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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. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00848
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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; 86(100). DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.10.014
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    Cortex 10/2013; 49(10). DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2013.09.009
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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; 51(13). DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.09.030
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    ABSTRACT: Voice-induced synesthesia, a form of synesthesia in which synesthetic perceptions are induced by the sounds of people's voices, appears to be relatively rare and has not been systematically studied. In this study we investigated the synesthetic color and visual texture perceptions experienced in response to different types of "voice quality" (e.g., nasal, whisper, falsetto). Experiences of three different groups-self-reported voice synesthetes, phoneticians, and controls-were compared using both qualitative and quantitative analysis in a study conducted online. Whilst, in the qualitative analysis, synesthetes used more color and texture terms to describe voices than either phoneticians or controls, only weak differences, and many similarities, between groups were found in the quantitative analysis. Notable consistent results between groups were the matching of higher speech fundamental frequencies with lighter and redder colors, the matching of "whispery" voices with smoke-like textures, and the matching of "harsh" and "creaky" voices with textures resembling dry cracked soil. These data are discussed in the light of current thinking about definitions and categorizations of synesthesia, especially in cases where individuals apparently have a range of different synesthetic inducers.
    Frontiers in Psychology 09/2013; 4:568. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00568
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    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 07/2013; 7:79. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00079
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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. DOI:10.5665/sleep.3042
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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; 23(2). DOI:10.1016/j.conb.2013.01.020
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    ABSTRACT: Synchrony judgments involve deciding whether cues to an event are in synch or out of synch, while temporal order judgments involve deciding which of the cues came first. When the cues come from different sensory modalities these judgments can be used to investigate multisensory integration in the temporal domain. However, evidence indicates that that these two tasks should not be used interchangeably as it is unlikely that they measure the same perceptual mechanism. The current experiment further explores this issue across a variety of different audiovisual stimulus types. Participants were presented with 5 audiovisual stimulus types, each at 11 parametrically manipulated levels of cue asynchrony. During separate blocks, participants had to make synchrony judgments or temporal order judgments. For some stimulus types many participants were unable to successfully make temporal order judgments, but they were able to make synchrony judgments. The mean points of subjective simultaneity for synchrony judgments were all video-leading, while those for temporal order judgments were all audio-leading. In the within participants analyses no correlation was found across the two tasks for either the point of subjective simultaneity or the temporal integration window. Stimulus type influenced how the two tasks differed; nevertheless, consistent differences were found between the two tasks regardless of stimulus type. Therefore, in line with previous work, we conclude that synchrony and temporal order judgments are supported by different perceptual mechanisms and should not be interpreted as being representative of the same perceptual process.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e54798. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0054798
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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; DOI:10.1007/s10803-012-1608-7
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