Cognitive psychology

[25 abstracts]

1. Distance and orientation in suspect identification under poor illumination conditions: Simulation of a real case  
Agostini T., Righi G., Galmonte A.
First author's affiliation: University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

Visual perception plays a crucial role within witness psychology. It is not unusual that the accused are found guilty only on the basis of eyewitness identification. The Italian national TV asked us to reproduce the visual conditions under which a witness was in at a mafia murder, and to run an experiment to test whether in these conditions she could have unambiguously identified the killer. A group of 72 observers has been tested. Two variables were manipulated: distance (killer-observer: 6 or 16 meters) and orientation (killer viewed frontally, 45 degrees left, 45 degrees right). Illumination conditions were controlled (low intensity illumination). The experiment was run in 2 different days. In the fist day, each observer (12 for each condition) viewed the killer for 1.5 seconds. Four days later they were asked to identify the killer among 5 look-alike persons in a simultaneous line-up. Results show that in our stimulation conditions (low intensity illumination) both correct and incorrect identifications were not statistically different from chance, independently from both viewing distance and orientation.

2. Stimulus-reaction complexity and magnitude of the Stroop effect  
Barać D., Šunjić M.
First author's affiliation: University of Mostar, Philosophy faculty, Psychology department, Mostar, BiH

The aim of the study was to examine reaction times in different situations of the Stroop effect. Thirty subjects participated in various (non)congruent stimulus situations, where they had to react in compatible and incompatible way. Four different words (red, blue, green, and yellow) were used together with four corresponding colours. The word was combined with colours in such a way that six of them made congruent situations and 18 of them made incongruent situations. The subject’s task was, when the word which meant one of the four colours appeared on the screen, to press the adequate key corresponding to the colour or the meaning of the word. In compatible situations, the subject had to: (i) react on the meaning of the word by pressing the key with the name of the colour written in black ink, (ii) react on the colour the word was written in (but not the meaning) by pressing the key of the same colour. In non-compatible situations the subject had to: (i) react on the meaning of the word by pressing the key whose colour corresponded to the meaning of the word, (ii) react on the colour the word was written in by pressing the key with the name of the colour written in black ink. The results showed the shortest reaction times in the compatible situations, where words had meaning of the colours they were written in. Reaction times were longer in situations where subjects reacted to the colour whereby the stimulus colour corresponded to the word. Generally speaking, reaction times were significantly longer in non-compatible situations where subjects had to react to the meaning of the word written in a different colour by pressing the adequate coloured key. The longest times were obtained in situations where stimulus word was written in non-adequate colour and subject had to react to the colour by pressing the adequate key with the name of the colour written in black ink. The results therefore showed that the magnitude of the Stroop effect depends on the complexity of reaction between stimulus and response.

3. Relationships between solving different problems demanding nonlogical thinking  
Bernáth L., Barkóczi I.
First author's affiliation: University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

A pilot study was conducted, the aim of which was to reveal the relationships between solving different problems - simple A:B::C:D four term analogies, visual and verbal creativity tests, visual and verbal insight problems, visuo-spatial ability test, similarity ratings between analog story problems (e.g. the radiation problem) by pairs, and the difference of ratings between analog and non-analog control story problems. This theme was concerned with the questions of verbal-visual processing and nonlogical problem solving. In sum, 241 students, girls and boys participated in four groups: high school students, vocational secondary school students, university students of mathematics and university students of history. With the standardized results of the eight problems mentioned above, correlations, factor analysis, and cluster analysis were calculated. Four problems emerged with strong 0,40-0,50 highly significant intercorrelations: the simple analogies, the visuo-spatial ability test, the verbal and the visual insight problems. Besides there were many lower but significant relations. Therefore, to find the direct and indirect relations, partial correlations were calculated one by one with the simple analogies, the visuo-spatial ability test, and the verbal insight problem. The results showed direct relationships between the before mentioned four problems except the relation between the simple analogies and the visual insight problems. The most of the creativity tests’ relations were mediated by the simple analogies, but direct relation remained between the visual creativity test and the similarity ratings plus the difference ratings. Thus, verbal and visual problems did not separate each other. Based on the performance in the various tasks we have established the so called "thinking profiles".

