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Volume 14 (2018) 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 14 Issue 3 (2018)

Common Cognitive Control Processes Underlying Performance in Task-Switching and Dual-Task Contexts original article

pp. 62-74 | First published on 30 September 2018 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0239-y

Patricia Hirsch, Sophie Nolden, Mathieu Declerck, Iring Koch


In the present study, participants performed highly comparable task-switching and dual-task paradigms, and the paradigm-specific performance costs were analysed in the context of the commonly postulated core components of cognitive control (i.e., working memory updating, inhibition, and shifting). In the task-switching paradigm, we found switch costs (i.e., switch trials vs. repetition trials) and mixing costs (i.e., repetition trials in mixed-task blocks vs. single-task trials). In the dual-task paradigm, we observed a psychological refractory period (PRP) effect (i.e., Task 2 [T2] performance after short stimulus-onset asynchrony [SOA] vs. long SOA), dual-task costs (i.e., T2 dual-task performance with a long SOA in trials with a task repetition between Task 1 [T1] and T2 vs. single-task performance), and switch costs in T2 (i.e., dual-task performance in trials with a switch between T1 and T2 vs. dual-task performance in trials with a repetition between T1 and T2). A with-in-subjects comparison of the performance costs showed a correlation between mixing costs and dual-task costs, possibly indicating shared underlying cognitive control processes in terms of working memory updating. Surprisingly, there was also a correlation between switch costs and the PRP effect, presumably suggesting that cognitive control, as opposed to passive queuing of response selection processes, contributes to the PRP effect.

Keywords: cognitive control, task switching, dual tasks, PRP effect

Applying Item Response Theory to Develop a Shortened Version of the Need for Cognition Scale original article

pp. 75-86 | First published on 30 September 2018 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0240-z

Francesca Chiesi, Kinga Morsanyi, Maria Anna Donati, Caterina Primi


The 18-item Need for Cognition Scale (NFC-18) is the most commonly used tool to measure the need for cognition. The aim of this study was to explore the possibility of developing an abbreviated version of the scale, applying the item response theory (IRT). Item response theory analyses suggested the exclusion of eight items that did not perform well in measuring the latent trait. The resulting 10-item scale (NFC-10), which included highly discriminative items, covered the same range of the measured trait as the original scale and showed high measurement precision along various levels of the trait. Additionally, since IRT analyses can only confirm the accuracy of the short scale in measuring the underlying construct, we sought to replicate the nomological net of the NFC-18 using the shortened version of the scale. The results showed that the NFC-10 reflects an adequate operationalization of the construct, in line with the longer version. In particular, as expected, the NFC-10 showed moderate relations with various measures of cognitive skills and self- report measures of cognitive styles, confidence, and anxiety. These findings confirm that we have obtained a much shorter version of the NFC that maintains excellent reliability and validity

Keywords: assessment, item response theory, need for cognition, short form, validity

Comparing Symbolic and Nonsymbolic Number Lines: Consistent Effects of Notation Across Output Measures original article

pp. 87-100 | First published on 30 September 2018 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0241-9

Karl K. Kopiske, Volker H. Franz


The mental number line (MNL) is a popular metaphor for magnitude representation in numerical cognition. Its shape has frequently been reported as being nonlinear, based on nonlinear response functions in magnitude estimation. We investigated whether this shape reflects a phenomenon of the mapping from stimulus to internal magnitude representation or of the mapping from internal representation to response. In five experiments, participants (total N = 66) viewed stimuli that represented numerical magnitude either in a symbolic notation (i.e., Arabic digits) or in a nonsymbolic notation (i.e., clouds of dots). Participants estimated these magnitudes by either adjusting the position of a mark on a ruler-like response bar (nonsymbolic response) or by typing the corresponding number on a keyboard (symbolic response). Responses to symbolic stimuli were markedly different from responses to nonsymbolic stimuli, in that they were mostly power- shaped. We investigated whether the nonlinearity could be explained by effects of previous trials, but such effects were (a) not strong enough to explain the nonlinear responses and (b) existed only between trials of the same input notation, suggesting that the nonlinearity is due to input mappings. Introducing veridical feedback improved the accuracy of responses, thereby showing a calibration based on the feedback. However, this calibration persisted only temporarily, and responses to nonsymbolic stimuli remained nonlinear. Overall, we conclude that the nonlinearity is a phenomenon of the mapping from nonsymbolic input format to internal magnitude representation and that the phenomenon is surprisingly robust to calibration.

Keywords: numerical cognition, nonsymbolic magnitude, number line, calibration