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Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology

  • Task inhibition, conflict, and the n-2 repetition cost: A combined computational and empirical approach
    Publication date: May 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 94

    Author(s): Nicholas J. Sexton, Richard P. Cooper

    Task inhibition (also known as backward inhibition) is an hypothesised form of cognitive inhibition evident in multi-task situations, with the role of facilitating switching between multiple, competing tasks. This article presents a novel cognitive computational model of a backward inhibition mechanism. By combining aspects of previous cognitive models in task switching and conflict monitoring, the model instantiates the theoretical proposal that backward inhibition is the direct result of conflict between multiple task representations. In a first simulation, we demonstrate that the model produces two effects widely observed in the empirical literature, specifically, reaction time costs for both (n-1) task switches and n-2 task repeats. Through a systematic search of parameter space, we demonstrate that these effects are a general property of the model’s theoretical content, and not specific parameter settings. We further demonstrate that the model captures previously reported empirical effects of inter-trial interval on n-2 switch costs. A final simulation extends the paradigm of switching between tasks of asymmetric difficulty to three tasks, and generates novel predictions for n-2 repetition costs. Specifically, the model predicts that n-2 repetition costs associated with hard-easy-hard alternations are greater than for easy-hard-easy alternations. Finally, we report two behavioural experiments testing this hypothesis, with results consistent with the model predictions.





  • Speeded saccadic and manual visuo-motor decisions: Distinct processes but same principles
    Publication date: May 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 94

    Author(s): Aline Bompas, Craig Hedge, Petroc Sumner

    Action decisions are considered an emergent property of competitive response activations. As such, decision mechanisms are embedded in, and therefore may differ between, different response modalities. Despite this, the saccadic eye movement system is often promoted as a model for all decisions, especially in the fields of electrophysiology and modelling. Other research traditions predominantly use manual button presses, which have different response distribution profiles and are initiated by different brain areas. Here we tested whether core concepts of action selection models (decision and non-decision times, integration of automatic and selective inputs to threshold, interference across response options, noise, etc.) generalise from saccadic to manual domains. Using two diagnostic phenomena, the remote distractor effect (RDE) and ‘saccadic inhibition’, we find that manual responses are also sensitive to the interference of visual distractors but to a lesser extent than saccades and during a shorter time window. A biologically-inspired model (DINASAUR, based on non-linear input dynamics) can account for both saccadic and manual response distributions and accuracy by simply adjusting the balance and relative timings of transient and sustained inputs, and increasing the mean and variance of non-decisional delays for manual responses. This is consistent with known neurophysiological and anatomical differences between saccadic and manual networks. Thus core decision principles appear to generalise across effectors, consistent with previous work, but we also conclude that key quantitative differences underlie apparent qualitative differences in the literature, such as effects being robustly reported in one modality and unreliable in another.





  • The impact of object type on the spatial analogies in Korean preschoolers
    Publication date: May 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 94

    Author(s): Youjeong Park, Marianella Casasola

    We tested young children’s spatial reasoning in a match-to-sample task, manipulating the objects in the task (abstract geometric shapes, line drawings of realistic objects, or both). Korean 4- and 5-year-old children (N =161) generalized the target spatial configuration (i.e., on, in, above) more easily when the sample used geometric shapes and the choices used realistic objects than the reverse (i.e., realistic-object sample to geometric-shape choices). With within-type stimuli (i.e., sample and choices were both geometric shapes or both realistic objects), 5-year-old, but not 4-year-old, children generalized the spatial relations more easily with geometric shapes than realistic objects. In addition, children who knew more locative terms (e.g., “in”, “on”) performed better on the task, suggesting a link to children’s spatial vocabulary. The results demonstrate an advantage of geometric shapes over realistic objects in facilitating young children’s performance on a match-to-sample spatial reasoning task.





  • Social cues modulate the representations underlying cross-situational learning
    Publication date: May 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 94

    Author(s): Kyle MacDonald, Daniel Yurovsky, Michael C. Frank

    Because children hear language in environments that contain many things to talk about, learning the meaning of even the simplest word requires making inferences under uncertainty. A cross-situational statistical learner can aggregate across naming events to form stable word-referent mappings, but this approach neglects an important source of information that can reduce referential uncertainty: social cues from speakers (e.g., eye gaze). In four large-scale experiments with adults, we tested the effects of varying referential uncertainty in cross-situational word learning using social cues. Social cues shifted learners away from tracking multiple hypotheses and towards storing only a single hypothesis (Experiments 1 and 2). In addition, learners were sensitive to graded changes in the strength of a social cue, and when it became less reliable, they were more likely to store multiple hypotheses (Experiment 3). Finally, learners stored fewer word-referent mappings in the presence of a social cue even when given the opportunity to visually inspect the objects for the same amount of time (Experiment 4). Taken together, our data suggest that the representations underlying cross-situational word learning of concrete object labels are quite flexible: In conditions of greater uncertainty, learners store a broader range of information.