4. Spatial Opposites  [presentation, ppt, 1843 kB]
Bianchi I., Savardi U., Kubovy M.
First author's affiliation: Department of Educational Sciences, Macerata, Italy

We investigated the structure of 37 spatial dimensions of opposite properties, such as open-closed, vertical-horizontal, full-empty, and far-near. The structure of each dimension was defined by means of phenomenological psychophysics. Metrical and topological definitions of the three components of the dimensions (the two poles and the intermediate states) were derived and similarities and differences between these dimensions were identified. These studies revealed that the proportional extension of the two poles and the intermediates can be defined by participants with high accuracy. These metrical definitions are further enriched if topological aspects identifying the nature of poles and intermediates are considered, i.e. if a distinction is made either between points and ranges or between open and closed ranges. Four types of opposites emerged as a result of these analyses: (i) closed range, point, closed range (cpc), e.g. left-right; (ii) point, range, point (prp), e.g. full-empty; (iii) open range, none, point (onp), e.g. open-closed; (iv) open range, range, closed range (orc), e.g. high-low. We believe that this approach may be extended to the study of the perceptual structure of opposites in any domain. Further research would reveal whether the four structures which emerged from the studies on spatial opposites are typical only of spatial dimensions or may have a more general application in various perceptual domains. We suggest that this type of investigation is a fruitful addition to both semantic and linguistic approaches to opposition.

5. Psychoacoustic aspects on the speed in the performance of melodies  
Bisesi E., Vicario G.
First author's affiliation: Università di Udine, Udine, Italy

As anyone knows, performed melodies have to span into a certain speed range. At the same time, it is a fact that musicians base their interpretation just on the possibility of selecting any other velocity within that range, provided that their choice allows to preserve the required expressive content. We tested the effect of different acoustical, musical and structural features of a given melody on the suitability of the chosen speed. Experimental stimuli were seven classical musical pieces differing in musical structure, articulation (legato versus staccato), and phrasing (accelerando versus rallentando). Fourteen trained music students served as subjects. Constant stimuli method was applied in submitting trials varying in speed. Preliminary observations showed the influence of musical structure on the performing velocity, in agreement with previous studies on perceptual grouping (Fraisse, 1956). At the same time, adding expressive (agogical) elements widens the range of possible performing speeds.

6. Does physical contrast affect global induction in Agostini & Galmonte's reversed lightness-induction Necker cube?  
Galmonte A., Agostini T., Righi G.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology and Cultural Anthropology, Verona, Italy

In 2002 Agostini & Galmonte offered a reversed-contrast display where a gray target entirely surrounded by a black area appears darker than an identical gray target entirely surrounded by white. This effect can not be attributed to assimilation phenomena; moreover, it occurs because of higher-level grouping factors: when both higher-level factors and lower-level factors affect a configuration simultaneously, the former prevail. Hence, the authors showed that the lightness induction determined by perceptual belongingness prevails against retinal lateral inhibition. The purpose of this work was to investigate whether the lightness induction produced by global grouping factors does change as a function of the physical contrast between induced and inducing elements. We systematically manipulated the relative physical contrast among the regions forming the original Agostini & Galmonte display. Observers had to judge the lightness of both the inducing and induced element on a Munsell Scale. From the results we can conclude that: 1. the global induction overcomes local induction for all the tested physical contrasts, 2. it is stronger for decrements, 3. the amount of the global induction does not depend on the size of physical contrast, 4. the global induction seems to be modulated by the physical contrast of increments only.

7. The influence of alcohol on basic motor and attention-perceptual abilities  
Ivanec D., Rebić V.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia

The aim of the study was to investigate effects of different levels of the blood alcohol concentration on the performance in three basic motor and attention perceptual tasks. Participants (N=24, repeated measurement design) were tested at four levels of the blood alcohol concentration: placebo, 0.3, 0.5, and 0.8 g/kg. In every single measurement, participants were performing three different tasks: go-no-go reaction time task, the test of perceptual speed, and the classical Stroop task. These three tasks were chosen due to the different levels of perceptual, motor and cognitive-attention abilities they are proven to include. Results showed that different effects of the blood alcohol concentration have a statistically significant and linear effect on the performance in go-no-go reaction time task and the test of perceptual speed. As alcohol concentration increased, reaction time decreased and perceptual speed was more impaired. For the classical Stroop task, the effect of alcohol consumption was also significant, but the obtained function was quadratic, not linear. The amount of interference was the same for the non-alcohol (placebo) and highest alcohol (0.8 g/kg) blood concentration level, and interference in those two situations was smaller than in those obtained at mid (0.3 and 0.5 g/kg) alcohol concentration levels. According to these results, Stroop performance is more impaired at moderate then at higher level of alcohol consumption. At higher level, results are similar to those obtained for non-alcoholic consumption. The influence of different alcohol levels was statistically significant for all three tasks. Size effects were also high, but in terms of differences on absolute measurement unit, effects were small.

