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Volume 13 (2017) Volume 12 (2016) Volume 11 (2015) Volume 10 (2014) Volume 9 (2013) Volume 8 (2012) Volume 7 (2011) Volume 6 (2010) Volume 5 (2009) Volume 4 (2008) Volume 3 (2007) Volume 2 (2006) Volume 1 (2005)

Volume 13 Issue 1 (2017)

Letter from the Editors editorial

pp. 1-2 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0201-z

Rob H. J. van der Lubbe, Ulrich Ansorge


In this first newsletter of 2017, we wanted to inform you about important developments concerning our journal and the performance of the journal in 2016. We also would like to draw your attention to the fourth issue of Advances in Cognitive Psychology of 2016, which is a special issue that includes several contributions to the Neuronus conference that was held in Kraków in 2015. The current newsletter will also be included in the first issue of 2017.

Bodily Effort Enhances Learning and Metacognition: Investigating the Relation Between Physical Effort and Cognition Using Dual-Process Models of Embodiment original article

pp. 3-10 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0202-9

Alexander Skulmowski, Günter Daniel Rey


Recent embodiment research revealed that cognitive processes can be influenced by bodily cues. Some of these cues were found to elicit disparate effects on cognition. For instance, weight sensations can inhibit problem-solving performance, but were shown to increase judgments regarding recall probability (judgments of learning; JOLs) in memory tasks. We investigated the effects of physical effort on learning and metacognition by conducting two studies in which we varied whether a backpack was worn or not while 20 nouns were to be learned. Participants entered a JOL for each word and completed a recall test. Experiment 1 (N = 18) revealed that exerting physical effort by wearing a backpack led to higher JOLs for easy nouns, without a notable effect on difficult nouns. Participants who wore a backpack reached higher recall scores. Therefore, physical effort may act as a form of desirable difficulty during learning. In Experiment 2 (N = 30), the influence of physical effort on JOLs and learning disappeared when more difficult nouns were to be learned, implying that a high cognitive load may diminish bodily effects. These findings suggest that physical effort mainly influences superficial modes of thought and raise doubts concerning the explanatory power of metaphor-centered accounts of embodiment for higher-level cognition.

Keywords: embodied cognition, metacognition, memory, judgments of learning, cognitive load

Resolving Conflicts Between Syntax and Plausibility in Sentence Comprehension original article

pp. 11-27 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0203-8

Glenda Andrews, Jessica E. Ogden, Graeme S. Halford


Comprehension of plausible and implausible object- and subject-relative clause sentences with and without prepositional phrases was examined. Undergraduates read each sentence then evaluated a statement as consistent or inconsistent with the sentence. Higher acceptance of consistent than inconsistent statements indicated reliance on syntactic analysis. Higher acceptance of plausible than implausible statements reflected reliance on semantic plausibility. There was greater reliance on semantic plausibility and lesser reliance on syntactic analysis for more complex object-relatives and sentences with prepositional phrases than for less complex subject-relatives and sentences without prepositional phrases. Comprehension accuracy and confidence were lower when syntactic analysis and semantic plausibility yielded conflicting interpretations. The conflict effect on comprehension was significant for complex sentences but not for less complex sentences. Working memory capacity predicted resolution of the syntax-plausibility conflict in more and less complex items only when sentences and statements were presented sequentially. Fluid intelligence predicted resolution of the conflict in more and less complex items under sequential and simultaneous presentation. Domain-general processes appear to be involved in resolving syntax- plausibility conflicts in sentence comprehension.

Keywords: syntax-plausibility conflict, relative clause sentence comprehension, working memory, fluid intelligence

Mechanisms of Practice-Related Reductions of Dual-Task Interference with Simple Tasks: Data and Theory original article

pp. 28-41 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0204-7

Tilo Strobach, Torsten Schubert


In dual-task situations, interference between two simultaneous tasks impairs performance. With practice, however, this impairment can be reduced. To identify mechanisms leading to a practice-related improvement in sensorimotor dual tasks, the present review applied the following general hypothesis: Sources that impair dual-task performance at the beginning of practice are associated with mechanisms for the reduction of dual-task impairment at the end of practice. The following types of processes provide sources for the occurrence of this impairment: (a) capacity-limited processes within the component tasks, such as response-selection or motor response stages, and (b) cognitive control processes independent of these tasks and thus operating outside of component-task performance. Dual-task practice studies show that, under very specific conditions, capacity limited processes within the component tasks are automatized with practice, reducing the interference between two simultaneous tasks. Further, there is evidence that response-selection stages are shortened with practice. Thus, capacity limitations at these stages are sources for dual-task costs at the beginning of practice and are overcome with practice. However, there is no evidence demonstrating the existence of practice-related mechanisms associated with capacity-limited motor-response stages. Further, during practice, there is an acquisition of executive control skills for an improved allocation of limited attention resources to two tasks as well as some evidence supporting the assumption of improved task coordination. These latter mechanisms are associated with sources of dual-task interference operating outside of component task performance at the beginning of practice and also contribute to the reduction of dual-task interference at its end.

