2001: A Gregynog Odyssey

neth.de > | <<

Gregynog images
all pictures


Annual Gregynog Postgraduate Conference, 2001
School of Psychology School of Psychology >>, Cardiff University Cardiff University >>
Gregynog Postgraduate Conference 2001

List of talks


Robert Hughes:
A Negative Order-Repetition Priming Effect: Inhibition of Order in Unattended Auditory Sequences?

A novel negative priming effect is reported in which recall accuracy for a sequence of visually presented digits was significantly poorer if the same sequence (Experiment 1) or a portion of that sequence (Experiment 2) was presented as an irrelevant auditory distractor sequence on the previous trial. An enhancement of the effect was obtained in Experiment 3 when participants divided their attention between the to-be-remembered sequence and the to-be-repeated auditory sequence. The results of Experiments 1 and 2 provide converging evidence that auditory events are seriated despite being unattended. Given the result of Experiment 3 however, a further experiment will be required to determine whether the source of the negative direction of the effect is best accounted for in terms of the inhibition of the to-be-repeated sequence, or an incongruence arising from a mismatch in the repeated presentation of the sequence in terms of sensory modalities.

oben | top

Ben Wellens:
The Combined Effects of Occupational Noise Exposure and Temporal Stressors on Human Error: Accidents, Minor injuries, Cognitive Failures and Human Performance.

There is a rich history of researching the effects of various factors (i.e. noise, night work, job demand etc) on health outcomes (i.e. stress, performance, illness absence etc) in the work environment. However, the complexity of the work environment is rarely addressed and the potential for additive or synergistic combined effects is not widely considered. Laboratory studies have been used to manipulate certain combinations of stressors, i.e. noise and night work (Smith & Miles, 1986, 1987). The data presented here is an attempt to address the combined effects of noise and night work (and other temporal stressors such as shift work, unpredictable and long hours of work) using a variety of other methods seldom used including epidemiological techniques. Ecological validity was an issue in the laboratory studies. By studying these stressors in the working population, ecological validity will be increased. Preliminary findings suggest that it is often the influence of one major stressor (i.e. loud noise) that would account for deficits found. Where combined effects were seen, it was the combination of a series of minor hassles (i.e. noise annoyance, unsocial work hours) that combine to account for deficits found. Occupational noise exposure was seen to have a greater negative impact on human error than temporal stressors. There are a number of methodological issues that need to be addressed. Potential for future directions will also be discussed.

oben | top

Bill Macken:
Transitional Probabilities and the Mind (There's no such thing as memory, part II)

Many traditional accounts of memory hold that there are some sort/s of stores and/or processes that are there to retain information over various periods of time. Contrary to this, I'll attempt to argue that there are no such 'bespoke' processes or stores, but rather that there are a range of symbolic skills that may be flexibly co-opted to perform tasks that require the retention or manipulation of information in real time.

oben | top

Fiona Harrison:
Visual Spatial Attention and Drug Manipulations in Aged Rats.

One of the major accounts of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is based on damage to the basal forebrain cholinergic system. Four drugs which all affect this system - Tacrine (a cholinesterase inhibitor), Cytisine (a nicotinic agonist), Thioperamide (a histamine antagonist), and CGP-62349 (a GABAB antagonist) - were administered to aged rats (18 - 22 months) which had been classified as either impaired or normal according to their performance at baseline level on the Five Choice Serial Reaction Time Task (5-CSRTT) which is a test of visual attention. Human AD patients have been found to be impaired on an analogous touch-screen version of this task, and the four drugs were assessed as to how well they were able to ameliorate the rats' performance on several measures including accuracy and response latencies. Normal rats were tested with a shortened stimulus duration to increase their attentional load and decrease their performance levels to mirror the performance of the impaired group. Each of the drugs was found to lead to a different pattern of results, regardless of group. Moreover, each drug affected the impaired and normal groups differentially, with significant effects being seen on different measures for each group.

oben | top

Alex Payne:
Risk and Protective Factors associated with Social Information Processing, Executive Function, Theory of Mind and Emotion Regulation in the Emergence and Development of Aggression in Childhood.

