Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Published by Springer Nature

Online ISSN: 1531-5320


Print ISSN: 1069-9384


Structure and development of behavior systems
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December 1994


647 Reads

Behavior systems are particular organizations of cognitive structures that are called behavior mechanisms: perceptual, central, and motor. Thus, behavior systems are defined here in structural terms and not in terms of their functional characteristics. In young animals, behavior mechanisms often develop independently of functional experience, though specific types of experience are usually necessary for integrated systems to develop. These concepts are illustrated here by the dust-bathing, feeding, aggressive, and sexual systems of the fowl, which are considered to be typical of behavior systems in other species. Aspects of neural development are examined and found to facilitate our understanding of a wide range of developmental phenomena, such as critical periods and irreversibility. Finally, various examples of classical conditioning and instrumental learning are analyzed in terms of the type of structures involved, and they are related to general developmental processes.

Complex span and n-back measures of working memory: A meta-analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20, 1102-1113

June 2013


248 Reads

Working memory is a construct of primary relevance to many areas of psychology. Two types of tasks have been used to measure working memory, primarily in different research areas: Complex span tasks are commonly used in behavioral studies in the cognitive and individual-differences literature, whereas n-back tasks have been used more frequently in cognitive neuroscience studies investigating the neural underpinnings of working memory. Despite both categories of tasks being labeled as "working memory" measures, previous empirical studies have provided mixed evidence regarding the shared amount of overlapping processes between complex span and n-back tasks. The present meta-analysis showed that the complex span and n-back tasks are weakly correlated, although significant heterogeneity across studies was observed. A follow-up analysis of unpublished data indicated that the sample composition affects the relationship between the complex span and n-back tasks, following the law of diminishing returns. Finally, a separate meta-analysis indicated that the simple span and n-back tasks are correlated to the same extent as are the complex span and n-back tasks. The present findings indicate that the complex span and n-back tasks cannot be used interchangeably as working memory measures in research applications.

Age-of-acquisition effects in delayed picture-naming tasks. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20, 148-153

August 2012


148 Reads

We report two experiments that explored the linguistic locus of age-of-acquisition effects in picture naming by using a delayed naming task that involved only a low proportion of trials (25 %) while, for the large majority of the trials (75 %), participants performed another task-that is, the prevalent task. The prevalent tasks were semantic categorization in Experiment 1a and grammatical-gender decision in Experiments 1b and 2. In Experiment 1a, in which participants were biased to retrieve semantic information in order to perform the semantic categorization task, delayed naming times were affected by age of acquisition, reflecting a postsemantic locus of the effect. In Experiments 1b and 2, in which participants were biased to retrieve lexical information in order to perform the grammatical gender decision task, there was also an age-of-acquisition effect. These results suggest that part of the age-of-acquisition effect in picture naming occurs at the level at which the phonological properties of words are retrieved.

Table 1 Evidence of the Regularities: The Mirror, Variance (Slope), and z-ROC Length Effects 
Figure 2. Equal-variance normal model. (A) Four initial distributions—SN, WN, WO, and SO—on a strength decision axis; SN and WN are not separate. (B) Distributions replotted on a log-likelihood ratio decision axis. (C) Standard z-ROCs for S () and W (*). (D) New/new z-ROC.  
Table 2 Standard z-ROC Measures: Intercept (Accuracy) and Slope for Weak and Strong Conditions Intercept Slope 
Figure 3. Unequal-variance normal model. (A) Four initial distributions—SN, WN, WO, and SO—on a strength decision axis; SN and WN are not separate. (B) Distributions replotted on a log-likelihood ratio decision axis. (C) Standard z-ROCs for S () and W (*). (D) New/new z-ROC.  
Figure 4. Binomial model. The distributions and other functions shown are discrete, but we connect the discrete points by lines to make them more readily interpretable. (A) Four initial distributions—SN, WN, WO, and SO—on a strength decision axis; SN and WN are not separate. (B) Distributions replotted on a log-likelihood ratio decision axis. (C) Standard z-ROCs for S () and W (*). (D) New/new z-ROC.  


Likelihood ratio decisions in memory: Three implied regularities. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16, 431-455

July 2009


193 Reads

We analyze four general signal detection models for recognition memory that differ in their distributional assumptions. Our analyses show that a basic assumption of signal detection theory, the likelihood ratio decision axis, implies three regularities in recognition memory: (1) the mirror effect, (2) the variance effect, and (3) the z-ROC length effect. For each model, we present the equations that produce the three regularities and show, in computed examples, how they do so. We then show that the regularities appear in data from a range of recognition studies. The analyses and data in our study support the following generalization: Individuals make efficient recognition decisions on the basis of likelihood ratios.