8. Connotative meaning of abstract visual patterns and pseudowords  
Janković D.
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia

Meaning of concepts is mostly composed of denotative (objective) and connotative (subjective) semantic features. In previous studies we established the factorial structure of connotative meaning for concepts and suggested a parsimonious instrument named connotative differential. In the present study, we tried to specify the basic connotative meaning structure of stimuli without conventional meaning and stimuli from two different modalities: visual and verbal (i.e. abstract visual gestalt and nonsense verbal material - pseudowords). In experiment 1, subjects (N=82) were asked to evaluate abstract visual patterns on 35 bipolar scales (adjectives with opposite meaning defined the poles of scales). The selection of scales for the instrument was based on the previous studies. The stimuli were constructed in order to cover a wide spectrum of visual gestalten. The principal component analysis using promax rotation method was performed for all abstract visual patterns in order to establish invariant factorial structure, independent of evaluated content. The results showed that scales converge in three main factors: evaluative, cognitive, and conative. In experiment 2, the same group of subjects evaluated 32 pseudowords using the same instrument. Principal component analysis showed the same triple factorial structure as in experiment 1. Obtained results are compatible with the previous results on concepts and confirm robust structure and cross-modal nature of connotative meaning.

9. Spatial abilities test for drivers-operators  
Khon N., Kim A., Mukhitdinova T., Shaukenova Z., Basybekova K.
First author's affiliation: Kazak National State University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The purpose of the present research was to present a test of spatial abilities for drivers-operators of over dimension cargo. A driver-operator operates by the platform with eight pairs of wheels. Up to four single platforms could be connected for extra dimension cargo. A driver-operator of such an extra platform must feel the spatial position or angle of all 32 pairs of wheels. Spatial abilities of drivers-operators are of mental rotation kind. Should selection procedure for drivers-operators job include any mental rotation test and what kind of mental rotation test is the most effective one, is not yet clear. We interviewed 3 professional trainers and 2 HR-managers of transport company and made an observation of job selection procedure during two years. We found that in the most used job selection procedure for drivers-operators all applicants are first selected according to some formal requirements (normally about 50% of all applicants); then all selected applicants are professionally trained as drivers-operators (to set cargo at the platform, to stick it, to operate etc.); finally, the participants most effective in training are selected (normally, about 25% of all people trained). As a result, time and money of the company are wasted because most of the trained applicants are not offered job in the end. We also found that the procedure of job selection doesn’t include any mental rotation tests. The reason is that most of them are constructed as perception tasks, not as a model of motor-perception coordination. Obviously, a new measure of mental rotation ability should be developed. We suggested a special procedure of professional test, measuring mental rotation abilities of applicants for driver-operator position. The result of implementation of this procedure in the job selection was the following: 5 candidates from 40 applicants were selected and then professionally trained. All of them (100%) became successive drivers-operators after professional training. Experts (i.e.., professional trainers as well as HR-managers) considered the procedure as a very good professional test.

10. Spatial experience results in better performance on Money Road Map Test  
Kim A., Mukhitdinova T., Khon N.
First author's affiliation: Kazak National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

The purpose of our study was to investigate whether the experience in activities that load considerably on visuo-spatial functions will result in better performance on Money Road Map Test (MRMT). We were also interested whether the performance on this test is sensible to the hand used for tracing the dotted pathway of MRMT. It was hypothesized that right-handers may be more effective (performance times will be shorter and/or with fewer errors), when using their left hand, which is controlled by the right, “spatial”, hemisphere. Thirteen male non-drivers and 14 male non-professional drivers were randomly distributed to four experimental groups (with mean age in years in parentheses): RL non-drivers (22.7), RL drivers (21.6), LR non-drivers (23.1) and LR drivers (23.7). In RL groups, subjects were asked to perform MRMT using their right hand first (in 3 successive trials). They were then given a mental rotation task, followed by 3 trials on MRMT using their left hand. The order was inverse in LR groups. Right-handedness of all subjects approached 75 per cent and higher as assessed by the Edinburgh Handedness Questionnaire. Significant effects of both the order of trials (RL vs. LR) and driving experience were revealed. The interaction of these factors was not significant. LR drivers were performing better than both RL drivers and RL non-drivers, whereas no significant difference in performance of drivers and non-drivers was found in LR group. Non-drivers of LR group performed the task better than RL non-drivers after they had performed the task with their left hand. Therefore, relevant spatial experience enhances performance on Money Road Map Test. The test has also been shown to be sensible to motor activation of the right hemisphere of the brain.