Social information processing, executive function, theory of mind and emotion regulation have all been implicated as risk and protective factors in the emergence and development of aggressive behaviours in childhood. The aims of the study are to investigate the relationships between these cognitive and affective variables in attempting to explain the underlying mechanisms of aggressive behaviours. Differences in these phenomena as a function of gender, age and presenting symptoms will also be examined. Participants will be approximately 120 children aged 9, 10 and 11 years and their teachers from mainstream primary schools throughout South Wales. A second study of children with more extreme behavioural problems will be undertaken in special schools. The children will take part in a 2 hour interview in which they will complete measures of their level of conduct problems, social information processing, emotion regulation, executive function and theory of mind on both a group and individual basis. The hypotheses are as follows: There will be an association between theory of mind and executive function. Theory of mind will significantly influence social information processing. Executive function will significantly influence social information processing. There will be an association between social information processing and emotion regulation. Social information processing will significantly influence the occurence of aggressive behaviours. Emotion regulation will significantly influence the occurrence of aggressive behaviours. Preliminary findings suggest that there is support for the hypotheses, although there are insufficient data at present to draw any firm conclusions. Data collection is still in progress.

oben | top

Nicholas Perham:
How to make friends and scare people.

To induce an anxious mood in participants we used a technique used by Burke and Mathews (1992). Participants were shown a series of either physically threatening, socially threatening or neutral words. They were told to imagine personal situations involving each word and describe the situation for 10 seconds. Galvanic skin conductance (GSR) measurements, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI: Spielberger, Gorusch, & Lushene, 1970) scores and reaction times were recorded. STAI scores and reaction times showed that those who saw the physically and socially threatening words were significantly more anxious, and took longer to think of events than those who saw the neutral words. However, the GSR data were less conclusive.

oben | top

Gregory R. Maio, Susan E. Watt, and Miles Hewstone:
Effects of Anti-Racism Messages on Intergroup Attitudes.

The present research investigated whether the effect of anti-racism messages on implicit and explicit attitudes toward ethnic groups depends on the message recipients' initial ambivalence toward the groups. In two experiments, participants took part in a pre-test session, which measured several attributes of their attitudes toward ethnic minority people (e.g., valence, embeddedness), including ambivalence. Several months later, participants were exposed to an anti-racism message. In Experiment 1, participants read either a flawed anti-racism editorial that argued in favour of increased quotas for immigration to Britain or a neutral filler editorial. In Experiment 2, participants read either an anti-racism advertisement or a control advertisement. Results indicated that exposure to the anti-racism editorial or ads positively influenced nonambivalent participants' implicit and explicit intergroup attitudes, whereas the anti-racism message negatively influenced ambivalent participants' intergroup attitudes. Overall, these results help determine which target audiences may be most affected by persuasive messages against racism.

oben | top

Helen Hodgetts:
Interruptions in the Tower of London.

The negative effect of interruptions is evident in both laboratory studies and real life situations, degrading performance by way of increased task performance time and decreased accuracy. Using the Tower of London problem, a series of experiments examined the effects of task interruptions on performance in terms of time taken to execute each move and number of errors made. As predicted, time taken for participants to execute a subsequent move in their plan was longer when stopped mid-task by an unexpected interruption than when plan execution was allowed to be continuous, with the extra time taken reflecting that needed to reconfigure the task set following an interruption. The position of the interruption was varied, occurring either at the beginning, middle or end of the plan execution; those occurring in the middle were found to cause more degradation of performance as indexed by both errors made and time taken. The length of the interruption, however, appeared to have little influence on error rates or time needed to resume the primary task.

oben | top

Lisa Evans:
Prepulse Inhibition in Schizophrenia: What is the Nature of the Deficit?

