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1.  Sugar ingestion and dichotic listening: Increased perceptual capacity is more than motivation 
Participants ingested a sugar drink or a sugar-free drink and then engaged in a pair of dichotic listening tasks. Tasks presented category labels then played a series of word pairs, one in the left ear and one in the right. Participants attempted to identify pairs containing a target category member. Target category words were homonyms. For example, arms appeared as a target in the “body parts” category. Nontargets that played along with targets were related to a category-appropriate version of the target (e.g., sleeves), a category-inappropriate version (e.g., weapons), or were unrelated to either version of the target (e.g., plant). Hence, an effect of nontarget type on number of targets missed was evidence that participants processed nontargets for meaning. In the divided attention task, participants monitored both ears. In the focused attention task, participants monitored the left ear. Half the participants in each group had the divided attention task before the focused attention task; the other half had the focused attention task before the divided attention task. We set task lengths to about 12 min so working on the first task would give sufficient time for metabolizing sugar from the drink before the start of the second task. Nontarget word type significantly affected targets missed in both tasks. Drink type affected performance in the divided attention task only after sufficient time for converting sugar into blood glucose. The result supports an energy model for the effect of sugar ingestion on perceptual tasks rather than a motivational model.
PMCID: PMC3996712  PMID: 24855500
perceptual load; selective attention; glucose; dichotic listening
2.  Testing day: The effects of processing bias induced by Navon stimuli on the strength of the Müller-Lyer illusion 
Explanations for the cognitive basis of the Müller-Lyer illusion are still frustratingly mixed. To date, Day’s (1989) theory of perceptual compromise has received little empirical attention. In this study, we examine the merit of Day’s hypothesis for the Müller-Lyer illusion by biasing participants toward global or local visual processing through exposure to Navon (1977) stimuli, which are known to alter processing level preference for a short time. Participants (N = 306) were randomly allocated to global, local, or control conditions. Those in global or local conditions were exposed to Navon stimuli for 5 min and participants were required to report on the global or local stimulus features, respectively. Subsequently, participants completed a computerized Müller-Lyer experiment where they adjusted the length of a line to match an illusory-figure. The illusion was significantly stronger for participants with a global bias, and significantly weaker for those with a local bias, compared with the control condition. These findings provide empirical support for Day’s “conflicting cues” theory of perceptual compromise in the Müller-Lyer illusion.
PMCID: PMC3996713  PMID: 24855498
Müller-Lyer; processing bias; global; local; Navon stimuli
3.  Absolute and relative pitch: Global versus local processing of chords 
Absolute pitch (AP) is the ability to identify or produce notes without any reference note. An ongoing debate exists regarding the benefits or disadvantages of AP in processing music. One of the main issues in this context is whether the categorical perception of pitch in AP possessors may interfere in processing tasks requiring relative pitch (RP). Previous studies, focusing mainly on melodic and interval perception, have obtained inconsistent results. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of AP and RP separately, using isolated chords. Seventy-three musicians were categorized into four groups of high and low AP and RP, and were tested on two tasks: identifying chord types (Task 1), and identifying a single note within a chord (Task 2). A main effect of RP on Task 1 and an interaction between AP and RP in reaction times were found. On Task 2 main effects of AP and RP, and an interaction were found, with highest performance in participants with both high AP and RP. Results suggest that AP and RP should be regarded as two different abilities, and that AP may slow down reaction times for tasks requiring global processing.
PMCID: PMC3996714  PMID: 24855499
absolute pitch; relative pitch; global processing; local processing
4.  Effects of targets embedded within words in a visual search task 
Visual search performance can be negatively affected when both targets and distracters share a dimension relevant to the task. This study examined if visual search performance would be influenced by distracters that affect a dimension irrelevant from the task. In Experiment 1 within the letter string of a letter search task, target letters were embedded within a word. Experiment 2 compared targets embedded in words to targets embedded in nonwords. Experiment 3 compared targets embedded in words to a condition in which a word was present in a letter string, but the target letter, although in the letter string, was not embedded within the word. The results showed that visual search performance was negatively affected when a target appeared within a high frequency word. These results suggest that the interaction and effectiveness of distracters is not merely dependent upon common features of the target and distracters, but can be affected by word frequency (a dimension not related to the task demands).