Table 1 
Table 2 Results of multiple regressions of AB magnitude, T1 accuracy, and T2 accuracy with personality dimensions entered simultaneously 
Maclean MH, Arnell KM. Personality predicts temporal attention costs in the attentional blink paradigm. Psychon Bull Rev 17: 556-562

August 2010


319 Reads

Accuracy for a second target is reduced when it is presented within 500 msec of a first target. This phenomenon is called the attentional blink (AB). A diffused attentional state (via positive affect or an additional task) has been shown to reduce the AB, whereas a focused attentional state (via negative affect) has been shown to increase the AB, purportedly by influencing the amount of attentional investment and flexibility. In the present study, individual differences in personality traits related to positive affect, negative affect, and cognitive flexibility were used to predict individual differences in AB magnitude. As hypothesized, greater extraversion and openness predicted smaller ABs. Greater openness also predicted higher overall target accuracy. Greater neuroticism predicted larger ABs and lower overall target accuracy. Conscientiousness, associated with less cognitive flexibility, predicted lower overall target accuracy. Personality may modulate the AB by influencing overinvestment via dispositional tendencies toward more or less stringent or capable cognitive control.

Figure 1. (Top panel) Schematic of the spatial layout of the boards. (Bottom panel) The configurations of objects for Array 1 (left) and Array 2 (right).  
Figure 2. (Upper panel) Overall mean frequency of reaches per array to each location, except for Location CB (M = 1.236, SD = 0.143). (Lower panel) Means for the 12-, 15-and 18-month-olds. Bars represent standard errors.  
Figure 3.  
Figure 4.  
Changing priority maps in 12- to 18-month-olds: An emerging role for object properties

February 2010


49 Reads

Everyday action in the world requires the coordination of "where," "when," and "how" with "what." In late infancy, there appear to be changes in how these different streams of information are integrated into the sequential organization of action. An experiment with 12-, 15-, and 18-month-olds was conducted in order to determine the influence of object properties and locations on the sequential selection of targets for reaching. The results reveal a developmental trend from reach decisions' being influenced only by the spatial layout of locations to the overall pattern of reaching's being influenced by the global configuration of object properties to object properties' influencing the sequential decision of what to reach to next. This trend is a new finding regarding the development of goal-directed action in late infancy.

Comparative cognition in the 1930s

July 2000


37 Reads

According to the received view of the history of psychology, behaviorism so dominated psychology prior to the 1960s that there was little research in animal cognition. A review of the research on animal cognition during the 1930s reveals a rich literature dealing with such topics as insight, reasoning, tool use, delay problems, oddity learning, abstraction, spatial cognition, and problem solving, among others. Material on "higher processes" or a related topic was prominent in the textbooks of the period. Tracing academic lineages reveals such teachers as Harvey Carr, Robert M. Yerkes, and Edward C. Tolman as sources of this interest. The alleged hegemony of strict behavioristic psychology, interpreted as excluding research on animal cognition, requires revision. Some possible reasons for this neglect are suggested.

Chimpanzee handedness revisited: 55 years since Finch (1941)

December 1996


157 Reads

Chimpanzees and other great apes have long held the fascination of psychologists because of their morphological and behavioral similarities to humans. This paper describes the historical interest in studies on chimpanzee handedness and reviews current findings. Data are presented which suggest that transient changes in posture result in the transient expression of right-handedness in chimpanzees. The role of tool use as an evolutionary mechanism underlying the expression of right-handedness is challenged. Rather, emphasis is placed on the role of bimanual feeding as a behavioral adaptation for the expression of handedness. Suggestions for further research on the nature of nonhuman primate handedness are made in light of these findings.

Standard errors and confidence intervals in within-subjects designs: Generalizing Loftus and Masson (1994) and avoiding the biases of alternative accounts

March 2012


175 Reads

Repeated measures designs are common in experimental psychology. Because of the correlational structure in these designs, the calculation and interpretation of confidence intervals is nontrivial. One solution was provided by Loftus and Masson (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 1:476-490, 1994). This solution, although widely adopted, has the limitation of implying same-size confidence intervals for all factor levels, and therefore does not allow for the assessment of variance homogeneity assumptions (i.e., the circularity assumption, which is crucial for the repeated measures ANOVA). This limitation and the method's perceived complexity have sometimes led scientists to use a simplified variant, based on a per-subject normalization of the data (Bakeman & McArthur, Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 28:584-589, 1996; Cousineau, Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology 1:42-45, 2005; Morey, Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology 4:61-64, 2008; Morrison & Weaver, Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 27:52-56, 1995). We show that this normalization method leads to biased results and is uninformative with regard to circularity. Instead, we provide a simple, intuitive generalization of the Loftus and Masson method that allows for assessment of the circularity assumption.

