Acta Psychologica

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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
Skilled readers show different serial-position effects for letter versus non-letter target detection in mixed-material strings
The study explored whether target detection in a five-character string depends on whether a letter or a non-letter was presented, as a predesignated target. Skilled readers had to identify a single letter or non-letter in a five-character string, randomly composed of letters and non-letters. It was found that an analytic processing strategy is automatically elicited if participants were instructed to detect a letter target. In this instance, a linear model best explained the RT variance for letters: with increasing RTs from left to right, suggesting a serial item-by-item reading-specific strategy comparable to alphabetic reading. For non-letters, in contrast, a symmetrical U-shaped function best explained the RT variance, suggesting a symmetrical scanning-out from the central to the terminal positions of the string. Since the design precludes orthographic and semantic influences, it can be concluded that a reading-specific strategy for alphabetic processing is automatically activated if the string is scanned for a letter-target. Thus, the pre-designated target triggers the strategy for processing the string and determines related position effects. The results suggest that effects from earlier studies, which showed an analytic processing preference for isolated letters (APPLE) in recognition tasks, as a consequence of literacy acquisition, generalize to the processing of letters in strings.
No evidence for the reduction of task competition and attentional adjustment during task-switching practice
Performance in task switching experiments is worse when the current stimulus is associated with different responses in the two tasks (i.e., incongruent condition) than when it is associated with the same response (i.e., congruent condition). This congruency effect reflects some sort of application of the irrelevant task's stimulus-response translation rules. Manipulating the recency and the proportion of congruent and incongruent trials results in a modulation of the congruency effect (i.e., Congruency Sequence Effect, CSE, and Proportion Congruency Effect, PCE, respectively), suggesting attentional adjustment of processing weights. Here, we investigated the impact of task switching practice on the congruency effect and the modulation thereof by (a) re-analyzing the data of a task switching experiment involving six consecutive sessions and (b) conducting a novel four-session experiment in which the proportions of congruent and incongruent trials were manipulated. Although practice appeared to reduce the reaction times overall and the task switch costs (i.e., slower reaction times after task switches than after task repetitions) to an asymptotic level, the congruency effect as well as its modulations remained remarkably constant. These findings thus do not provide evidence that conflict effects between tasks and attentional adjustment are affected by task switching practice.
Adaptation aftereffects influence the perception of specific emotions from walking gait
We investigated the existence and nature of adaptation aftereffects on the visual perception of basic emotions displayed through walking gait. Stimuli were previously validated gender-ambiguous point-light walker models displaying various basic emotions (happy, sad, anger and fear). Results indicated that both facilitative and inhibitive aftereffects influenced the perception of all displayed emotions. Facilitative aftereffects were found between theoretically opposite emotions (i.e. happy/sad and anger/fear). Evidence suggested that low-level and high-level visual processes contributed to both stimulus aftereffect and conceptual aftereffect mechanisms. Significant aftereffects were more frequently evident for the time required to identify the displayed emotion than for emotion identification rates. The perception of basic emotions from walking gait is influenced by a number of different perceptual mechanisms which shift the categorical boundaries of each emotion as a result of perceptual experience.
Conceptual relation preference: A matter of strategy or one of salience'
In order to determine whether preference in object matching tasks measures participants' strategy or tells us something about the salience of relations between corresponding concepts, we conducted three experiments. In Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, we approached this question by measuring the ease with which adult participants process different relations when they are under strategic instruction. When asked to group objects based on thematic or taxonomic relatedness, participants were slower (Experiment 2) and tended to make more errors (Experiment 1–2) when they had to find a taxonomically related pair than when they searched for a thematically related one. In Experiment 3, participants performed a standard matching task and their eye-movements were monitored throughout. In addition to the strong thematic preference in participants' choices, we measured longer fixations to thematically related objects than taxonomic competitors. Even though thematic and taxonomic information appear to compete for selection in early phases of observation, thematic conceptual relations appear to be more salient and preferred, independently of instruction.
Susceptibility to the fusion illusion is modulated during both action execution and action observation
Many researchers have proposed that when an individual observes the actions of another individual, the observer simulates the action using many of the same neural areas that are involved in action production. The present study was designed to test this simulation hypothesis by comparing the perception of multisensory stimuli during both the execution and observation of an aiming action. The present work used the fusion illusion - an audio-visual illusion in which two visual stimuli presented with one auditory stimulus are erroneously perceived as being one visual stimulus. Previous research has shown that, during action execution, susceptibly to this illusion is reduced early in the execution of the movement when visual information may be more highly weighted than other sensory information. We sought to determine whether or not a non-acting observer of an action showed a similar reduction in susceptibility to the fusion illusion. Participants fixated a target and either executed or observed a manual aiming movement to that target. Audiovisual stimuli were presented at 0, 100, or 200 ms relative to movement onset and participants reported the number of perceived flashes after the movement was completed. Analysis of perceived flashes revealed that participants were less susceptible to the fusion illusion when the stimuli were presented early (100 ms) relative to later in the movement (200 ms). Critically, this pattern emerged in both execution and observation tasks. These findings support the hypothesis that observers simulate the performance of the actor and experience comparable real-time alterations in multisensory processing.
Taking time to take perspective' Rapidly changing reference frames in the avatar-Simon task
The avatar-Simon task demonstrates that even task irrelevant avatars cause compatibility effects from their point of view, a result that can be interpreted within the frameworks of spontaneous spatial perspective taking and referential coding. In the present study, we used an avatar-Simon task with rapidly changing avatar positions and with simultaneous and non-simultaneous presentations to investigate the time course of this phenomenon. The results showed that participants took the avatar's perspective into account even when the avatar's position was randomized on a trial-by-trial basis. This avatar-compatibility effect was also observed when avatar and stimulus were presented simultaneously, even though the participants had no time to adopt the avatar's perspective in advance. However, the effect was much more pronounced when a delay between avatar and stimulus presentation was in place.