11. Symbolization and plastic representation of emotions  
Kovačev A. N.
University of Ljubljana, Health Faculty, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The aim of the present study was to ascertain the main characteristics of the plastic representation of emotions. Subjects had to experience four primary emotions (joy, sorrow, anger, and fear) with the help of autosuggestion. Then they had to draw them with fibre pen. Their drawings had to be abstract. The only available means of self-expression were: colours, lines, and dots. Drawings were analysed with the help of a list of plastic elements and the main characteristics of the whole. The list was prepared in advance. The analysis showed that the symbolization of emotions was strongly determined by their conceptualization and that their experiencing was not crucial. In spite of the successive drawing of four emotions there were no interferences among them. The hypothesis of the independence of the use of plastic elements of emotions was tested with the chi2-test. It was found out, that colours differentiated between emotions more significantly than lines. The basic characteristics of the symbolization of each primary emotion were identified. There were a lot of similarities between the plastic representations of the same emotion drawn by different subjects. These were clearly seen from the use of plastic elements, structural characteristics of the completed representations and the added schemes.

12. Strategy solutions in mental arithmetic: are flexible strategists better than stable ones?  
Lucidi A., Lefevre J., Rossi-arnaud C., Cestari V.
First author's affiliation: L.U.M.S.A, Roma, Italy

Mental arithmetic has been investigated for some time but only recently have researchers explored the solution procedures that adults use to mentally solve arithmetic problems. Solution procedures vary considerably across individuals and across cultural backgrounds. In the present study individual differences in mental arithmetic were investigated by examining the solution strategies used by adults to mentally solve 2- plus 2-digit addition problems (e.g., 35 + 47) across four levels of complexity (no carry; carry in ones; carry in tens and carry in both). Operands were presented sequentially over 3 s in two conditions: visually (i.e., one addend of the addition problem at a time appeared at the centre of a computer screen) and aurally (the addition problems were presented through the headphones). Participants reported two broad categories of strategies: Digit strategies are versions of a standard algorithm, based on written addition and involve operating on a series of single digits, and Holistic strategies are based on more representations of the numbers that preserve overall magnitude and involve decomposing and recombining the operands in various ways. Participants could be grouped according to whether they were “flexible” (i.e. employed a variety of strategies, such as decomposition, transformation, standard algorithm) or “stable” in that they used one of these strategies throughout the experiment. Results suggest that the type of strategy solution has a greater effect on solution latency than on accuracy. Although response times were longer with auditory presentation, in this modality, flexible strategists solved problems more quickly than stable strategists. Results are discussed in terms of a contribution from working memory to the encoding and maintenance of operands and intermediate products during mental arithmetic.

13. Is the logical equivalence between conditional and disjunction also a psychological equivalence?  
Manfrinati A., Tasso A., Cherubini P., Giaretta P., Altoè G.
First author's affiliation: University of Valle d'Aosta, Venezia, Italy

One of the main problems that a theory of conditionals has to deal with is that some conditionals are well understood by people in everyday reasoning, even if they seem partially undefined as they lack truth value when the antecedent is false. The aim of this study was to investigate the following hypothesis: explicit disjunctive information affects the extent to which related conditionals are perceived as defined in different situations. Participants (N=39) evaluated meaning equivalence of conditional and disjunctive sentences using a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (different meaning) to 5 (same meaning). The independent variables were: type of conditional (conditional vs. biconditional); content (concrete vs. abstract); order of presentation (disjunction first vs. conditional first); polarity (conditional with a negated antecedent vs. disjunction with a negated term). Statistical analysis showed that equivalence evaluation is affected by content (p < .001), polarity (p < .001) and, more interestingly, by order of presentation (p = .026) - a disjunction seems to involve a conditional but not vice versa. This study provides evidence for the idea that mental representation (or mental model) of the disjunction could make it easier to form the mental representation (or mental model) of the conditional.