A large body of literature indicates that schizophrenic patients have an inability to inhibit distracting, trivial or non-salient information. One way that this has been measured empirically is by using the Prepulse Inhibition (PPI) paradigm. This refers to the suppression of the startle reflex when a weak prepulse precedes the startling stimulus by around 120 ms. Previous work has documented that schizophrenic patients have a deficit in their PPI, however, its exact nature and extent is unknown. There is also the issue as to whether performance on PPI is modified by certain symptom profiles. A number of researchers have found that deficits on PPI are associated with the positive symptoms of psychosis, whereas others have found that they are associated with negative symptoms. Hence, this is an area which needs further exploration. Another avenue of research that we are taking is to adopt the continuumist approach to schizophrenia and studying the relationship between the personality trait of schizotypy and PPI performance. Theoretically it would be expected that individuals high in this trait might show the same pattern, albeit on a much milder scale, to those individuals with schizophrenia. These are the issues that we are currently investigating and which I will elucidate upon in this presentation.

oben | top

Jenny Naji:
Pursuit Eye-movements can Disambiguate Depth Order in an Ambiguous Motion Display.

Motion gradients can be used to specify 3-dimensional surfaces. If a corrugated sheet is moved with respect to an observer, the closer peaks of the corrugation move faster across the retina than the farther troughs (the faster-nearer rule). This allows the visual system to determine the relative depth order of objects. This type of corrugated surface can be specified by two kinds of motion gradients: relative motion (shear) and translation. If an accurate eye movement is used to track this kind of surface, this would effectively 'cancel' the retinal translation. Does this change our perception of the depth of a surface? To investigate this, we looked at three types of display: 1. Relative motion accompanied by translation (eye stationary); 2. Relative motion (eye stationary) and 3. Relative motion with translation accompanied by a pursuit eye movement. For the faster-nearer rule to be employed, thus theoretically disambiguating depth order, there must be both shear and translation in the display. It can be seen from this that we would predict the depth order in condition 1 to be unambiguous and the depth order in condition 2 to be ambiguous. In condition 3 however, the case is not as clear-cut. In order for this surface to be perceived unambiguously, an extra-retinal estimate of translation would be needed. Indeed, this is what we found: observers are able to correctly determine the relative depth order of stimuli in conditions 1 and 3 (according to the faster-nearer rule) but the stimulus appears ambiguous in condition 2. This suggests that it is the component of translation that is disambiguating depth order, either from an extra-retinal estimate of translation (3) or from a retinal estimate (1).

oben | top

Olivia Handley:
Genetic and Cognitive Profiling of Alzheimer's Disease: The Influence of Genotype on Pathological Cognitive Decline.

A major risk factor of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the apolipoprotein gene (ApoE) found on chromosome 19. It has been shown that this gene, specifically the e4 allele, is associated with cognitive deficits typical of AD patients. However, considerably less research has ventured into the prevalence and effect this gene has on populations at normal and 'at risk' of developing AD. Participants aged between 61-84 years, consisted of 20 unaffected siblings of late-onset AD patients and 20 matched controls. A comprehensive battery of cognitive tests was administered to all participants, together with analysis of genotype, specifically ApoE status. Cognitive performance was assessed using two approaches: comparisons between both sibling and control groups and comparisons according to ApoE status. Preliminary results indicated differences between siblings and controls for cognitive performance but only for a subset of tests. In comparing different genotypes, carriers of at least one copy of the e4 allele displayed a more generalised deficit in cognitive processing than non-carriers. Future research will aim to recruit larger population samples to locate stronger genotype differences within sibling and control groups. Consequently, how these differences influence cognitive performance will be established. The aim is to provide greater insight into the predicative power of a combination of cognitive factors/genetic risk factors for the development of AD, and more importantly, the extent to which this gene can be used as a deterministic rather than associative gene in predisposing AD.

oben | top

Simon Banbury:
The Development of an Implicit Situation Awareness Toolkit.

