structural alignment and its prosocial effects in first and second languages
The present study examined structural alignment (prepositional object dative and double object dative) and its prosocial effects in Spanish-English bilinguals (English L2) and native English speakers (English L1). A scripted picture description paradigm in which a confederate and participant alternately described pictures was used. L1 and L2 speakers of English displayed comparable levels of structural alignment. In a second phase of the experiment we show that after being exposed to structural alignment by the confederate, L1 but not L2 participants displayed an increase in prosocial behavior as reflected by the time they were willing to help with an extra task. Possible explanations and implications are then discussed.
A common representation of fingers and toes
There are many similarities and differences between the human hands and feet. On a psychological level, there is some evidence from clinical disorders and studies of tactile localisation in healthy adults for deep functional connections between the hands and feet. One form these connections may take is in common high-level mental representations of the hands and feet. Previous studies have shown that there are systematic, but distinct patterns of confusion found between both the fingers and toes. Further, there are clear individual differences between people in the exact patterns of mislocalisations. Here, we investigated whether these idiosyncratic differences in tactile localisation are shared between the fingers and toes, which may indicate a shared high-level representation. We obtained confusion matrices showing the pattern of mislocalisation on the hairy skin surfaces of both the fingers and toes. Using a decoding approach, we show that idiosyncratic differences in individuals' pattern of confusions are shared across the fingers and toes, despite different overall patterns of confusions. These results suggest that there is a common representation of the fingers and toes.
Proactive and reactive modes of cognitive control can operate independently and simultaneously
Cognitive control enables optimal biasing of attention, perception, and actions in the service of mental or behavioral goals. To understand the variability of applied cognitive control, we need to unravel the relation between two underlying mechanisms: proactive and reactive modes. During proactive cognitive control, goal-relevant information is selected before the occurrence of a cognitively demanding event, and is actively maintained for as long as required by the task. During reactive mode, cognitive control is transiently activated only after the cognitively demanding event has occurred. Mechanistically, proactive and reactive control modes may be at least semi-independent and engaged simultaneously, but this has so far not been demonstrated empirically. Situational demands and an individual's cognitive capacity and motivation may bias behavior towards one or the other mode. Reward induces more proactive processing in the AX-CPT task, whereas context load induces reactive processing. We combined these manipulations to investigate the extent to which proactive and reactive control modes can operate independently and simultaneously. The results replicated already published effects of reward incentives and context load. Most importantly, these effects were essentially independent of each other, suggesting that proactive and reactive cognitive control modes depend on separate information-processing and neural mechanisms. The results also show that while proactive processing is influenced by reward, reactive processing seems independent of such factor. These findings have implications for our understanding of the structure of cognitive control and cognitive motivation, and are relevant for the design of interventions to improve cognitive control in various developmental and neuropsychiatric groups.
Out of the dark, into the light: The impact of social exclusion on judgments of darkness and brightness
Based on theories of grounded cognition, we assumed that the experience of social exclusion is grounded in a concept of darkness. Specifically, we hypothesized that social exclusion causes perceptual judgments of darkness and a preference for brightness as a compensatory response. To investigate these hypotheses, we conducted four studies using different manipulations and measurements. In Studies 1a and 1b, excluded participants judged a picturized room as darker and drew more attention to its brightest part than included participants. In Study 2, excluded participants judged a surface as darker and decided for brighter clothing than included participants. In Study 3, excluded participants judged their lab room as darker and expressed a higher preference for brightness than included participants. Providing consistent support for our hypotheses, these findings confirm the idea that the experience of social exclusion is grounded in multiple ways that share a common representational system.
The influence of power posing on cardiac vagal activity
The effects of power posing on hormonal reactions such as testosterone and cortisol have been widely investigated, however, its effects on the autonomic nervous system are rather unknown. Consequently, the aim of this study was to investigate the influence of power posing on cardiac vagal activity (CVA), as indexed by heart rate variability. It was hypothesized that high power poses (HPP) would increase CVA, whereas low power poses (LPP) would decrease CVA, given power posing is expected to decrease stress. Participants (N = 56) performed a total of four power poses, a combination of two power conditions (high vs. low) and two body positions (sitting vs. standing) for 1 min each, in a randomized order. In addition, for each power pose participants were given a role description. Contrary to our hypothesis, CVA decreased significantly during HPP in comparison to the resting measures before and after HPP, and CVA did not change during LPP. Moreover, while holding the power pose, CVA was higher in the LPP than in the HPP condition. Regarding subjective measures our hypotheses were confirmed, felt power was significantly higher after HPP than after LPP. Additionally, perceived stress was higher after LPP than after HPP. Taken together, these results suggest that the immediate impact of PP on the autonomic nervous system is more likely to influence a higher state of activation within the body instead of increasing resources to cope with stress as indexed by CVA, which may be seen only on a more long-term basis.
