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Journal: Cognitive processing


Humour processing is a complex information-processing task that is dependent on cognitive and emotional aspects which presumably influence frame-shifting and conceptual blending, mental operations that underlie humour processing. The aim of the current study was to find distinctive groups of subjects with respect to black humour processing, intellectual capacities, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. A total of 156 adults rated black humour cartoons and conducted measurements of verbal and nonverbal intelligence, mood disturbance and aggressiveness. Cluster analysis yields three groups comprising following properties: (1) moderate black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence; low mood disturbance and moderate aggressiveness; (2) low black humour preference and moderate comprehension; average nonverbal and verbal intelligence, high mood disturbance and high aggressiveness; and (3) high black humour preference and high comprehension; high nonverbal and verbal intelligence; no mood disturbance and low aggressiveness. Age and gender do not differ significantly, differences in education level can be found. Black humour preference and comprehension are positively associated with higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence as well as higher levels of education. Emotional instability and higher aggressiveness apparently lead to decreased levels of pleasure when dealing with black humour. These results support the hypothesis that humour processing involves cognitive as well as affective components and suggest that these variables influence the execution of frame-shifting and conceptual blending in the course of humour processing.

Concepts: Psychology, Cluster analysis, Educational psychology, Emotion, Mood disorder, Higher education, Mood, Conceptual blending


Two sets of brain areas are repeatedly reported in neuroimaging studies on social cognition: the Mirror Neuron System and the Mentalizing System. The Mirror System is involved in goal understanding and has been associated with several emotional and cognitive functions central to social interaction, ranging from empathy to gestural communication and imitation. The Mentalizing System is recruited in tasks requiring cognitive processes such as self-reference and understanding of other’s intentions. Although theoretical accounts for an interaction between the two systems have been proposed, little is known about their synergy during social exchanges. In order to explore this question, we have recorded brain activity by means of functional MRI during live social exchanges based on reciprocal imitation of hand gestures. Here, we investigate, using the method of psychophysiological interaction, the changes in functional connectivity of the Mirror System due to the conditions of interest (being imitated, imitating) compared with passive observation of hand gestures. We report a strong coupling between the Mirror System and the Mentalizing System during the imitative exchanges. Our findings suggest a complementary role of the two networks during social encounters. The Mirror System would engage in the preparation of own actions and the simulation of other's actions, while the Mentalizing System would engage in the anticipation of the other’s intention and thus would participate to the co-regulation of reciprocal actions. Beyond a specific effect of imitation, the design used offers the opportunity to tackle the role of role-switching in an interpersonal account of social cognition.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Neuroscience, Cognition, Cognitive science, Cognitive neuroscience, Knowledge, Mirror neuron


In this paper, we propose a cognitive semantic approach to represent part-whole relations. We base our proposal on the theory of conceptual spaces, focusing on prototypical structures in part-whole relations. Prototypical structures are not accounted for in traditional mereological formalisms. In our account, parts and wholes are represented in distinct conceptual spaces; parts are joined to form wholes in a structure space. The structure space allows systematic similarity judgments between wholes, taking into consideration shared parts and their configurations. A point in the structure space denotes a particular part structure; regions in the space represent different general types of part structures. We argue that the structural space can represent prototype effects: structural types are formed around typical arrangements of parts. We also show how structure space captures the variations in part structure of a given concept across different domains. In addition, we discuss how some taxonomies of part-whole relations can be understood within our framework.

Concepts: Structure, Cognition, Semantics, Musical form, Cognitive linguistics


Training in mindfulness skills has been shown to increase autobiographical memory specificity. The aim of this study was to examine whether there is also an association between individual differences in trait mindfulness and memory specificity using a non-clinical student sample (N = 70). Also examined were the relationships between other memory characteristics and trait mindfulness, self-reported depression and rumination. Participants wrote about 12 autobiographical memories, which were recalled in response to emotion word cues in a minimal instruction version of the Autobiographical Memory Test, rated each memory for seven characteristics, and completed the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory, the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale, and the Ruminative Responses Scale. Higher rumination scores were associated with more reliving and more intense emotion during recall. Depression scores were not associated with any memory variables. Higher trait mindfulness was associated with lower memory specificity and with more intense and more positive emotion during recall. Thus, trait mindfulness is associated with memory specificity, but the association is opposite to that found in mindfulness training studies. It is suggested that this difference may be due to an influence of trait mindfulness on memory encoding as well as retrieval processes and an influence on the mode of self-awareness that leads to a greater focus on momentary rather than narrative self-reference.

