Language is a complex lifelong faculty supported by the general cognitive system as well as the dynamic interactions between comprehension and production processes within the language system. Studies reported that while normal aging impairs important aspects of language production, most core processes of comprehension are robust. However, accumulating evidence suggests a decline in comprehension when comparing older adults with young ones. Thus it is plausible to assume that there might be a general degradation in older adults’ language capacity. The information-universal theories assume that the aging of language is contributed by the declines in general cognitive abilities including processing speed, working memory and inhibitory function, while the information-specific theories highlight the unique changes of linguistic representations and their connections in the brain, which may result in decreased interplay between comprehension and production.
The current study investigated the relationships among language comprehension capacity, production capacity, and general cognitive abilities, and explored the factors that influence the aging of language processing. We employed two groups of participants (103 young adults and 114 older adults), and measured their general cognitive abilities and language capacities with different tasks. General cognitive abilities were assessed in three dimensions: processing speed by color judgment and numerical judgment tasks, working memory by digit span forward and backward tasks, and inhibitory function by STROOP color-word judgment task. Language comprehension and production capacities were measured at word, sentence and discourse processing levels, respectively.
We first compared the performance between the two age groups, and then conducted hierarchical regression analyses to examine the contributions of information-universal and information-specific factors to language performance. Results showed lower scores in older adults than their young counterparts on all measures. The first hierarchical regression analyses revealed that there were differences between the older and the young groups, which presented not only in the contributions of general cognitive abilities to language capacities but also in the contributions of comprehension and production capacities to each other. For word processing, young adults’ performance was predicted by both general cognitive abilities and the other language capacities, while the former did not predict older adults’ performance; for sentence processing, young adults’ performance was predicted by general cognitive abilities (only in comprehension) and the other language capacities, while neither of them explained older adults’ performance; for discourse processing, young adults’ comprehension scores were predicted by their production capacity, while older adults’ scores of comprehension and production were predicted by their general cognitive abilities and comprehension capacity respectively. Results of the second hierarchical regression analyses indicated that both general cognitive abilities and the other language capacities contributed to the group differences in language performance, and the contributions of the former were larger than those of the latter.
In sum, older adults show an overall age-related decline in general cognitive abilities, language comprehension and production capacities. We suggest that the aging of language processing is subject to both the information- universal factor as well as the information-specific factor, with the former reflected as the general degradation in cognitive abilities and the latter related to specific changes in the architecture of language system.
Studies on how long-term memory affects working memory (WM) have found that long-term memory can enhance WM processing. However, these studies only use item memory as the representation of long-term memory. In addition to item memory, associative memory is also an essential part of long-term memory. The associative memory and item memory involve different cognitive mechanisms and brain areas. The purpose of the present study was to investigate how associative memory affects WM processing.
Before the WM task, participants were asked to store 16 pairs of dissimilar pictures into long-term memory. The participants would obtain the associative memory of these pairs of pictures in the long-term memory. The WM task was a change detection paradigm. Memory pictures in the memory array appeared in pairs (associative condition) or out of pairs (independent condition). In Experiment 1, the memory array with 6 items (3 pairs) was presented for 500 ms or 1000 ms. After a 1000 ms interval, participants needed to determine whether the probe item was the same as the memory array. The design and procedure of Experiment 2 were similar to those of Experiment 1, except that memory array was presented for only 500 ms, and 2 items (1 pairs) and 4 terms (2 pairs) were added in set size condition. Alpha power of electroencephalogram (EEG) was also collected and analyzed in Experiment 2.
The results in Experiment 1 showed that WM capacity and accuracy were significantly lower in the associative condition than in the independent condition (for both presentation-time conditions: 500ms and 1000ms). The results in Experiment 2 showed that the alpha power in the independent condition increased as the memory set size increased (2 items < 4 items < 6 items), while the alpha power in the associative condition reached the asymptote when the set size was 4 (2 items < 4 items = 6 items). Both of these two experiments' results showed that WM capacity in the associative condition was lower than that in the independent condition.
In conclusion, long-term associative representations inhibit the current WM processing and decrease WM capacity. This inhibitory effect is not affected by the length of encoding time. It implies that the reason for the increase of WM load by associative memory may come from the disorder of attention distribution.
