Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition


Recent studies have highlighted the potential role of basic numerical processing in the acquisition of numerical and mathematical competences. However, it is debated whether high-level numerical skills and mathematics depends specifically on basic numerical representations. In this study mathematicians and nonmathematicians performed a basic number line task, which required mapping positive and negative numbers on a physical horizontal line, and has been shown to correlate with more advanced numerical abilities and mathematical achievement. We found that mathematicians were more accurate compared with nonmathematicians when mapping positive, but not negative numbers, which are considered numerical primitives and cultural artifacts, respectively. Moreover, performance on positive number mapping could predict whether one is a mathematician or not, and was mediated by more advanced mathematical skills. This finding might suggest a link between basic and advanced mathematical skills. However, when we included visuospatial skills, as measured by block design subtest, the mediation analysis revealed that the relation between the performance in the number line task and the group membership was explained by non-numerical visuospatial skills. These results demonstrate that relation between basic, even specific, numerical skills and advanced mathematical achievement can be artifactual and explained by visuospatial processing. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Mathematics, Number, Real number, Set theory, 0, Inequality, Numbers, Subtraction


Four experiments demonstrate that walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after. In Experiment 1, while seated and then when walking on a treadmill, adults completed Guilford’s alternate uses (GAU) test of creative divergent thinking and the compound remote associates (CRA) test of convergent thinking. Walking increased 81% of participants' creativity on the GAU, but only increased 23% of participants' scores for the CRA. In Experiment 2, participants completed the GAU when seated and then walking, when walking and then seated, or when seated twice. Again, walking led to higher GAU scores. Moreover, when seated after walking, participants exhibited a residual creative boost. Experiment 3 generalized the prior effects to outdoor walking. Experiment 4 tested the effect of walking on creative analogy generation. Participants sat inside, walked on a treadmill inside, walked outside, or were rolled outside in a wheelchair. Walking outside produced the most novel and highest quality analogies. The effects of outdoor stimulation and walking were separable. Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Idea, Problem solving, All rights reserved, Analogy, Walking, Creativity, Copyright, Convergent and divergent production


In 2 experiments, we tested a strong version of a dual process theory of conditional inference (cf. Verschueren et al., 2005a, 2005b) that assumes that most reasoners have 2 strategies available, the choice of which is determined by situational variables, cognitive capacity, and metacognitive control. The statistical strategy evaluates inferences probabilistically, accepting those with high conditional probability. The counterexample strategy rejects inferences when a counterexample shows the inference to be invalid. To discriminate strategy use, we presented reasoners with conditional statements (if p, then q) and explicit statistical information about the relative frequency of the probability of p/q (50% vs. 90%). A statistical strategy would accept the more probable inferences more frequently, whereas the counterexample one would reject both. In Experiment 1, reasoners under time pressure used the statistical strategy more, but switched to the counterexample strategy when time constraints were removed; the former took less time than the latter. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that the statistical strategy is the default heuristic. Under a free-time condition, reasoners preferred the counterexample strategy and kept it when put under time pressure. Thus, it is not simply a lack of capacity that produces a statistical strategy; instead, it seems that time pressure disrupts the ability to make good metacognitive choices. In line with this conclusion, in a 2nd experiment, we measured reasoners' confidence in their performance; those under time pressure were less confident in the statistical than the counterexample strategy and more likely to switch strategies under free-time conditions. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Probability theory, Probability, Logic, Event, Reasoning, Deductive reasoning, Inference, Syllogism


It is almost a truism that language aids serial-order control through self-cuing of upcoming sequential elements. We measured speech onset latencies as subjects performed hierarchically organized task sequences while “thinking aloud” each task label. Surprisingly, speech onset latencies and response times (RTs) were highly synchronized, a pattern that is not consistent with the hypothesis that speaking aids proactive retrieval of upcoming sequential elements during serial-order control. We also found that when instructed to do so, subjects were able to speak task labels prior to presentation of response-relevant stimuli and that this substantially reduced RT signatures of retrieval-however, at the cost of more sequencing errors. Thus, while proactive retrieval is possible in principle, in natural situations it seems to be prevented through a strong “gestalt-like” tendency to synchronize speech and action. We suggest that this tendency may support context updating rather than proactive control. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Mathematics, Management, Language, Sequence, All rights reserved, Tuple, Speech, Geometric progression


The piecemeal reporting of unfolding news events can lead to the reporting of mistaken information (or misinformation) about the cause of the newsworthy event, which later needs to be corrected. Studies of the continued influence effect have shown, however, that corrections are not entirely effective in reversing the effects of initial misinformation. Instead, participants continue to rely on the discredited misinformation when asked to draw inferences and make judgments about the news story. Most prior studies have employed misinformation that explicitly states the likely cause of an outcome. However, news stories do not always provide misinformation explicitly, but instead merely imply that something or someone might be the cause of an adverse outcome. Two experiments employing both direct and indirect measures of misinformation reliance were conducted to assess whether implied misinformation is more resistant to correction than explicitly stated misinformation. The results supported this prediction. Experiment 1 showed that corrections reduced misinformation reliance in both the explicit and implied conditions, but the correction was much less effective following implied misinformation. Experiment 2 showed that implied misinformation was more resistant to correction than explicit misinformation, even when the correction was paired with an alternative explanation. Finally, Experiment 3 showed that greater resistance to correction in the implied misinformation condition did not reflect greater disbelief in the correction. Potential reasons why implied misinformation is more difficult to correct than explicitly provided misinformation are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Causality, Effect, Effectiveness, Experiment, Corrections, NEWS


