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Journal: Cognitive research: principles and implications

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We investigated the relationships between individual differences in different aspects of face-identity processing, using the Glasgow Face Matching Test (GFMT) as a measure of unfamiliar face perception, the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT) as a measure of new face learning, and the Before They Were Famous task (BTWF) as a measure of familiar face recognition. These measures were integrated into two separate studies examining the relationship between face processing and other tasks. For Study 1 we gathered participants' subjective ratings of their own face perception abilities. In Study 2 we used additional measures of perceptual and cognitive abilities, and personality factors to place individual differences in a broader context. Performance was significantly correlated across the three face-identity tasks in both studies, suggesting some degree of commonality of underlying mechanisms. For Study 1 the participants' self-ratings correlated poorly with performance, reaching significance only for judgements of familiar face recognition. In Study 2 there were few associations between face tasks and other measures, with task-level influences seeming to account for the small number of associations present. In general, face tasks correlated with each other, but did not show an overall relation with other perceptual, cognitive or personality tests. Our findings are consistent with the existence of a general face-perception factor, able to account for around 25% of the variance in scores. However, other relatively task-specific influences are also clearly operating.

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Hyper-realistic masks present a new challenge to security and crime prevention. We have recently shown that people’s ability to differentiate these masks from real faces is extremely limited. Here we consider individual differences as a means to improve mask detection. Participants categorized single images as masks or real faces in a computer-based task. Experiment 1 revealed poor accuracy (40%) and large individual differences (5-100%) for high-realism masks among low-realism masks and real faces. Individual differences in mask categorization accuracy remained large when the Low-realism condition was eliminated (Experiment 2). Accuracy for mask images was not correlated with accuracy for real face images or with prior knowledge of hyper-realistic face masks. Image analysis revealed that mask and face stimuli were most strongly differentiated in the region below the eyes. Moreover, high-performing participants tracked the differential information in this area, but low-performing participants did not. Like other face tasks (e.g. identification), hyper-realistic mask detection gives rise to large individual differences in performance. Unlike many other face tasks, performance may be localized to a specific image cue.

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In recent years, fraudsters have begun to use readily accessible digital manipulation techniques in order to carry out face morphing attacks. By submitting a morph image (a 50/50 average of two people’s faces) for inclusion in an official document such as a passport, it might be possible that both people sufficiently resemble the morph that they are each able to use the resulting genuine ID document. Limited research with low-quality morphs has shown that human detection rates were poor but that training methods can improve performance. Here, we investigate human and computer performance with high-quality morphs, comparable with those expected to be used by criminals.

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Matching unfamiliar faces to photographic identification (ID) documents occurs across many domains, including financial transactions (e.g., mortgage documents), controlling the purchase of age-restricted goods (e.g., alcohol sales), and airport security. Laboratory research has repeatedly documented the fallibility of this process in novice observers, but little research has assessed individual differences based on occupational expertise (cf. White et al., PLoS One 9:e103510, 2014; White et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282(1814):20151292, 2015). In the present study, over 800 professional notaries (who routinely verify identity prior to witnessing signatures on legal documents), 70 bank tellers, and 35 undergraduate students completed an online unfamiliar face-matching test. In this test, observers made match/nonmatch decisions to 30 face ID pairs (half of which were matches), with no time constraints and no trial-by-trial feedback.

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Our reliance on face photos for identity verification is at odds with extensive research which shows that matching pairs of unfamiliar faces is highly prone to error. This process can therefore be exploited by identity fraudsters seeking to deceive ID checkers (e.g., using a stolen passport which contains an image of a similar looking individual to deceive border control officials). In this study we build on previous work which sought to quantify the threat posed by a relatively new type of fraud: morphed passport photos. Participants were initially unaware of the presence of morphs in a series of face photo arrays and were simply asked to detect which images they thought had been digitally manipulated (i.e., “images that didn’t look quite right”). All participants then received basic information on morph fraud and rudimentary guidance on how to detect such images, followed by a morph detection training task (Training Group, n = 40), or a non-face control task (Guidance Group, n = 40). Participants also completed a post-guidance/training morph detection task and the Models Face Matching Test (MFMT). Our findings show that baseline morph detection rates were poor, that morph detection training significantly improved the identification of these images over and above basic guidance, and that accuracy in the mismatch condition of the MFMT correlated with morph detection ability. The results are discussed in relation to potential countermeasures for morph-based identity fraud.

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In this article, we begin to lay out a framework and approach for studying how students come to understand complex concepts in rich domains. Grounded in theories of embodied cognition, we advance the view that understanding of complex concepts requires students to practice, over time, the coordination of multiple concepts, and the connection of this system of concepts to situations in the world. Specifically, we explore the role that a teacher’s gesture might play in supporting students' coordination of two concepts central to understanding in the domain of statistics: mean and standard deviation. In Study 1 we show that university students who have just taken a statistics course nevertheless have difficulty taking both mean and standard deviation into account when thinking about a statistical scenario. In Study 2 we show that presenting the same scenario with an accompanying gesture to represent variation significantly impacts students' interpretation of the scenario. Finally, in Study 3 we present evidence that instructional videos on the internet fail to leverage gesture as a means of facilitating understanding of complex concepts. Taken together, these studies illustrate an approach to translating current theories of cognition into principles that can guide instructional design.

