How human language arose is a mystery in the evolution of Homo sapiens. Miyagawa et al. (2013) put forward a proposal, which we will call the Integration Hypothesis of human language evolution, that holds that human language is composed of two components, E for expressive, and L for lexical. Each component has an antecedent in nature: E as found, for example, in birdsong, and L in, for example, the alarm calls of monkeys. E and L integrated uniquely in humans to give rise to language. A challenge to the Integration Hypothesis is that while these non-human systems are finite-state in nature, human language is known to require characterization by a non-finite state grammar. Our claim is that E and L, taken separately, are in fact finite-state; when a grammatical process crosses the boundary between E and L, it gives rise to the non-finite state character of human language. We provide empirical evidence for the Integration Hypothesis by showing that certain processes found in contemporary languages that have been characterized as non-finite state in nature can in fact be shown to be finite-state. We also speculate on how human language actually arose in evolution through the lens of the Integration Hypothesis.
biolinguistics; language evolution; linguistics; birdsong; agreement; movement in language
There is a growing body of research indicating that bodily sensation and behavior strongly influences one's emotional reaction toward certain situations or objects. On this background, a framework model of embodied affectivity1 is suggested: we regard emotions as resulting from the circular interaction between affective qualities or affordances in the environment and the subject's bodily resonance, be it in the form of sensations, postures, expressive movements or movement tendencies. Motion and emotion are thus intrinsically connected: one is moved by movement (perception; impression; affection2) and moved to move (action; expression; e-motion). Through its resonance, the body functions as a medium of emotional perception: it colors or charges self-experience and the environment with affective valences while it remains itself in the background of one's own awareness. This model is then applied to emotional social understanding or interaffectivity which is regarded as an intertwinement of two cycles of embodied affectivity, thus continuously modifying each partner's affective affordances and bodily resonance. We conclude with considerations of how embodied affectivity is altered in psychopathology and can be addressed in psychotherapy of the embodied self.
embodiment; affect; emotion; body feedback; embodied intersubjectivity; interaffectivity; psychopathology; embodied therapies
Nicotine alters appetite and energy expenditure, leading to changes in body weight. While the exact mechanisms underlying these effects are not fully established, both central and peripheral involvement of the alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR) has been suggested. Centrally, the α7nAChR modulates activity of hypothalamic neurons involved in food intake regulation, including proopiomelanocortin and neuropeptide Y. α7nAChRs also modulate glutamatergic and dopaminergic systems controlling reward processes that affect food intake. Additionally, α7nAChRs are important peripheral mediators of chronic inflammation, a key contributor to health problems in obesity. This review focuses on nicotinic cholinergic effects on eating behaviors, specifically those involving the α7nAChR, with the hypothesis that α7nAChR agonism leads to appetite suppression. Recent studies are highlighted that identify links between α7nAChR expression and obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes and describe early findings showing an α7nAChR agonist to be associated with reduced weight gain in a mouse model of diabetes. Given these effects, the α7nAChR may be a useful therapeutic target for strategies to treat and manage obesity.
α7 nicotinic receptor; nicotine; obesity; eating behaviors; food intake
Interpersonal trust is an essential ingredient of many social relationships but how stable is it actually, and how is it controlled? There is evidence that the degree of trust into others might be rather volatile and can be affected by manipulations like drawing attention to personal interdependence or independence. Here we investigated whether the degree of interpersonal trust can be biased by inducing either a more integrative or a more focused/exclusive cognitive control mode by means of a creativity task requiring divergent or convergent thinking, respectively. Participants then performed the trust game, which provides an index of interpersonal trust by assessing the money units one participant (the trustor) transfers to another (the trustee). As expected, trustors transferred significantly more money to trustees after engaging in divergent thinking as compared to convergent thinking. This observation provides support for the idea that interpersonal trust is controlled by domain-general (i.e., not socially dedicated) cognitive states.