PMCID: PMC3996724  PMID: 24855497
distracters; visual search; holistic bias; word frequency effects
5.  Number sense or working memory? The effect of two computer-based trainings on mathematical skills in elementary school 
Research on the improvement of elementary school mathematics has shown that computer-based training of number sense (e.g., processing magnitudes or locating numbers on the number line) can lead to substantial achievement gains in arithmetic skills. Recent studies, however, have highlighted that training domain-general cognitive abilities (e.g., working memory [WM]) may also improve mathematical achievement. This study addressed the question of whether a training of domain-specific number sense skills or domain-general WM abilities is more appropriate for improving mathematical abilities in elementary school. Fifty-nine children (Mage = 9 years, 32 girls and 27 boys) received either a computer-based, adaptive training of number sense (n = 20), WM skills (n = 19), or served as a control group (n = 20). The training duration was 20 min per day for 15 days. Before and after training, we measured mathematical ability using a curriculum-based math test, as well as spatial WM. For both training groups, we observed substantial increases in the math posttest compared to the control group (d = .54 for number sense skills training, d = .57 for WM training, respectively). Whereas the number sense group showed significant gains in arithmetical skills, the WM training group exhibited marginally significant gains in word problem solving. However, no training group showed significant posttest gains on the spatial WM task. Results indicate that a short training of either domain-specific or domain-general skills may result in reliable short-term training gains in math performance, although no stable training effects were found in the spatial WM task.
PMCID: PMC4116755  PMID: 25157301
working memory training; number sense training; elementary school; arithmetics
6.  Long-term response-stimulus associations can influence distractor-response bindings 
Strong associations between target stimuli and responses usually facilitate fast and effortless reactions. The present study investigated whether long-term associations between distractor stimuli and responses modulate behavior. In particular, distractor stimuli can affect behavior due to distractor-based stimulus-response retrieval, a phenomenon called distractor-response binding: An ignored stimulus becomes temporarily associated with a response and retrieves it at stimulus repetition. In a flanker task, participants ignored left and right pointing arrows and responded to a target letter either with left and right (strongly associated) responses or with upper and lower (weakly associated) responses. Binding effects were modulated in dependence of the long-term association strength between distractors and responses. If the association was strong (arrows pointing left and right with left and right responses), binding effects emerged but only in case of compatible responses. If the long-term association between distractors and responses was weak (arrows pointing left and right with upper and lower responses), binding was weaker and not modulated by compatibility. In contrast, sequential compatibility effects were not modulated by association strength between distractor and response. The results indicate that existing long-term associations between stimuli responses may modulate the impact of an ignored stimulus on action control.
PMCID: PMC4116758  PMID: 25157302
long-term associations; short-term stimulus- response bindings; distractor-response binding; action control; learning
7.  Executive functions, impulsivity, and inhibitory control in adolescents: A structural equation model 
Background. Adolescence represents a critical period for brain development, addressed by neurodevelopmental models to frontal, subcortical-limbic, and striatal activation, a pattern associated with rise of impulsivity and deficits in inhibitory control. The present study aimed at studying the association between self-report measures of impulsivity and inhibitory control with executive function in adolescents, employing structural equation modeling. Method. Tests were administered to 434 high school students. Acting without thinking was measured through the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and the Dickman Impulsivity Inventory, reward sensitivity through the Behavioral Activation System, and sensation seeking through the Zuckerman–Kuhlman–Aluja Personali- ty Questionnaire. Inhibitory control was assessed through the Behavioral Inhibition System. The performance at the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task indicated executive function. Three models were specified using Sample Covariance Matrix, and the estimated parameters using Maximum Likelihood. Results. In the final model, impulsivity and inhibitory control predicted executive function, but sensation seeking did not. The fit of the model to data was excellent. Conclusions. The hypothesis that inhibitory control and impulsivity are predictors of executive function was supported. Our results appear informative of the validity of self-report measures to examine the relation between impulsivity traits rather than others to regulatory function of cognition and behavior.
PMCID: PMC4118776  PMID: 25157298
executive function; impulsivity; inhibitory control; sensation seeking; personality
8.  Abnormalities in visual processing amongst students with body image concerns 
Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) appear to possess abnormalities in the way they observe and discriminate visual information. A pre-occupation with perceived defects in appearance has been attributed to a local visual processing bias. We studied the nature of visual bias in individuals who may be at risk of developing BDD – those with high body image concerns (BICs) – by using inverted stimulus discrimination. Inversion disrupts global, configural information in favor of local, feature-based processing. 40 individuals with high BIC and 40 low BIC controls performed a discrimination task with upright and inverted faces, bodies, and scenes. Individuals with high BIC discriminated inverted faces and bodies faster than controls, and were also more accurate when discriminating inverted bodies and scenes. This reduction in inversion effect for high BIC individuals may be due to a stimulus-general local, detail-focused processing bias, which may be associated with maladaptive fixation on small features in their appearance.