14. Voluntary attention increases the phenomenal length of briefly flashed lines  [presentation, ppt, 487 kB]
Masin S. C.
Università di Padova, Padova, Italy

In 1956, Fraisse, Ehrlich, and Vurpillot found that subjects judged that lines were longer when voluntary attention was focused on the lines than when attention was distracted from the lines. There have been many attempts to repeat these results, but so far none has been able to ascertain whether the effect of attention on reported line length was a phenomenal effect. In the present study, 46 subjects were shown stimuli consisting of pairs of horizontal or vertical briefly flashed lines with a fixation cross placed equidistant between the lines, far from each of the lines. A change in colour of one arm of the cross was used as a cue to focus the subject's voluntary attention on one line. The results showed that attention increased the judged length of the attended lines. Since this effect of attention also occurred when the subjects were absolutely certain that they saw that the stimulus lines differed in length, this effect indicates that attention increased the phenomenal length of the attended lines. This lengthening was quite small: it involved a maximum mean increase of about 0.15 in the probability of responding that the attended line was longer. This effect occurred in the horizontal dimension and was almost absent in the vertical dimension. In agreement with data indicating that flashed lines expand phenomenally by activating motion detectors and that focused attention makes neural motion responses increase in amplitude, the present results suggest that focused attention makes attended lines look longer because it makes these lines expand phenomenally more rapidly.

15. Colour effect on picture recognition memory  [presentation, pps, 1122 kB]
Nakic S., Pavela I.
First author's affiliation: University hospital "Sestre milosrdnice", Zagreb, Croatia

Different features of pictures can be used as recognition clues. Previous studies have shown that colour is one of them. However, it is still unclear whether enhanced recognition memory by colours is due to the distinctiveness of features highlighted by colours (sensory facilitation), or it is due to the colour representation in memory (cognitive facilitation). In the last case, unnaturally coloured pictures would be more difficult to memorize. This study was conducted to investigate colour effects on picture recognition memory. Colour diagnosticity was manipulated by using pictures in two colours modes: naturally and unnaturally coloured pictures, as well as black and white pictures. Since there were three different versions of picture in the encoding phase and three in the recognition phase, there were nine possible combinations of encoding and recognizing pictures. There were three groups of participants who were exposed to three different combinations of encoding and recognizing pictures. Accuracy and recognition time were measured. Results showed strong encoding-specificity effect (better picture recognition in the same version as in the study phase), as well as improved recognition memory by both colour modes. This indicates that colour improves recognition memory through sensory facilitation, not by colour representation in memory. Moreover, recognizing pictures in black and white includes different mechanisms from those involved in recognizing coloured pictures. Furthermore, recognition time was the longest for black and white pictures and the shortest for naturally coloured ones, which suggests that recognition time depends on the fact that colour is a part of the identity of picture stimuli.

16. Attention difficulties and impulsivity in euthymic outpatients with bipolar disorder  
Novak T., Šprah L.
First author's affiliation: Sociomedical Institute SASA, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Bipolar affective disorder is characterised by impulse disregulation and cognitive disturbances. Although numerous studies agree that bipolar patients show extensive attention deficits and increased impulsivity, it is still unclear to which extent these problems persist across different mood states, including euthymia. In the present study, we aimed to examine selective attention functioning, emotional attentional bias and impulsivity in the group of euthymic outpatients with bipolar disorder. Thirty outpatients with euthymic bipolar disorder without current depression or mania episode were age- and education-matched with 30 healthy individuals. Participants completed the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11 version) which is subfactored into attentional, motor, and nonplanning impulsiveness, as well as the computer administered colour-word and emotional Stroop task. Relative to the controls, euthymic bipolar outpatients displayed higher levels of impulsiveness and demonstrated a generally worse performance on colour–word and emotional Stroop task regarding longer reaction times and less accurate responding. The between-group differences were most pronounced in the interference condition of the colour-word task and in neutral and negative words condition of the emotional task. Within bipolar group, we found negative correlations between impulsiveness dimensions and performance on colour-word task. To conclude, euthymic bipolar outpatients in our study demonstrated a relatively marked impairment in aspects of impulse regulation and selective attention functioning. Attentional bias was discovered with neutral and negative stimuli and problems with interference control were revealed. However, a causal role between impulsivity and attention has yet to be established.