According to traditional automation theory, an automatic process should be "purely unconscious", independent of limited attention resources, and executed at the same time as other processing tasks without interference. Implicit memory is considered to be a tool that provides unconscious and automatic cognitive processes and that is not be affected by any type of attention resource. Memory includes two important links: coding and retrieval. Coding is mainly responsible for the preliminary processing of information and the generation of memory traces. Retrieval promotes or suppresses the connection of these memory representations after coding. Previous studies have mostly discussed the effect of interference on implicit memory from the point of view of coding and considered that implicit memory tests are immune to coding interference. However, there are doubts about whether the interference in the retrieval stage will affect the implicit memory, and more importantly, it is not known whether this difference is caused by the different types of memory tests. Because of the intersection between the types of implicit memory tests, this study involves four experiments. The effects of retrieval interference on an identification-perceptual implicit test, an identification-conceptual implicit test, a production-perception implicit test and a production-concept implicit test were investigated. In this study, two new production tasks were designed. The learning-test paradigm was used to explore the relationship between retrieval interference and different types of implicit memory by setting up digital interference tasks at the same time in the retrieval stage of the test. The results showed that (1) under the condition of no interference, both the lexical judgement task (identification-perceptual test) and semantic classification task (identification-conceptual) display a significant priming effect, and under the condition of interference, the priming effect of the two types of tasks disappears. (2) Under the condition of no interference, both the production lexical judgement task (production-perceptual test) and the production semantic classification task (production-conceptual test) show obvious priming effects; however, under interference conditions, the two kinds of production judgements still have obvious priming effects. Because of the priming effect for both interference conditions, we performed repeated 2 (with or without interference) × 2 (processing level) analysis of variance tests for the priming amounts (reaction time and ACs) of the two production experiments to determine whether interference would influence the priming effect. The results showed that the priming amounts of the two experiments under interference conditions were significantly lower than those under noninterference conditions. Therefore, compared with those for noninterference conditions, the priming effects of the two implicit identification tests disappeared under retrieval interference. Although the priming effects of the two implicit production memory tasks significantly decreased, there was still a significant priming effect. In conclusion, the retrieval processing of different types of implicit memory tests is affected by interference, and unconscious memory retrieval processing is not completely automated processing but is also regulated by attention resources. Identified implicit memory is more easily affected by retrieval interference than productive implicit memory. Under retrieval interference, there is a separation of the identified implicit memory and production implicit memory, and identified priming is more easily affected by retrieval interference than is productive priming.
Reward-based learning plays an important role in selective attention. Recent studies have indicated that rewarded stimuli capture more attention after participants directly learned the association between the stimulus and reward, either presented as money or as social feedback. In addition to engaging in direct learning, people can acquire knowledge of stimuli by observing others, and how to interact with and respond to external stimuli. To adapt to our social world, it is critical to gain reputation information by observing whether people interact with each other positively or negatively. However, it remains unclear whether the valence of social actions influences the attentional priority of valence-associated stimuli. Therefore, the present study employed a widely used training-testing paradigm to investigate the influence of the valence of social actions on attentional capture. Three experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1, the distractors in the actor’s color associated with positive (i.e., helping actions) or negative (i.e., hindering actions) valence of social actions were shown in a visual search task. We examined whether the attentional capture effect was influenced by the valence of social actions and whether the effects were different between positive and negative social actions. In Experiment 2, we investigated whether the attentional capture effect of the recipient’s color was influenced by the valence of social actions as well. To further examine the attentional priority between two individuals’ features involved in the negative social interaction, we directly compared the attentional capture effect between the actor’s color and the recipient’s color from the negative social interaction (i.e., hindering action) in Experiment 3. In the learning phase, participants were required to watch cartoonized videos adapted from Hamlin, Wynn, and Bloom (2007). In these videos, an actor interacted with a recipient in one of four different modes: valid helping (the actor helps the recipient successfully), invalid helping (the actor repeats the same action as helping but without effects on the recipient), valid hindering (the actor hinders the recipient successfully), and invalid hindering (the actor repeats the same action as hindering but without effects on the recipient). In this case, the valid helping action was more positive than invalid helping action in valence, but with the same action pattern, and the valid hindering action was more negative than invalid hindering action in valence, but with the same action pattern. During the testing phase, each trial started with the presentation of the fixation display (400~600 ms), which was followed immediately by the search display (1500 ms or until response). In the search display, the target was defined as the form singleton (e.g., one diamond among circles), while a distractor was a color singleton (additional-singleton) colored the same as the agent in the previously learned videos. Inside the target, a white line segment was oriented either vertically or horizontally, and inside each of the nontargets, a white line segment was tilted at 45° to