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Volume 9 Issue 2 (2013)

Visual movement perception in deaf and hearing individuals original article

pp. 53-61 | First published on 30 June 2013 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0131-z

Nadine Hauthal, Pascale Sandmann, Stefan Debener, Jeremy D. Thorne


A number of studies have investigated changes in the perception of visual motion as a result of altered sensory experiences. An animal study has shown that auditory-deprived cats exhibit enhanced performance in a visual movement detection task compared to hearing cats (Lomber, Meredith, & Kral, 2010). In humans, the behavioural evidence regarding the perception of motion is less clear. The present study investigated deaf and hearing adult participants using a movement localization task and a direction of motion task employing coherently-moving and static visual dot patterns. Overall, deaf and hearing participants did not differ in their movement localization performance, although within the deaf group, a left visual field advantage was found. When discriminating the direction of motion, however, deaf participants responded faster and tended to be more accurate when detecting small differences in direction compared with the hearing controls. These results conform to the view that visual abilities are enhanced after auditory deprivation and extend previous findings regarding visual motion processing in deaf individuals.

Keywords: deafness, cross-modal plasticity, localization of motion, direction of motion

Emergence of spontaneous anticipatory hand movements in a probabilistic environment original article

pp. 62-73 | First published on 30 June 2013 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0132-y

Pernille Bruhn


In this article, we present a novel experimental approach to the study of anticipation in probabilistic cuing. We implemented a modified spatial cuing task in which participants made an anticipatory hand movement toward one of two probabilistic targets while the (x, y)-computer mouse coordinates of their hand movements were sampled. This approach allowed us to tap into anticipatory processes as they occurred, rather than just measuring their behavioral outcome through reaction time to the target. In different conditions, we varied the participants' degree of certainty of the upcoming target position with probabilistic pre-cues. We found that participants initiated spontaneous anticipatory hand movements in all conditions, even when they had no information on the position of the upcoming target. However, participants' hand position immediately before the target was affected by the degree of certainty concerning the target's position. This modulation of anticipatory hand movements emerged rapidly in most participants as they encountered a constant probabilistic relation between a cue and an upcoming target position over the course of the experiment. Finally, we found individual differences in the way anticipatory behavior was modulated with an uncertain/neutral cue. Implications of these findings for probabilistic spatial cuing are discussed.

Keywords: anticipation, prediction, probabilistic spatial cuing, statistical learning, computer mouse tracking

Confidence intervals for two sample means: Calculation, interpretation, and a few simple rules original article

pp. 74-80 | First published on 30 June 2013 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0133-x

Roland Pfister, Markus Janczyk


Valued by statisticians, enforced by editors, and confused by many authors, standard errors (SEs) and confidence intervals (CIs) remain a controversial issue in the psychological literature. This is especially true for the proper use of CIs for within-subjects designs, even though several recent publications elaborated on possible solutions for this case. The present paper presents a short and straightforward introduction to the basic principles of CI construction, in an attempt to encourage students and researchers in cognitive psychology to use CIs in their reports and presentations. Focusing on a simple but prevalent case of statistical inference, the comparison of two sample means, we describe possible CIs for between- and within-subjects designs. In addition, we give hands-on examples of how to compute these CIs and discuss their relation to classical t-tests.

Keywords: confidence intervals, graphical data presentation, repeated measures, within-subjects designs, between-subjects designs

Attentional capture by emotional faces in adolescence original article

pp. 81-91 | First published on 30 June 2013 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0134-9