17. Adult theory of mind, cooperation, Machiavellianism, sensitivity to punishment and reward: the effect of mindreading on social relations  
Paál T., Bereczkei T.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Theory of mind – the ability to attribute independent mental states and processes to others – plays an important role in our social lives. First, it facilitates social cooperation, and second, it enables us to manipulate others in order to reach our own goals. In two subsequent studies, we have analyzed some basic aspects of the complex relationship between adult theory of mind and social behavior that had not been researched in depth so far. Our results show 1) a strong negative correlation between Machiavellianism and social cooperative skills; 2) a connection between the extent of cooperative tendency and the level of mindreading; 3) a positive correlation between Machiavellianism and sensitivity to reward; and 4) a lack of significant correlation between theory of mind and Machiavellianism. For the interpretation of the results – especially for our fourth finding – we used the concepts of „hot” and „cold” empathy and the lack of representation of moral emotions. Finally, we have started to explore the effects of theory of mind and Machiavellianism on life-like situations by using various games developed within the game theory paradigm.

18. The effect of level of processing, test instruction, and the type on priming in memory tests  
Pojhan M.
Islamic Azad University of Tonekabon, Tonekabon, Iran

This research had been examining the effects of three factors – level of processing (graphemic-semantic), test instruction (implicit-explicit), and the type of test (word-stem and word-fragment) on priming in memory tests. On the basis of transfer appropriate processing (TAP) model and retrieval intentionality criterion (RIC), and with respect to the characteristics of word stem and word fragment tests, it was predicted that the subjects in the condition of implicit test instruction do differently in word stem and fragment tasks. The subjects were 80 university undergraduates, randomly assigned in eight experimental groups. As expected, each of the three factors had significant effect on priming, specifically in the implicit condition. The tests did not have similar effects: Level of processing affected the word fragment, but not the stem. In addition, on the basis of these findings it can be concluded (i) that word fragment task is not a pure perceptual implicit test and (ii) that word stem is a cued-recall test under explicit test instruction and a perceptual implicit test under implicit test instruction.

19. Threshold of coherent motion and contour integration in children with development dyslexia  
Révész G., Séra L., Járai R., Berényi I.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Psychology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

Previous empirical research suggests that visual perceptual impairment may occur in up to 75% of developmental dyslexics (e.g., Boden & Giaschi, 2007; Samar & Parasnis, 2005). These deficits, especially the magnocellular and the dorsal stream of visual pathways deficit are well documented in dyslexia (e.g., Skottun, 2000; Skottun & Skoyles, 2005). On the other hand, another explanation proposes that magnocellular and parvocellular channels are intact but that there is an abnormal interaction between them: a failure of mutual inhibition (e.g., Slaghuis & Pinkus, 1993) or the transient but delayed magnocellular processing inhibits (masks) the sustained parvocellular processes (Keen & Lovegrove, 2000). Other possibilities are that the visual disorder in dyslexia is located in higher visual areas which may explain the disordered perception of coherent global motion in dyslexia. In this research we examined the threshold of coherent motion with our own developed method (CoMot & Geier, 2008) and the threshold of contour integration (Kovács & Julesz, 1993; Kovács, Kozma, Fehér, & Benedek, 1999; Kovács, 2000) in two age and IQ matched dyslexic and typically developed groups. There was no difference between the two groups in the task of contour integration, while the threshold of coherent motion was higher in the group with dyslexia. This result suggests that the deficit of visual processing may not be in the lower – local - pathways, but instead in the higher - integrative - visual areas (MT).