Gender, videogames and navigation in virtual space
Spatial abilities associated with success in educational and occupational fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) have been repeatedly shown to be gendered, with males demonstrating measurably better spatial abilities than females. Less is known about why this is, or about how experience with spatial systems (videogames, for example) affects these abilities. We conducted two experiments with 82 participants with varying degrees of videogame experience on measures of mental rotation, spatial learning, and spatial memory. Spatial learning and memory were tested in a Virtual Morris Water Maze. In the first experiment, the maze lacked proximal landmarks. Males proved faster and more accurate than females in learning the location of the hidden platform. As predicted males also outperformed females in mental rotation abilities. Mental rotation correlated with performance in the virtual maze, indicating that in the absence of proximal landmarks, participants relied on strategies requiring mental rotation. Experienced 3D videogame players did not demonstrate superior spatial learning and memory, but performed better than novices in mental rotation. In the second experiment, the maze had proximal cues, in the form of landmarks on the circumference of the virtual pool, and gender-based differences in navigational performance significantly diminished. Under these changed environmental conditions, mental rotation ability did not correlate with performance in the VMWM, suggesting that given proximal cues, the need for mental rotation diminishes. Differences between videogame novices and experts also decreased when proximal cues were provided. Females in particular obtained more discernible benefits from videogame experience. Together, these experiments reveal how the spatial abilities and strategies used to solve the Morris maze task vary with environmental design. Given the structural similarities between the virtual maze and videogame environments, these results offer insight into how spatial experience gained through videogame playing can affect aspects of spatial cognition, and can help identify design elements that contribute to their improvement.
Somatic perception of floor inclination
We investigated somatically perceived inclination of a floor on which an observer was. In the first three experiments, using blindfolded observers, we determined the point of subjective equality (PSE) and the difference limen (DL) for horizontal floor. Orientation of the lying body relative to the axis around which the floor was rotated, distance of the lying body from the rotation axis, posture (standing, sitting, and lying), and age were varied. In the fourth experiment, effects of seeing the floor were examined. The mean PSEs were accurate within ±0.25° in all experiments. The mean DLs varied with condition: 1) The largest DLs were obtained for the blindfolded observers lying orthogonally or obliquely to the rotation axis, 2) the second largest DLs for the blindfolded observers lying parallel to the rotation axis, 3) medium DLs for the blindfolded observers sitting or standing, and 4) the smallest DLs for the standing observers with visual exposure to surroundings. In the last experiment, we determined a scale for inclination from verbally estimating apparent inclination with or without a blindfold. We concluded that the ratio of shear force to normal force was used for estimation of inclination. We discussed synergy of somatic inputs and visual inputs.
Eliciting contextual temporal calibration: The effect of bottom-up and top-down information in reproduction tasks
Bayesian integration assumes that a current observation is integrated with previous observations. An example in the temporal domain is the central tendency effect: when a range of durations is presented, a regression towards the mean is observed. Furthermore, a context effect emerges if a partially overlapping lower and a higher range of durations is presented in a blocked design, with the overlapping durations pulled towards the mean duration of the block. We determine under which conditions this context effect is observed, and whether explicit cues strengthen the effect. Each block contained either two or three durations, with one duration present in both blocks. We provided either no information at the start of each block about the nature of that block, provided written (“short” / “long” or “A” / “B”) categorizations, or operationalized pitch (low vs high) to reflect the temporal context. We demonstrate that (1) the context effect emerges as long as sufficiently distinct durations are presented; (2) the effect is not modulated by explicit instructions or other cues; (3) just a single additional duration is sufficient to produce a context effect. Taken together, these results provide information on the most efficient operationalization to evoke the context effect, allowing for highly economical experimental designs, and highlights the automaticity by which priors are constructed.
