ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B


    30 November 2010, Volume 42 Issue 11 Previous Issue    Next Issue

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    The Cognitive Processing of Prosodic Boundary and Its Related Brain Effect in Quatrain
    LI Wei-Jun,YANG Yu-Fang
    2010, 42 (11):  1021-1032. 
    Abstract ( 549 )   PDF (590KB) ( 1805 )  
    Prosodic boundary, as an integral part of prosodic features in spoken language, is very important in sentence and discourse comprehension. Recently, researchers have shown increasing interest in the neural mechanism of prosodic boundary processing.
    Numerous studies have found that CPS, a special ERP component reflecting the closure of phonological phrase, could be induced by phonological phrase boundary embedded in a sentence. Also, researches have demonstrated that intonational phrase boundary in the end of a sentence consistently elicited P3, which reflects the operation of “syntactic closure” as well as the completeness of language unit. The present study aims to investigate the cognitive processing of intonational phrase boundary embedded in discourse and its related brain effect using ERP.
    To explore the processing of intonational phrase boundary in discourse, quatrain was used, which is composed of four sentences and five or seven characters in each sentence. Twenty (10 males) healthy undergraduates participated in the experiment. The participants were told to listen carefully to each poem, and complete a word discrimination task. Specifically, if the word "Space" was presented, they were asked to press the spacebar to continue. If other words were presented, they were required to press the "F" or "J" key to indicate whether the word appeared in the poem they had just heard. The EEG was recorded from 64 scalp channels using electrodes mounted in an elastic cap. Boundary-related ERPs were calculated for a 1500 ms epoch including a 200 ms pre-boundary syllable baseline.
    It was found that the three intonational phrase boundaries embedded in the quatrain elicited CPS respectively, with no differences in time course, amplitude and scalp distribution, indicating that prosodic boundary processing was not influenced by its position in discourse. Moreover, the final sentence of both five-character-quatrain and seven-character-quatrain evoked the P3 effect, with the amplitude elicited by the former one lower than that of the later one, but no differences in scalp distribution and onset latency.
    The present study suggests that boundaries conveying both the closure of preceding information and the prediction of upcoming information will induce CPS, while boundaries reflecting only the closure of preceding information will elicit P3. The nature and characteristics of these two components were also discussed in the present study.
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    The Influence of Response Options on Repetition Priming Effect on Temporal Order Perception
    ZHANG Feng,HUANG Xi-Ting
    2010, 42 (11):  1033-1039. 
    Abstract ( 928 )   PDF (294KB) ( 1828 )  
    Past research has found repetition priming effects in temporal order perception using binary temporal order judgments. However, according to a response bias explanation, such are caused by response biases derived from response options. In the present study, this hypothesis was tested in two experiments using ternary temporal order judgments.
    Targets in each experiment were composed of pairs of figure stimuli: a square and a diamond. The two visual targets were presented either above or below the center of the screen at short temporal intervals or simultaneously. If primed, one of the targets was preceded by a repetition prime. In Experiment 1 20 participants were instructed to make ternary temporal order judgments including “a square appeared first”, “a diamond appeared first” and “a square and a diamond appeared simultaneously”. Experiment 2 explored the impact of restricting the use of “appearing simultaneously” judgments. In the condition with a restrictive instruction, 14 participants were asked to use “appearing simultaneously” judgments only if they had undoubtedly perceived simultaneous presentations. In the unrestricted condition they could indicate perceived simultaneity as well as uncertainty with “appearing simultaneously” judgments.
    The research results in two important findings: First, there were significant repetition priming effects on temporal order perception with ternary temporal order judgments in both experiments. Furthermore, the influence of repetition priming was involved in the perception of both simultaneity in Experiments 1 and 2.
    Based on these findings, it can be concluded that the repetition priming effect on temporal order perception was not the false effect caused by response option bias, and that temporal order perception of both simultaneity and order had repetition priming effects.
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    Processing Mechanisms Underlying a Mixed Prospective Memory
    CHEN You-Zhen,HUANG Xi-Ting,YUAN Hong
    2010, 42 (11):  1040-1049. 
