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  • Table of Content
       , Volume 42 Issue 09 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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    Conceptual Control of Visual Images Scanning
    LIANG San-Cai,You Xu-Qun
    . 2010, 42 (09): 889-898.  
    Abstract   PDF (401KB) ( 2131 )
    Visual images scanning paradigm had been regarded as an effective approach to explore the structural and functional properties of mental imagery. However, the role of reference frames (RF) as well as the control processes in images scanning had not been studied. On the other hand, the mechanism of executive control had been the focus of research in perception and attention, whereas not being investigated in visual images processing. Griffin & Nobre (2003) revealed the similarity between attention to outer space and attention to mental representation. Based on these studies, the purpose of the present study was to explore the mechanism of control process that resolve conflicts among various reference frames in images scanning. Theoretically, the study also aimed at extending Visual Images Processing Subsystems Model established by Kosslyn (1994).
    Eighty undergraduates, from 17 to 23 years old, attended four experiments respectively. All participants didn’t know the purpose of the experiment and had normal or corrected-to-normal vision. Stimuli were made by using Photoshop 6.0 software. Stimulus presentation and data collection were controlled by a Lenovo microcomputer running E-prime software. The images scanning process cued by arrows or Chinese characters were compared in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, conceptual RF was dissociated from environmental RF in order to see how it interacted with and whether it had priorities over other RFs. A new conflict among various RFs was induced by rotating the Chinese characters’ intrinsic RF with conceptual RF and the mechanism of resolving this RF conflict was explored in experiment 3.
    The results revealed that (1) reference axis effect appeared when cued by Chinese characters, but not when cued by arrows. This suggested that different spatial relationships between cue and target were computed. (2) During the process of conceptual control in visual images scanning, conceptual RF, environmental RF and Chinese characters’ intrinsic RF were activated simultaneously, and they conflicted with each other. To deal with these conflicts, different cognitive costs were needed. (3) Conceptual RF always had priority over the other RFs. This suggested that human cognitive system can exert voluntary control on visual images processing. This voluntary control reflected a kind of executive function.
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    The Effects of Tone Pattern and Register in Perceptions of Tone 2 and Tone 3 in Mandarin
    WANG Yun-Jia,LI Mei-Jing
    . 2010, 42 (09): 899-908.  
    Abstract   PDF (584KB) ( 1404 )
    The results of previous psycho-phonetic studies indicate that Mandarin native speakers discriminate tone 1 and tone 2 categorically, while they discriminate tone 2 and tone 3 continuously. Tone 3 in Mandarin is phonologically described as a low tone, while the results of perceptual experiments suggest that Mandarin speakers tend not to identify a low level tone as tone 3. This study aims to answer the following questions: 1) Does register have an effect on the perception of tone 2? 2) Is it true that there is no category boundary between tone 2 and tone 3? 3) Do Mandarin speakers perceive a low-rising tone in the same way as they perceive a falling-rising tone? 4) What do the results of perceptual experiments indicate about the phonological features of tone 2 and tone 3 in Mandarin?
    Three psycho-acoustical experiments were conducted. Experiment Ⅰ aimed to investigate how Mandarin speakers discriminate tone 1 and tone 2, using rising tone continuum which was created by changing the onset frequency step by step. Experiment Ⅱ aimed to investigate how Mandarin speakers discriminate tone 2 and tone 3, using falling-rising tone continuum which was created by changing the ending frequency and the turning point position of pitch curve step by step. Experiment Ⅲ aimed to investigate how Mandarin speakers perceive level-rising tone, using level-rising tone continuum which was also created by changing the ending frequency and the turning point position of pitch curve step by step. The subjects were 11 Mandarin native speakers. The subject tasks of the three experiments were all identification, i.e., to identify tone category for each tone they heard.
    The results of experiment Ⅰ showed that Mandarin speakers also discriminated tone 1 and tone 2 when a relative scale, i.e. semitone, was used in step design of the tone continuum, and that when the register was relatively high, a lager rising range was needed to identify tone 2. The results of experiment Ⅱ demonstrated that 1) the main effects of the turning point position and of the ending pitch of a falling-rising tone on identification of tone 2 and tone 3 were both significant, and the interaction of the two factors was also significant; 2) under certain conditions of final pitch and of turning point position there existed a boundary between tone 2 and tone 3, although the boundary was not significant under all conditions. The results of experiment Ⅲ showed that both the turning point position and the ending pitch of a falling-rising tone had effects on identifying tone 2 and tone 3. However, the rate of identification of tone 3 was always below 20 percent.