control-state; interpersonal trust; divergent thinking; convergent thinking
Play has proved to have a central role in children's development, most notably in rule learning (Piaget, 1965; Sutton-Smith, 1979) and negotiation of roles and goals (Garvey, 1974; Bruner et al., 1976). Yet very little research has been done on early play. The present study focuses on early social games, i.e., vocal-kinetic play routines that mothers use to interact with infants from very early on. We explored 3-month-old infants and their mothers performing a routine game first in the usual way, then in two violated conditions: without gestures and without sound. The aim of the study is to investigate infants' participation and expectations in the game and whether this participation is affected by changes in the multimodal format of the game. Infants' facial expressions, gaze, and body movements were coded to measure levels of engagement and affective state across the three conditions. Results showed a significant decrease in Limbs Movements and expressions of Positive Affect, an increase in Gaze Away and in Stunned Expression when the game structure was violated. These results indicate that the violated game conditions were experienced as less engaging, either because of an unexpected break in the established joint routine, or simply because they were weaker versions of the same game. Overall, our results suggest that structured, multimodal play routines may constitute interactional contexts that only work as integrated units of auditory and motor resources, representing early communicative contexts which prepare the ground for later, more complex multimodal interactions, such as verbal exchanges.
play; early routine; multimodal interactions; expectations; structured games
It has been suggested that certain real-world environments can have a restorative effect on an individual, as expressed in changes in cognitive performance and mood. Much of this research builds on Attention Restoration Theory (ART), which suggests that environments that have certain characteristics induce cognitive restoration via variations in attentional demands. Specifically, natural environments that require little top-down processing have a positive effect on cognitive performance, while city-like environments show no effect. We characterized the cognitive restoration effect further by examining (1) whether natural visual stimuli, such as blue spaces, were more likely to provide a restorative effect over urban visual stimuli, (2) if increasing immersion with environment-related sound produces a similar or superior effect, (3) if this effect extends to other cognitive tasks, such as the functional field of view (FFOV), and (4) if we could better understand this effect by providing controls beyond previous works. We had 202 participants complete a cognitive task battery, consisting of a reverse digit span task, the attention network task, and the FFOV task prior to and immediately after a restoration period. In the restoration period, participants were assigned to one of seven conditions in which they listened to natural or urban sounds, watched images of natural or urban environments, or a combination of both. Additionally, some participants were in a control group with exposure to neither picture nor sound. While we found some indication of practice effects, there were no differential effects of restoration observed in any of our cognitive tasks, regardless of condition. We did, however, find evidence that our nature images and sounds were more relaxing than their urban counterparts. Overall, our findings suggest that acute exposure to relaxing pictorial and auditory stimulus is insufficient to induce improvements in cognitive performance.
cognitive restoration; Attention Restoration Theory; natural environments; urban environments; immersion; mood; attention
Bi- and multilingualism has been shown to have positive effects on the attainment of third and additional languages. These effects, however, depend on the type of bi- and multilingualism and the status of the languages involved (Cenoz, 2003; Jessner, 2006). In this exploratory trend study, we revisit Cummins' Threshold Hypothesis (1979), claiming that bilingual children must reach certain levels of attainment in order to (a) avoid academic deficits and (b) allow bilingualism to have a positive effect on their cognitive development and academic attainment. To this end, we examine the attainment of English as an academic language of 16-years-old school children from Hamburg (n = 52). Our findings support the existence of thresholds for literacy attainment. We argue that language external factors may override positive effects of bilingualism. In addition, these factors may compensate negative effects attributable to low literacy attainment in German and the heritage languages. We also show that low attainment levels in migrant children's heritage languages preempt high literacy attainment in additional languages.