    Abstract ( 1267 )   PDF (332KB) ( 1733 )  
    Prospective memory (PM) refers to the task of remembering to perform an intended action at some point in the future. PM is divided into event-based prospective memory (EBPM) and time-based prospective memory (TBPM). However, there are some kinds of complicated PM in real life, one of which is that intended action is based on target event (i.e., PM target) with the time of PM targets occurrence known. This kind of PM is called mixed time-based and event-based prospective memory (Mixed PM). There is no research on this type of mixed PM. Whether its processing mechanisms can be explained by existing theories of EBPM and TBPM is worth exploring. The current study aimed to examine the cognitive mechanisms of this mixed PM with two experiments.
    Experiment One manipulated the knowability of execution time of PM and examined whether the interference effect existed during PM task. Three conditions were tested. In the baseline condition subjects had no PM task and merely performed 1-back task. In the EBPM condition, subjects were told to perform 1-back task and EBPM task embedded, but when the PM targets would occur was unknown. In the mixed PM condition, the same 1-back task as in the baseline and a mixed PM task were required and when the PM target would occur was known. The only difference between the two PM conditions was whether the time of PM targets occurrence was known. Results show that preparatory attentional process was engaged in PM persistently in the EBPM condition. But in the mixed condition, preparatory attentional process was selectively engaged in the target time windows, and the allocation of attentional resources was dynamic in the process of PM task.
    Experiment Two examined the cognitive process of the mixed PM in which PM targets occurred ahead of time. It was found that no subject allocated attentional resources to PM target before the first PM appeared in advance. Otherwise, some subjects fulfill the PM task successfully without monitoring. Then some subjects began to change their strategies of resources allocation and preparatory attentional process was engaged in the rest part of PM task. The other subjects still didn’t allocate attentional resources to monitor PM target until the second PM target appeared. Results also suggested that the way to allocate attentional resources to PM target could be selective and dynamic in the mixed PM task.
    We come to the conclusion that processing mechanisms of the mixed PM were different from those of EBPM and TBPM. To make the multiprocess theory account for the cognitive process of the mixed PM, the current research forms a supplement to the multiprocess theory that multiple processes support PM execution in a dynamic mode. This research also demonstrates that preparatory attentional process is not necessary for PM execution but its involvement improves PM performance.
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    Different Contents Different Inductive Inference: Under the Conditions of Embrace-Advantage and Resist-Disadvantage
    JIANG Ke,XIONG Zhe-Hong
    2010, 42 (11):  1050-1059. 
    Abstract ( 1363 )   PDF (430KB) ( 1719 )  
    Whether inductive inference is domain general or content-dependent remains elusive in the literature. Most previous studies are conducted using blank-content reasoning method, which sets the precondition that inductive inference must be independent from special contents and thus fails to distinguish aforementioned two approaches.
    Recent studies reveal that none of domain general models can explain all eleven forms of inductive inference and deductive inference is content-dependent, indicating that content might play an important role in regulating inductive inference. This view is also supported from an evolutionary psychology perspective. Inductive inferences could be a group of adaptations that are gained during the evolution process to address certain events critical to survival.
    In the current study, we aim to address this issue by using a novel paradigm to explore the role of content on inductive inference. Two tasks including embrace-advantage and resist-disadvantage are utilized because they are closely related to human survival and reproduction. Each task contains two forms of reasoning. Subjects are asked to either estimate the general possibility of embrace-advantage or resist-disadvantage, or express their own will of action in case of embrace-advantage or resist-disadvantage. Thus, a total of four kinds of reasoning tasks were conducted including reasoning in embrace-advantage, action-will in embrace-advantage, reasoning in resist-disadvantage and action-will in resist-disadvantage. A blank-content test serves as control for these reasoning tasks.
    The results demonstrate that embrace-advantage inference is markedly different from resist-disadvantage inference, indicating a potent content-dependent effect. Embrace-advantage shows under generalization whereas resist-disadvantage shows the trend of over generalization, and the embrace-advantage inference is under generalization. We reason that these two tasks are driven by two different psychological mechanisms. Embrace-advantage follows the strategy of sufficiency-necessity, as compared to the sole sufficiency strategy utilized by resist-disadvantage tasks. Such differences have fulfilled the constitutive standards of domain specificity and we conclude that inductive inference is based on domains.
    One innovating feature of the current study is the use of artificial concepts to build up the reasoning propositions. Because content is an important independent variable, artificial concepts can avoid the confounding effect of previous knowledge on subjects’ responses. The results indicate that it is an excellent method to control extraneous variable in reasoning research.
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    Cognitive Bias Toward Female Facial Attractiveness in Males: Evidences from An ERP Study
    ZHANG Yan,KONG Fan-Chang,CHEN Hong,XIANG Yan-Hui,GAO Xiao,CHEN Min-Yan
    2010, 42 (11):  1060-1072. 