Keywords: dual tasks, task interference, PRP, task automatization, task coordination skills, executive control skills

Consequences of Learned Helplessness and Recognition of the State of Cognitive Exhaustion in Persons with Mild Intellectual Disability original article

pp. 42-51 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0205-6

Michał Gacek, Tomasz Smoleń, Władysława Pilecka


Persons with intellectual disability are a group at risk of being exposed to overly demanding problem-solving situations, which may produce learned helplessness. The research was based on the informational model of learned helplessness. The consequences of exposure to an unsolvable task and the ability to recognize the symptoms of cognitive exhaustion were tested in 120 students with mild intellectual disability. After the exposure to the unsolvable task, persons in the experimental group obtained lower results than the control group in the escape/avoidance learning task, but a similar result was found in the divergent thinking fluency task. Also, participants in the experimental group had difficulties recognizing the symptoms of the cognitive exhaustion state. After a week’s time, the difference in escape/avoidance learning performance was still observed. The results indicate that exposure to unsolvable tasks may negatively influence the cognitive performance in persons with intellectual disability, although those persons may not identify the cognitive state related to lowered performance.

Keywords: learned helplessness, cognitive exhaustion, avoidance learning, divergent thinking, fluency, intellectual disability

Distractor-Induced Blindness: A Special Case of Contingent Attentional Capture? original article

pp. 52-63 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0206-5

Gesche N. Winther, Michael Niedeggen


The detection of a salient visual target embedded in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) can be severely affected if target-like distractors are presented previously. This phenomenon, known as distractor-induced blindness (DIB), shares the prerequisites of contingent attentional capture (Folk, Remington, & Johnston, 1992). In both, target processing is transiently impaired by the presentation of distractors defined by similar features. In the present study, we investigated whether the speeded response to a target in the DIB paradigm can be described in terms of a contingent attentional capture process. In the first experiments, multiple distractors were embedded in the RSVP stream. Distractors either shared the target’s visual features (Experiment 1A) or differed from them (Experiment 1B). Congruent with hypotheses drawn from contingent attentional capture theory, response times (RTs) were exclusively impaired in conditions with target-like distractors. However, RTs were not impaired if only one single target-like distractor was presented (Experiment 2). If attentional capture directly contributed to DIB, the single distractor should be sufficient to impair target processing. In conclusion, DIB is not due to contingent attentional capture, but may rely on a central suppression process triggered by multiple distractors.

Keywords: visual attention, contingent attentional capture, distractor-induced blindness

The Field of View is More Useful in Golfers than Regular Exercisers original article

pp. 64-69 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0207-4

Karen Murphy


Superior visual attention skills are vital for excellent sports performance. This study used a cognitive skills approach to examine expert and novice differences in a visual spatial attention task. Thirty-two males aged 18 to 42 years completed this study in return for course credit or monetary incentive. Participants were expert golfers (N = 18) or exercise controls (N = 14). Spatial attention was assessed using the useful field of view task which required participants to locate a target shown 10°, 20°, and 30° of eccentricity from centre in very brief presentations. At each degree of eccentricity, golfers were more accurate at locating the target than the exercise controls. These results provide support for the broad transfer hypothesis by demonstrating a link between golf expertise and better performance on an objective measure of spatial attention skills. Therefore, it appears that sports expertise can transfer to expertise in non-sport related tasks.

Keywords: visual attention, expert golfers, exercise controls, useful field of view, broad transfer hypothesis, cognitive skills approach

Response Preparation, Response Conflict, and the Effects of Irrelevant Flanker Stimuli original article

pp. 70-82 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0208-3

Peter Wühr, Herbert Heuer


The present study explored how response preparation modulates the effects of response conflict as induced by irrelevant flanker stimuli. In Experiments 1 and 2, an unreliable response cue (i.e., valid in 75% of trials but invalid in 25% of trials) preceded the stimulus display containing a target stimulus and different types (i.e., identical, neutral, compatible, or incompatible) flanker stimuli. In Experiment 3, a fully reliable response cue (i.e., valid in 100% of trials) or a neutral cue preceded the stimulus display. There were two major findings. First, valid response cues always improved performance in terms of speed and accuracy when compared to invalid or neutral cues, indicating that the cues were used to selectively prepare the indicated response. Second, response preparation with unreliable response cues did not modulate flanker-induced response conflict in reaction times (RTs; and not consistently in error percentages), whereas response preparation with reliable cues eliminated flanker-induced response conflict. According to these results, only extreme levels of response preparation modulate (flanker-induced) response conflict. The results of computer simulations suggest some boundary conditions for our conclusion.