attainment of academic literacy; bilingualism; English as a foreign language; English as an additional language; migrant languages; third language acquisition; threshold hypothesis
culture; self-construal; embodied cognition; distance perception; motor effort
Group work is used as a means for learning at all levels in educational systems. There is strong scientific support for the benefits of having students learning and working in groups. Nevertheless, studies about what occurs in groups during group work and which factors actually influence the students’ ability to learn is still lacking. Similarly, the question of why some group work is successful and other group work results in the opposite is still unsolved. The aim of this article is to add to the current level of knowledge and understandings regarding the essence behind successful group work in higher education. This research is focused on the students’ experiences of group work and learning in groups, which is an almost non-existing aspect of research on group work prior to the beginning of the 21st century. A primary aim is to give university students a voice in the matter by elucidating the students’ positive and negative points of view and how the students assess learning when working in groups. Furthermore, the students’ explanations of why some group work ends up being a positive experience resulting in successful learning, while in other cases, the result is the reverse, are of interest. Data were collected through a study-specific questionnaire, with multiple choice and open-ended questions. The questionnaires were distributed to students in different study programs at two universities in Sweden. The present result is based on a reanalysis and qualitative analysis formed a key part of the study. The results indicate that most of the students’ experiences involved group work that facilitated learning, especially in the area of academic knowledge. Three important prerequisites (learning, study-social function, and organization) for group work that served as an effective pedagogy and as an incentive for learning were identified and discussed. All three abstractions facilitate or hamper students’ learning, as well as impact their experiences with group work.
group work; collaborative learning; cooperative learning; higher education; students’ perspectives; qualitative research
The aim of this investigation was to identify the book reading behaviors and book reading styles of middle class African American mothers engaged in a shared book reading activity with their preschool children. To this end, the mothers and their children were videotaped reading one of three books, Julius, Grandfather and I, or Somewhere in Africa. Both maternal and child behaviors were coded for the frequency of occurrence of story grammar elements contained in their stories and maternal behaviors were also coded for their use of narrative eliciting strategies. In addition, mothers were queried about the quality and quantity of book reading/story telling interactions in the home environment. The results suggest that there is a great deal of individual variation in how mothers use the story grammar elements and narrative eliciting strategies to engage their children in a shared book reading activity. Findings are discussed in terms of suggestions for additional research and practical applications are offered on ways to optimally engage African American preschool children and African American families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in shared book reading interactions.
African American mothers and children; book reading interactions; home reading environment; book reading styles; story grammar use and African American mothers
A host of research has now shown that our explicit goals and intentions can, in large part, overcome the capture of visual attention by objects that differ from their surroundings in terms of size, shape, or color. Surprisingly however, there is little evidence for the role of implicit learning in mitigating capture effects despite the fact that such learning has been shown to strongly affect behavior in a host of other performance domains. Here, we employ a modified attention capture paradigm, based on the work of Theeuwes (1991, 1992), in which participants must search for an odd-shaped target amongst homogeneous distracters. On each trial, there is also a salient, but irrelevant odd-colored distracter. Across the experiments reported, we intermix two search contexts: for one set of distracters (e.g., squares) the shape singleton and color singleton coincide on a majority of trials (high proportion congruent condition), whereas for the other set of distracters (e.g., circles) the shape and color singletons are highly unlikely to coincide (low proportion congruent condition). Crucially, we find that observers learn to allow the capture of attention by the salient distracter to a greater extent in the high, compared to the low proportion congruent condition, albeit only when search is sufficiently difficult. Moreover, this effect of prior experience on search behavior occurs in the absence of awareness of our proportion manipulation. We argue that low-level properties of the search displays recruit representations of prior experience in a rapid, flexible, and implicit manner.