    Abstract ( 2486 )   PDF (564KB) ( 5615 )  
    Facial attractiveness is of high importance for human interaction and communication (Joshua, Henderson, Jeremy, & Anglin, 2003). Neuroimaging studies found several brain areas to be differentially responsive to attractive as opposed to unattractive female faces (Aharon et al., 2001; Cloutier, Heatherton, Whalen, & Kelley, 2008; Iaria, Fox, Waite, Aharon, & Barton, 2008; Ishai, 2007; Kranz & Ishai, 2006; Penton-voak, Jacobson, & Tribers, 2004; Senior, 2003). The brain areas responsive to facial attractiveness of potential mates include the superior temporal sulcus (O’ Doherty et al., 2003), basal ganglia (Aharon et al., 2001) and medial orbitofrontal cortex (Kranz et al., 2006). However, little is known about the time course of brain responses related to this process. The present study aimed to compare event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to attractive and unattractive female faces in order to determine which time periods were sensitive during judgment and recognition of female facial attractiveness for males.
    ERPs were used to explore temporal changes of judgment and recognition toward attractive female faces based on a study-recognition experiment paradigm. Data from 13 heterosexual males participants (mean age 22.35 years) were included in the analysis. There are 490 unfamiliar Chinese female pictures from Google. First, 80 college students rated the female pictures as attractive, unattractive and average. In the judgment task, after practice with 10 face pictures participants evaluated 84 attractive faces pictures and 84 unattractive faces pictures presented on computer. In the recognition task, they were asked to identify previously viewed faces from the initial judgment task among attractive, unattractive, and average face pictures.
    The results showed that attractive and unattractive faces elicited significant differences in early and late ERP components in judgment and recognition tasks. The most enhanced activity was produced in the prefrontal-central cortex. Attractive faces elicited more enhanced ERP effects than unattractive faces on N300 component and P350~550ms during the judgment task. N300 and P350~550ms are thought to reflect different cognitive functions, including perceptual closure, stimulus evaluation, decision-making and working memory during judgment tasks (Polich, 2003). As well, attractive faces elicited more enhanced ERP effects than unattractive female faces on the P160 component, N300~500ms, and P500~700ms time windows during the recognition task. Early ERP effects such as P160 in recognition tasks may reflect not only perception-related processing of attractive facial stimulus features but also the detection of perceptual features or facial configurations, which is associated with stimulus-driven frontal attention mechanisms (Chen et al., 2007). On the other hand, attractive female faces may have higher intrinsic reward values for males (Senior, 2003). It is suggested that facial attractiveness processing may start prior to the LPC time window (Werheid, Schacht, & Sommer, 2007), thus in time periods that are related to stimulus-driven rather than evaluative processes. Behavior research evidence has shown that people have longer reaction times and higher accuracy rates in identifying attractive faces. Therefore, the results of this study indicated that there were female facial attractiveness bias in processing of judgment and recognition for males. It may be that attractive female faces represent reproductive fitness and mating value for males from the evolutional perspective.
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    Association Between Aggressive Behavior and Rs6267 Functional Polymorphism in the COMT Gene: the Moderating Effect of Gender and Negative Life Events
    WANG Mei-Ping,ZHANG Wen-Xin
    2010, 42 (11):  1073-1081. 
    Abstract ( 1063 )   PDF (324KB) ( 2078 )  
    The development of aggressive behavior has important genetic underpinning. With the advancement of molecular genetics, research on the mechanism underlying aggressive behavior has reached the molecular level in recent years. A number of recent studies have identified the COMT (Catechol-O-methyltransferase) gene, which is located on q11.2, as one of the candidate genes related to aggressive behavior. Catechol-O- methyltransferase (COMT) is one of the enzymes that degrade catecholamine neurotransmitters including dopamine. Recent research has discovered a new functional single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs6267 in the COMT gene, but its possible association with aggressive behavior remains to be examined. Meanwhile, although animal studies have consistently observed an increased level of aggressive behavior among COMT knockout mice, research findings on human subjects have not been always consistent and even contradictory in some cases. It is assumed that the inconsistencies reported in previous studies may be due to the variance of gender rations and also the individual differences in life experiences of the samples in previous studies. In addition, most of the previously reported findings were obtained on subjects who were patients with schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder or ADHD. The present study aimed to extend the previous research by examining the association between rs6267 polymorphism and aggressive behavior among healthy adolescents, with particular focus on the moderating effect of gender and negative life events on the association.