Sense of agency in continuous action is influenced by outcome feedback in one-back trials
Sense of agency (SoA) is a subjective feeling that a person controls his/her own actions and causes changes in the external world. In continuous action such as controlling a dot by keypresses, SoA is influenced by actual actions during the task. Additionally, it is known that even though the actual actions were almost identical, outcome feedback (e.g., success or fail) could modulate SoA, indicating a retrospective modulation of SoA. However, it was unclear whether the SoA modulated by outcome feedback would influence SoA for an up-coming action. Here, we investigated the effects of outcome feedback in one-back trial on SoA in the present trial (i.e., prospective modulation). We conducted three experiments where participants controlled a dot to a target whose color changed unpredictably between white and blue. If the dot reached the target when the color was white (blue), participants received a text feedback of “Success” (“Fail”). However, in fact, we predetermined the outcome feedback to remove the effects of the actual performance of participants on SoA. The results showed that if the outcome feedback of the one-back trial was successful, SoA of the present trial became higher (i.e., prospective modulation) until they received the outcome feedback. Moreover, the prospectively modulated SoA was retrospectively overwritten by the outcome feedback of the present trial and likely converged to a constant level. These findings indicated that SoA was not produced by a mere sum of the prospective and retrospective factors, but rather that these factors independently influenced SoA with differential time courses.
Response repetitions in auditory task switching: The influence of spatial response distance and of the response-stimulus interval
In task switching studies, response repetition effects are typically obtained: When the task repeats, response repetitions are faster than response switches (response repetition benefit), but when the task switches, the opposite is found (response repetition cost). Previously, it was found that spatial response distance [RD] affected the response repetitions: separated response keys led to longer reaction times [RT] for response repetitions (in both task repetitions and task switches) than adjacent response keys. The goal of the present study was to replicate this RD effect in a modified setup with auditory stimuli (in Experiments 1 and 2). As we were interested in the temporal dynamics of the RD effect, we also introduced a block-wise manipulation of response-stimulus interval (RSI) in Experiment 2. RD modulated responding, replicating the results of a prior study that used visual stimuli, but only when the RSI was long. With short RSI, the RD effect was not obtained. At the same time, a long RSI led to more pronounced response repetition effects in the error rates. These results imply that response inhibition from the previous trial, which is assumed to contribute to the response repetition effect and to the modulation of responding by response distance, builds up over time.
Category-based generalization of placebo and nocebo effects
Human beings possess the adaptive ability to apply experiential knowledge to new situations. Although this generalization capability has been demonstrated in fear and reward learning, it remains unclear whether it extends to analgesic and hyperalgesic pain responses. Here, we conducted two experiments (total n = 104) to test the generalization effects of placebo analgesia and nocebo hyperalgesia. The first experiment, using a category-based conditioning paradigm in which two categories of images were used as acquisition stimuli, assessed whether pain perception can be generalized to never-seen pictures of the same category in the generalization phase. The second experiment adopted a single stimulus for each category as CS to further examine the generalization effects after learning a single exemplar. Pain ratings showed that participants reported higher pain or lower pain when the pain was preceded by novel stimuli that were conceptually similar to the previously conditioned stimuli, suggesting a generalization of analgesic and hyperalgesic pain modulation effects. These results provide novel evidence that analgesic and hyperalgesic effects on pain perception can be generalized to conceptually similar new items.
Contextual and social variables modulate aesthetic appreciation of bodily and abstract art stimuli
Despite the increasing interest in the plasticity of aesthetic appreciation, we know comparatively little about the role of individuals' cultural (e.g. the appreciators' expertise) and of social emotional-cognitive (e.g. the social influence of people perceived as warm or competent) variables in modulating the appreciation process. In two experiments we investigated 1) whether people with different art-expertise are influenced differently by contextual (i.e. stimuli primed as art) and social (i.e. stimuli rated as beautiful by art-critics) information and 2) whether acknowledging the judgment of a person perceived as warm or as competent has a different influence on individuals' aesthetic appreciation of art works. Warmth and competence are two social dimensions of fundamental importance for categorizing others as in-group or out-group (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002). We found that insinuating that the observed works were pieces of art, highly appreciated by art critics, lead expert participants to judge the stimuli as more beautiful in comparison to when the very same stimuli were not preceded by any manipulation. Moreover, we found that both art-experts and non-experts rated the stimuli as more beautiful when they believed it to be highly appreciated by people perceived as warm vs people perceived as competent. These results provide novel information on the plasticity of aesthetics and pave the way to understanding how tastes and preferences in the domain of aesthetics can be influenced.