Interindividual differences in the capability to change automatized movement patterns
When modifying established, automatized skills, performers often experience proactive interference resulting in initial performance decrements. Notably, individuals seem to differ quite largely with respect to their interference susceptibility. The aim of the present study was to scrutinize the roots of these interindividual differences by examining the role of executive functions, age, baseline performance and gaze behavior applying a motor skill change task. As the ability to deal with proactive interference seems to be particularly linked to inhibitory mechanisms, we also assessed whether the application of a motor restriction which prevents unwanted movements may facilitate inhibition and hence result in less proactive interference. To this end, skilled touch-typists were confronted with a rule change that prohibited the left index finger for subsequent typing which immediately disrupted participants' automatized typing fluency. Regression analyses revealed that the amount of interference was significantly related to age and that the application of a motor restriction tended to predict less proactive interference. Additional correlation analyses revealed that a higher amount of proactive interference was also associated with higher baseline performance and lower prepotent response inhibition abilities. However, none of the remaining executive functions could explain the amount of interference. It follows that individual factors such as age, baseline performance and prepotent response inhibition as well as the physical option to execute a certain movement may play important roles in overcoming proactive interference when changing automatized skills.
Searching for emotion: A top-down set governs attentional orienting to facial expressions
Research indicates that humans orient attention toward facial expressions of emotion. Orienting to facial expressions has typically been conceptualised as due to bottom-up attentional capture. However, this overlooks the contributions of top-down attention and selection history. In the present study, across four experiments, these three attentional processes were differentiated using a variation of the dot-probe task, in which participants were cued to attend to a happy or angry face on each trial. Results show that attention toward facial expressions was not exclusively driven by bottom-up attentional capture; instead, participants could shift their attention toward both happy and angry faces in a top-down manner. This effect was not found when the faces were inverted, indicating that top-down attention relies on holistic processing of the face. In addition, no evidence of selection history was found (i.e., no improvement on repeated trials or blocks of trials in which the task was to orient to the same expression). Altogether, these results suggest that humans can use top-down attentional control to rapidly orient attention to emotional faces.
Automatic imitation does not predict levels of prosocial behaviour in a modified dictator game
Automatic imitation refers to the automatic tendency to imitate observed actions. Previous research on automatic imitation has linked it to a wide variety of social cognitive processes and functions, although the evidence is mixed and suggestive. However, no study to date has looked at the downstream behavioural effects of automatic imitation. The current research addresses this gap in the literature by exploring the possible relationship between trait-levels of automatic imitation, as measured by the automatic imitation task (AIT), and explicit prosocial behaviours, as measured by a modified dictator game (DG). Contrary to our expectations, AIT effects did not correlate with DG scores. This conclusion is supported by both equivalence tests and Bayesian analysis. However, we discuss a number of alternative explanations for our results, and caution against strong interpretations from a single study. We further discuss the implications of this finding in relation to the widespread notion that automatic imitation, and self-other control more generally, underlie social cognitive functions.
Applying the verifiability approach to deception detection in alibi witness situations
The application of alibi witness scenarios to deception detection has been overlooked. Experiment 1 was a study of the verifiability approach in which truth-telling pairs completed a mission together, whereas in lying pairs one individual completed this mission alone and the other individual committed a mock theft. All pairs were instructed to convince the interviewer that they completed the mission together by writing individual statements on their own followed by a collective statement together as a pair. In the individual statements, truth-telling pairs provided more checkable details that demonstrated they completed the mission together than lying pairs, whereas lying pairs provided more uncheckable details than truth-telling pairs. The collective statements made truth-telling pairs provide significantly more checkable details that demonstrated they were together in comparison to the individual statements, whereas no effect was obtained for lying pairs. Receiver Operating Characteristic curves revealed high accuracy rates for discriminating between truths and lies using the verifiability approach across all statement types. Experiment 2 was a lie detection study whereby observers' abilities to discriminate between truths and lies using the verifiability approach were examined. This revealed that applying the verifiability approach to collective statements improved observers' ability to accurately detect deceit. We suggest that the verifiability approach could be used as a lie detection technique and that law enforcement policies should consider implementing collective interviewing.
Text segmentation ability predicts future reading efficiency in Spanish-speaking children
Can the ability to parse unspaced texts (measured by a Text Segmentation Task, TST) index and predict reading efficiency in Spanish-speaking children' A sample of 1112 children (1st to 6th grade) was assessed. Additionally, two subsamples (51 children of 4th–5th grades and 71 children of 1st grade) were followed up. Our results indicate that the TST: a) reflects the acquisition of reading over primary school grades; b) reflects the teacher's judgment about the child's reading development; c) accurately predicts oral reading efficiency one and four years later year, in the former case even after removing the contributions of the IQ and oral reading speed. These results indicate that TST can be used to both index present -and predict future- reading achievements.
Judging the order of numbers relies on familiarity rather than activating the mental number line
A series of effects characterises the processing of symbolic numbers (i.e., distance effect, size effect, SNARC effect, size congruency effect). The combination of these effects supports the view that numbers are represented on a compressed and spatially oriented mental number line (MNL) as well as the presence of an interaction between numerical and other magnitude representations. However, when individuals process the order of digits, response times are faster when the distance between digits is small (e.g., 1-2-3) compared to large (e.g., 1-3-5; i.e., reversed distance effect), suggesting that the processing of magnitude and order may be distinct. Here, we investigated whether the effects related to the MNL also emerge in the processing of symbolic number ordering. In Experiment 1, participants judged whether three digits were presented in order while spatial distance, numerical distance, numerical size, and the side of presentation were manipulated. Participants were faster in determining the ascending order of small triplets compared to large ones (i.e., size effect) and faster when the numerical distance between digits was small (i.e., reversed distance effect). In Experiment 2, we explored the size effect across all possible consecutive triplets between 1 and 9 and the effect that physical size has on order processing. Participants showed faster reactions times only for the triplet 1-2-3 compared to the other triplets, and the effect of physical magnitude was negligible. Symbolic order processing lacks the signatures of the MNL and suggests the presence of a familiarity effect related to well-known consecutive triplets in the long-term memory.