the left or to the right. The search display was followed by a feedback display (1000 ms), which informed participants whether their responses in the previous trial were correct. In the training phase, participants were able to successfully learn the association between agents’ color and their interaction information through observation, and the memory performance was not modulated by the interaction mode. However, in the test phase, the results showed that (1) In both Experiments 1 and 2, participants’ reaction time in the search display was longer when the additional-singleton distractors were shown than when none of the additional-singleton distractor were shown, which was referred to as a significant standard additional-singleton effect, suggesting that attention was captured by the additional-singleton distractor; (2) the attentional capture effect was significant when the additional-singleton distractor was associated with the valid hindering condition than when the additional-singleton distractor was associated with the invalid hindering condition, while no difference in the attentional capture effect was observed between valid and invalid helping conditions; (3) whether the additional-singleton distractor’s color was from the actor or the recipient involved in the negative social interaction, the attentional capture effect was present, but the additional-singleton distractor’s color associated with the actor showed a larger attentional capture effect than that associated with the recipient. Hence, our results demonstrate that the valence of social actions influences attentional capture, and this influence is shown as a negative bias for valence-associated stimuli. In addition, this association is established on all agents involved in the social action, instead of the actor alone, and the actor’s features in the negative social interaction are prioritized to be attended than the recipient. These findings highlight how attention is related to social actions, suggesting an adapted function of negative social actions.
Procedural motor learning includes sequence learning and random learning. Neuroimaging studies have shown that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and primary motor cortex (M1) play significant roles in procedural motor learning; however, the connectivity between the DLPFC and M1 and its relationship with different procedural motor learning are still unclear. In this study, the serial response time task (SRTT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) were used to explore the differences in left DLPFC-M1 connectivity between the different types of procedural motor learning. In experiment 1, dual-site paired-pulse TMS was used to detect the optimal interval from the DLPFC to the M1. In experiment 2, the participants were divided into two groups that underwent sequence learning or random learning. Behavioral data, motor evoked potentials from the M1 and electrophysiological data of DLPFC-M1 connectivity were assessed before and after learning. The behavioral results showed that the learning effect of the sequence learning group was better. The electrophysiological results showed that motor evoked potentials from the M1 were the same before and after learning in both groups. At the optimal interval and appropriate stimulation intensity, the DLPFC-M1 connectivity in the sequence learning group was changed, and it was related to learning performance; however that in the random learning group was not significantly changed. The results suggest that enhanced connectivity between the DLPFC and M1 may be an important explanation for the better performance in sequence learning. The results provide robust electrophysiological evidence for the role of DLPFC in motor learning.
Cooperation is a prosocial behavior that develops along with human social development. Cooperation involves brain activation of the reward system and enables people to form cooperative relationships so to pursuit social rewards and self-affirmation. Previous studies have shown that depressed patients have severe social dysfunctions, e.g., they have reduced willingness to cooperate and exhibited increased negative emotions during cooperation. This study employed the prisoner's dilemma game (PDG) to investigate the effect of depression on social cooperation using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) hyperscanning technique. A total of 156 participants were screened using Beck Depression Inventory Second Edition and allocated into three paired groups, i.e., low - low depressive tendency pairs (n = 26), low - high depressive tendency pairs (n = 26), and high - high depressive tendency pairs (n = 26). The fNIRS optrodes were placed at frontal and right temporoparietal junction of two participants, with 29 channels in each participant. Behavioral and self-reported emotion ratings showed that compared to participants with low depressive tendency, the high depressive tendency group were less cooperative and less satisfied with their partner during the prisoner's dilemma task. The brain imaging results showed that, first, the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) was activated most significantly in the reciprocal cooperation condition, followed by the condition with self defection but opponent cooperation. Furthermore, the significantly increased neural activation in these two conditions could only be observed in the low depressive tendency group. This finding suggests that people with high depressive tendency have deficits in reward processing, especially for social reward processing. Second, the neural activation of bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in participants with high depressive tendency was significantly weaker than that in participants with low depressive tendency. Depressive tendency had a significant modulation effect on inter-brain synchronization of the right dlPFC, i.e., the enhanced inter-brain synchronization induced by reciprocal cooperation could not be observed in participants with high depressive tendency. Third, the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ) inter-brain synchronization in the low-low depressive tendency group was higher than that in the high-high and high-low depressive tendency groups. Furthermore, this effect was significant only if both participants in the PDG made the same choice (both cooperation or both defection). The result of this study suggests that depressive population have dysfunctions in the brain regions involved in social reward processing (reflected by the OFC), conflict control (the dlPFC) and theory of mind (the right TPJ). Our findings provide experimental evidence to help understand the brain mechanism of decreased cooperation in depressed individuals, which further lays a foundation to improve social functions in depressed patients in clinical practice.