Concepts: Psychology, Addition, Memory, Major depressive disorder, Storage, Autobiographical memory, Encoding, Great Depression



Support for the proposition that the Quiet Eye (QE) duration reflects a period of response programming (including task parameterisation) has come from research showing that an increase in task difficulty is associated with increases in QE duration. Here, we build on previous research by manipulating three elements of task difficulty that correspond with different parameters of golf-putting performance; force production, impact quality and target line. Longer QE durations were found for more complex iterations of the task and furthermore, more sensitive analyses of the QE duration suggest that the early QE proportion (prior to movement initiation) is closely related to force production and impact quality. However, these increases in QE do not seem functional in terms of supporting improved performance. Further research is needed to explore QE’s relationship with performance under conditions of increased difficulty.

Concepts: Control flow


As a result of the increasing role of online advertising and strong competition among advertisers, intrusive techniques are commonly used to attract web users' attention. Moreover, since marketing content is usually delivered to the target audience when they are performing typical online tasks, like searching for information or reading online content, its delivery interrupts the web user’s current cognitive process. The question posed by many researchers in the field of online advertising is: how should we measure the influence of interruption of cognitive processes on human behavior and emotional state? Much research has been conducted in this field; however, most of this research has focused on monitoring activity in the simulated environment, or processing declarative responses given by users in prepared questionnaires. In this paper, a more direct real-time approach is taken, and the effect of the interruption on a web user is analyzed directly by studying the activity of his brain. This paper presents the results of an experiment that was conducted to find the brain activity patterns associated with interruptions of the cognitive process by showing internet advertisements during a text-reading task. Three specific aspects were addressed in the experiment: individual patterns, the consistency of these patterns across trials, and the intra-subject correlation of the individual patterns. Two main effects were observed for most subjects: a drop in activity in the frontal and prefrontal cortical areas across all frequency bands, and significant changes in the frontal/prefrontal asymmetry index.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Cognitive psychology, Cognition, Cerebral cortex, Mind, Advertising, World Wide Web


When tracking multiple moving targets among visually similar distractors, human observers are capable of distributing attention over several spatial locations. It is unclear, however, whether capacity limitations or perceptual-cognitive abilities are responsible for the development of expertise in multiple object tracking. Across two experiments, we examined the role of working memory and visual attention in tracking expertise. In Experiment 1, individuals who regularly engaged in object tracking sports (soccer and rugby) displayed improved tracking performance, relative to non-tracking sports (swimming, rowing, running) (p = 0.02, ηp2 = 0.163), but no differences in gaze strategy (ps > 0.31). In Experiment 2, participants trained on an adaptive object tracking task showed improved tracking performance (p = 0.005, d = 0.817), but no changes in gaze strategy (ps > 0.07). They did, however, show significant improvement in a working memory transfer task (p < 0.001, d = 0.970). These findings indicate that the development of tracking expertise is more closely linked to processing capacity limits than perceptual-cognitive strategies.


Of the triad of symptoms found in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), that is, social impairments, communication difficulties and repetitive interests and behaviour, the social impairments are the most stable and common throughout the lifespan. They typically manifest themselves in abnormalities as reciprocal interactions and difficulties in the expression and recognition of emotions. Although peer interactions become especially important during adolescence, little is known about the mentalizing abilities of high-functioning adolescents with ASD. Here, we compared the mentalizing skills and emotion recognition abilities of 21 high-functioning adolescents with ASD and 21 matched controls. All adolescents had estimated above-average verbal intelligence levels. Spontaneous social abilities and task-related social abilities were measured using questionnaires, tasks and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Results confirm social impairment in daily life situations in adolescents with ASD, but were not found on experimental tasks of social cognition. The use of more explicit cognitive or verbally mediating reasoning techniques and a lesser tendency of high-functioning adolescents with ASD to search for and use social information in natural environments are further discussed.


Many everyday activities require coordination and monitoring of complex relations of future goals and deadlines. Cognitive offloading may provide an efficient strategy for reducing control demands by representing future goals and deadlines as a pattern of spatial relations. We tested the hypothesis that multiple-task monitoring involves time-to-space transformational processes, and that these spatial effects are selective with greater demands on coordinate (metric) than categorical (nonmetric) spatial relation processing. Participants completed a multitasking session in which they monitored four series of deadlines, running on different time scales, while making concurrent coordinate or categorical spatial judgments. We expected and found that multitasking taxes concurrent coordinate, but not categorical, spatial processing. Furthermore, males showed a better multitasking performance than females. These findings provide novel experimental evidence for the hypothesis that efficient multitasking involves metric relational processing.

Concepts: Time, General relativity, Space, Immanuel Kant