Local context effects in the magnitude-duration illusion: Size but not numerical value sequentially alters perceived duration
Many aspects of an event can change perceived duration. A common example of this is the magnitude-duration illusion, in which a high magnitude (e.g. large or high value) stimulus will be perceived to last longer than a low magnitude stimulus. The effects of magnitude on perceived duration are normally considered in terms of global context effects; what is large depends on the stimuli used throughout the experiment. In the current article, we examine local context effects in the magnitude-duration illusion, how trial-by-trial changes in magnitude affect the subjective duration of an event. We performed two experiments in which numerical magnitude and stimulus size were varied within either the example phase or reproduction phase of a temporal reproduction task. We showed that in the current trial the combined value-size magnitude presented in the example phase affected subsequent reproductions, while the magnitude presented in the reproduction phase did not. The size magnitude presented in the reproduction phase also affected the reproduction in the following trial, such that a larger stimulus in the current reproduction phase resulted in shorter reproductions in the next reproduction phase. This indicates that low level stimulus properties (i.e. size) can act to contextualize subsequent stimulus properties, which in turn affect perceived duration. The findings of our experiments add local, low-level, context effects to the known modifiers of perceived duration, as well as provide evidence with regards to the role of magnitude in interval timing.
Time for a true display of skill: Top players in League of Legends have better executive control
Research into the effects of action video gaming on cognition has largely relied on self-reported action video game experience and extended video game training. Only a few studies have focused on participants' actual gaming skills. However, whether superior players and average players have different executive control is still not fully demonstrated. This study had top-ranking League of Legends players (global top 0.17%; N = 35) and average-ranking League of Legends players (N = 35) perform two cognitive tasks that aimed to measure three aspects of executive functioning: cognitive flexibility, interference control, and impulsive control. We controlled self-reported gaming experience, so that top-ranking players and average-ranking players had similar years of play and hours of play per week. We found that compared to a group of average players, top players showed smaller task-switching costs and smaller response-congruency effects in a Stroop-switching test. In a continuous performance test, top players indicated higher hit rates and lower false alarm rates as compared to average players. These findings suggest that top players have better cognitive flexibility and more accurate control of interference in the context of task-switching. Moreover, top players exhibit better impulsive control. The present study provides evidence that players' gaming skills rather than gaming experience are related to cognitive abilities, which may explain why previous studies on self-reported gaming experience and those assessing supervised training and cognitive performance have shown inconsistent results.
You may be more original than you think: Predictable biases in self-assessment of originality
How accurate are individuals in judging the originality of their own ideas' Most metacognitive research has focused on well-defined tasks, such as learning, memory, and problem solving, providing limited insight into ill-defined tasks. The present study introduces a novel metacognitive self-judgment of originality, defined as assessments of the uniqueness of an idea in a given context. In three experiments, we examined the reliability, potential biases, and factors affecting originality judgments. Using an ideation task, designed to assess the ability to generate multiple divergent ideas, we show that people accurately acknowledge the serial order effect—judging later ideas as more original than earlier ideas. However, they systematically underestimate their ideas' originality. We employed a manipulation for affecting actual originality level, which did not affect originality judgments, and another one designed to affect originality judgments, which did not affect actual originality performance. This double dissociation between judgments and performance calls for future research to expose additional factors underlying originality judgments.
Involuntary attentional shifts as a function of set and processing fluency
In laboratory tasks, involuntary cognitions of various kinds (e.g., mental imagery) have been elicited by external stimuli. These effects reveal, among other things, the capacities of involuntary processes. In most cases, these cognitions do not require, for their generation, executive functions such as a shift in selective attention. In Experiment 1, subjects were presented with a clock of 12 words in the stead of numbers and were instructed to focus on the center of the screen and to not count the number of letters of a word at a certain location. Involuntary counting of the critical word occurred on 39% of the trials. This effect requires an involuntary shift of attention. Experiment 2, involving Chinese ideographs, concerned the effect of stimulus fidelity and processing fluency. Native English speakers and a separate group of subjects who could read Chinese ideographs were presented with an array similar to that of Experiment 1 and instructed to not read any of the words. Some words were easy to read (e.g., regular Chinese words and English words), and some words were more difficult to read (e.g., Chinese “loan” words and English pseudowords). For the subjects who could read Chinese ideographs, more involuntary reading occurred for regular ideographs than for loan words. For the Native English speakers, comparable effects were found with the English stimuli. Together, these studies reveal that attentional phenomena of this kind can be influenced involuntarily and systematically through external control.
Do my hands prime your hands' The hand-to-response correspondence effect
Previous research has shown an effect of handle-response correspondence on key-press responses when participants judged the upright or inverted orientation of photographed one-handled graspable objects. In three experiments, we explored whether this effect still holds for symmetric graspable objects that are usually grasped by two hands (i.e. two-handled objects; e.g. shears). In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were required to perform a between-hand response in order to categorize cooking or amusement objects appearing as grasped from either an allocentric (Experiment 1) or an egocentric perspective (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3, they were required to perform a within-hand response to categorize the same stimuli appearing as grasped from an egocentric perspective. Across all three experiments, results showed that categorization was more difficult when the objects were displayed as grasped on the opposite side than the response rather than on the same side. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of action potentiation and spatial coding and suggest that different mechanisms may be recruited depending on the required action (i.e. response mode).