    In conclusion, the results of this study indicate that 1) identification of tone 2 does not need a large rising range when the tone register is not high; 2) discrimination of tone 2 and tone 3 is quasi-categorical; 3) the pattern of pitch curve plays an important role in identification of tone 2 and tone 3, i.e., the falling feature is significant for tone 3; 4) there may exist both a high range and a low range in the Mandarin tone system , and tone 2 and tone 3 belong to the low tone range.
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    Implicit Number Tendency of Antecedent-Related Words Affects Choice of Pronoun in Chinese Sentence Production
    ZHANG Ji-Jia,SUN Pei-Zhen
    . 2010, 42 (09): 909-919.  
    Abstract   PDF (288KB) ( 1625 )
    Number agreement has been extensively studied in many languages such as French, German and English. To date three models have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, including marking and morphing model, feature-percolation model and activation framework theory. Whether number agreement applies to Chinese remains a controversial topic. In addition, this issue has been mostly studied in the field of linguistics but not psychology.
    In the present study, we aim to investigate number agreement in Chinese sentence production by looking into implicit number tendency of Chinese verbs and nouns. In experiment 1, a sentence completion task was used to explore the implicit number tendency of verbs to identify if verb-pronoun number agreement exists in Chinese sentence production. A 2 × 2 repeated measure design was adopted with independent variables of implicit number tendency of verbs (singular/plural) and verb-pronoun number agreement (agreement/violation). The results showed that the effect of verb-pronoun number agreement is significant but neither the effect of implicit number tendency of verbs nor the interaction between the two variables is significant, indicating that verb-pronoun number agreement plays an important role in Chinese sentence production.
    Experiment 2 aimed to probe noun-pronoun number agreement in Chinese sentence production with similar study designs. The results showed that similar to experiment 1, the effect of noun-pronoun number agreement is significant but the effect of implicit number tendency of nouns and the interaction between the two variables were not significant.
    Experiment 3 sought to investigate whether there was attraction, a special number agreement phenomenon, in Chinese sentence production. A 2 × 2 within-subject design was used with variables as number agreement between head nouns and local nouns and head nouns’ implicit number tendency. The results showed that the effect of number agreement between subject nouns and object nouns is significant whereas the effect of subject noun’s implicit number tendency and the interaction between the two variables were non-significant. The current findings indicate that object noun’s number tendency can interfere with the subject noun’s number processing, but different from English, attraction phenomenon in Chinese is symmetrical.
    To sum up, number agreement phenomenon does exist in Chinese sentence production and verbs or nouns’ implicit number tendency can affect the choice of pronouns (sentence subjects). Attraction of number agreement also exists in Chinese sentence production but is symmetrical as opposed to that of English. The present study to some extent provides further evidence to support the feature-percolation model and activation frame theory of number agreement.
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    The Effect of Context on Semantic Access of Second Language Sentences Among Less Proficient Chinese-English Bilinguals
    ZHAO Jun-Hua,MO Lei
    . 2010, 42 (09): 920-928.  
    Abstract   PDF (293KB) ( 1748 )
    One of the most important issues in the study of bilingual language processing is cross-language interference. From the perspective of development-oriented researchers, less proficient bilinguals lack the cognitive control to suppress activation of non-target language (L1) while highly-proficient bilinguals have. Contradictory to this proficiency-dependent assumption, it is found that certain context could help less proficient bilinguals to constrain the accessibility of non-target language by means of top-down processing mechanism, though the constraint does not spread to lexical level. According to Duyck et al. (2007), the lexical level activation could be attributed to inadequate contexts. While previous research focused on the lexical access, the primary objective of the present study is to determine whether the effect of context would also apply to semantic access of sentences. We assume that less proficient bilinguals could as well suppress the activation of words and sentences of non-target language if given appropriate context.
