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    ABSTRACT: In English, transitive events can be described in various ways. The main possibilities are active-voice and passive-voice, which are assumed to have distinct semantic and pragmatic functions. Within the passive, there are two further options, namely be-passive or get-passive. While these two forms are generally understood to differ, there is little agreement on precisely how and why. The passive Patient is frequently cited as playing a role, though again agreement on the specifics is rare. Here we present three paraphrasing experiments investigating Patient-related constraints on the selection of active vs. passive voice, and be- vs. get-passive, respectively. Participants either had to re-tell short stories in their own words (Experiments 1 and 2) or had to answer specific questions about the Patient in those short stories (Experiment 3). We found that a given Agent in a story promotes the use of active-voice, while a given Patient promotes be-passives specifically. Meanwhile, get-passive use increases when the Patient is marked as important. We argue that the three forms of transitive description are functionally and semantically distinct, and can be arranged along two dimensions: Patient Prominence and Patient Importance. We claim that active-voice has a near-complementary relationship with the be-passive, driven by which protagonist is given. Since both get and be are passive, they share the features of a Patient-subject and an optional Agent by-phrase; however, get specifically responds to a Patient being marked as important. Each of these descriptions has its own set of features that differentiate it from the others.
    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2013; 4:848.
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    ABSTRACT: Healthy participants tend to show systematic biases in spatial attention, usually to the left. However, these biases can shift rightwards as a result of a number of experimental manipulations. Using electroencephalography (EEG) and a computerized line bisection task, here we investigated for the first time the neural correlates of changes in spatial attention bias induced by line-length (the so-called line-length effect). In accordance with previous studies, an overall systematic left bias (pseudoneglect) was present during long line but not during short line bisection performance. This effect of line-length on behavioral bias was associated with stronger right parieto-occipital responses to long as compared to short lines in an early time window (100-200ms) post-stimulus onset. This early differential activation to long as compared to short lines was task-independent (present even in a non-spatial control task not requiring line bisection), suggesting that it reflects a reflexive attentional response to long lines. This was corroborated by further analyses source-localizing the line-length effect to the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and revealing a positive correlation between the strength of this effect and the magnitude by which long lines (relative to short lines) drive a behavioral left bias across individuals. Therefore, stimulus-driven left bisection bias was associated with increased right hemispheric engagement of areas of the ventral attention network. This further substantiates that this network plays a key role in the genesis of spatial bias, and suggests that post-stimulus TPJ-activity at early information processing stages (around the latency of the N1 component) contributes to the left bias.
    NeuroImage 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Asymmetry in human spatial attention has long been documented. In the general population the majority of individuals tend to misbisect horizontal lines to the left of veridical centre. Nonetheless in virtually all previously reported studies on healthy participants, there have been subsets of people displaying rightward biases. In this study, we report differential time-on task effects depending on participants' initial pseudoneglect bias: participants with an initial left bias in a landmark task (in which they had to judge whether a transection mark appeared closer to the right or left end of a line) showed a significant rightward shift over the course of the experimental session, whereas participants with an initial right bias shifted leftwards. We argue that these differences in initial biases as well as the differential shifts with time-on task reflect genuine observer subtypes displaying diverging behavioural patterns. These observer subtypes could be driven by differences in brain organisation and/ or lateralisation such as varying anatomical pathway asymmetries (Thiebaut de Schotten et al. 2011).
    Neuropsychologia 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: To date, cognitive probe paradigms have been used in different guises to obtain reaction time measurements suggestive of an attention bias towards sleep in insomnia. This study adopts a methodology which is novel to sleep research to obtain a continual record of where the eyes-and therefore attention-are being allocated with regard to sleep and neutral stimuli. A head mounted eye tracker (Eyelink II,SR Research, Ontario, Canada) was used to monitor eye movements in respect to two words presented on a computer screen, with one word being a sleep positive, sleep negative, or neutral word above or below a second distracter pseudoword. Probability and reaction times were the outcome measures. Sleep group classification was determined by screening interview and PSQI (> 8 = insomnia, < 3 = good sleeper) score. Those individuals with insomnia took longer to fixate on the target word and remained fixated for less time than the good sleep controls. Word saliency had an effect with longer first fixations on positive and negative sleep words in both sleep groups, with largest effect sizes seen with the insomnia group. This overall delay in those with insomnia with regard to vigilance and maintaining attention on the target words moves away from previous attention bias work showing a bias towards sleep, particularly negative, stimuli but is suggestive of a neurocognitive deficit in line with recent research. Woods; HC; Scheepers C; Ross KA; Espie CA; Biello SM. What are you looking at? Moving toward an attentional timeline in insomnia: a novel semantic eye tracking study. SLEEP 2013;36(10):1491-1499.
    Sleep 05/2013; 36(10):1491-1499.