Sex differences in implicit motor imagery: Evidence from the hand laterality task
Behavioural evidence suggest that males outperform females in mentally transforming objects, whereas whether sex differences exist in mentally transforming body part images (implicit motor imagery) is an open issue. The aim of the present study was to fill this gap testing performance of 360 healthy participants on a classical behavioural measure of implicit motor imagery: the hand laterality task. Participants had to judge handedness of hand images portrayed from back and palm and presented in different spatial orientations. Two main findings emerged. First, males were significantly faster than females in judging hands portrayed from palm, in particular left palms at 0°, 90° and 180° orientation, whereas females were faster than males in judging backs, in particular left and right backs at 0° and the left back at 90°. Second, both males and females showed a significant biomechanical effect (faster responses for hands portrayed in medial vs. lateral positions) while judging palms, albeit the effect was stronger in males, whereas only females showed a significant biomechanical effect when judging backs. Thus, males and females seem to differently exploit motor simulation processes during mental transformation of hand images depending on a specific familiarity with body parts portrayed from different views. This result might be taken into account when tailoring motor imagery tasks in applied contexts, as motor rehabilitation.
Are Superficially Dissimilar Analogs better retrieved than Superficially Similar Disanalogs'
In the present study, we tested the assumption that structural similarity overcomes surface similarity in the retrieval of past events, by observing whether structural similarity alone is a better cue than surface similarity alone. To do so, in four story-recall experiments, we provided the participants with multiple source stories and then with a target cue story. This target cue only shared either surface or structural similarity with the source stories. In Experiment 1A, a Superficially Similar Disanalog source story (SSD) and a Superficially Dissimilar Analog source story (SDA) were presented among Superficially Dissimilar Disanalog source stories (SDDs). A soundness rating task was used in Experiment 1B to control the absence of structural similarity among the SSDs presented in Experiment 1A. In Experiment 2, the number of SSDs was increased in the aim to reproduce more ecological conditions. In two further experiments, a five minute (Experiment 3) and a 45 minute (Experiment 4) delay was introduced, and supplementary source stories were presented, in order to make the study more similar to previous story-recall paradigms. The results of the four story-recall experiments support the dominance of structural over surface similarities in analogical retrieval. The role of a structurally-based access regarding the retrieval of Superficially Similar Analogs (SSAs) and SDAs is discussed, as well as the factors underlying the rare occurrence of SDAs retrievals in previous experiments.
How readers process syntactic input depends on their goals
During reading, the recognition of words is influenced by the syntactic compatibility of surrounding words: a sentence-superiority effect. However, when the goal is to make syntactic categorization decisions about single target words, these decisions are influenced by the syntactic congruency rather than compatibility of surrounding words. Although both these premises imply that readers can extract syntactic information from multiple words in parallel, they also suggest that how the brain organizes syntactic input—and consequently how surrounding stimuli affect word recognition—depends on the reader's top-down goals. The present study provides a direct test of this conception. Participants were offered nouns and verbs amidst a grammatical context (‘this horse fell’) and ungrammatical context (‘fell horse this’). Using a conditional task setup, we manipulated the amount of emphasis put on respectively sentences and single words. In two blocks readers were instructed to make sentence grammaticality judgments only if the middle word was respectively noun or verb; in two other blocks readers were instructed to syntactically categorize the middle word only if the sentence was respectively correct or incorrect. We established an interaction effect whereby the impact of grammatical correctness on syntactic categorization decisions was greater than the effect of grammatical correctness per se. This first sentence-superiority effect in the categorization of single words, combined with the absence of this effect in prior flanker studies, leads us to surmise that word-to-word syntactic constraints only operate if the reader is engaged in sentence processing.
Cognitive load reduces interference by head fakes in basketball
The head fake in basketball is a deceptive action in sports, where an attacking basketball player gazes in one direction (irrelevant component), but passes the ball to the opposite direction (relevant component). A defending player, who aims to respond to the relevant information displayed by the opponent, faces a situation conceptually similar to well-known interference paradigms (e.g., Stroop task, Eriksen flanker task). Previous research has shown that responses to pass directions are slower and more error prone for head fakes than for direct passes (so called head-fake effect). The head-fake effect depends on participants' ability to focus attention on the relevant stimulus feature. As maintaining this attentional focus conceivably bears on limited capacities, we tested if taxing these capacities by a cognitively demanding concurrent task would change the impact of task-irrelevant information and thus, the size of the head-fake effect. Moreover, we investigated the impact of such a concurrent task on post-conflict control (i.e., the congruency sequence effect). The results show that a concurrent task reduces the head-fake effect, while post-conflict control was unaffected. We discuss these findings with regard to the relationship of working memory processes and selective attention.
Combining visual and haptic practice significantly reduced deviations in haptic parallelity matching
Numerous studies have shown that making two bars parallel to each other in the haptic domain results in (often) large and systematic errors. This is most likely due to the biasing influence of the egocentric reference frame. Even presenting participants with either haptic or visual information about parallelity or direct error feedback did not result in veridical performance. The present study was set up to assess to what extent haptic performance could be improved by providing combined visual and haptic practice. Thirty-two participants (sixteen females and males) used their dominant hand to make a test bar parallel to a reference bar located at the side of the non-dominant hand. Haptic sessions (in which participants were blindfolded and had to perceive parallelity using their hands) were alternated with visual sessions (in which they could physically see both bars and could also use their eyes to perceive parallelity on the test bar without feeling the reference bar) over a series of eleven sessions. Results showed that performance in the haptic condition significantly improved as an effect of visual practice. This effect was similar in both genders. While gender differences were significant in the haptic condition, with male participants outperforming female participants, this was not the case in the visual condition. However, veridical performance was not obtained in the haptic condition for each gender and deviations were significantly larger than in the visual condition, replicating earlier findings of a rather robust influence of the egocentric reference frame in haptic parallelity matching.