Jillian Grose-Fifer, Andrea Rodrigues, Steven Hoover, Tina Zottoli


Poor decision making during adolescence occurs most frequently when situations are emotionally charged. However, relatively few studies have measured the development of cognitive control in response to emotional stimuli in this population. This study used both affective (emotional faces) and non-affective (letter) stimuli in two different flanker tasks to assess the ability to ignore task-irrelevant but distracting information, in 25 adults and 25 adolescents. On the non-emotional (letter) flanker task, the presence of incongruent flanking letters increased the number of errors, and also slowed participants? ability to identify a central letter. Adolescents committed more errors than adults, but there were no age-related differences for the reaction time interference effect in the letter condition. Post-hoc testing revealed that age-related differences on the task were driven by the younger adolescents (11-14 years); adults and older adolescents (15-17 years) were equally accurate in the letter condition. In contrast, on the emotional face flanker task, not only were adolescents less accurate than adults but they were also more distracted by task-irrelevant fearful faces as evidenced by greater reaction time interference effects. Our findings suggest that the ability to self-regulate in adolescents, as evidenced by the ability to suppress irrelevant information on a flanker task, is more difficult when stimuli are affective in nature. The ability to ignore irrelevant flankers appears to mature earlier for non-affective stimuli than for affective stimuli.

Keywords: adolescence, cognitive control, flanker task, affective, non-affective, risk taking

Mental rotation performance in soccer players and gymnasts in an object-based mental rotation task original article

pp. 92-98 | First published on 30 June 2013 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0135-8

Petra Jansen, Jennifer Lehmann


In this study, the effect of motor expertise on an object-based mental rotation task was investigated. 60 males and 60 females (40 soccer players, 40 gymnasts, and 40 non-athletes, equivalent males and females in each group) solved a psychometric mental rotation task with both cube and human figures. The results revealed that all participants had a higher mental rotation accuracy for human figures compared to cubed figures, that the gender difference was reduced with human figures, and that gymnasts demonstrated a better mental rotation performance than non-athletes. The results are discussed against the background of the existing literature on motor experts, mental rotation performance as well as the importance of the testing situation and the test construction.

Keywords: embodied cognition, motor expertise, gender effect, rotational experts

Does the athletes' body shape the athletes' mind? A few ideas on athletes' mental rotation performance. Commentary on Jansen and Lehmann original article

pp. 99-101 | First published on 30 June 2013 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0136-7

Thomas Heinen


Athletes exhibit differences in perceptual-cognitive abilities when compared to non-athletes. Recent theoretical developments focus on the role of the athletes' body in perceptual-cognitive tasks such as mental rotation tasks. It is assumed that the degree to which stimuli in mental rotation tasks can be embodied facilitates the mental rotation process. The implications of this assumption are discussed and ideas for future research are presented.

Keywords: embodiment, mental simulation, congruency effect

Advances in experimental psychopatholinguistics: What can we learn from simulation of disorder-like symptoms in human volunteers? original article

pp. 102-111 | First published on 30 June 2013 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0137-6

Stefan Heim


For more than a century, work on patients with acquired or developmental language disorders has informed psycholinguistic models of normal linguistic processing in healthy persons. On the other hand, such models of healthy language processing have been used as blue-prints to gain further insights into the impairments of patients with language pathologies. Against the exemplary background of language production, the first part of this paper reflects this relationship and formulates a desideratum for naturalistic albeit controlled experimental settings. Two recent examples of behavioural and neurofunctional research are presented in which aphasia-like speech symptoms were elicited in healthy control subjects. In the second part, this idea to investigate disorder-like symptoms which are being experimentally induced for the course of the study is further pursued in the field of reading and dyslexia research. Here, it is argued, again on the basis of behavioural and neurofunctional data, that such an approach is advantageous in at least two respects: 1. It allows a much more stringent control of experimental factors and confounds than could be potentially achieved in a clinical setting. 2. It allows in-extenso piloting of experiments with healthy volunteers before actually recruiting selected (and sometimes rare) patients. It will be concluded that the experimental simulation of disorder-like symptoms in easily accessible healthy volunteers may be a useful approach to understand novel aspects of a language disorder on the basis of a human neurocognitive model of this disorder.

Keywords: aphasia, dyslexia, errors, simulation, language