PMCID: PMC4116756  PMID: 25157299
body image; visual processing; inversion effect; faces; bodies; scenes; body dysmorphic disorder
9.  Discrimination in measures of knowledge monitoring accuracy 
Advances in Cognitive Psychology  2014;10(3):104-112.
Knowledge monitoring predicts academic outcomes in many contexts. However, measures of knowledge monitoring accuracy are often incomplete. In the current study, a measure of students’ ability to discriminate known from unknown information as a component of knowledge monitoring was considered. Undergraduate students’ knowledge monitoring accuracy was assessed and used to predict final exam scores in a specific course. It was found that gamma, a measure commonly used as the measure of knowledge monitoring accuracy, accounted for a small, but significant amount of variance in academic performance whereas the discrimination and bias indexes combined to account for a greater amount of variance in academic performance.
PMCID: PMC4197454  PMID: 25339979
knowledge monitoring; metacognition; measures of knowledge monitoring
10.  Mood Induction in Children: Effect of the Affective Valence of a Text on Phonological Working Memory 
Advances in Cognitive Psychology  2014;10(3):113-118.
The influence of mood on working memory capacity has been investigated in adults, albeit with conflicting results, but remains relatively unexplored in children. The present study examined the effect of a mood induction procedure on phonological working memory capacity in fourth and fifth graders. An initial working memory span test was followed first by a collective mood induction procedure, then by a second working memory span test. Results showed an effect of mood induction procedure on phonological working memory performances, with decreasing scores in the case of negative mood. These results suggest that, in certain contexts and situations, negative emotion has an impact on children’s cognitive abilities.
PMCID: PMC4197459  PMID: 25339980
children; text valence; emotion; mood; phonological working memory
11.  Trait anxiety reduces affective fading for both positive and negative autobiographical memories 
The affect associated with negative events fades faster than the affect associated with positive events (the Fading Affect Bias; the FAB). The research that we report examined the relation between trait anxiety and the FAB. Study 1 assessed anxiety using the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale; Studies 2 and 3 used the Beck Anxiety Inventory. Studies 1 and 2 used retrospective procedures to probe positive event memories and negative event memories while Study 3 used a diary procedure. The results of all 3 studies showed that increased anxiety was associated with both a lowered FAB and lower overall affect fading for both positive events and negative events. These results suggest that for people free of trait anxiety, the FAB reflects the operation of a healthy coping mechanism in autobiographical memory that is disrupted by trait anxiety.
PMCID: PMC4197641  PMID: 25320653
trait anxiety; fading affect bias; emotion; autobiographical memory
12.  The effect of spatial organization of targets and distractors on the capacity to selectively memorize objects in visual short-term memory 
Advances in Cognitive Psychology  2014;10(3):90-103.
We conducted a series of experiments to explore how the spatial configuration of objects influences the selection and the processing of these objects in a visual short-term memory task. We designed a new experiment in which participants had to memorize 4 targets presented among 4 distractors. Targets were cued during the presentation of distractor objects. Their locations varied according to 4 spatial configurations. From the first to the last configuration, the distance between targets’ locations was progressively increased. The results revealed a high capacity to select and memorize targets embedded among distractors even when targets were extremely distant from each other. This capacity is discussed in relation to the unitary conception of attention, models of split attention, and the competitive interaction model. Finally, we propose that the spatial dispersion of objects has different effects on attentional allocation and processing stages. Thus, when targets are extremely distant from each other, attentional allocation becomes more difficult while processing becomes easier. This finding implicates that these 2 aspects of attention need to be more clearly distinguished in future research.
PMCID: PMC4197781  PMID: 25339978
visual short-term memory; selective attention; spatial organization; cueing
13.  Proactive control of proactive interference using the method of loci 
Proactive interferencebuilds up with exposure to multiple lists of similar items with a resulting reduction in recall. This study examined the effectiveness of using a proactive strategy of the method of loci to reduce proactive interference in a list recall paradigm of categorically similar words. While all participants reported using some form of strategy to recall list words, this study demonstrated that young adults were able to proactively use the method of loci after 25 min of instruction to reduce proactive interference as compared with other personal spontaneous strategies. The implications of this study are that top-down proactive strategies such as the method of loci can significantly reduce proactive interference, and that the use of image and sequence or location are especially useful in this regard.