On the time course of spatial cueing: Dissociating between a set for fast reorienting and a set for cue-target segregation
The present study tests whether two different manipulations leading to an earlier appearance of Inhibition of Return might operate by setting the system in different ways. Whereas the use of a range of very long SOAs has been proposed to set the system for an early reorienting of attention (Cheal & Chastain, 2002), introducing a distractor at the location opposite the target seems to induce a set to represent the cue and the target as separated events instead of the same event (Lupiáñez et al., 1999, 2001). The effects of these two manipulations were directly compared by using a spatial stroop paradigm. Although both manipulations altered the time course of cueing effects, we report here a pattern of critical dissociations: (i) the distractor manipulation was unique in introducing a shift towards more negative cueing affecting generally all levels of SOA, including the shortest 100 ms SOA; and (ii) the distractor manipulation, but not the range of SOAs, was also able to prevent the expected interaction between spatial stroop effects and cueing effects at the shortest SOA, typically found in previous experiments in the absence of a distractor (Funes et al., 2003). This pattern of dissociations is well accommodated into the hypothesis that these two attentional sets are different in nature.
The motor system (partially) deceives body representation biases in absence of visual correcting cues
The internal models of our body dimensions are prone to bias, but little evidence exists to explain how the motor system achieves fine-grained control despite these distortions. Previous work showed that the hand representation, assessed in a dynamic task (Proprioceptive Matching Task), was less distorted compared to that measured through a static body representation task (Localization Task), suggesting that either the hand representation was updated or the motor trajectory was adjusted during movement. The present study set out to shed light on this phenomenon by administering the Localization Task before and after either the Proprioceptive Matching Task or a control condition in a within-subjects design. Our results showed that hand map biases decreased during the Proprioceptive Matching Task, but that this increase in accuracy did not carry over to the Localization Task. In other words, more accurate performance in the dynamic body representation task does not reflect a change in how the hand is represented. Rather, it likely reflects a refinement of the motor trajectory, due to the integration of multisensory information, providing interesting insights into how the motor system partially overcomes biases in body representations.
Higher-order processing and change-to-automaticity as explanations of the item-position effect in reasoning tests
Higher-order processing and learning are two alternative explanations of the item-position effect. Whereas higher-order processing as explanation emphasizes the recruitment of executive processes, learning as explanation highlights the improvement in performance due to repetition and is specified as change-to-automaticity. In a sample of 287 participants the item-position effect was captured by means of Advanced Progressive Matrices. Higher-order processing was inferred from rule acquisition, and change-to-automaticity was derived from sustained attention data. The results of independent investigations revealed that both higher-order processing and change-to-automaticity contributed to the occurrence of the item-position effect.
The self-generated full body illusion is accompanied by impaired detection of somatosensory stimuli
Research has found that body illusions may be accompanied by consequences for the real body whereby various somatosensory and homeostatic bodily functions may be impaired. These findings stem from research where an experimenter induced the body illusions. In line with advances in the domains of videogames and virtual reality where the real body is used as a controller we investigate if these consequences also accompany self-generated body illusions. In two preregistered experiments we made use of a head-mounted display set-up to induce the full body illusion (FBI) whereby touch is felt to originate from a 3PP body, and examined effects in the simple detection of supra-threshold vibrotactile stimuli presented to the participants' back and head. Results of both experiments indicate that it is possible to induce a FBI through self-stroking of the neck and that the FBI is accompanied by reduced accuracy and delayed reaction times in detection of somatosensory stimuli. In an additional preregistered control experiment the alternative explanation that a difference in motion presented in the conditions was responsible for these findings was ruled out. Our findings corroborate previous studies that have found body illusions to be accompanied by bodily consequences and further extend these findings to the domain of self-induced body illusions. These results are relevant for video games and VR setups that are geared towards virtual embodiment as they advance our understanding of the conditions and mechanisms in which bodily consequences may express themselves.
The form of a ‘half-baked’ creative idea: Empirical explorations into the structure of ill-defined mental representations
Creative thought is conventionally believed to involve searching memory and generating multiple independent candidate ideas followed by selection and refinement of the most promising. Honing theory, which grew out of the quantum approach to describing how concepts interact, posits that what appears to be discrete, separate ideas are actually different projections of the same underlying mental representation, which can be described as a superposition state, and which may take different outward forms when reflected upon from different perspectives. As creative thought proceeds, this representation loses potentiality to be viewed from different perspectives and manifest as different outcomes. Honing theory yields different predictions from conventional theories about the mental representation of an idea midway through the creative process. These predictions were pitted against one another in two studies: one closed-ended and one open-ended. In the first study, participants were interrupted midway through solving an analogy problem and wrote down what they were thinking in terms of a solution. In the second, participants were instructed to create a painting that expressed their true essence and describe how they conceived of the painting. For both studies, naïve judges categorized these responses as supportive of either the conventional view or the honing theory view. The results of both studies were significantly more consistent with the predictions of honing theory. Some implications for creative cognition, and cognition in general, are discussed.
The relationships between musical expertise and divergent thinking
Musical expertise has positive effects on cognition, especially on verbal and linguistic processing. In this study the relationships between musical expertise, not involving improvisation training, and divergent thinking were explored. Expert and self-taught musicians were tested in musical, verbal and visual divergent thinking, and were compared with a group of non-musicians in verbal and visual divergent thinking. The musical task required to generate many different pieces of music using the incipit of ‘Happy Birthday’ as a starting point; the verbal task required to list unusual uses for a cardboard box; the visual task asked to complete drawings adding details to basic stimuli. For each task fluency flexibility and originality scores were measured. Based on these scores, musical, verbal and visual creative indices were computed. In general, expert musicians showed higher creative indices in musical and verbal domains than self-taught musicians and in verbal creative index than non-musicians. No group difference was found in terms of visual creative index. These findings confirm that musical expertise enhances not only musical divergent thinking but also verbal divergent thinking, probably supporting the semantic associative modes of processing and improving verbal working memory, which facilitates the online recombination of information in new ways. This effect seems to be specifically supported by formal musical training. The lack of the association between musical expertise and visual divergent thinking, as well as future research directions, are discussed.