Only the Shadower knows: Comment on Hamburger and Slowiaczek (1996)

June 1999


79 Reads

The phonological priming effect may reflect basic processes in spoken word perception and has thus been a central topic of recent research. In this journal, Hamburger and Slowiaczek (1996) reported phonological priming data collected in a shadowing task. They replicated a prior study (Slowiaczek & Hamburger, 1992), but added new procedures to minimize bias. After observing inhibitory priming in a "low-expectancy" condition, they concluded that facilitatory priming reflects perceptual/response bias, but that inhibitory priming reflects automatic processes of lexical access. This commentary critiques Hamburger and Slowiaczek's method and presents new data that demonstrate persistent biases in primed shadowing. I suggest that such biases reflect natural, context-sensitive listening strategies.

The lengthening effect revisited: A reply to Prinzmetal and Wilson (1997) and Masin (1999)

March 2005


48 Reads

In the present study, the lengthening phenomenon (Tsal & Shalev, 1996), namely, the increase in perceived length of unattended lines, was reexamined in light of criticisms by Prinzmetal and Wilson (1997) and Masin (1999). Prinzmetal and Wilson suggested that the effect was not due to attentional factors but to the spatial interaction between the attended line and the cue used to direct attention. We have replicated the lengthening effect when both attended and unattended lines are preceded by cues at a nearby location, showing that the effect is not caused by spatial cues per se, but instead reflects an inherent property of the attentional system. Masin argued that the lengthening effect is not robust, because it occurs for some but not for all participants. In the present study, the lengthening effect was highly reliable, occurring for each participant for a variety of line lengths.

Demonstration of a socially transmitted flavor aversion in rats? Kuan and Colwill (1997) revisited

January 2001


50 Reads

In each of three experiments that differed only in procedural detail, observer rats interacted with pairs of conspecific demonstrators, one fed a cocoa-flavored diet (Diet Coc) and the other a cinnamon-flavored diet (Diet Cin). Immediately after both members of a pair of demonstrators had been fed, and 5 min before they interacted with an observer or observers, one of the demonstrators was made ill by intraperitoneal injection with lithium chloride. After interacting with a pair of demonstrators for 15 min, each observer was allowed to choose between Diet Cin and Diet Coc for 22 h. In all three experiments, observer rats consumed as much Diet Cin after interacting simultaneously with both an ill demonstrator that had eaten Diet Cin and a healthy demonstrator that had eaten Diet Coc as after interacting simultaneously with both a healthy demonstrator that had eaten Diet Cin and an ill demonstrator that had eaten Diet Coc. These results raise questions about the generality of Kuan and Colwill's (1997) demonstration of socially transmitted flavor aversions in Norway rats.

Hemisphericsymmetries in the identification of band-pass filtered letters Reply to Christman et al. (1997)

June 1997


44 Reads

Christman, Kitterle, and Niebauer (1997) have examined the hypothesis that the two cerebral hemispheres are specialized for processing different ranges of spatial frequency. Their two experiments partially replicated an experiment of Peterzell, Harvey, and Hardyck (1989), who used Sergent's (1982) letter identification paradigm with spatial-frequency band-pass filtered letters as stimuli. We acknowledge the unusual strengths of Christman et al.'s experiments, but argue that the results support the original conclusion of Peterzell et al.: The results are not attributable to hemispheric asymmetries in spatial frequency processing.

Questions of criteria: Reply to Peterzell (1997)

June 1997


27 Reads

In a reply to our report on hemispheric differences in processing band-pass filtered letters (Christman, Kitterle, & Niebauer, 1997), Peterzell (1997) argues that our results are not attributable to hemispheric asymmetries in spatial frequency processing. Rather, Peterzell argues that factors such as response criteria and stimulus visibility can account for our results. We argue that our results are attributable (at least in part) to hemispheric asymmetries in spatial frequency processing, while at the same time we acknowledge the potential influence of other factors in the determination of hemispheric differences.

Fictional Narratives Change Beliefs: Replications of Prentice, Gerrig, and Bailis (1997) with Mixed Corroboration

March 1999


630 Reads

We report three exact replications of experiments aimed at iluminating how fictional narratives influence beliefs (Prentice, Gerrig, & Bailis, 1997). Students read fictional stories that contained weak, unsupported assertions and which took place either at their home school or at an away school. Prentice et al. found that students were influenced to accept the assertions, even those blatantly false, but that this effect on beliefs was limited to the away-school setting. We questioned the limiting of the narrative effect to remote settings. Our studies consistently reproduced the first finding, heightened acceptance of statements occurring in the conversations of narrative protagonists, but we failed to reproduce the moderating effect of school location. In an attempt to understand these discrepancies, we measured likely moderating factors such as readers' need for cognition and their extent of scrutiny of the narratives.