Character recognition and dictation are two important skills for literacy at the word level. Because Chinese is a logographic script and characters are visually complex, reading and spelling character are more difficult than learning alphabet language. The development of character recognition and dictation in Chinese has unique characteristics. Many cross-sectional researches investigated how morphological awareness contributed to logographic and alphabet language learning, and its influence on the development of character recognition and dictation. However, few studies explored the relationship between morphological awareness and the development of character recognition and dictation over time. The present four-wave longitudinal research was conducted in two Mandarin Chinese primary schools for two years, with a sample consisting of 127 first grade students. A battery of measures, including nonverbal IQ, phonological awareness, orthographic awareness, morphological awareness (homophone awareness, compound word production) were administered in order to investigate the influential factors of character recognition and dictation development in children. The analysis included an unconditional latent growth model to examine the growth trajectory of character recognition and dictation, and a conditional latent growth model to examine the contribution of morphological awareness to the growth of character recognition and dictation. The results of the unconditional latent growth model showed that: (1) the developmental trajectory of character recognition showed linear growth it grew at a constant speed. The developmental trajectory of dictation showed non-linear growth, and the growth took place at a fast pace in the beginning and at a slower pace in the latter half of the development trend. Instead of Matthew effect, a compensation effect existed in both character recognition and dictation development, and the standardized correlation coefficients of intercept and slope for character recognition was -0.33 significantly, and for dictation was -0.89 significantly. (2) Homophone awareness and compound word production predicted significantly the children’s initial level (β = 0.40, p < 0.001; β = 0.14, p < 0.05 respectively) and the growth rate of character recognition (β = 0.28, p < 0.001; β = 0.25, p < 0.001 respectively), but not the growth rate in dictation. These results suggest that the growth trajectories were different for character recognition and dictation, and the later growth rates of character recognition and dictation were not decided by initial growth levels. The role of morphological awareness was more significant on the development of character recognition than on the development of dictation from Grade 1 to Grade 2.
Previous studies on self-other welfare tradeoff focus more on the gain situations than the loss situations. Numerous studies have explored the influence of social distance on the tradeoff but ignored the complex interactions among gain and loss situations, others’ reference points, and psychological distance. This study investigated the influences of others’ reference points and psychological distance on self-other welfare tradeoff in gain and loss situations by using welfare tradeoff rate (WTR) as an index of altruistic degree in self-other welfare tradeoff. In Experiment 1, the effect of WTR on the gain and loss situations and its mechanism were explored. In Experiment 2, others’ reference points were added as another factor to examine their influence on WTR and interaction with the gain and loss situations. In Experiment 3, the psychological distance variable was further introduced to investigate its influence on WTR and interaction with the gain and loss situations and others’ reference points. Results of Experiment 1 showed no significant difference in WTR between gain and loss situations. In Experiment 2, WTR in the gain situation was found to be significantly higher than that in the loss situation, and WTR was reduced when others approached the bottom line, goal, and status quo. Further analyses showed that the WTR under the gain situation was significantly higher than that under the loss situation when others approached the bottom line. Meanwhile, no significant difference was observed in the WTR under the gain and loss situations when others approached the status quo and goal. In Experiment 3, the WTR of close psychological distance was found to be higher than that of far psychological distance, and the main effect of gain and loss situations disappeared. Psychological distance had complex interaction effects with gain and loss situations and others’ reference points. These findings contribute to a deep understanding of the asymmetric effects of gain and loss situations, tri-reference-point theory, and related findings from studies on social discounting and self-other decision- making differences. They also have certain practical implications for individuals, organizations, and countries in understanding and dealing with the relationships between ones’ selves and others.