    176 college students (44 in each of the 4 experiments) in their junior year, none majored in English, were asked to report number of years they had spent in learning English and their proficiency in English. The results showed that their proficiency in second language has no significant difference compared to subjects of other studies. Tasks were programmed with and displayed by E-prime 2.0. The basic procedure involved 1) a sentence comprehension task (e.g., The man is chasing a thief.) following a context (or no context); 2) a decision task in which a picture accompanied with a L1 verb was presented and participants were asked to judge whether the verb had the same meaning with that conveyed by the picture as quickly and accurately as possible. Different contexts characterized the four experiments. Reaction time and accuracy were measured automatically by computers and analyzed with SPSS 13.0.
    Participants responded faster and more accurately in the sentence-verb consistent condition compared to the non-consistent condition—at least this is the case in the first three experiments: 1) when there was no context at all, t1(37)=3.74, p<0.001, t2(38)=4.08, p<0.001; 2) when a 6-minute-long animated cartoon bearing no relationship with the tasks was provided, t1(38)=3.15, p=0.002, t2(38)=4.81, p<0.001; 3) when a short passage with corresponding speech semantically related with the following sentences is given as a context, t1(40)=4.09, p<0.001, t2(38)=5.76, p<0.001. However, in experiment 4), the context being an animated cartoon that also predicted the meaning of the following sentences, this previous bias was eliminated, i.e., no significant difference in the performance of the two conditions was observed. t1(38)=0.22, p=0.828, t2(38)=0.45, p=0.659.
    The current study provided the effect of context with some new evidence. The first experiment confirmed non-selective access of sentences across bilinguals’ two languages. Specifically, the comprehension of semantically-related sentence activated verbs of the non-target language and thereby facilitated the picture-verb judgment task. This non-selectivity persisted in experiment 2 and 3 irrespective of the given contexts, but disappeared in the final experiment, suggesting that appropriate context, such that combine both image and meaning, allow for selectivity of target-language access. Generally, the more consistent (with the tasks) and vivid the context is, the easier it is for less proficient bilinguals to inhibit activation of non-target language; because such context leads to the enhancement of relevant components of the target-language thus increases the recognition ability in the working memory of less proficient bilinguals. What we have found may provide some insight into the theoretical explanation and future research direction of second language learning.
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    Subliminal Affective Priming Effect by Faces With Different Valence: An ERP Study
    LU Yong,ZHANG Wei-Na,SHEN De-Li
    . 2010, 42 (09): 929-938.  
    Abstract   PDF (651KB) ( 3296 )
    Subliminal affective priming refers to a phenomenon where subliminal presentation of a prime object shifts subsequent affective evaluation of the supraliminal object in the affective direction of the prime object, but the neural mechanisms underlying this effect is unclear. The emotional significance and neural specificity of facial processing make faces an ideal prime for automatic processing. But the emotional faces differ in two affective dimensions: valence (unpleasant-to-pleasant) and arousal (low-to-high). They may have different effects on ERP component. Most previous studies used only two or three kinds of emotional faces to study subliminal affective priming. In this study, the dimension of arousal was controlled and two groups of priming faces (unpleasant vs. pleasant) were presented for 20ms, followed by a mosaic neutral face for 800ms. We combined behavioral analyses of subliminal affective priming with recordings of event-related potential (ERP) that provide on-line measurements of neural processing with high temporal resolution. We hypothesized that positive and negative prime faces led to valance-consistent biases in affective judgments of ambiguous neutral faces. We reasoned that P1, N1, P2, N2, P3, and late positive potentials (LPP) could provide evidence on early perceptual processing, attention orienting, and late elaborate processing.
    Seventeen volunteers from University took part in this experiment, they were instructed to judge the affect of the neutral target faces as unpleasant or pleasant, while the response speed was not stressed. The EEG was recorded from 64 scalp sites using Ag/AgCl electrodes. Signals were averaged offline for 1000 ms with an additional 200 ms recorded prior to prime onset to allow for baseline correction. The ERP were averaged separately for unpleasant and pleasant trials. Peak amplitude values were computed for 70-130ms (N1); 190-240ms (N2); 400-800ms (LPP) time intervals, time locked to prime onset (time 0), these ERP measures were obtained from six electrodes: F5, FZ, F6, C3, CZ, C4. We also computed peak amplitudes from intervals of 70-130ms, 130-190ms, 240-400ms, 400-800ms, corresponding to P1, P2, P3 and LPP. These ERP measures were obtained from eight electrodes: P3, PZ, P4, PO7, POZ, PO8, O1, O2. A repeated measures ANOVA on the peak amplitude of each component was conducted. In addition, the standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA) technique was conducted to estimate the neural sources of these ERP components which are sensitive to subliminal affective priming.