Table 2 ANOVA results by region for effect of condition _____________________________________________________________ 
Lexical guidance in sentence processing: A note on Adams, Clifton, and Mitchell (1998)

January 2002


392 Reads

Mitchell (1987) conducted a self-paced reading experiment that showed that people experienced difficulty reading a noun phrase when it immediately followed an intransitive verb. From this, he argued for a two-stage theory of parsing, in which verb subcategorization information is initially ignored. In response, Adams, Clifton, and Mitchell (1998) found no evidence to support this claim in an eye-tracking experiment and argued that Mitchell's segmentation procedure distorted the parsing process. We report an eye-tracking experiment, in which materials similar to those in Adams et al., but with longer noun phrases, were used, that showed a pattern of difficulty similar to Mitchell's findings. Hence, Mitchell's results did not depend on the use of an artificial method of presentation. The results cast further doubt on the adequacy of constraint-based accounts of parsing.

Figure 1. 
Figure 2. 
Modeling the word recognition data of Vitevitch and Luce (1998): Is it ARTful?

June 2007


64 Reads

Vitevitch and Luce (1998) showed that the probability with which phonemes co-occur in the language (phonotactic probability) affects the speed with which words and nonwords are named. Words with high phonotactic probabilities between phonemes were named more slowly than words with low probabilities, whereas with nonwords, just the opposite was found. To reproduce this reversal in performance, a model would seem to require not merely sublexical representations, but sublexical representations that are relatively independent of lexical representations. ARTphone (Grossberg, Boardman, & Cohen, 1997) is designed to meet these requirements. In this study, we used a technique called parameter space partitioning to analyze ARTphone's behavior and to learn if it can mimic human behavior and, if so, to understand how. To perform best, differences in sublexical node probabilities must be amplified relative to lexical node probabilities to offset the additional source of inhibition (from top-down masking) that is found at the sublexical level.

Figure 5. Panels B, D, and F show noise and signal distributions, with means of m n 5 0 and m s 5 1 and standard deviations of s s 5 s n 5 1. P(s) 5 P(n) 5 .5. In panel B, the decision criterion, x c 5 x 5 5 .5, giving b 5 l(x c ) 5 1. In panels D and F, the criterion is x c 5 x 5 5 0.9. The spacing of the criteria is described in the text. Panels A, C, and E show the values of U R (k) predicted by each model, plotted against criterion number.  
Is signal detection theory fundamentally flawed? A response to Balakrishnan (1998a, 1998b, 1999)

December 2002


159 Reads

For nearly 50 years, signal detection theory (SDT; Green & Swvets, 1966; Macmillan & Creelman, 1991) has been of central importance in the development of psychophysics and other areas of psychology. The theory has recently been challenged by Balakrishnan (1998b), who argues that, within SDT, an alternative index is "better justified" than d' and who claims to show (1998a, 1999) that SDT is fundamentally flawed and should be rejected. His evidence is based on new nonparametric measures that he has introduced and applied to experimental data. He believes his results show that basic assumptions of SDT are not supported-in particular, that payoff and probability manipulations do not affect the position of the decision criterion. In view of the importance of SDT in psychology, these claims deserve careful examination. They are critically reviewed here. It appears that it is Balakrishnans arguments that fail, and not SDT

Figure 1. Serial recall errors of lists with syllables of low similarity (left panel) and of high similarity (right panel) in relation to serial position, contrasting a quiet control and four auditory conditions: words rhyming within the irrelevant speech sequence but not with any to-be-remembered lists (e.g., door, war, more), nonrhyming within sequence or with any lists (e.g., hat, cow, nest ), rhyming within sequence and potentially rhyming with a high-similarity list (e.g., sea, flea, key), and nonrhyming within sequence but potentially rhyming with a low-similarity list (e.g., deaf, pay, bell ).  
Interference in memory by process or content? A reply to Neath (2000)
The approach to the irrelevant sound effect by Neath (2000) is discussed in terms of the contrast between content-based and process-based interference. Four themes are highlighted: First, problematic features of the feature model are highlighted; second, results not considered by Neath are presented; third, empirical underpinnings of the feature model not related to the irrelevant-sound effect are questioned; last, the parsimony of the feature model is questioned. The balance of the evidence seems to be in favor of a process-based approach, on the grounds that it provides a comprehensive account of acoustic and task-based factors within the irrelevant sound effect, for both speech and nonspeech sound.