The role of personality traits and need for cognition in active procrastination
Recent research has differentiated between active and passive procrastination, with the former considered to be beneficial for learning and the latter considered to be harmful. Studies have shown that both personality and cognitive factors are important in students' active procrastination. This study examines how interactions between the Big Five personality traits and the need for cognition affect students' active procrastination. The hypotheses were tested empirically using cross-sectional data collected from 307 university students in China. After controlling for age, a hierarchical regression analysis revealed that extraversion was a positive predictor of active procrastination, and that agreeableness and emotional instability were negative predictors of active procrastination. No significant interaction effects were found between personality traits and need for cognition. The implications of the findings are discussed.
Publisher's Note
Contrasting left/right codes for response selection must not be necessarily associated with contrasting numerical features to get the SNARC
The SNARC effect consists of faster reaction times to small numerical magnitudes when manual responses are delivered in the left-side of space and to large magnitudes when responses are delivered in the right-side. This spatial compatibility effect points at the interaction between the representations of space and that of numbers. Several studies have highlighted that an important determinant for the production of the SNARC is the use of contrasting left/right spatial codes in the selection of motor responses. In these studies, one spatial code for response selection, e.g. “left”, is usually associated with one number feature, e.g. “lower than 5”, while the contrasting spatial code, e.g. “right”, is associated with the contrasting number feature, e.g. “higher than 5”. Using a task with intermixed number and letter targets, here we show that significant and reliable SNARC effects are also produced when: a) one spatial response is associated with the intra-categorical discrimination of a number feature (i.e. magnitude or parity) and the contrasting response with the simple detection of letter targets; b) or when one spatial response is associated with the intra-categorical discrimination of the position of a letter in the alphabet (i.e. before or after “m”) and the contrasting spatial response with the simple detection of numerical targets (Experiments 1 and 2). In contrast, no reliable SNARC is found when no intra-categorical number or letter discrimination is required and contrasting left/right spatial response codes are simply associated with the discrimination between numbers and letters, e.g. “push left if the target is a number/push right if it is a letter” (Experiment 3). In a final control test (Experiment 4), we found no SNARC when the magnitude or parity classification of Arabic digits presented at central fixation was made unimanually with a left side or a right side-key and no left/right contrast was present in response selection. These results show that the use of contrasting left/right spatial response codes elicits reliable SNARC effects independently of their assignment to contrasting number features and confirm the important role played by the use of spatial codes in the genesis of the number-space interaction.
Individual differences in lexical learning across two language modalities: Sign learning, word learning, and their relationship in hearing non-signing adults
A considerable amount of research has been devoted to understanding individual differences in lexical learning, however, the majority of this research has been conducted with spoken languages rather than signed languages and thus we know very little about the cognitive processes involved in sign learning or the extent to which lexical learning processes are specific to word learning. The present study was conducted to address this gap.
Two-hundred thirty-six non-signing adults completed 25 tasks assessing word learning and sign learning (via associative learning paradigms) as well as modality-specific phonological short-term memory, working memory capacity, crystallized intelligence, and fluid intelligence.
Latent variable analyses indicated that, when other variables were held constant, fluid intelligence was predictive of both word and sign learning, however, modality-specific phonological short-term memory factors were only predictive of lexical learning within modality—none of the other variables made significant independent contributions. It was further observed that sign and word learning were strongly correlated. Exploratory analyses revealed that all lexical learning tasks loaded onto a general factor, however, sign learning tasks loaded onto an additional specific factor. As such, this study provides insight into the cognitive components that are common to associative L2 lexical learning regardless of language modality and those that are unique to either signed or spoken languages. Results are further discussed in light of established and more recent theories of intelligence, short-term memory, and working memory.