Long-lasting positive effects of collaborative remembering on false assents to misleading questions
Previous studies showed that collaborative remembering can reduce false memories through a process of mutual error checking, although conclusions were limited by the nature of the memory tasks (very few errors). The present experiments extend these findings to eyewitness memory by using a paradigm designed to increase the frequency of memory errors. Collaborative and nominal pairs viewed a video-clip illustrating a bank robbery, provided an immediate free recall, were forced to confabulate answers to false-event questions, and, after a short- (1 h: Experiment 1) or a long-term delay (1 week: Experiment 2), were administered a yes/no recognition task in which the misleading statements either matched the questions presented in the confabulation phase (answered questions) or not (control questions). Collaborative pairs recalled fewer correct details in the immediate free recall task, replicating the negative effects of collaborative inhibition. Most importantly, in the final recognition test, collaborative pairs were less likely to provide false assents to misleading statements, regardless of whether they had provided a response to the related false-event questions 1 h or 1 week earlier. Our results suggest that collaboration can increase the eyewitnesses' tendency to check the accuracy of others' responses and reject false memories through discussion.
Sandwiched visual stimuli are perceived as shorter than the stimulus alone
A visual stimulus is perceived as shorter when a short sound is presented immediately before and after the visual target than when the visual target appears alone. It remains unclear whether the time compression occurs in an intramodal condition. Therefore, the present study examined how and when non-target sandwiching stimuli affect the perceived filled duration of target visual stimuli. We further hypothesized that this effect could be modulated by temporal and spatial proximity between the target and non-target stimuli. Experiments 1a, 1b, and 2 showed that non-target stimuli could decrease the perceived duration only when the inter-stimulus interval between these stimuli was 0 ms, using time reproduction and category estimation methods. Experiments 3 revealed that the time compression effect did not occur when both the non-target preceding and trailing stimuli were spatially distinct from the target. Experiment 4 demonstrated that either the preceding or trailing stimulus induced the time compression effect when the non-target stimuli were presented at the same position as the target stimuli. We discuss the implications of the time compression effect induced by non-target sandwiching stimuli with reference to the Scalar Expectancy Theory and the Neural Readout Model. We speculated that the attenuation of neural responses to the target via visual masking or perceptual grouping may be attributable to the time compression effect.
Failures of executive function when at a height: Negative height-related appraisals are associated with poor executive function during a virtual height stressor
It is difficult to maintain cognitive functioning in threatening contexts, even when it is imperative to do so. Research indicates that precarious situations can impair subsequent executive functioning, depending on whether they are appraised as threatening. Here, we used virtual reality to place participants at ground level or at a virtual height in order to examine the impact of a threat-related context on concurrent executive function and whether this relationship was modulated by negative appraisals of heights. Executive function was assessed via the Go/NoGo and N-Back tasks, indexing response inhibition and working memory updating respectively. Participants with negative appraisals of heights exhibited impaired executive function on both tasks when performing at a virtual height (i.e., a threat-related context) but not at ground-level, demonstrating the importance of considering the cognitive consequences of individual differences in negative interpretations of emotionally-evocative situations. We suggest that a virtual reality approach holds practical benefits for understanding how individuals are able to maintain cognitive ability when embedded within threatening situations.
Approach motivational orientation enhances malevolent creativity
Three studies were conducted to investigate the relationship between motivation and malevolent creativity (MC). In Study 1, participants completed motivation scales and a measure of MC in online formats. Results showed that approach motivation accurately predicted MC, whereas avoidance motivation was negatively related to MC. In Study 2, participants solved MC problems in either approach or avoidance motivation conditions. Analyses revealed higher MC in the approach than in the avoidance motivation condition. In Study 3, participants were further asked to solve MC problems in one of the following conditions: approach-success/approach-failure/avoidance-success/avoidance-failure. The beneficial effects of approach motivation over avoidance motivation were again observed. Moreover, the experience of ‘no closure’ (failure in doing something) enhanced individual MC performance and counteracted the negative impact of avoidance motivation on MC. These findings indicate that individual MC performance might be enhanced by approach motivation and the experience of ‘no closure’.
A shared code for Braille and Arabic digits revealed by cross-modal priming in sighted Braille readers
Quantities can be represented by different formats (e.g. symbolic or non-symbolic) and conveyed via different modalities (e.g. tactile or visual). Despite different priming curves: V-shape and step-shape for place and summation coded representation, respectively, the occurrence of priming effect supports the notion of different format overlap on the same mental number line. However, little is known about tactile-visual overlap of symbolic numerosities i.e. Braille numbers to Arabic digits on the magnitude number representation. Here, in a priming experiment, we tested a unique group of sighted Braille readers to investigate whether tactile Braille digits would activate a place-coding type of mental number representation (V-shape), analogous to other symbolic formats. The primes were either tactile Braille digits presented on a Braille display or number words presented on a computer screen. The targets were visually presented Arabic digits, and subjects performed a naming task. Our results reveal a V-shape priming function for both prime formats: tactile Braille and written words representing numbers, with strongest priming for primes of identical value (e.g. “four” and “4”), and a symmetrical decrease of priming strength for neighboring numbers, which indicates that the observed priming is due to identity priming. We thus argue that the magnitude information is processed according to a shared phonological code, independent of the input modality.
The effects of emotion on working memory: Valence versus motivation
It is unclear whether the effects of emotional state on working memory (WM) are valence-based or motivation-based since the type of emotions used in previous research differed on both dimensions of emotion. Especially, effects of anger, which is a negative but approach-related emotional state, were mostly overlooked. To distinguish between valence vs. motivation accounts, two experiments were conducted in which participants were induced one of four emotional states to create approach-positive (happiness), avoidance-negative (fear), approach-negative (anger), and control (neutral) conditions, followed by Self-ordered Pointing Task (Experiment 1) or N-Back task (Experiment 2) as WM measures. The main effect of emotion on WM accuracy was not significant in neither experiment. In the second experiment, however, reaction times (RTs) in the avoidance-related emotion condition were significantly faster compared to those in approach-related conditions, without compromising accuracy. Together the two experiments suggest that the motivational dimension of emotional state is more effective on WM than the valence dimension, especially on the RTs, indicating working memory updating efficiency.