attention capture; implicit learning; visual search; proportion congruency; episodic retrieval
In this study, we investigated the labeling of facial expressions in French-speaking children. The participants were 137 French-speaking children, between the ages of 5 and 11 years, recruited from three elementary schools in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The facial expressions included expressions of happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust. Participants were shown one facial expression at a time, and asked to say what the stimulus person was feeling. Participants’ responses were coded by two raters who made judgments concerning the specific emotion category in which the responses belonged. 5- and 6-year-olds were quite accurate in labeling facial expressions of happiness, anger, and sadness but far less accurate for facial expressions of fear, surprise, and disgust. An improvement in accuracy as a function of age was found for fear and surprise only. Labeling facial expressions of disgust proved to be very difficult for the children, even for the 11-year-olds. In order to examine the fit between the model proposed by Widen and Russell (2003) and our data, we looked at the number of participants who had the predicted response patterns. Overall, 88.52% of the participants did. Most of the participants used between 3 and 5 labels, with correspondence percentages varying between 80.00% and 100.00%. Our results suggest that the model proposed by Widen and Russell (2003) is not limited to English-speaking children, but also accounts for the sequence of emotion labeling in French-Canadian children.
facial expression; emotion; labeling; children
Late adolescents with career choice problems often have psychological problems as well. The starting point of this study was the question of career choice counselors whether potential clients with career choice problems and psychological problems could be accepted in career choice intervention, or whether it was better to advise them to seek help for their psychological problems. We investigated whether a successful career choice intervention reduced psychological problems, and whether this program was equally effective in participants with low and with high levels of psychological problems. Participants were 45 Dutch students (age 17–24) with career choice problems. They had above average levels of self-reported psychological problems before the start of the intervention. These problems decreased significantly following the intervention. With regard to vocational commitment development, the intervention was equally effective for participants with low or average and with (very) high levels of psychological problems before the start of the intervention.
career choice problems; psychological problems; intervention; identity development; late adolescents
A key feature of the human cognitive system is its ability to deal with an ever-changing environment. One prototypical example is the observation that we adjust our information processing depending on the conflict-likelihood of a context (context-specific proportion congruency effect, CSPC, Crump etal., 2006). Recently, empirical studies started to question the role of consciousness in these strategic adaptation processes (for reviews, see Desender and Van den Bussche, 2012; Kunde etal., 2012). However, these studies have not yielded unequivocal results (e.g., Kunde, 2003; Heinemann etal., 2009; Van Gaal etal., 2010a; Desender etal., 2013; Reuss etal., 2014). In the present study, we aim at replicating the experiment of Heinemann etal. (2009) in which the proportion of congruent and incongruent trials between different contexts was varied in a masked priming task. Their results showed a reduction of the congruency effect for the context with more incongruent trials. However, this CSPC effect was only observed when the prime–target conflict was conscious, rather than unconscious, suggesting that context-specific control operates within the boundaries of awareness. Our replication attempt however contrasts these findings. In the first experiment we found no evidence for a CSPC effect in reaction times (RTs), neither in the conscious nor in the unconscious condition. The error rate analysis did show a CSPC effect, albeit not one modulated by consciousness. In the second experiment we found an overall CSPC effect in RTs, independent of consciousness. The error rates did not display a CSPC pattern. These mixed results seem to nuance the findings of Heinemann etal. (2009) and highlight the need for replication studies in psychology research.
masked priming; consciousness; cognitive control; CSPC effect; context
The left anterior temporal lobe (LATL) has risen as a leading candidate for a brain locus of composition in language; yet the computational details of its function are unknown. Although most literature discusses it as a combinatory region in very general terms, it has also been proposed to reflect the more specific function of conceptual combination, which in the classic use of this term mainly pertains to the combination of open class words with obvious conceptual contributions. We aimed to distinguish between these two possibilities by contrasting plural nouns in contexts where they were either preceded by a color modifier (“red cups”), eliciting conceptual combination, or by a number word (“two cups”), eliciting numeral quantification but no conceptual combination. This contrast was chosen because within a production task, it allows the manipulation of composition type while keeping the physical stimulus constant: a display of two red cups can be named as “two cups” or “red cups” depending on the task instruction. These utterances were compared to productions of two-word number and color lists, intended as non-combinatory control conditions. Magnetoencephalography activity was recorded during the planning for production, prior to motion artifacts. As expected on the basis of comprehension studies, color modification elicited increased LATL activity as compared to color lists, demonstrating that this basic combinatory effect is strongly crossmodal. However, numeral quantification did not elicit a parallel effect, suggesting that the function of the LATL is (i) semantic and not syntactic (given that both color modification and numeral quantification involve syntactic composition) and (ii) corresponds more closely to the classical psychological notion of conceptual combination as opposed to a more general semantic combinatory function.
