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Category: Cognition

Sympathetic arousal, but not disturbed executive functioning, mediates the impairment of cognitive flexibility under stress

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 94-102 Abstract “Cognitive flexibility emerges from an interplay of multiple cognitive systems, of which lexical-semantic and executive are thought to be the most important. Yet this has not been addressed by previous studies demonstrating that such forms of flexible thought deteriorate under stress. Motivated by these shortcomings, the present study evaluated several candidate mechanisms implied to mediate the impairing effects of stress on flexible thinking. Fifty-seven healthy adults were randomly assigned to psychosocial stress or control condition while assessed for performance on cognitive flexibility, working memory capacity, semantic fluency, and self-reported cognitive interference. Stress response was indicated… Read More

A thought in the park: The influence of naturalness and low-level visual features on expressed thoughts

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 82-93 Abstract “Prior research has shown that the physical characteristics of one’s environment have wide ranging effects on affect and cognition. Other research has demonstrated that one’s thoughts have impacts on mood and behavior, and in this three-part research program we investigated how physical features of the environment can alter thought content. In one study, we analyzed thousands of journal entries written by park visitors to examine how low-level and semantic visual features of the parks correlate with different thought topics. In a second study, we validated our ecological results by conducting an online… Read More

Effects of metric hierarchy and rhyme predictability on word duration in The Cat in the Hat

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 71-81 Abstract “Word durations convey many types of linguistic information, including intrinsic lexical features like length and frequency and contextual features like syntactic and semantic structure. The current study was designed to investigate whether hierarchical metric structure and rhyme predictability account for durational variation over and above other features in productions of a rhyming, metrically-regular children’s book: The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss, 1957). One-syllable word durations and inter-onset intervals were modeled as functions of segment number, lexical frequency, word class, syntactic structure, repetition, and font emphasis. Consistent with prior work, factors predicting longer word durations and… Read More

Inferring causes during speech perception

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 55-70 Abstract “One of the central challenges in speech perception is the lack of invariance: talkers differ in how they map words onto the speech signal. Previous work has shown that one mechanism by which listeners overcome this variability is adaptation. However, talkers differ in how they pronounce words for a number of reasons, ranging from more permanent, characteristic factors such as having a foreign accent, to more temporary, incidental factors, such as speaking with a pen in the mouth. One challenge for listeners is that the true cause underlying atypical pronunciations is never directly known, and instead… Read More

Dynamic competition account of men’s perceptions of women’s sexual interest

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 43-54 Abstract “This work applies a dynamic competition framework of decision making to the domain of sexual perception, which is linked theoretically and empirically to college men’s risk for exhibiting sexual coercion and aggression toward female acquaintances. Within a mouse-tracking paradigm, 152 undergraduate men viewed full-body photographs of women who varied in affect (sexual interest or rejection), clothing style (provocative or conservative), and attractiveness, and decided whether each woman currently felt sexually interested or rejecting. Participants’ mouse movements were recorded to capture competition dynamics during online processing (throughout the decisional process), and as an… Read More

Investing in commitment: Persistence in a joint action is enhanced by the perception of a partner’s effort

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 37-42 Abstract “Can the perception that one’s partner is investing effort generate a sense of commitment to a joint action? To test this, we developed a 2-player version of the classic snake game which became increasingly boring over the course of each round. This enabled us to operationalize commitment in terms of how long participants persisted before pressing a ‘finish’ button to conclude each round. Our results from three experiments reveal that participants persisted longer when they perceived what they believed to be cues of their partner’s effortful contribution (Experiment 1). Crucially, this effect… Read More

Adding statistical regularity results in a global slowdown in visual search

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 19-27 Abstract “Current statistical learning theories predict that embedding implicit regularities within a task should further improve online performance, beyond general practice. We challenged this assumption by contrasting performance in a visual search task containing either a consistent-mapping (regularity) condition, a random-mapping condition, or both conditions, mixed. Surprisingly, performance in a random visual search, without any regularity, was better than performance in a mixed design search that contained a beneficial regularity. This result was replicated using different stimuli and different regularities, suggesting that mixing consistent and random conditions leads to an overall slowing down of performance.… Read More

Contour interpolation: A case study in Modularity of Mind

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 1-18 Abstract “In his monograph Modularity of Mind (1983), philosopher Jerry Fodor argued that mental architecture can be partly decomposed into computational organs termed modules, which were characterized as having nine cooccurring features such as automaticity, domain specificity, and informational encapsulation. Do modules exist? Debates thus far have been framed very generally with few, if any, detailed case studies. The topic is important because it has direct implications on current debates in cognitive science and because it potentially provides a viable framework from which to further understand and make hypotheses about the mind’s structure… Read More

Switching between lift and use grasp actions

Published in: Cognition, Volume 174, May 2018, 28-36 Abstract “Switching between competing grasp postures incurs costs on speeded performance. We examined switch costs between lift versus use actions under task conditions that required subjects to identify familiar objects. There were no asymmetrical interference effects, though reliable costs occurred when the same object required a different action on consecutive trials. In addition, lift actions were faster to objects targeted for a prospective use action than objects irrelevant to this intended goal. The benefit of a lift-then-use action sequence was not merely due to the production of two different actions in short order… Read More