Much of the knowledge that an experienced system operator uses is procedural, rather than declarative, and as a result this knowledge may not be available to conscious inspection. It is proposed that to access this tacit or 'implicit' knowledge, Human Factors practitioners need to employ implicit knowledge probes. This paper provides a rationale for testing Situation Awareness (SA) implicitly and an overview of an 'Implicit SA' toolkit. This CD ROM-based toolkit provides Human Factors practitioners with step-by-step guidance on how to measure Implicit SA - the aim being to supplement and enhance (rather than replace) existing explicit SA measurement techniques. The toolkit permits a user to design a bespoke test for measuring implicit SA from scratch. It guides the user through the design and construction stages of an implicit test in a self-explanatory manner and provides details on methodologies, number of participants required, experimental design, and so on. It also provides examples of previous applications for each test and imparts substantial background information pertaining to implicit knowledge, memory, and learning.

oben | top

Claire Miles:
Marital Conflict and Child Adjustment: Both Sides of the Story.

Understanding the conditions that account for increasing rates of psychological distress among children has become a significant domain of enquiry for psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. Family factors such as parent psychopathology, family economic strain, parent substance abuse, divorce and separation as well as conflict between parents have been linked to increases in children's symptoms of depression, aggression, anti-social behaviour, delinquency, low social competence and academic underachievement. The role of conflict between parents has received considerable attention as an explanatory factor in recent years and, indeed, has been shown to mediate the effects of other family factors on children. Indeed, children exposed to conflict between parents that is frequent, intense, child-related and poorly resolved has been shown to be more upsetting to children of all ages than conflict that is expressed without animosity, concerns a topic unrelated to the child and is successfully resolved. The present study focuses on the role of children's feelings of threat and self-blame following arguments between their parents in accounting for increases in their internalising symptoms (depression, anxiety, withdrawal) and externalising problems (aggression, hostility and anti-social behaviour). Attention will also be directed toward identifying specific risk and protective factors that help explain why some children respond negatively to the conditions of marital and family conflict while others remain relatively unaffected.

oben | top

Orazio Giuffrida:
Semantic Memory Organisation in Bilingualism.

Historically, the debate concerning semantic memory organisation in bilinguals proposes two main theories. The first theory is a unique semantic store, the second is two or more different stores (Brown, Sharma, & Kirsner 1984; Gerald & Cortese 1984; Altariba 1990). Recently, a third theory was proposed by Kroll and Stewart (1994). The theory suggests a developmental model with two different translation routes: from first language (L1) to second language (L2), versus from L2 to L1. Twenty-nine Italian-English bilinguals completed a preliminary task used in order to place participants into two main conditions (L1 dominant or L2 dominant). The subjects were presented with three lists of to-be-translated single words. Each list was divided in translation from L1 to L2 and from L2 to L1. The first list was composed of words semantically unrelated, the second semantically organised, the third of cognate words. The reaction time of each translation was recorded. Significant statistical differences were found on the L1 dominant group in each condition. No statistical differences were found on the L2 dominant group. The results are in accord with the Kroll and Stewart (1994) theory. However, the present research seems to suggest that this model needs to be refined for highly fluent bilinguals.