cognitive neuroscience of language; syntax; semantics; language production; anterior temporal lobe; conceptual representation; quantification; magnetoencephalography (MEG)
sensorimotor effects on perception; multisensory integration; speech perception; auditory processing; Motor Theory
This paper introduces data from Kafr Qasem Sign Language (KQSL), an as-yet undescribed sign language, and identifies the earliest indications of embedding in this young language. Using semantic and prosodic criteria, we identify predicates that form a constituent with a noun, functionally modifying it. We analyze these structures as instances of embedded predicates, exhibiting what can be regarded as very early stages in the development of subordinate constructions, and argue that these structures may bear directly on questions about the development of embedding and subordination in language in general. Deutscher (2009) argues persuasively that nominalization of a verb is the first step—and the crucial step—toward syntactic embedding. It has also been suggested that prosodic marking may precede syntactic marking of embedding (Mithun, 2009). However, the relevant data from the stage at which embedding first emerges have not previously been available. KQSL might be the missing piece of the puzzle: a language in which a noun can be modified by an additional predicate, forming a proposition within a proposition, sustained entirely by prosodic means.
sign language; prosody; embedding; syntax; nominalization
Speech is characterized by phonemes and prosody. Neurocognitive evidence supports the separate processing of each type of information. Therefore, one might suggest individual development of both pathways. In this study, we examine literacy acquisition in middle childhood. Children become aware of the phonemes in speech at that time and refine phoneme processing when they acquire an alphabetic writing system. We test whether an enhanced sensitivity to phonemes in middle childhood extends to other aspects of the speech signal, such as prosody. To investigate prosodic processing, we used stress priming. Spoken stressed and unstressed syllables (primes) preceded spoken German words with stress on the first syllable (targets). We orthogonally varied stress overlap and phoneme overlap between the primes and onsets of the targets. Lexical decisions and Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) for the targets were obtained for pre-reading preschoolers, reading pupils and adults. The behavioral and ERP results were largely comparable across all groups. The fastest responses were observed when the first syllable of the target word shared stress and phonemes with the preceding prime. ERP stress priming and ERP phoneme priming started 200 ms after the target word onset. Bilateral ERP stress priming was characterized by enhanced ERP amplitudes for stress overlap. Left-lateralized ERP phoneme priming replicates previously observed reduced ERP amplitudes for phoneme overlap. Groups differed in the strength of the behavioral phoneme priming and in the late ERP phoneme priming effect. The present results show that enhanced phonological processing in middle childhood is restricted to phonemes and does not extend to prosody. These results are indicative of two parallel processing systems for phonemes and prosody that might follow different developmental trajectories in middle childhood as a function of alphabetic literacy.
spoken word recognition; lexical stress; ERPs
Two general claims are made in this work. First, we need several different layers of “theory,” in particular for understanding human behavior. These layers should concern: the cognitive (mental) representations and mechanisms; the neural underlying processes; the evolutionary history and adaptive functions of our cognition and behaviors; the emergent and complex social structures and dynamics, their relation and feedbacks on individual minds and behaviors, and the relationship between internal regulating goals and the external functions/roles of our conduct; the historical and cultural mechanisms shaping our minds and behaviors; the developmental paths. Second, we do not just need “predictions” and “laws” but also “explanations”; that is, we need to identify the mechanisms producing (here-and-now, or diachronically) a given phenomenon. “Laws” are not enough; they are simply descriptive and predictive; we need the “why” and “how.” Correlations are not enough (and they are frequently misleading). We need computational models of the processes postulated in our theories1.