English norming data for 423 short animated action movie clips
We present a set of 423 animated action movie clips of 3 s, that we expect to be useful for a variety of experimental paradigms in which sentences are elicited. The clips either depict an action involving only an agent (intransitive action, e.g., a policeman that is sleeping), an action involving an agent and a patient (transitive action, e.g., a policeman shooting a pirate), or an action involving an agent, an object, and a beneficiary (ditransitive action, e.g., a policeman showing a hat to a pirate). In order to verify that the movie clips (when presented with a verb) indeed elicit intransitive, transitive, or ditransitive sentences, we conducted a written norming study with native speakers of American English. We asked 203 participants to describe the clips with a sentence using a given verb. The movie clips elicited valid responses in 90% of the cases. Moreover, there was an active response bias for the transitives, and a prepositional object dative (PO-dative) response bias for the ditransitives. This bias differed between verbs in the ditransitives. A list is provided with all clips and the proportion of each response type for each clip. The clips are stored as MP4-files and can be freely downloaded.
The black superiority effect: Black is taller than gray
A novel illusion entitled “the letter height superiority effect” has been demonstrated. This shows that letters are perceived as being taller than pseudoletters, while in reality their objective sizes are identical. An explanation of this illusion has been proposed in the framework of the Interactive Activation Model. Indeed, we postulated that the more a feature is activated, the taller a stimulus is perceived as being. The objective of the current study was to test this postulate by manipulating feature activation through signal-to-noise ratio. We presented gray stimuli (low signal-to-noise ratio) or black ones (high signal-to-noise ratio). In a first experiment, participants judged the size of pairs of either letters or pseudoletters presented as black or gray. In a second experiment we presented pairs consisting of a letter and a pseudoletter, of identical or different colors. In a third experiment, we presented pairs of letters or pseudoletters of identical or different colors by block to test the possible effect of previous exposure on perceptual judgments. The results showed that for identical objective size, participants perceive black stimuli to be taller than gray ones and that the effects of the nature of the stimuli and their color are cumulative. The results also indicated that the effects were not due to previous exposure to color or sizes. These results confirm the Interactive Activation Model as a credible explanation for the letter height superiority effect.
The influence of the location of ordered symbols on the ordinal position effect: The involvement of the task performed
Since the ordinal position effect was identified, several studies have investigated its mechanism in various contexts; however, how the space location of ordinal symbols influences this effect remains unclear. Thus, the present study explored Chinese words representing the day before yesterday, yesterday, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow as ordinal symbols to investigate how the stimulus space location influences the ordinal position effect across different task contexts. We randomly and equally presented days on the left or right location of a display and asked participants to perform a stimulus space location, a stimulus colour and a stimulus order classification task in three consecutive experiments, respectively. The results revealed that the spatial stimulus-response compatibility effect and Simon effect prevailed in the stimulus space location and colour classification task. Conversely, the ordinal position effect prevailed in the stimulus order classification task. These results suggested that (1) the spatial stimulus-response compatibility effect (or Simon effect) and the ordinal position effect cannot appear simultaneously in some experimental contexts and that (2) the task context predicted which of these effects prevailed. From these results, we conclude that the ordinal symbols could be coded depending on multiple reference frames, including spatial and non-spatial reference frame, and the use of the reference frame was mediated by the task context.
False prophets and Cassandra's curse: The role of credibility in belief updating
Information from other sources can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on the veracity of the report. Along with prior beliefs and context, recipients have two main routes to determine veracity; the perceived credibility of the source and direct-evaluation via first-hand evidence, i.e. testing the advice against observation. Using a probabilistic learning paradigm, we look at the interplay of these two factors in the uptake (or rejection) of communicated beliefs, and the subsequent evaluation of the credibility of the communicator in light of this process. Whether the communicated belief is false (Experiment 1), or true (Experiment 2), we show that beliefs are interpreted in light of the perceived credibility of the source, such that beliefs from high trust sources are taken up (hypothesis 1), whilst beliefs from low trust sources are treated with suspicion and potentially rejected – dependent on early evidence experiences (hypothesis 2). Finally, we show that these credibility-led biased interpretations of evidence (whether belief or suspicion confirming) lead to further polarization of the perceived credibility of communicators (hypothesis 3). Crucially, this occurs irrespective of the veracity of the communication, such that sources accompanied by a high trust cue not only get away with communicating falsehoods, but see their perceived credibility increase, whilst sources accompanied by low trust cues not only have truthful communications rejected, but have their low trust penalized even further. These findings carry important implications for the consequences of artificially inflating or deflating the credibility of communicators (e.g., politicians or scientists in public debate).
Places as fuzzy locational categories
This paper offers a new way of considering places as special types of categories, in human cognition of larger-scale environments. This may provide an explanatory cognitive model for a range of known phenomena from environmental psychology and human geography - notably places' semantic salience and vague, unstable boundaries. Using such a model to apply suitable classification approaches may enhance geographic information (GI) for key public-facing users, such as emergency services and planners. Two empirical studies confirmed that a spatially extended place (e.g., suburban locality or neighborhood) may be stored as a category whose exemplars are memorable individual locations or scenes. Using a questionnaire-based method to partly replicate key findings from the semantic memory literature (Barsalou, 1985; Lynch et al., 2000), the studies tested the relevance to such places of known semantic memory phenomena including graded membership, typicality versus ideals, expertise and context effects. The discussion considers the link between semantic and spatial vagueness of places.
