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Mahiko Konishi, Kevin Brown, Luca Battaglini, Jonathan Smallwood
Attention is not always directed to events in the external environment. On occasion our thoughts wander to people and places distant from the here and now. Sometimes, this lack of external attention can compromise ongoing task performance. In the current study we set out to understand the extent to which states of internal and external attention can be determined using pupillometry as an index of ongoing cognition. In two experiments we found that periods of slow responding were associated with elevations in the baseline pupil signal over three and a half seconds prior to a behavioural response...
June 20, 2017: Cognition
Susan A J Birch, Patricia E Brosseau-Liard, Taeh Haddock, Siba E Ghrear
Knowledge can be a curse: Once we have acquired a particular item of knowledge it tends to bias, or contaminate, our ability to reason about a less informed perspective (referred to as the 'curse of knowledge' or 'hindsight bias'). The mechanisms underlying the curse of knowledge bias are a matter of great import and debate. We highlight two mechanisms that have been proposed to underlie this bias-inhibition and fluency misattribution. Explanations that involve inhibition argue that people have difficulty fully inhibiting or suppressing the content of their knowledge when trying to reason about a less informed perspective...
June 19, 2017: Cognition
Nayoung Kwon, Patrick Sturt, Pan Liu
This article reports two ERP studies that exploited the classifier system of Mandarin Chinese to investigate semantic prediction. In Mandarin, in certain contexts, a noun has to be preceded by a classifier, which has to match the noun in semantically-defined features. In both experiments, an N400 effect was elicited in response to a classifier that mismatched an up-coming predictable noun, relative to a matching classifier. Among the mismatching classifiers, the N400 effect was graded, being smaller for classifiers that were semantically related to the predicted word, relative to classifiers that were semantically unrelated to the predicted word...
June 19, 2017: Cognition
Hannah Little, Kerem Eryılmaz, Bart de Boer
In language, a small number of meaningless building blocks can be combined into an unlimited set of meaningful utterances. This is known as combinatorial structure. One hypothesis for the initial emergence of combinatorial structure in language is that recombining elements of signals solves the problem of overcrowding in a signal space. Another hypothesis is that iconicity may impede the emergence of combinatorial structure. However, how these two hypotheses relate to each other is not often discussed. In this paper, we explore how signal space dimensionality relates to both overcrowding in the signal space and iconicity...
June 19, 2017: Cognition
Fiery Cushman, Victor Kumar, Peter Railton
The past 15years occasioned an extraordinary blossoming of research into the cognitive and affective mechanisms that support moral judgment and behavior. This growth in our understanding of moral mechanisms overshadowed a crucial and complementary question, however: How are they learned? As this special issue of the journal Cognition attests, a new crop of research into moral learning has now firmly taken root. This new literature draws on recent advances in formal methods developed in other domains, such as Bayesian inference, reinforcement learning and other machine learning techniques...
June 16, 2017: Cognition
Iva K Brunec, Amir-Homayoun Javadi, Fiona E L Zisch, Hugo J Spiers
The ability to estimate distance and time to spatial goals is fundamental for survival. In cases where a region of space must be navigated around to reach a location (circumnavigation), the distance along the path is greater than the straight-line Euclidean distance. To explore how such circumnavigation impacts on estimates of distance and time, we tested participants on their ability to estimate travel time and Euclidean distance to learned destinations in a virtual town. Estimates for approximately linear routes were compared with estimates for routes requiring circumnavigation...
June 15, 2017: Cognition
Yuko Okumura, Yasuhiro Kanakogi, Tessei Kobayashi, Shoji Itakura
Gaze-following behaviors play an important role in language development. However, the way in which gaze-following contributes to language development remains unclear. By focusing on two abilities, namely following the gaze direction of others and processing a cued object, the present study investigated how these two influences work together to promote language development in a longitudinal approach on infants from 9 to 18months of age. The results demonstrated that infants who spent more time following the gaze direction toward an object were more efficient in processing the cued object at 9months and had larger vocabularies by 18months...
June 15, 2017: Cognition
George Kachergis, Marjorie Rhodes, Todd Gureckis
This study explores developmental changes in the ability to ask informative questions, hypothesizing a link between the ability to update beliefs in light of evidence and the ability to ask informative questions. Five- to ten-year-old children played an iPad game asking them to identify a hidden insect. Learners could either ask about individual insects, or make a series of feature queries (e.g., "Does the hidden insect have antenna?") that could more efficiently narrow the hypothesis space. Critically, the task display either helped children integrate evidence with the hypothesis space or required them to perform this operation themselves...
June 13, 2017: Cognition
Benjamin M Basile, Robert R Hampton
Source memory, or memory for the context in which a memory was formed, is a defining characteristic of human episodic memory and source memory errors are a debilitating symptom of memory dysfunction. Evidence for source memory in nonhuman primates is sparse despite considerable evidence for other types of sophisticated memory and the practical need for good models of episodic memory in nonhuman primates. A previous study showed that rhesus monkeys confused the identity of a monkey they saw with a monkey they heard, but only after an extended memory delay...
June 13, 2017: Cognition
Carolina Jiménez Lira, Miranda Carver, Heather Douglas, Jo-Anne LeFevre
Preschoolers (n=62) completed tasks that tapped their knowledge of symbolic and non-symbolic exact quantities, their ability to translate among different representations of exact quantity (i.e., digits, number words, and non-symbolic quantities), and their non-symbolic, digit, and spoken number comparison skills (e.g., which is larger, 2 or 4?). As hypothesized, children's knowledge about non-symbolic exact quantities, spoken number words, and digits predicted their ability to map between symbolic and non-symbolic exact quantities...