    The subjects of this study were 153 grade 7-9 adolescents (male = 81, female = 72) of high aggressive behavior group (n= 65) and lower aggressive behavior group (n= 88). The subjects status of aggressive behavior were identified via adolescent’s self-rating on the aggressive behavior questionnaire (Achenbach, 1991a; a = 0.82) and validated via teacher assessment. DNA was extracted from saliva and genotype at rs6267 was performed for each participant in real time with MassARRAY RT software version and analyzed using the MassARRAY Typer software version 3.4 (Sequenom). Data analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences 17.0 (SPSS 17.0), and a series of logistic regression analyses were conducted to aggressive behavior distributions.
    Two major findings were obtained from this study: (1) rs6267 polymorphism was significantly associated with the risk of aggressive behavior, but this association was observed only among males, with male adolescents with T allele possessing a decreased risk of aggressive behavior; while such an association was not observed among females. (2) There existed a marginal moderating effect of negative life events on the association between rs6267 polymorphism and aggressive behavior. Compared with adolescents carrying T allele, adolescents carrying GG genotype had an increased risk of aggressive behavior, but this difference only existed among adolescents who reported high level of negative life events.
    The present study lends further support for the theory that catecholamines may play an important role in adolescent aggressive behavior, and thereby contributes to COMT gene-aggression literature by elaborating the moderating effect of gender and negative life events among healthy adolescents.
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    The Construct and Verification of Group Faultlines Metrics: An Integrated Perspective
    HAN Li-Feng,WANG Zhong-Ming
    2010, 42 (11):  1082-1096. 
    Abstract ( 895 )   PDF (419KB) ( 1328 )  
    As a notable advance compared with traditional diversity research, Lau and Murnighan (1998) proposed the “group faultlines” concept to capture aligned effects of multi-dimensional characteristics and their interrelationships. Much progress has been gained in terms of theoretical development and empirical analysis about faultline research, but an examination of previous literature has shown little further work on how to quantitatively measure faultline strength. To the best of our knowledge, only Thatcher, Jehn and Zanutto (2003) Fau-Index, Shaw (2004) FLS-Index along with Trezzini (2008) PMD-Index have provided systematic and rigor measurement of faultline strength. Each of these indices has its robustness. In nature, Fau can be interpreted as amount of total variance accounted for by intergroup heterogeneity, while FLS is more like a mixed product of subgroup internal alignment and cross-subgroup alignment. PMD, if we scrutinize, will find it a special case of class of polarization measures introduced by Esteban and Ray (1994).
    Be that as it may, all the indices mentioned above have ignored the faultline width, which is a critical dimension concerning that an identical array of attributes will have different dynamics if distances that exist between subgroups diverge. The fact that faultline width may play a unique role on behaviour was not reflected in any of the three indices. This study aims to resolve this problem by constructing a new integrated metric based on simultaneously measuring subgroup internal alignment (IA), the degree of dispersion between subgroups (Fau) and subgroup distance (D). The resulting metric, namely Integrated-Group-Faultline-Strength (IGFS) was represented in the following form: IGFS=IA×Fau×D.
    A total of 21 well-designed groups were selected to test the validity of our new metric. These groups all came from published articles. We did this because we wanted to present all sorts of teams that could be typically imagined. The benefit of doing so is apparent, with groups of all kinds be sufficiently examined, the validity of IGFS could be justified. Ten evaluation criteria were also adapted from previous research, which were theoretically derivative as well as intuitional oriented. We relied on these ten criteria to see if they could be coincided with IGFS metric and the others. Results indicated that IGFS fit better than FLS and PMD. Moreover, IGFS fit all the ten criteria well.
    Actually there also existed one problem related to the subjective perception of group members. In many cases, people tend to cognize and behave according to what they perceive rather than what really is. So questionnaire designed to explore people’s psychological dimensions necessitates the use of one brand new indicator to measure the distances of members’ ratings. We proposed to adopt regression coefficients as elements for distance calculation, which could replace the last term of PMD to form a modified metric appropriate for subjective perception faultlines measurement.
    In this regard, this study contributed substantially to faultline indices development and provided fundamental base for future research. Furthermore, cluster analysis or cohesive subgroup algorithms seem to be two prominent methods for group faultlines calculation.
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