Malleability of mappings between Arabic numerals and approximate quantities: Factors underlying individual differences and the relation to math
Humans tend to be inaccurate and inconsistent when estimating a large number of objects. Furthermore, we modify our estimates when feedback or a reference array is provided, indicating that the mappings between perceived numerosity and their corresponding numerals are largely malleable in response to calibration. However, there is great variability in response to calibration across individuals. Using uncalibrated and calibrated numerosity estimation conditions, the current study explored the factors underlying individual differences in the extent and nature of the malleability of numerosity estimation performance as a result of calibration in a sample of 71 undergraduate students. We found that individual differences in performance were reliable across conditions, and participants' responses to calibration varied greatly. Participants who were less consistent or had more proportionally spaced (i.e., linear) estimates before calibration tended to shift the distributions of their estimates to a greater extent. Higher calculation competence also predicted an increase in how linear participants' estimates were after calibration. Moreover, the effect of calibration was not continuous across numerosities within participants. This suggests that the mechanisms underlying numeral-numerosity mappings may be less systematic than previously thought and likely depend on cognitive mechanisms beyond representation of numerosities. Taken together, the mappings between numerosities and numerical symbols may not be stable and direct, but transient and mediated by task-related (e.g., strategic) mechanisms. Rather than estimation skills being foundational for math competence, math competence may also influence estimation skills. Therefore, numerosity estimation tasks are not a pure measure of number representations.
The role of meaning in attentional guidance during free viewing of real-world scenes
In real-world vision, humans prioritize the most relevant visual information at the expense of other information via attentional selection. The current study sought to understand the role of semantic features and image features on attentional selection during free viewing of real-world scenes. We compared the ability of meaning maps generated from ratings of isolated, context-free image patches and saliency maps generated from the Graph-Based Visual Saliency model to predict the spatial distribution of attention in scenes as measured by eye movements. Additionally, we introduce new contextualized meaning maps in which scene patches were rated based upon how informative or recognizable they were in the context of the scene from which they derived. We found that both context-free and contextualized meaning explained significantly more of the overall variance in the spatial distribution of attention than image salience. Furthermore, meaning explained early attention to a significantly greater extent than image salience, contrary to predictions of the ‘saliency first’ hypothesis. Finally, both context-free and contextualized meaning predicted attention equivalently. These results support theories in which meaning plays a dominant role in attentional guidance during free viewing of real-world scenes.
A different perspective on domain-general language control using the flanker task
Bilingual models diverge in whether they assume that language control is domain general. Most studies that investigated this claim focused on bilingual language production and relied on the comparison between language switching and task switching. In the current study, we set out to investigate whether language control is domain general in a different context (i.e., bilingual language comprehension) and with a different paradigm (i.e., the flanker task). To this end, we let French-English bilinguals perform a bilingual (flankers are words from the same or different language as the target word) and a non-linguistic (numerical magnitude with digits) flanker task. The results showed that there was no difference in the language congruency effect between participants with a high and low non-linguistic congruency effect. These results indicate that there is no substantial overlap in the mechanisms involved in comprehension-based language control and executive control.
Emotions and beliefs about morality can change one another
A dual-process theory postulates that belief and emotions about moral assertions can affect one another. The present study corroborated this prediction. Experiments 1, 2 and 3 showed that the pleasantness of a moral assertion – from loathing it to loving it – correlated with how strongly individuals believed it, i.e., its subjective probability. But, despite repeated testing, this relation did not occur for factual assertions. To create the correlation, it sufficed to change factual assertions, such as, “Advanced countries are democracies,” into moral assertions, “Advanced countries should be democracies”. Two further experiments corroborated the two-way causal relations for moral assertions. Experiment 4 showed that recall of pleasant memories about moral assertions increased their believability, and that the recall of unpleasant memories had the opposite effect. Experiment 5 showed that the creation of reasons to believe moral assertions increased the pleasantness of the emotions they evoked, and that the creation of reasons to disbelieve moral assertions had the opposite effect. Hence, emotions can change beliefs about moral assertions; and reasons can change emotions about moral assertions. We discuss the implications of these results for alternative theories of morality.
Visual search does not always predict performance in tasks that require finding targets among distractors: The case of line-ending illusory contours
The standard visual search task is integral to the study of selective attention and in search tasks target present slopes are the primary index of attentional demand. However, there are times when similarities in slopes may obscure important differences between conditions. To demonstrate this point, we used the case of line-ending illusory contours, building on a study by Li, Cave, and Wolfe (2008) where orientation-based search for figures defined by line-ending illusory contours was compared to that for the corresponding real-contour controls. Consistent with Li et al. (2008), we found search to be efficient for both illusory contour figures and the corresponding real-contour controls, with no significant differences between them. However, major differences between illusory contours and the real-contour controls emerged in selective enumeration, a task where participants enumerated targets in a display of distractors, with the number of targets and distractors manipulated. When looking at the distractor slopes, the increase in RT to enumerate a single target as a function of the number of distractors (a direct analogue to target present trials, with identical displays), we found distractor costs for illusory contour figures to be over 100 ms/distractor higher than for the corresponding real-contour controls. Furthermore, the discrepancies in RT slope between 1–3 and 6–8 targets associated with subitizing were only seen in the real-contour controls. These results show that similarities in RT slopes in search may mask important differences between conditions that emerge in other tasks.