    We found that unpleasant and pleasant prime faces led to valence-consistent biases in participants’ affective judgments of neutral target faces. ERP results showed that subliminal primes differentially influenced anterior N1 and posterior P2 potentials, with larger amplitudes in negative priming trials. Source analysis revealed that N1 might be generated from brain regions near the precuneus, while P2 was localized to the superior temporal gyrus.
    These results confirm our hypothesis that the subliminal affective priming effect is related to prime valence, suggesting that the early perceptual analysis of targets is affected by subliminal affective information. The results demonstrate the subliminal affective priming effect.
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    The Impact of Rumination and Stressful Life Events on Depressive Symptoms in High School Students: A Multi-Wave Longitudinal Study

    YANG Juan,ZHANG Chen-Chen,YAO Shu-Qiao

    . 2010, 42 (09): 939-945.  
    Abstract   PDF (313KB) ( 4071 )
    There have only been a few studies that tested the interaction between rumination and stress in predicting levels of depressive symptoms and results are mixed. Some of the possible explanations listed below. First, Treynor, Gonzalez, and Nolen-Hoeksema (2003) have identified two distinct subtypes of rumination - brooding and reflection - which explains the relationship between rumination and depression. More specifically, studies indicate that brooding, but not reflection, predicts the development of depressive symptoms over time. Second, most of the studies have employed cross-sectional designs, which preclude directly examining the interaction between rumination and stress. Accordingly, the aim of the current study was to examine whether rumination and its subtypes moderates the relationship between stress and depressive symptoms.
    During the initial assessment, 618 high school students (302 boys, 316 girls) completed measures assessing stressful life events, rumination (including brooding and reflection) and depressive symptoms. Every three months for the next twelve months participants completed measures assessing stressful life events and depressive symptoms. Data were analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling analyses.
    Hierarchical linear modeling analyses indicated adolescents who tend to ruminate in response to depressive symptoms did not report greater elevations in depressive symptoms following elevations in negative life events than other adolescents did. Additionally, brooding only showed the main effect on depressive symptoms and did not moderate the relationship between the occurrence of stressful life events and depressive symptoms, while reflection did not predict the development of depressive symptoms.
    Stressful life events and brooding could predict the development of depressive symptoms, however rumination and its subtypes did not moderated the relationship between stress and depressive symptoms.
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    The Interaction of Haloperidol and Imipramine on Cost-benefit Decision Making in Rats
    CUI Rui-Si,LI Xin-Wang,WEI Shu-Guang,JIAO Jing-Jing,ZHU Xiao-Lin
    . 2010, 42 (09): 946-954.  
    Abstract   PDF (460KB) ( 1326 )
    Organisms constantly assess the cost and benefit of the possible future outcomes of their behavior and use the information to guide the future behavior, a process called cost-benefit decision making. The current study used a T-maze delayed reward procedure to examine the effects of the non-selective dopamine receptor antagonist haloperidol and the norepinephrine/serotonin reuptake inhibitor imipramine on decision making (choice between a delayed high reward [HR] and an immediate low reward), and how delay on access to the HR alters the decision making. Six groups of rats (n=8 per group) were treated with saline, haloperidol, imipramine (3, 8 or 10 mg/kg), or a combination of haloperidol (0.2mg/kg) and imipramine (8mg/kg). The experiment comprised three periods: initial training period during which animals had free access to the rewards located in both arms of the T-maze for each of the 10 daily trials; forced training period during which animals were allowed to have access to each of the two arms for the first two forced trials followed by 10 choice trials (access to both arms) with a delay imposed on the HR; and test period which was similar with the forced training period except that animals received drug treatment before the test session. Haloperidol decreased choice to HR when 15 or 30 s delay was applied to HR. In contrast, imipramine increased choice to HR. The decreased HR choice induced by haloperidol was reversed by imipramine. Increasing delay to HR decreased choice to HR. In conclusion, these data suggest that delay is an important factor for determining choice behavior, and that haloperidol and imipramine have opposing effects on decision making.
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