Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

  • Short-term upper limb immobilization affects action-word understanding.
    The present study aimed to investigate whether well-established associations between action and language can be altered by short-term upper limb immobilization. The dominant arm of right-handed participants was immobilized for 24 hours with a rigid splint fixed on the hand and an immobilization vest restraining the shoulder, arm, and forearm. The control group did not undergo such immobilization. In 2 experiments, participants had to judge whether a verb involved movements of the hands or feet. In Experiment 1, the response times for controls were shorter for hand-action verbs than for foot-action verbs, whereas there was no significant difference in the immobilized group. Experiment 2 confirmed these results with a pre/posttest procedure. Shorter response times were shown for hand-action verbs than for foot-action verbs in the pretests and posttests for the control group and in the pretest for the immobilized group (i.e., before immobilization). This difference was not observed for participants undergoing 24 hr of hand immobilization, who showed little progress in assessing hand-action verbs between pretest and posttest. Moreover, participants with the highest motor imagery capacities clearly demonstrated shorter response times in Experiment 2 for both hand-action and foot-action verbs, regardless of hand immobilization. Overall, these findings demonstrate for the first time that short-term sensorimotor deprivation can affect action verb processing. We discuss our results in light of the embodiment view, which considers that cognition is grounded in sensorimotor experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Alternating-script priming in Japanese: Are Katakana and Hiragana characters interchangeable?
    Models of written word recognition in languages using the Roman alphabet assume that a word’s visual form is quickly mapped onto abstract units. This proposal is consistent with the finding that masked priming effects are of similar magnitude from lowercase, uppercase, and alternating-case primes (e.g., beard–BEARD, BEARD–BEARD, and BeArD–BEARD). We examined whether this claim can be readily generalized to the 2 syllabaries of Japanese Kana (Hiragana and Katakana). The specific rationale was that if the visual form of Kana words is lost early in the lexical access process, alternating-script repetition primes should be as effective as same-script repetition primes at activating a target word. Results showed that alternating-script repetition primes were less effective at activating lexical representations of Katakana words than same-script repetition primes—indeed, they were no more effective than partial primes that contained only the Katakana characters from the alternating-script primes. Thus, the idiosyncrasies of each writing system do appear to shape the pathways to lexical access. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Angles no longer weigh in: The effect of geometric cue directness on reorientation.
    Previous research in spatial reorientation, which only presented the target location in the corner, has found that adults weighed angles more than wall lengths. We proposed that in previous research, angular cues were available for direct use whereas length cues had to be associated with the left/right sense. We thus investigated whether the directness of cues rather than the cues themselves accounted for the previous findings in the reorientation task. Through navigating a virtual environment, 111 participants were trained to remember target locations in a parallelogram-shaped room and tested in varied versions of the training environment: (a) a reverse-parallelogram environment where angular information conflicted with wall length information, (b) a rhombic environment that preserved only angular information from the training environment, and (c) a rectangular environment that preserved only wall length information. We varied the directness of the two cues in the current study. In addition to the condition with target location in the corner, we included a condition that placed the target positions in the middle of the walls, making the length cues direct. The results revealed that angular information no longer received priority, especially in the wall condition. More interestingly, compared to the group trained with the target positions at walls, the group trained with target positions at corners weighted angular cues more heavily in conflict trials and performed less accurately using length cues in rectangular environments. The results suggest that human adults prefer to rely on direct cues more than indirect cues in the reorientation process. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Rule-based reasoning is fast and belief-based reasoning can be slow: Challenging current explanations of belief-bias and base-rate neglect.
    It is commonly assumed that belief-based reasoning is fast and automatic, whereas rule-based reasoning is slower and more effortful. Dual-Process theories of reasoning rely on this speed-asymmetry explanation to account for a number of reasoning phenomena, such as base-rate neglect and belief-bias. The goal of the current study was to test this hypothesis about the relative speed of belief-based and rule-based processes. Participants solved base-rate problems (Experiment 1) and conditional inferences (Experiment 2) under a challenging deadline; they then gave a second response in free time. We found that fast responses were informed by rules of probability and logical validity, and that slow responses incorporated belief-based information. Implications for Dual-Process theories and future research options for dissociating Type I and Type II processes are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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