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    ABSTRACT: The strongest connections to V1 are fed back from neighbouring area V2 and from a network of higher cortical areas (e.g. V3, V5, LOC, IPS and A1), transmitting the results of cognitive operations such as prediction, attention and imagination. V1 is therefore at the receiving end of a complex cortical processing cascade and not only at the entrance stage of cortical processing of retinal input. One elegant strategy to investigate this information-rich feedback to V1 is to eliminate feedforward input, that is, exploit V1's retinotopic organisation to isolate subregions receiving no direct bottom-up stimulation. We highlight the diverse mechanisms of cortical feedback, ranging from gain control to predictive coding, and conclude that V1 is involved in rich internal communication processes.
    Current opinion in neurobiology 02/2013;
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    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 01/2013; 7:79.
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) tend to have sensory processing difficulties (Baranek et al. in J Child Psychol Psychiatry 47:591-601, 2006). These difficulties include over- and under-responsiveness to sensory stimuli, and problems modulating sensory input (Ben-Sasson et al. in J Autism Dev Disorders 39:1-11, 2009). As those with ASD exist at the extreme end of a continuum of autistic traits that is also evident in the general population, we investigated the link between ASD and sensory sensitivity in the general population by administering two questionnaires online to 212 adult participants. Results showed a highly significant positive correlation (r = .775, p < .001) between number of autistic traits and the frequency of sensory processing problems. These data suggest a strong link between sensory processing and autistic traits in the general population, which in turn potentially implicates sensory processing problems in social interaction difficulties.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Grapheme-colour synaesthesia is a well-characterized phenomenon in which achromatic letters and/or digits automatically and systematically trigger specific colour sensations. Models of its underlying mechanisms diverge on a central question: whether triggered sensations reflect (1) an overdeveloped capacity in normal cross-modal processing (i.e.,, sharing characteristics with the general population), or rather (2) qualitatively deviant processing (i.e.,, unique to a few individuals). To test to what extent synaesthesia-like (automatic) letter-colour associations may be learned by non-synaesthetes into adulthood, implied by (1), we developed a learning paradigm that aimed to implicitly train such associations via a visual search task that employed statistical probability learning of specific letter-colour pairs. In contrast to previous synaesthesia-training studies (Cohen Kadosh, Henik, Catena, Walsh, & Fuentes, 2009; Meier & Rothen, 2009), here all participants were naïve as to the end-goal of the experiment (i.e.,, the formation of letter-colour associations), mimicking the learning conditions of acquired grapheme-colour synaesthesia (Hancock, 2006; Witthoft & Winawer, 2006). In two experiments, we found evidence for significant binding of colours to letters by non-synaesthetes. These newly-formed associations showed synaesthesia-like characteristics, because they correlated in strength with performance on individual synaesthetic Stroop-tasks (experiment 1), and because interference between the learned (associated) colour and the real colour during letter processing depended on their relative positions in colour space (opponent vs. non-opponent colours, experiment 2) suggesting automatic formation on a perceptual rather than conceptual level, analogous to synaesthesia. Although not evoking conscious colour percepts, these learned, synaesthesia-like associations in non-synaesthetes support that common mechanisms may underlie letter-colour associations in synaesthetes and non-synaesthetes.
    Neuropsychologia 09/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The failure-to-detect good-fit semantic anomalies is taken as evidence for shallow semantic processing, however the cognitive mechanisms involved are not well understood. To investigate this we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to sentences that contained good and poor-fit semantic anomalies and non-anomalous controls. Detected good-fit anomalies elicited an N400 effect when detection accuracy was stressed, indicating the registration of the anomaly. ERP analyses further ruled out that anomaly non-/detection is due to differences in initial word encoding or in processing prior contextual information. In addition, starting in the P2 interval, the ERP waveform was less positive for non-detected than detected anomalies and non-anomalous controls, presumably reflecting a language-driven modulation of visual input processing. And finally, detection of good-fit anomalies may also depend on the integration of sentential information into the discourse model at the end of the critical sentence. Overall, present findings support the shallow processing account of anomaly detection failure.
    Neuropsychologia 09/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Binocular deficits are relatively common within a typical sample of observers. This has implications for research on binocular vision, as a variety of stereo deficits can affect performance. Despite this, there is no agreed standard for testing stereo capabilities in observers and many studies do not report visual abilities at all. Within the stereo literature, failure to report screening and sampling has the potential to undermine the results of otherwise strictly controlled research. We reviewed research articles on binocular vision published in three journals between 2000 and 2008 to illustrate how screening for binocular deficits and sampling of participants is approached. Our results reveal that 44% of the studies do not mention screening for stereo deficits and 91% do not report selection of participants. The percentage of participants excluded from studies that report stereo screening amounts to 3.9% and 0.7% for studies that do not report stereo screening. These low numbers contrast with the exclusion of 17.6% of participants in studies that report screening for binocular deficits as well as selection of participants. We discuss various options for stereo testing and the need for stereo-motion testing with reference to recent research on binocular perception.
    Vision research 04/2012; 62:228-34.
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