Implicit perceptual learning of visual-auditory modality sequences
We examined perceptual modality sequence learning by presenting number words either visually (V) or auditorily (A). Manual responses were assigned to number identity, which was random, but the stimulus modalities followed a predictable 6-element sequence (e.g., VVAAVA). In two experiments, we assessed sequence-specific learning as the performance difference between the predictable sequence and a random transfer sequence. We expected learning benefits, but for visual trials we did not find any clear predictability benefits, and, surprisingly, for auditory trials we even found a general processing disadvantage (i.e., a predictability cost) for auditory trials (Experiment 1) or a cost-benefit pattern (Experiment 2, with equated shift rates in predictable and random sequences), with costs for auditory repetition trials and benefits for shifting to auditory processing. Hence, overall there was a general learning “cost” (Experiment 1) or a null net benefit of predictability for performance (Experiment 2). Together, the findings reveal a modality-specific sensitivity towards variations in shift frequency and modality predictability only for auditory trials, but there was no overall benefit of modality-specific sequence learning.
Beneficial effect of task-irrelevant threat on response inhibition
It is widely accepted that task-irrelevant threats utilize processing resources, resulting in impaired cognitive processes. However, if some subcomponents of the cognitive processes are activated by a threat, these cognitive processes may be facilitated. In the present study, we investigated whether task-irrelevant threats enhance cognitive control if the threat and task-relevant processes commonly recruit a cognitive process, inhibitory process. To examine the impact of task-irrelevant threats on inhibitory control, we had participants perform a stop-signal task with mild electric shocks. They were at risk for receiving the shocks randomly in threat blocks while no such shock was administered in safe blocks. The results showed that the stop-signal reaction time decreased under threat compared to safe conditions, indicating that inhibitory control was enhanced under threat. This beneficial effect of threat on response inhibition was more evident in participants with high state anxiety. An additional measurement of motor execution indicated that the interaction between threat and response inhibition was not derived from general arousal under threat. Results suggest that emotion and cognition do not interact simply by sharing processing resources but are related more closely to each other than we have previously thought by engaging a common processing.
Temporal order of musical keys and subjective estimates of time
The aim of this study was to observe the influence of the temporal order of musical keys involved in sudden modulations, which implies compositional developments in clockwise and counterclockwise directions of the circle of fifths, on subjective time estimations. Seventy-five undergraduate students from Universidade de Ribeirão Preto participated in this experiment, which consisted of listening to a modulating musical stimulus and retrospectively reproducing the duration with the aid of a stopwatch. The results showed that reverse sudden tonal modulation in the counterclockwise direction or, for instance, the temporal order from the original key of A-major to the arrival at the destination key of C-major, elicited shorter time estimations than the clockwise direction or, for instance, the temporal order from original key of C-major to the arrival at the destination key of A-major. These data were interpreted using the Expected Development Fraction model that describes the development of expectations when an inter-key distance is traversed during a certain time interval. This expected development is longer than the perceived duration, leading to the underestimation of time.
Distance perception warped by social relations: Social interaction information compresses distance
Though distance perception feeds the fundamental input that constructs a visual structure of the world, the suggestion has been made that it is constrained by this constructed structure. Instead of focusing on the physically defined structure, this study investigates whether and how social relations, especially the quality of social interaction (how individuals interact) rather than its content (what type of social interaction), precisely influences distance perception. The quality of social interaction was framed as an actor’s intent and incurred outcome regarding another individual, whether helpful or harmful. Through visual animations, intent was operationalized as an agent’s (i.e., actor’s) intentional or unintentional act having an influence on another agent (i.e., affectee). Two experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1, the act was helpful, resulting in small or great beneficial consequences to the affectee. In Experiment 2, the act was harmful and resulted in small or great losses to the affectee. We found that when the help or harm had a large effect on others (the great-benefits or great-losses conditions), distance was perceived as shorter than when help or harm was minor, and the actor’s intent did not affect distance perception. This suggests that, regardless of the type of social interaction, distance perception is mainly influenced by the outcome of an act not by the actor’s intent. It implies that the perceived quality of social interaction creates a social constraint on distance perception. These findings are consistent with the idea that the intent and outcome of an action are assessed differently, and they help us understand how social relation penetrates the perceptual system.
Abstract art paintings, global image properties, and verbal descriptions: An empirical and computational investigation
While global image properties (GIPs) relate to preference ratings in many categories of visual stimuli, this relationship is typically not seen for abstract art paintings. Using computational network science and empirical methods, we further investigated GIPs and subjective preferences. First, we replicated the earlier observation that GIPs do not relate to preferences for abstract art. Next, we estimated the network structure of abstract art paintings using two approaches: the first was based on verbal descriptions and the second on GIPs. We examined the extent to which network measures computed from these two networks (1) related to preference for abstract art paintings and (2) determined affiliation of images to specific art styles. Only semantic-based network predicted the subjective preference ratings and art style. Finally, preference and GIPs differed for sub-groups of abstract art paintings. Our results demonstrate the importance of verbal descriptors in evaluating abstract art, and that it is not useful in empirical aesthetics to treat abstract art paintings as a single category.
Probability of target recollection varies with target-lure relatedness under the dual process signal detection model
The ROC function plots hit and false alarm rates against one another. For item recognition the z-transformed ROC (Z-ROC) function is typically linear with slope less than one. The Dual Process Signal Detection (DPSD) and Unequal Variance Signal Detection (UVSD) models see the slope as reflecting the ratio of the lure and target evidence standard deviations. The DPSD model in addition sees the slope as co-varying with estimates of target recollection probability (R). This follows because the slope decreases with increases in the target evidence standard deviation which in turn increases with increases in the numbers of high evidence recollection items. However our results suggest that the lure evidence standard deviation, and thus the Z-ROC slope, can vary with factors seemingly unrelated to target recollection, posing problems for DPSD estimates of R. In word recognition the standard deviation of lure confidence ratings and the slope of the z-ROC function were larger with semantically related than unrelated lures. When the data for related and unrelated lures were fit separately, the standard two-parameter DPSD model, implausibly, set R lower for related than unrelated lures. The UVSD model, more plausibly, set the lure evidence standard deviation larger for related than unrelated lures.
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.
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