The phonological loop and the irrelevant speech effect: Some comments on Neath (2000)

October 2000


158 Reads

Neath (2000) presents a useful overview of the evidence to be explained by any model of the effects of irrelevant speech on immediate serial memory and proposes a model accompanied by computational simulation. While his review is in general accurate, it is limited in its explanation of the crucial characteristics of the disrupting sounds. It also neglects strategic issues, particularly the tendency for subjects to switch strategy as list length increases. As a result, his model fails to account for the absence of an interaction between irrelevant speech and acoustic similarity for lists of span length. Points of issue between Neath's feature hypothesis and the phonological loop interpretation are outlined, and the contribution of his computational simulation is discussed.

Logical reasoning and probabilities: A comprehensive test of Oaksford and Chater (2001)

July 2004


168 Reads

We report two experiments testing a central prediction of the probabilistic account of reasoning provided by Oaksford and Chater (2001): Acceptance of standard conditional inferences, card choices in the Wason selection task, and quantifiers chosen for conclusions from syllogisms should vary as a function of the frequency of the concepts involved. Frequency was manipulated by a probability-learning phase preceding the reasoning tasks to simulate natural sampling. The effects predicted by Oaksford and Chater (2001) were not obtained with any of the three paradigms.

Figure 1. False recall rate as a function of length of critical words. Data from Neuse and Madigan (1997). 
Figure 3. Hit and false positive rates in Experiment 1with three-and eightletter words occurring only as new items in the recognition test.
Figure 4. False positive rates for studied and nonstudied word lengths, Experiment 2. 
False recognition and word length: A reanalysis of Roediger, Watson, McDermott, and Gallo (2001) and some new data

July 2004


229 Reads

Roediger, Watson, McDermott, and Gallo (2001) reported a multiple regression analysis of the variables that predicted rates of false recall and recognition across lists in the Deese/Roediger-McDermott paradigm. They concluded that false recollection was predictable from the backward associative strength of critical words and list words and the veridical recall level of list words, with no independent contribution of frequency, concreteness, or length of critical words. A reanalysis of their data shows that critical word length does contribute to false recognition when it is measured relative to the length of other words in the list. Relative word length in the form of an unsigned z-score has a larger correlation with false recognition than any of the variables used by Roediger et al. and is also independently predictive of false recognition. This relationship was confirmed by the results of two recognition experiments in which false positives were significantly less frequent for words of lengths that never occurred in a studied list than for words of lengths that did occur in the study list.

Single-system models and interference in category learning: Commentary on Waldron and Ashby (2001)

March 2002


32 Reads

In a recent article, Waldron and Ashby (2001) observed that performing a concurrent task caused greater interference in learning a simple one-dimensional categorization rule than in learning a complex three-dimensional one. They argued that this result was incompatible with all existing single-system models of category learning but was as predicted by the multiple-system COVIS model (Ashby, Alfonso-Reese, Turken, & Waldron, 1998). In contrast to Waldron and Ashby's argument, we demonstrate that the single-system ALCOVE model (Kruschke, 1992) naturally predicts the result by assuming that its selective-attention learning process is disrupted by the concurrent task.

Figure 1. Noncompetitive model showing spreading activation from the concept associated with a noun stimulus (door) combined with that from an " action " concept. The darkness of the associated concept nodes indicates the degree of activation.  
Why opening a door is as easy as eating an apple: A reply to Thompson-Schill and Botvinick (2006)

June 2006


77 Reads

Martin and Cheng (2006) present evidence suggesting that difficulty in verb generation is related to the strength of associative links between nouns and verbs and not to competition from alternative verb responses. Specifically, they show that latencies for verb generation are related to the associative strength of the most frequently produced verb and not to the ratio of the strength of the first to the second most frequently produced verb. Thompson-Schill and Botvinick (2006) have provided modeling results indicating how the findings of Martin and Cheng might be accommodated in a competitive model. Here we discuss how two noncompetitive models account for the findings and why such models should be preferred.

Order effects in collaborative memory contamination? Comment on Gabbert, Memon, and Wright (2006)

November 2007


26 Reads

Gabbert, Memon, and Wright (2006) claimed evidence of an order effect in collaborative memory contamination, in which the collaborator who first spoke of a particular detail was more influential. The Gabbert et al. findings are ambiguous in this regard, because their analyses collapsed across (1) cases in which both collaborators reported the detail they had witnessed and (2) cases in which only one of the collaborators mentioned the detail s/he had mentioned. The latter cases do not evidence an order effect per se.

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