  • Acquiring variation in an artificial language: Children and adults are sensitive to socially conditioned linguistic variation
    Publication date: May 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 94

    Author(s): Anna Samara, Kenny Smith, Helen Brown, Elizabeth Wonnacott

    Languages exhibit sociolinguistic variation, such that adult native speakers condition the usage of linguistic variants on social context, gender, and ethnicity, among other cues. While the existence of this kind of socially conditioned variation is well-established, less is known about how it is acquired. Studies of naturalistic language use by children provide various examples where children’s production of sociolinguistic variants appears to be conditioned on similar factors to adults’ production, but it is difficult to determine whether this reflects knowledge of sociolinguistic conditioning or systematic differences in the input to children from different social groups. Furthermore, artificial language learning experiments have shown that children have a tendency to eliminate variation, a process which could potentially work against their acquisition of sociolinguistic variation. The current study used a semi-artificial language learning paradigm to investigate learning of the sociolinguistic cue of speaker identity in 6-year-olds and adults. Participants were trained and tested on an artificial language where nouns were obligatorily followed by one of two meaningless particles and were produced by one of two speakers (one male, one female). Particle usage was conditioned deterministically on speaker identity (Experiment 1), probabilistically (Experiment 2), or not at all (Experiment 3). Participants were given tests of production and comprehension. In Experiments 1 and 2, both children and adults successfully acquired the speaker identity cue, although the effect was stronger for adults and in Experiment 1. In addition, in all three experiments, there was evidence of regularization in participants’ productions, although the type of regularization differed with age: children showed regularization by boosting the frequency of one particle at the expense of the other, while adults regularized by conditioning particle usage on lexical items. Overall, results demonstrate that children and adults are sensitive to speaker identity cues, an ability which is fundamental to tracking sociolinguistic variation, and that children’s well-established tendency to regularize does not prevent them from learning sociolinguistically conditioned variation.





  • Editorial Board
    Publication date: March 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 93









  • Personal change and the continuity of the self
    Publication date: March 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 93

    Author(s): Sarah Molouki, Daniel M. Bartels

    Five studies explore how anticipating different types of personal change affects people’s perceptions of their own self-continuity. The studies find that improvements are seen as less disruptive to personal continuity than worsening or unspecified change, although this difference varies in magnitude based on the type of feature being considered. Also, people’s expectations and desires matter. For example, a negative change is highly disruptive to perceived continuity when people expect improvement and less disruptive when people expect to worsen. The finding that some types of change are consistent with perceptions of self-continuity suggests that the self-concept may include beliefs about personal development.





  • Learning in settings with partial feedback and the wavy recency effect of rare events
    Publication date: March 2017
    Source:Cognitive Psychology, Volume 93

    Author(s): Ori Plonsky, Ido Erev

    Analyses of human learning reveal a discrepancy between the long- and the short-term effects of outcomes on subsequent choice. The long-term effect is simple: favorable outcomes increase the choice rate of an alternative whereas unfavorable outcomes decrease it. The short-term effects are more complex. Favorable outcomes can decrease the choice rate of the best option. This pattern violates the positive recency assumption that underlies the popular models of learning. The current research tries to clarify the implications of these results. Analysis of wide sets of learning experiments shows that rare positive outcomes have a wavy recency effect. The probability of risky choice after a successful outcome from risk-taking at trial t is initially (at t +1) relatively high, falls to a minimum at t +2, then increases for about 15 trials, and then decreases again. Rare negative outcomes trigger a wavy reaction when the feedback is complete, but not under partial feedback. The difference between the effects of rare positive and rare negative outcomes and between full and partial feedback settings can be described as a reflection of an interaction of an effort to discover patterns with two other features of human learning: surprise-triggers-change and the hot stove effect. A similarity-based descriptive model is shown to capture well all these interacting phenomena. In addition, the model outperforms the leading models in capturing the outcomes of data used in the 2010 Technion Prediction Tournament.





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