Not much is known about how people comprehend ironic utterances, and to date, most studies have simply compared processing of ironic versus non-ironic statements. A key aspect of the graded salience hypothesis, distinguishing it from other accounts (such as the standard pragmatic view and direct access view), is that it predicts differences between processing of familiar and unfamiliar ironies. Specifically, if an ironic utterance is familiar, then the ironic interpretation should be available without the need for extra inferential processes, whereas for unfamiliar ironies, the literal interpretation would be computed first, and a mismatch with context would lead to a re-interpretation of the statement as being ironic. We recorded participants' eye movements while they were reading (Experiment 1), and electrical brain activity while they were listening to (Experiment 2), familiar and unfamiliar ironies compared to non-ironic controls. Results show disruption to eye movements and an N400-like effect for unfamiliar ironies only, supporting the predictions of the graded salience hypothesis. In addition, in Experiment 2, a late positivity was found for both familiar and unfamiliar ironic materials, compared to non-ironic controls. We interpret this positivity as reflecting ongoing conflict between the literal and ironic interpretations of the utterance. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Irony


In recognition memory, recollection is defined as retrieval of the context associated with an event, whereas familiarity is defined as retrieval based on item strength alone. Recent studies have shown that conventional recollection-based tasks, in which context details are manipulated for source memory assessment at test, can also rely on familiarity when context information is “unitized” with the relevant item information at encoding. Unlike naturalistic episodic memories that include many context details encoded in different ways simultaneously, previous studies have focused on unitization and its effect on the recognition of a single context detail. To further understand how various encoding strategies operate on item and context representations, we independently assigned unitization and relational association to 2 context details (size and color) of each item and tested the contribution of recollection and familiarity to source recognition of each detail. The influence of familiarity on retrieval of each context detail was compared as a function of the encoding strategy used for each detail. Receiver operating characteristic curves suggested that the unitization effect was not additive and that similar levels of familiarity occurred for 1 or multiple details when unitization was the only strategy applied during encoding. On the other hand, a detrimental effect was found when relational encoding and unitization were simultaneously applied to 1 item such that a salient nonunitized context detail interfered with the effortful processing required to unitize an accompanying context detail. However, this detrimental effect was not reciprocal and possibly dependent on the nature of individual context details. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Memory, Hippocampus, Receiver operating characteristic, Episodic memory, Procedural memory, Amnesia, Semantic memory, Tuple


We examined, on a trial-by-trial basis, fraction magnitude comparison strategies of adults with more and less mathematical knowledge. College students with high mathematical proficiency used a large variety of strategies that were well tailored to the characteristics of the problems and that were guaranteed to yield correct performance if executed correctly. Students with less mathematical proficiency sometimes used strategies similar to those of the mathematically proficient students, but often used flawed strategies that yielded inaccurate performance. As predicted by overlapping waves theory, increases in accuracy and speed were related to differences in strategy use, strategy choice, and strategy execution. When asked to choose the best strategy from among 3 possibilities-the strategy the student originally used, a correct alternative, and an incorrect alternative-students with lower fraction knowledge rarely switched from an original incorrect strategy to a correct alternative. This finding suggests that use of poor fraction magnitude comparison strategies stems in large part from lack of conceptual understanding of the requirements of effective strategies, rather than difficulty recalling or generating such strategies. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Science, Difference, Thought, Number, Logic, Student


When stimuli afford multiple tasks, switching among them involves promoting one of several task-sets in play into a most-active state. This process, often conceptualized as retrieving task parameters and stimulus-response (S-R) rules into procedural working memory, is a likely source of the reaction time (RT) cost of a task-switch, especially when no time is available for task preparation before the stimulus. We report 2 task-cuing experiments that asked whether the time consumed by task-set retrieval increases with the number of task-sets in play, while unconfounding the number of tasks with their frequency and recency of use. Participants were required to switch among 3 or 5 orthogonal classifications of perceptual attributes of an object (Experiment 1) or of phonological/semantic attributes of a word (Experiment 2), with a 100 or 1,300 ms cue-stimulus interval. For 2 tasks for which recency and frequency were matched in the 3- and 5-task conditions, there was no effect of number of tasks on the switch cost. For the other tasks, there was a greater switch cost in the 5-task condition with little time for preparation, attributable to effects of frequency/recency. Thus, retrieval time for active task-sets is not influenced by the number of alternatives per se (unlike several other kinds of memory retrieval) but is influenced by recency or frequency of use. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Cognitive psychology, Economics, Experiment, Task, Object-oriented programming, All rights reserved, American Psychological Association, Information retrieval


Because individuals with acquired language disorders are frequently unable to reliably access the names of common everyday objects (i.e., naming impairment), rehabilitation efforts often focus on improving naming. The present study compared 2 rehabilitation strategies for naming impairment, reflecting contradictory prescriptions derived from different theoretical principles. The prescription derived from psychological research on test-enhanced learning advocates providing patients opportunities to retrieve target names from long-term memory (i.e., retrieval practice) in the course of treatment. In contrast, the errorless learning approach derived from cognitive rehabilitation research eschews retrieval practice in favor of methods that minimize naming errors, and thus the potential for error learning, in the course of treatment. The present study directly compared these approaches and showed that, despite superior (and errorless) performance during errorless treatment, treatment that prioritized retrieval practice produced greater retention 1-day and 1-week following treatment. These findings have implications for clinical practice, as well as theoretical accounts of lexical access and test-enhanced learning. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Time, Psychology, Educational psychology, Linguistics, Learning, All rights reserved, American Psychological Association, Lexicography