Keywords: Eriksen task, flanker task, response cueing, response preparation

Is Attentional Resource Allocation Across Sensory Modalities Task-Dependent? original article

pp. 83-96 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0209-2

Basil Wahn, Peter König


Human information processing is limited by attentional resources. That is, via attentional mechanisms, humans select a limited amount of sensory input to process while other sensory input is neglected. In multisensory research, a matter of ongoing debate is whether there are distinct pools of attentional resources for each sensory modality or whether attentional resources are shared across sensory modalities. Recent studies have suggested that attentional resource allocation across sensory modalities is in part task-dependent. That is, the recruitment of attentional resources across the sensory modalities depends on whether processing involves object-based attention (e.g., the discrimination of stimulus attributes) or spatial attention (e.g., the localization of stimuli). In the present paper, we review findings in multisensory research related to this view. For the visual and auditory sensory modalities, findings suggest that distinct resources are recruited when humans perform object-based attention tasks, whereas for the visual and tactile sensory modalities, partially shared resources are recruited. If object-based attention tasks are time-critical, shared resources are recruited across the sensory modalities. When humans perform an object-based attention task in combination with a spatial attention task, partly shared resources are recruited across the sensory modalities as well. Conversely, for spatial attention tasks, attentional processing does consistently involve shared attentional resources for the sensory modalities. Generally, findings suggest that the attentional system flexibly allocates attentional resources depending on task demands. We propose that such flexibility reflects a large-scale optimization strategy that minimizes the brain’s costly resource expenditures and simultaneously maximizes capability to process currently relevant information.

Keywords: attentional resources, load theory, multiple object tracking, attentional blink, multisensory

Exploring Modality Compatibility in the Response-Effect Compatibility Paradigm original article

pp. 97-104 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0210-1

Noémi Földes, Andrea M. Philipp, Arnaud Badets, Iring Koch


According to ideomotor theory, action planning is based on anticipatory perceptual representations of action-effects. This aspect of action control has been investigated in studies using the response-effect compatibility (REC) paradigm, in which responses have been shown to be facilitated if ensuing perceptual effects share codes with the response based on dimensional overlap (i.e., REC). Additionally, according to the notion of ideomotor compatibility, certain response-effect (R-E) mappings will be stronger than others because some response features resemble the anticipated sensory response effects more strongly than others (e.g., since vocal responses usually produce auditory effects, an auditory stimulus should be anticipated in a stronger manner following vocal responses rather than following manual responses). Yet, systematic research on this matter is lacking. In the present study, two REC experiments aimed to explore the influence of R-E modality mappings. In Experiment 1, vocal number word responses produced visual effects on the screen (digits vs. number words; i.e., visual-symbolic vs. visual-verbal effect codes). The REC effect was only marginally larger for visual-verbal than for visual-symbolic effects. Using verbal effect codes in Experiment 2, we found that the REC effect was larger with auditory-verbal R-E mapping than with visual-verbal R-E mapping. Overall, the findings support the hypothesis of a role of R-E modality mappings in REC effects, suggesting both further evidence for ideomotor accounts as well as code-specific and modality-specific contributions to effect anticipation.

Keywords: action control, ideomotor principle, response-effect compatibility, modality compatibility

Empathy in Negative and Positive Interpersonal Interactions. What is the Relationship Between Central (EEG, fNIRS) and Peripheral (Autonomic) Neurophysiological Responses? original article

pp. 105-120 | First published on 31 March 2017 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0211-0

Michela Balconi, Elide Vanutelli


Emotional empathy is crucial to understand how we respond to interpersonal positive or negative situations. In the present research, we aim at identifying the neural networks and the autonomic responsiveness underlying the human ability to perceive and empathize with others’ emotions when positive (cooperative) or negative (uncooperative) interactions are observed. A multimethodological approach was adopted to elucidate the reciprocal interplay of autonomic (peripheral) and central (cortical) activities in empathic behavior. Electroencephalography (EEG, frequency band analysis) and hemodynamic (functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, fNIRS) activity were all recorded simultaneously with systemic skin conductance response (SCR) and heart rate (HR) measurements as potential biological markers of emotional empathy. Subjects were required to empathize in interpersonal interactions. As shown by fNIRS/EEG measures, negative situations elicited increased brain responses within the right prefrontal cortex (PFC), whereas positive situations elicited greater responses within the left PFC. Therefore, a relevant lateralization effect was induced by the specific valence (mainly for negative conditions) of the emotional interactions. Also, SCR was modulated by positive/negative conditions. Finally, EEG activity (mainly low-frequency theta and delta bands) intrinsically correlated with the cortical hemodynamic responsiveness, and they both predicted autonomic activity. The integrated central and autonomic measures better elucidated the significance of empathic behavior in interpersonal interactions.

Keywords: interpersonal empathy, positive/negative interac- tions, fNIRS, brain oscilla- tions; autonomic activity