oben | top

Michael Dunn:
The Role of Dopaminergic, Serotonergic and Glutamatergic Pathways in Conditional Discrimination: Implications for an Impairment of Contextual Processing in Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia has long been associated with a broad spectrum of cognitive and behavioural deficits including perturbations of arousal, problem solving and linguistic processing. Traditionally, 'animal models' of schizophrenia (e.g. Latent Inhibition and Pre-pulse Inhibition) have exemplified impairments in selective attention. It has recently been suggested, however, that a central core deficit in the ability to construct, maintain and modify contextual information, and to use this information for goal directed behaviour, may account for many of the observed deficits. Tasks in which patients with schizophrenia show consistent and often profound impairments all require as an essential prerequisite for successful performance this ability to process contextual information. Using a conditional discrimination paradigm, rats were trained to lever press for pellet reinforcement. Reinforcement was, however, contingent upon a correct response i.e. left or right lever, given during presentation of either one of two auditory stimuli (context) i.e. tone or clicker. Animals were then challenged systemically with either the indirect dopamine agonist d-amphetamine or the non- competitive NMDA antagonist Phencyclidine (PCP), both reliable schizophrenomimetics. Both were shown to selectively disrupt conditional discrimination, however, this disruption was attenuated by various antagonists. When both antagonist and d-amphetamine were given chronically, the atypical neuroleptic Clozapine and also Flupenthixol but not a selective D2 antagonist or typical neuroleptic Haloperidol, blocked the disruptive effects of d-amphetamine suggesting D1 and 5HT involvment. Clozapine, Flupenthixol and the selective D1 antagonist SCH 23390 all blocked amphetamine disruption when given acutely. However, when antagonists alone were administered chronically before a single dose amphetamine challenge, only the selective D2 antagonist Eticlopride attenuated amphetamine disruption. The results highlight a potentially important D1 & D2 interaction and the implications this may have in the design of pharmacological interventions.

oben | top

Hansjörg Neth and Stephen J. Payne:
Towards a Theory of Learning by Not Doing.

In order to learn how to solve a problem a good idea might be trying to solve it. Incidental learning ('learning by doing', Anzai & Simon, 1979) then appears as a mere by-product of problem solving activity. An alternative approach might involve a deliberate decision to learn more about a problem without actually solving it ('learning by not doing'). According to Kirsh and Maglio (1994) actions with the intent to learn more about a problem can be characterized as 'epistemic', and contrasted with goal directed attempts to solve a problem ('pragmatic actions'). In traditional studies of problem solving, both modes are intertwined and indistinguishable. Using a classic transformation task (Towers of Hanoi) we are trying to induce and isolate epistemic actions (by instruction or device support) and assess their consequences on problem solving performance and learning.

oben | top

Jacky Boivin:
Do Psychological Factors Influence Fertility?

Evolutionary research on non-human mammals has shown that under conditions of extreme stress the reproductive system shuts down preventing conception (c.f. Wasser, 1983). At the same time most of us know that babies are frequently born to families exposed to conditions which produce considerable stress (e.g., war). This paper will review the evidence for a link between stress and fertility potential in humans.

oben | top

Barrie Edmonds:
The Effect of Consistency in Across Frequency Interaural Delays on Speech Intelligibility in Noise.

It is easier to understand speech in the presence of noise or other speech if the target and its interferer have different interaural time delays (ITDs) - this is called binaural advantage. We tested the importance for this effect of providing a consistent target ITD across different frequency regions. In Experiment 1, participants were required to transcribe target sentences presented in a background of brown noise (presented with zero ITD). Target sentences were presented as a pair of high- and low-pass bands separated by a 1-ERB notch centred at frequencies of 750, 1500, or 3000 Hz. Speech reception thresholds (SRTs) were measured for three configurations of target sentence ITDs: baseline (high and low band with zero ITD), consistent (high and low band both with +0.5 ms ITD) and inconsistent (high and low band with different +/- 0.5 ms ITDs). Results from 18 participants showed that SRTs from the consistent and inconsistent conditions were significantly lower (~3 dB) than those measured for the baseline condition and indistinguishable from each other. No effect of notch frequency was observed. In Experiment 2, SRTs were obtained for the same conditions, but with a single voice as the background interference. The results for 18 participants were similar to those of Experiment 1, except that the SRTs in the consistent and inconsistent ITDs were only 1.8 dB lower than in the baseline condition. Thus, these results indicate that for the intelligibility of speech in the presence of an interferer the target does not need to occupy a consistent perceived location for binaural advantage to be obtained. The only important factor is the difference in binaural cues between target and interferer within each frequency band.

zurück | back

oben | top
hanz@neth.de; 10/2001