reductionism; cognitive architecture; emergence; intentions; functions; computer modeling and simulation; proximate causes
field of view; orientation; geometry; geometric cues; theoretical model
This experiment investigated the influence of motor expertise on object-based versus egocentric transformations in a chronometric mental rotation task using images of either the own or another person’s body as stimulus material. According to the embodied cognition viewpoint, we hypothesized motor-experts to outperform non-motor experts specifically in the egocentric condition because of higher kinesthetic representation and motor simulations compared to object-based transformations. In line with this, we expected that images of the own body are solved faster than another person’s body stimuli. Results showed a benefit of motor expertise and representations of another person’s body, but only for the object-based transformation task. That is, this other-advantage diminishes in egocentric transformations. Since motor experts did not show any specific expertise in rotational movements, we concluded that using human bodies as stimulus material elicits embodied spatial transformations, which facilitates performance exclusively for egocentric transformations. Regarding stimulus material, the other-advantage ascribed to increased self-awareness-consciousness distracting attention-demanding resources, disappeared in the egocentric condition. This result may be due to the stronger link between the bodily self and motor representations compared to that emerging in object-based transformations.
mental rotation; motor expertise; object-based and egocentric transformation; self-other related stimuli
The primary aim of this study was to examine the role of cue utilization in the initial acquisition of psycho-motor skills. Two experiments were undertaken, the first of which examined the relationship between cue utilization typologies and levels of accuracy following four simulated, power-off landing trials in a light aircraft simulator. The results indicated that higher levels of cue utilization were associated with a greater level of landing accuracy following training exposure. In the second study, participants’ levels of cue utilization were assessed prior to two 15 min periods during which they practiced take-offs and landings using a simulated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Consistent with Study 1, the outcomes of Study 2 revealed a statistically significant relationship among levels of cue utilization and the number of trials to criterion on the take-off task, and the proportion of successful trials during both take-off and landing. In combination, the results suggest that the capacity for the acquisition and the subsequent utilization of cues is an important predictor of skill acquisition, particularly during the initial stages of the process. The implications for theory and applied practice are discussed.
skill acquisition; cue utilization; expertise; training
time; spatial cognition; SNARC effect; mental representations; mental time travel; time perception; mental time line
Information on an object's features bound to its location is very important for maintaining object representations in visual working memory. Interactions with dynamic multi-dimensional objects in an external environment require complex cognitive control, including the selective maintenance of feature-location binding. Here, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate brain activity and functional connectivity related to the maintenance of complex feature-location binding. Participants were required to detect task-relevant changes in feature-location binding between objects defined by color, orientation, and location. We compared a complex binding task requiring complex feature-location binding (color-orientation-location) with a simple binding task in which simple feature-location binding, such as color-location, was task-relevant and the other feature was task-irrelevant. Univariate analyses showed that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), hippocampus, and frontoparietal network were activated during the maintenance of complex feature-location binding. Functional connectivity analyses indicated cooperation between the inferior precentral sulcus (infPreCS), DLPFC, and hippocampus during the maintenance of complex feature-location binding. In contrast, the connectivity for the spatial updating of simple feature-location binding determined by reanalyzing the data from Takahama et al. (2010) demonstrated that the superior parietal lobule (SPL) cooperated with the DLPFC and hippocampus. These results suggest that the connectivity for complex feature-location binding does not simply reflect general memory load and that the DLPFC and hippocampus flexibly modulate the dorsal frontoparietal network, depending on the task requirements, with the infPreCS involved in the maintenance of complex feature-location binding and the SPL involved in the spatial updating of simple feature-location binding.
dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; feature-location binding; functional connectivity; hippocampus; maintenance
infant vowel perception; fast phonetic learning; Natural Referent Vowel framework; perceptual asymmetry; infant MMR (mismatch response)