PMCID: PMC4116757  PMID: 25157300
method of loci; proactive interference; mnemonics
14.  The Equiprobability Bias from a Mathematical and Psychological Perspective 
Advances in Cognitive Psychology  2014;10(4):119-130.
The equiprobability bias (EB) is a tendency to believe that every process in which randomness is involved corresponds to a fair distribution, with equal probabilities for any possible outcome. The EB is known to affect both children and adults, and to increase with probability education. Because it results in probability errors resistant to pedagogical interventions, it has been described as a deep misconception about randomness: the erroneous belief that randomness implies uniformity. In the present paper, we show that the EB is actually not the result of a conceptual error about the definition of randomness. On the contrary, the mathematical theory of randomness does imply uniformity. However, the EB is still a bias, because people tend to assume uniformity even in the case of events that are not random. The pervasiveness of the EB reveals a paradox: The combination of random processes is not necessarily random. The link between the EB and this paradox is discussed, and suggestions are made regarding educational design to overcome difficulties encountered by students as a consequence of the EB.
PMCID: PMC4310748
equiprobability bias; subjective probability; complexity; randomness; uniformity
15.  Gaining the Upper Hand: Evidence of Vertical Asymmetry in Sex-Categorisation of Human Hands 
Advances in Cognitive Psychology  2014;10(4):131-143.
Visual perception is characterised by asymmetries arising from the brain’s preferential response to particular stimulus types at different retinal locations. Where the lower visual field (LVF) holds an advantage over the upper visual field (UVF) for many tasks (e.g., hue discrimination, contrast sensitivity, motion processing), face-perception appears best supported at above-fixation locations (Quek & Finkbeiner, 2014a). This finding is consistent with Previc’s (1990) suggestion that vision in the UVF has become specialised for object recognition processes often required in ”extrapersonal” space. Outside of faces, however, there have been very few investigations of vertical asymmetry effects for higher-level objects. Our aim in the present study was, thus, to determine whether the UVF advantage reported for face-perception would extend to a nonface object – human hands. Participants classified the sex of hand images presented above or below central fixation by reaching out to touch a left or right response panel. On each trial, a briefly presented spatial cue captured the participant’s spatial attention to either the location where the hand was about to appear (valid cue) or the opposite location (invalid cue). We observed that cue validity only modulated the efficiency of the sex-categorisation response for targets in the LVLVF and not the UVF, just as we have reported previously for face-sex categorisation (Quek & Finkbeiner, 2014a). Taken together, the data from these studies provide some empirical support for Previc’s (1990) speculation that object recognition processes may enjoy an advantage in the upper-hemifield.
PMCID: PMC4313869
vertical asymmetry; upper visual field; lower visual field; attention; sex-categorisation; hands
16.  Encoding strategy affects false recall and recognition: Evidence from categorical study material 
The present research investigated memory vulnerability to distortions. Different encoding strategies were used when categorized lists were studied. The authors assumed that an imagery strategy would be responsible for decreasing false memories more than a word-whispering strategy, which is consistent with the model of semantic access and previous research in the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm (the DRM paradigm; Deese, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995). A normative study of category lists and 4 experiments were conducted to verify the memory vulnerability to different encoding strategies (imagery, word-whispering, control). Half of subjects recalled and half recognized previously studied words. The results revealed a marked reduction in false recognition and recall after imagery encoding, relative to after word-whispering encoding.
PMCID: PMC3664540  PMID: 23717349
false memory; imagery encoding; categorical study lists; mnemonic strategies
17.  Early dynamics of the semantic priming shift 
Semantic processing of sequences of words requires the cognitive system to keep several word meanings simultaneously activated in working memory with limited capacity. The real- time updating of the sequence of word meanings relies on dynamic changes in the associates to the words that are activated. Protocols involving two sequential primes report a semantic priming shift from larger priming of associates to the first prime to larger priming of associates to the second prime, in a range of long SOAs (stimulus-onset asynchronies) between the second prime and the target. However, the possibility for an early semantic priming shift is still to be tested, and its dynamics as a function of association strength remain unknown. Three multiple priming experiments are proposed that cross-manipulate association strength between each of two successive primes and a target, for different values of short SOAs and prime durations. Results show an early priming shift ranging from priming of associates to the first prime only to priming of strong associates to the first prime and all of the associates to the second prime. We investigated the neural basis of the early priming shift by using a network model of spike frequency adaptive cortical neurons (e.g., Deco & Rolls, 2005), able to code different association strengths between the primes and the target. The cortical network model provides a description of the early dynamics of the priming shift in terms of pro-active and retro-active interferences within populations of excitatory neurons regulated by fast and unselective inhibitory feedback.