Uniqueness-seeking behavior can be driven by various factors. Despite the common phenomenon that better-off individuals seem to seek more uniqueness and express individuality more frequently, no researcher has investigated whether and how social comparison influences uniqueness-seeking behavior. According to the better-than-average effect, people tend to perceive themselves better off than the average on many important dimensions and are inclined to see themselves as unique when there are no social comparisons. Building on the compensatory consumption model, we aim to investigate the impact of social comparison on uniqueness-seeking behavior, and further examine why this effect occurs as well as when it will be attenuated or intensified. In social comparisons, comparing upwardly (vs. downwardly) may threaten individuals’ pervasively held better-than-average self-evaluation bias, which motivates them to adjust their self-evaluations downwardly to the average. Prior research suggests that the average is mostly seen as ordinary, mediocre and unexceptional. Therefore, we infer that people comparing upwardly may experience a decreased sense of uniqueness, which drives them to seek unique options in subsequent unrelated contexts. This effect holds for many dimensions, such as economic status. In that case, perceived economic mobility acts as an important moderator. We predict that when perceived economic mobility is high, threats induced by upward comparisons will be mitigated, as are individuals’ psychological and behavioral responses. However, when perceived economic mobility is low, the responses will be intensified. Across five experiments, we demonstrate that upward comparisons increase consumer preference for less popular scenic spots (Study 1). The psychological mechanism underlying this effect is that upward comparisons lower perceived uniqueness, leading individuals to choose minority-endorsed products to compensate for the negative self-discrepancy (studies 2a and 2c). The fundamental driving force of the main effect is that upward comparisons increase consumers’ uniqueness-seeking tendency (Study 2b). Furthermore, when comparing upwardly on economic status, consumers still show stronger preference for niche book clubs, and the effect of social comparison on perceived uniqueness and uniqueness seeking will be mitigated when perceived economic mobility is high but is strengthened when perceived economic mobility is low (Study 3). The present research provides evidence that upward comparisons can lead to uniqueness-seeking behavior by examining the mediating role of perceived uniqueness, supporting our basic premise that individuals perceive themselves as unique when making no comparisons. In doing this, we make theoretical contributions to research on both uniqueness seeking and the strategies for coping with upward comparisons. This also sheds light on marketing strategies that enterprises can employ to increase sales of unpopular or customized products as well as coping strategies that consumers can use to alleviate threats of upward comparisons on different dimensions.
A considerable number of college graduates enter the workforce every year. Given increasingly heightened competition, understanding how to transform college graduates into engaged and productive organizational employees is crucial. Although numerous studies on organizational socialization exist, most are generally focused on organizational control. However, as work roles become increasingly dynamic in the changing environment, successful organizational socialization requires newcomers to develop an innovative role orientation to be able to constantly shape their role in the workplace and better serve organizational goals. Drawing on the self-expression perspective, this study attempted to explore whether newcomer job crafting could facilitate role performance (i.e., task performance and creativity). Moreover, we examined how initial leader-member exchange (LMX) and individual traditionality jointly influence newcomer job crafting. We conducted a four-wave survey among 256 newcomers from a large machinery manufacturer in China. The final matched sample size was 125. Results showed that (a) newcomer job crafting was significantly related to work engagement, which in turn, resulted in high levels of task performance and creativity; (b) LMX positively affected job crafting only in newcomers with high levels of traditionality; and (c) traditionality moderated the positive indirect effect of LMX on task performance and creativity via job crafting and work engagement. That is, positive indirect effects were significant in newcomers with high levels of traditionality. Our study provides several theoretical contributions. First, we examine an employee-centered organizational socialization process from the perspective of self-expression. Second, this research develops a comprehensive newcomer job crafting model including the antecedents and consequences of newcomer job crafting. Third, we add to the employee creativity literature by highlighting how to promote newcomer creativity from the lens of job crafting. Besides its theoretical implications, this study presents practical implications on how to quickly transform new hires into productive and creative employees. Our study recommends organizations to encourage newcomers to craft their job during organizational entry to engender high levels of task performance and to tap into the creativity of new hires. However, managers should be aware that the quality of LMX is likely to be influential in promoting job crafting among newcomers with high levels of traditionality.