20. Cognitive features of suicidal and depressed individuals  
Roskar S., Zorko M., Repovs G., Bucik V., Marusic A.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Public health of the Republic Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Problem solving deficiencies, attentional bias and reduced anticipation of positive events in the future are regarded as cognitive features which can trigger feelings of hopelessness and subsequently suicidal behaviour. The main objective of the study was to evaluate these attributes and to determine whether these cognitive changes improve over time. Three samples of participants were recruited: individuals after suicide attempt (all diagnosed with depressive disorder), individuals with depressive disorder (no suicide attempt), and healthy volunteers. Each participant was interviewed (for personal and family psychiatric history) and individually tested with neuropsychological tests. Beck Hopelessness Scale was applied to determine the rate of hopelessness. All measures were obtained from participants (except from healthy volunteers) shortly after admission and again 8 weeks later in order to assess cognitive changes over time. Results indicate that suicide attempters and depressed individuals are less efficient problem solvers and exhibit greater levels of hopelessness compared to healthy controls. No differences regarding attentional bias were found between the groups. Among all groups, the biggest lack of future positive events anticipation was exhibited by depressed individuals, in particular depressed individuals with suicide ideation. The later group also scored highest on levels of hopelessness. Except for changes in feelings of hopelessness which decreased over time, no differences in cognitive functions were observed between baseline and retesting. Revealed cognitive features are very likely to be involved in the development of the suicidal process. This particularly holds for feelings of hopelessness and reduced anticipation of positive life events.

21. To drag, to push, to give a push: Sensory-motor structures in the mental images of three causal verbs  [presentation, ppt, 1439 kB]
Schepis A., Zuczkowski A., Biassoni F., Karp N., Bianchi I.
First author's affiliation: Università degli studi di Macerata, Macerata, Italy

The leading hypothesis of the present contribution is that the mental image activated by a linguistic signifier - in particular, the causal verbs to drag, to push, and to give a push, studied in their perceptual structure by Michotte - are referable to underlying schemata grounded in perceptual experience. The Gestaltist approach of Michotte with particular reference to his hypotheses of the prefiguration and derivation of the semantic structures from the perceptual ones is conjugated here with more recent contributions coming from other fields (Jackendoff 1997, Talmy 2000, Barsalou 2003, Langacker 2004). Three methodologically analogous studies (one for each verb) have been conducted, each one divided into two phases. In the first phase, 2 groups of 5 subjects described and drew the mental image activated by the verb under examination. Among different representations, the common structural characteristics were individuated and constituted the base for the formulation of a questionnaire specific for the given verb. In the second phase, a wide sample of subjects was asked to produce a mental image related to the verb, to describe and to draw it, and to answer the questionnaire. The data analysis was either qualitative (descriptions and drawings) and quantitative (questionnaire’s answers). The results confirmed the existence of structural invariant characteristics comparable among the three verbs, concerning in particular topological (reciprocal position, contact, plane), kinetic (speed, direction, nature of the motion), dimensional (size, weight) and kinesthetic features (resistance, friction, effort). The theoretical and practical implications concern the intensional and extensional representation of meaning.

22. A neural model for learning of number representation in children and adults  
Setic M., Domijan D.
First author's affiliation: University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia

Investigations with children showed that they gradually develop an approximate representation of magnitude (numerosity). Lipton and Spelke (2004) investigated the children capacity to distinguish sequences of sounds. Six month babies were able to discriminate sequence with 16 sounds from the sequence of 8 sounds. However, they were not able to discriminate between sequences of 12 and 8 sounds. On the other hand, nine month babies were able to discriminate sequences of 12 and 8 sounds. Similar process could be observed in adults when they are faced with the problem of learning new system of relationships between numbers. For instance, Marques and Dehaene (2004; Dehaene & Marques, 2002) showed that participants in Portugal and Austria had problems in estimating values of various goods when they are shown in euro and not in national currency. These problems were seen immediately after the euro was introduced. Few years of experience with euro reduces the problem. Described results are explained (simulated) using neural network for number representation proposed by Domijan (2004). In the original version, the model simulated the neurophysiological findings about neurons in the prefrontal cortex, which are sensitive to numerosity. In the model, all connections were fixed. Here, we proposed a new version of the model which is able to learn using Hebb rule. This type of associative learning has a plausible neurophysiological interpretation (long-term potentiation). Computer simulations showed that the width of the tuning curves for the neurons sensitive to different numbers gradually decrease as a function of experience. In other words, tuning curves become sharper with learning, which enable better discrimination of numbers. The same result is obtained with different sensory modalities. We conclude that the proposed model explains neural mechanisms for the construction of number representation in the parietal and prefrontal cortex.