PMCID: PMC3664541  PMID: 23717346
association strength; concept; interstimulus interval; multiple priming; prime duration
18.  Retrospective perceptual distortion of position representation does not lead to delayed localization 
Previous studies have reported retrospective influences of visual events that occur after target events. In the attentional attraction effect, a position cue presented after a target stimulus distorts the target’s position towards that of the cue. The present study explored the temporal relationship between stimulus presentation and reaction time (RT) in this effect in two experiments. Participants performed a speeded localization task on two vertical lines, the positions of which were to be distorted by an additional attentional cue. No significant difference in RTs was found between the conditions with simultaneous and delayed cues. RTRT was modulated by the perceived (rather than physical) alignment of the lines. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the strength of attentional capture by modulating the color relevance of the cue to the target. Trials with cues producing stronger attentional capture (with cues of a different color from the targets) were found to induce apparently stronger distortion effects. This result favors the notion that the observed repulsion and attraction effects are driven by attentional mechanisms. Overall, the results imply that the attentional shift induced by the cue might occur rapidly and complete before the establishment of conscious location representation of the cue and the target without affecting overall response time.
PMCID: PMC3664542  PMID: 23717348
attention; distortion; reaction time; retrospective; space
19.  Number perseveration in healthy subjects: Does prolonged stimulus exposure influence performance on a serial addition task? 
Perseverative behavior characterizes mainly patients with severe psychopathology, but it can also be observed in healthy individuals. The aim of the reported experiment was to investigate a serial addition task that elicits strong perseverative behavior in normal subjects by examining the significance of perseveration in the final step of this addition task (Gardner, 1971) as a function of time availability. The classical serial addition task, which was used in the experiment, consisted of 4 consecutive digit decreases in the added numbers following a constant digit (1,000 + 40 + 1,000 + 30 + 1,000 + 20 + 1,000 + 10) and required an additive calculation. The main questions were how and if color and time variations could influence perseverative responses in this task and whether memory performance and relevant mathematical knowledge of the participants could have an effect on responses. The sample of subjects participating in the experiment consisted of 300 healthy university students (112 male, 188 female) ranging from 17 to 40 years of age. They were divided in 5 groups of 60 subjects each. A memory digit span and spatial test were administered and relevant scores were taken for each subject of the 5 groups. Obtained results suggest the presence of a strong perseverative error in the final step of the presentation of digits for the large majority of subjects and for all 5 conditions. It seems that time and color changes and the memory span of the participants have no detectable effect on performance on this specific serial addition task.
PMCID: PMC3664543  PMID: 23717347
perseveration; serial addition task; color variation; time variation
20.  Confidence intervals for two sample means: Calculation, interpretation, and a few simple rules 
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.
PMCID: PMC3699740  PMID: 23826038
confidence intervals; graphical data presentation; repeated measures; within-subjects designs; between-subjects designs
21.  Visual movement perception in deaf and hearing individuals 
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.
PMCID: PMC3699779  PMID: 23826037
deafness; cross-modal plasticity; localization of motion; direction of motion
22.  Attentional capture by emotional faces in adolescence 
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.
PMCID: PMC3699780  PMID: 23826039
adolescence; cognitive control; flanker task; affective; non-affective; risk taking
23.  Mental rotation performance in soccer players and gymnasts in an object-based mental rotation task 
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.
PMCID: PMC3700661  PMID: 23833695
embodied cognition; motor expertise; gender effect; rotational experts
24.  Does the athletes’ body shape the athletes’ mind? A few ideas on athletes’ mental rotation performance. Commentary on Jansen and Lehmann 
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.
PMCID: PMC3700736  PMID: 23833696
embodiment; mental simulation; congruency effect
25.  Advances in experimental psychopatholinguistics: What can we learn from simulation of disorder-like symptoms in human volunteers? 
Advances in Cognitive Psychology  2013;9(2):102-111.
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.
PMCID: PMC3700744  PMID: 23833697
aphasia; dyslexia; errors; simulation; language

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