June 10, 2017: Cognition
Austin J Simpson, Andrew R Todd
Reasoning about what other people see, know, and want is essential for navigating social life. Yet, even neurodevelopmentally healthy adults make perspective-taking errors. Here, we examined how the group membership of perspective-taking targets (ingroup vs. outgroup) affects processes underlying visual perspective-taking. In three experiments using two bases of group identity (university affiliation and minimal groups), interference from one's own differing perspective (i.e., egocentric intrusion) was stronger when responding from an ingroup versus an outgroup member's perspective...
June 9, 2017: Cognition
Matthew Masapollo, Linda Polka, Lucie Ménard
Speech perceivers are universally biased toward "focal" vowels (i.e., vowels whose adjacent formants are close in frequency, which concentrates acoustic energy into a narrower spectral region). This bias is demonstrated in phonetic discrimination tasks as a directional asymmetry: a change from a relatively less to a relatively more focal vowel results in significantly better performance than a change in the reverse direction. We investigated whether the critical information for this directional effect is limited to the auditory modality, or whether visible articulatory information provided by the speaker's face also plays a role...
June 8, 2017: Cognition
Richard W Hass
Divergent thinking, as a method of examining creative cognition, has not been adequately analyzed in the context of modern cognitive theories. This article casts divergent thinking responding in the context of theories of memory search. First, it was argued that divergent thinking tasks are similar to semantic fluency tasks, but are more constrained, and less well structured. Next, response time distributions from 54 participants were analyzed for temporal and semantic clustering. Participants responded to two prompts from the alternative uses test: uses for a brick and uses for a bottle, for two minutes each...
June 7, 2017: Cognition
Oliver Bott, Petra Augurzky, Wolfgang Sternefeld, Rolf Ulrich
The paper presents a study on the online interpretation of quantified questions involving complex domain restriction, for instance, are all triangles blue that are in the circle. Two probe reaction time (RT) task experiments were conducted to study the incremental nature of answer generation while manipulating visual contexts and response hand overlap between tasks. We manipulated the contexts in such a way that the incremental answer to the question changed from 'yes' to 'no' or remained the same before and after encountering the extraposed relative clause...
June 6, 2017: Cognition
Adam Feltz, Joshua May
Experimental research suggests that people draw a moral distinction between bad outcomes brought about as a means versus a side effect (or byproduct). Such findings have informed multiple psychological and philosophical debates about moral cognition, including its computational structure, its sensitivity to the famous Doctrine of Double Effect, its reliability, and its status as a universal and innate mental module akin to universal grammar. But some studies have failed to replicate the means/byproduct effect especially in the absence of other factors, such as personal contact...
June 6, 2017: Cognition
Márton Sóskuthy, Jennifer Hay
This paper investigates the emergence of lexicalized effects of word usage on word duration by looking at parallel changes in usage and duration over 130years in New Zealand English. Previous research has found that frequent words are shorter, informative words are longer, and words in utterance-final position are also longer. It has also been argued that some of these patterns are not simply online adjustments, but are incorporated into lexical representations. While these studies tend to focus on the synchronic aspects of such patterns, our corpus shows that word-usage patterns and word durations are not static over time...
June 5, 2017: Cognition
Alessandra S Souza, Zuzanna Skóra
How do perception and language interact to form the representations that guide our thoughts and actions over the short-term? Here, we provide a first examination of this question by investigating the role of verbal labels in a continuous visual working memory (WM) task. Across four experiments, participants retained in memory the continuous color of a set of dots which were presented sequentially (Experiments 1-3) or simultaneously (Experiment 4). At test, they reproduced the colors of all dots using a color wheel...
June 5, 2017: Cognition
Senne Braem
Most reward studies focus on the reinforcement of simple tasks or stimulus-response rules. However, recent theories (re)emphasized that cognitive control representations should adhere to the same reinforcement learning principles as do more basic stimulus and response representations. This study focused on the act of switching between different tasks, and investigated the effects of disproportionally rewarding task alternations or repetitions in a cued task switching paradigm on subsequent voluntary task switching behavior (i...
June 5, 2017: Cognition
Hartmut Fitz, Franklin Chang
Nativist theories have argued that language involves syntactic principles which are unlearnable from the input children receive. A paradigm case of these innate principles is the structure dependence of auxiliary inversion in complex polar questions (Chomsky, 1968, 1975, 1980). Computational approaches have focused on the properties of the input in explaining how children acquire these questions. In contrast, we argue that messages are structured in a way that supports structure dependence in syntax. We demonstrate this approach within a connectionist model of sentence production (Chang, 2009) which learned to generate a range of complex polar questions from a structured message without positive exemplars in the input...
June 3, 2017: Cognition
Athanassios Protopapas, Anna Mitsi, Miltiadis Koustoumbardis, Sofia M Tsitsopoulou, Marianna Leventi, Aaron R Seitz
Orthographic learning refers to the acquisition of knowledge about specific spelling patterns forming words and about general biases and constraints on letter sequences. It is thought to occur by strengthening simultaneously activated visual and phonological representations during reading. Here we demonstrate that a visual perceptual learning procedure that leaves no time for articulation can result in orthographic learning evidenced in improved reading and spelling performance. We employed task-irrelevant perceptual learning (TIPL), in which the stimuli to be learned are paired with an easy task target...
June 2, 2017: Cognition
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