Concepts: Statistics, Cognition, Perception, Arithmetic mean, Idea, Mean, Standard deviation, Concept

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During mathematics instruction, teachers often make links between different representations of mathematical information, and they sometimes use gestures to refer to the representations that they link. In this research, we investigated the role of such gestures in students' learning from lessons about links between linear equations and corresponding graphs. Eighty-two middle-school students completed a pretest, viewed a video lesson, and then completed a posttest comparable to the pretest. In all of the video lessons, the teacher explained the links between equations and graphs in speech. The lessons varied in whether the teacher referred to the equations in gesture and in whether she referred to the graphs in gesture, yielding four conditions: neither equations nor graphs, equations only, graphs only, and both equations and graphs. In all conditions, the gestures were redundant with speech, in the sense that the referents of the gestures were also mentioned in speech (e.g., pointing to “2” while saying “2”). Students showed substantial learning in all conditions. However, students learned less when the teacher referred to the equations in gesture than when she did not. This was not the case for gesture to graphs. These findings are discussed in terms of the processing implications of redundancy between gesture and speech, and the possibility of “trade-offs” in attention to the visual representations. The findings underscore the need for a more nuanced view of the role of teachers' gestures in students' comprehension and learning.

Concepts: Education, Learning, Hand, Gesture, Teacher, History of education, Instruction, Lesson plan

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Genetic and other biological explanations appear to have mixed blessings for the stigma of mental disorder. Meta-analytic evidence shows that these “biogenetic” explanations reduce the blame attached to sufferers, but they also increase aversion, perceptions of dangerousness, and pessimism about recovery. These relationships may arise because biogenetic explanations recruit essentialist intuitions, which have known associations with prejudice and the endorsement of stereotypes. However, the adverse implications of biogenetic explanations as a set may not hold true for the subset of those explanations that invoke neurobiological causes. Neurobiological explanations might have less adverse implications for stigma than genetic explanations, for example, because they are arguably less essentialist. Although this possibility is important for evaluating the social implications of neuroscientific explanations of mental health problems, it has yet to be tested meta-analytically. We present meta-analyses of links between neurobiological explanations and multiple dimensions of stigma in 26 correlational and experimental studies. In correlational studies, neurobiological explanations were marginally associated with greater desire for social distance from people with mental health problems. In experimental studies, these explanations were associated with greater desire for social distance, greater perceived dangerousness, and greater prognostic pessimism. Neurobiological explanations were not linked to reduced blame in either set of studies. By implication, neurobiological explanations have the same adverse links to stigma as other forms of biogenetic explanation. These findings raise troubling implications about the public impact of psychiatric neuroscience research findings. Although such findings are not intrinsically stigmatizing, they may become so when viewed through the lens of neuroessentialism.

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Research on learning and education is increasingly influenced by theories of embodied cognition. Several embodiment-based interventions have been empirically investigated, including gesturing, interactive digital media, and bodily activity in general. This review aims to present the most important theoretical foundations of embodied cognition and their application to educational research. Furthermore, we critically review recent research concerning the effectiveness of embodiment interventions and develop a taxonomy to more properly characterize research on embodied cognition. The main dimensions of this taxonomy are bodily engagement (i.e. how much bodily activity is involved) and task integration (i.e. whether bodily activities are related to a learning task in a meaningful way or not). By locating studies on the 2 × 2 grid resulting from this taxonomy and assessing the corresponding learning outcomes, we identify opportunities, problems, and challenges of research on embodied learning.

Concepts: Scientific method, Science, Cognitive science, Educational psychology, Activity, Embodiment, Embodied cognition, Embodied Embedded Cognition

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Testing oneself (i.e., doing retrieval practice) is an effective way to study. We attempted to make learners choose to test themselves more often. In Experiment 1, participants were asked how they wanted to study and were given four options: retrieval with no hint (e.g., idea: ______), a two-letter hint (e.g., idea: s____r), a four-letter hint (e.g., idea: se__er), or a presentation trial (e.g., idea: seeker). They tested themselves on the majority of trials. In Experiment 2, when the hint options were removed, they chose restudy rather than pure test on the majority of trials. These findings show that people prefer self-testing over restudy as long as they can get the answer right on the test. However, we would not recommend hints if they impaired learning compared to pure testing. Experiment 3 showed that this was not the case; the three retrieval conditions from Experiment 1 led to equivalent amounts of learning, and all three outperformed the pure presentation condition. We used different materials in Experiment 4 and found that the hints made retrieval slightly less beneficial when the hints made it possible to guess the answers without thinking back to the study phase (e.g., whip: pu__sh). In summary, hints catalyzed people’s intuitive desire to self-test, without any downside for learning, thus making their self-regulated study more enjoyable and effective.