External coding and salience in the tactile Simon effect
Previous studies have demonstrated a tactile Simon effect in which stimulus codes are generated based on the stimulated hand, not on limb position in external space (the somatotopic Simon effect). However, given evidence from visual Simon effect studies demonstrating that multiple stimulus codes can be generated for a single stimulus, we examined whether multiple stimulus codes can be generated for tactile stimuli as well. In our first experiment using four stimulators (two on each side of the hand), we found novel evidence for a hand-centered Simon effect, along with the typical somatotopic Simon effect. Next, we examined whether the potential salience of these somatotopic codes could be reduced, by testing only one hand with two stimulators attached. In Experiments 2–4, we found a strong hand-centered Simon effect with a diminished somatotopic Simon effect, providing evidence that stimulus salience can change the weighting of somatosensory stimulus coding. Finally, we also found novel evidence that the hand-centered Simon effect is coded in external, not somatotopic, coordinates. Furthermore, the diminished somatotopic Simon effect when testing on one hand only provides evidence that salience is an important factor in modulating the tactile Simon effect.
Independent control processes' Evidence for concurrent distractor inhibition and attentional usage of distractor information
Interference evoked by a distractor presented prior to a target stimulus is reduced when the distractor-target SOA is increased, suggesting inhibition of distractor-related activation. Distractor processing is also assumed to be (strategically) adjusted to the proportions of congruent and incongruent target-distractor combinations, yielding a larger distractor interference effect when the proportion of congruent trials is higher (i.e., Proportion Congruent Effect, PCE). To explore the interplay of proportion congruent-based processing adjustment and the time course of distractor-related activation we varied the proportions of congruent and incongruent trials as well as the distractor-target SOA. To control for item-specific priming we kept distractor-related contingencies (i.e., frequency of individual distractor-target conjunctions) constant for a subset of the stimuli (and used a different subset to manipulate the proportions of congruent and incongruent trials). A PCE occurred, even for the subset of stimuli associated with constant distractor-related contingencies, thus ruling out item-specific contingency learning. Distractor interference was reduced when the SOA was increased, but this reduction did not differ between the proportion congruent conditions, as confirmed by a Bayesian analysis. Our results are consistent with independent processes pertaining to usage of distractor information for biasing response selection and distractor inhibition during the SOA. Alternative interpretations of the independent effects of the PC manipulation and the distractor-target SOA are discussed.
Colorful glares: Effects of colors on brightness illusions measured with pupillometry
We hypothesized that pupil constrictions to the glare illusion, where converging luminance gradients subjectively enhance the perception of brightness, would be stronger for ‘blue’ than for other colors. Such an expectation was based on reflections about the ecology of vision, where the experience of dazzling light is common when one happens to look directly at sunlight through some occluders. Thus, we hypothesized that pupil constrictions to ‘blue’ reflect an ecologically-based expectation of the visual system from the experience of sky's light and color, which also leads to interpret the blue gradients of illusory glare to act as effective cues to impending probable intense light. We therefore manipulated the gradients color of glare illusions and measured changes in subjective brightness of identical shape stimuli. We confirmed that the blue resulted in what was subjectively evaluated as the brightest condition, despite all colored stimuli were equiluminant. This enhanced brightness effect was observed both in a psychophysical adjustment task and in changes in pupil size, where the maximum pupil constriction peak was observed with the ‘blue’ converging gradients over and above to the pupil response to blue in other conditions (i.e., diverging gradients and homogeneous patches). Moreover, glare-related pupil constrictions for each participant were correlated to each individual's subjective brightness adjustments. Homogenous blue hues also constricted the pupil more than other hues, which represents a pupillometric analog of the Helmholtz-Kohlrausch effect on brightness perception. Together, these findings show that pupillometry constitutes an easy tool to assess individual differences in color brightness perception.
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