23. Can Evolutionary Psychology be revived? - A solid epistemological endeavour  [presentation, ptx, 137 kB]
Suessenbacher G.
University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria

Evolutionary Psychology (EP) has been both welcomed because of its promise to reveal the basic structure of the mind as well as profoundly criticized in many ways (e.g. Buller, 2007; and many others). This talk tries (a) to look for some possible onsets of amendments and (b) to present an exemplary model which might serve as a starter for some restructuring endeavours of EP. Ad (a): If only EP renounced its effort to search for Human Nature, a genuine evolutionary investigation seems possible. Such change had to define the scientific aim of EPs research in a new way; however, EP would have very much to count on evolutionary Neuroscience. Ad (b): Taking the question of energy into account when looking at the evolutionary adaptions of the Genus Homo, many semiotic and symbolic (cultural) perspectives become attractive - the very first being the view of the step from australopithecine subsistence to early human existence by inventing and evaluate the use of fire. This talk will present an attempt, the Hot-Interference-&-Symbolic-Transformation Model (HIST) which gathers important features of this topic in order to offer an opportunity for EP to innovatively relate its reconstruction to the current design of the mind. This can be done by stressing the reticular features of antagonist (sub-neocortical versus neo-cortical) loci of control as well as of the polarities of the human mind: The channeling characteristics of which as well as of its substrate (the brain) presumably never did change since the beginning. Nevertheless, their perturbation initiated the start of recursion as an internal neural problem-solver.

24. A comparison of methods for estimating the capacity of visual working memory: Examination of encoding limitations  [presentation, ppt, 168 kB]
Švegar D., Domijan D.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia

The primary goal of the present study was to answer the following question: is visual working memory capacity indeed extremely limited, or it is erroneously underestimated due to inadequate encoding of stimuli? Visual working memory capacity is estimated by a procedure known as change-detection paradigm, in which two sets of stimuli are presented. These two displays are separated by an interstimulus interval, during which a change may occur, usually on one of the stimuli. Participants' task is to answer if change had occurred or not, and the memory capacity is then estimated through analyses of their performance. In the majority of recent studies it was found that the memory capacity is limited to three or four objects. Although there is a consensus regarding the capacity limitation, all previous studies are based on the same procedure, in which it is uncertain that visual objects are adequately encoded into working memory. In order to assure their adequate encoding, we constructed a new procedure, in which stimuli are presented successively in the initial stage. That experimental condition was compared to a condition using classical change-detection paradigm, in which objects are initially presented simultaneously. Besides the initial presentation, testing of memory was also varied: in one condition memory was tested with partial test-displays, while in the other, full test-displays were applied. Thus, a 2 x 2 experimental design was used. Analyses have shown that the main effect of the type of presentation was not significant, and it can therefore be concluded that visual working memory capacity was not underestimated due to encoding limitations in previous studies. The main effect of test display type and the interaction were both also insignificant.

25. Problem solving deficits and smaller social network in persons treated for alcoholic liver disease  [presentation, ppt, 634 kB]
Zorko M., Roškar S., Bucik V., Jeriček H., Čebašek Travnik Z., Kocijančič B., Štabuc B.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Contemporary research highlights the importance of cognitive functions and availability of social support in the development of alcohol dependence syndrome. Cognitive deficits, specific features of perceived social support, and high prevalence of depression were found in alcohol-dependent persons treated for alcohol dependence by psychiatrists. On the other hand, the population of people treated for alcoholic liver disease in gastroenterology departments has seldom been investigated. The aim of our study was to investigate the prevalence of depression, problem-solving, and perceived social support in persons with alcoholic liver disease (N = 42) as compared to those with non-alcoholic liver disease (N = 9) and hospital controls (N = 31). AUDIT-10, Beck Depression Inventory, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Means-ends Problem Solving Test and Perceived Social Support Questionnaire were used. The hypothesis that persons with alcoholic liver disease would show more signs and symptoms of depression as compared to the other two groups was not confirmed. Compared to hospital controls, persons with alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease showed decreased cognitive flexibility and deficits in problem solving. Moreover, the group with alcoholic liver disease showed deficits in interpersonal problem solving, which were evident in the phase of generating alternative solutions to the problem. In this group, no correlations between the level of harmful drinking, severity of liver cirrhosis and cognitive deficits were found. Persons with alcoholic liver disease had a smaller social network, while no differences between the groups were found regarding satisfaction with support and other examined social network characteristics. We conclude that psychosocial interventions aimed at persons treated for alcoholic liver disease in gastroenterology departments should focus on teaching effective problem-solving techniques, strengthening supportive network ties and encouraging people to use alternative sources of support.