Subscribe: Psychological Review - Vol 117, Iss 1
Preview: Psychological Review - Vol 117, Iss 1

Psychological Review - Vol 123, Iss 6

Psychological Review publishes articles that make important theoretical contributions to any area of scientific psychology.

Last Build Date: Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:00:24 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association

On the origins of logarithmic number-to-position mapping.


The number-to-position task, in which children and adults are asked to place numbers on a spatial number line, has become a classic measure of number comprehension. We present a detailed experimental and theoretical dissection of the processing stages that underlie this task. We used a continuous finger-tracking technique, which provides detailed information about the time course of processing stages. When adults map the position of 2-digit numbers onto a line, their final mapping is essentially linear, but intermediate finger location show a transient logarithmic mapping. We identify the origins of this log effect: Small numbers are processed faster than large numbers, so the finger deviates toward the target position earlier for small numbers than for large numbers. When the trajectories are aligned on the finger deviation onset, the log effect disappears. The small-number advantage and the log effect are enhanced in dual-task setting and are further enhanced when the delay between the 2 tasks is shortened, suggesting that these effects originate from a central stage of quantification and decision making. We also report cases of logarithmic mapping—by children and by a brain-injured individual—which cannot be explained by faster responding to small numbers. We show that these findings are captured by an ideal-observer model of the number-to-position mapping task, comprising 3 distinct stages: a quantification stage, whose duration is influenced by both exact and approximate representations of numerical quantity; a Bayesian accumulation-of-evidence stage, leading to a decision about the target location; and a pointing stage. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

A general model framework for multisymbol number comparison.


Different models have been proposed for the processing of multisymbol numbers like two- and three-digit numbers but also for negative numbers and decimals. However, these multisymbol numbers are assembled from the same set of Arabic digits and comply with the place-value structure of the Arabic number system. Considering these shared properties, we suggest that the processing of multisymbol numbers can be described in one general model framework. Accordingly, we first developed a computational model framework realizing componential representations of multisymbol numbers and evaluated its validity by simulating standard empirical effects of number magnitude comparison. We observed that the model framework successfully accounted for most of these effects. Moreover, our simulations provided first evidence supporting the notion of a fully componential processing of multisymbol numbers for the specific case of comparing two negative numbers. Thus, our general model framework indicates that the processing of different kinds of multisymbol integer and decimal numbers shares common characteristics (e.g., componential representation). The relevance and applicability of our model goes beyond the case of basic number processing. In particular, we also successfully simulated effects from applied marketing and consumer research by accounting for the left-digit effect found in processing of prices. Finally, we provide evidence that our model framework can be integrated into the more general context of multiattribute decision making. In sum, this indicates that our model framework captures a general scheme of separate processing of different attributes weighted by their saliency for the task at hand. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The visually guided development of facial representations in the primate ventral visual pathway: A computer modeling study.


Experimental studies have shown that neurons at an intermediate stage of the primate ventral visual pathway, occipital face area, encode individual facial parts such as eyes and nose while neurons in the later stages, middle face patches, are selective to the full face by encoding the spatial relations between facial features. We have performed a computer modeling study to investigate how these cell firing properties may develop through unsupervised visually guided learning. A hierarchical neural network model of the primate’s ventral visual pathway is trained by presenting many randomly generated faces to the network while a local learning rule modifies the strengths of the synaptic connections between neurons in successive layers. After training, the model is found to have developed the experimentally observed cell firing properties. In particular, we have shown how the visual system forms separate representations of facial features such as the eyes, nose, and mouth as well as monotonically tuned representations of the spatial relationships between these facial features. We also demonstrated how the primate brain learns to represent facial expression independently of facial identity. Furthermore, based on the simulation results, we propose that neurons encoding different global attributes simply represent different spatial relationships between local features with monotonic tuning curves or particular combinations of these spatial relations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Exploring visual attention functions of the human extrageniculate pathways through behavioral cues.


Over the past few decades, evidence has accumulated showing that, at subcortical levels, visual attention depends partly on the extrageniculate neural pathways, that is, those pathways that bypass the lateral geniculate nucleus and circumvent the primary visual cortex. Working in concert with neuroscience, experimental psychology has contributed considerably to the understanding of the role these pathways play through the use of 3 behavioral cues: nasal-temporal asymmetries, responses to S-cone stimuli, and responses to perceptually suppressed stimuli. In this article, after presenting the extrageniculate pathways and the role of each of the component structures in visual attention, we review findings from studies that have used these behavioral cues, as well as what they tell us about the role of the extrageniculate pathways in visual attention. We conclude that nasal-temporal asymmetries and responses to S-cone stimuli are plausible probes of extrageniculate functions, because they are consistent with neurophysiological, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging findings. By contrast, despite promising perspectives, the literature is yet too scarce for responses to perceptually suppressed stimuli to be considered as a plausible probe of extrageniculate-dependent attention functions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Infant-directed speech is consistent with teaching.


Infant-directed speech (IDS) has distinctive properties that differ from adult-directed speech (ADS). Why it has these properties—and whether they are intended to facilitate language learning—is a matter of contention. We argue that much of this disagreement stems from lack of a formal, guiding theory of how phonetic categories should best be taught to infantlike learners. In the absence of such a theory, researchers have relied on intuitions about learning to guide the argument. We use a formal theory of teaching, validated through experiments in other domains, as the basis for a detailed analysis of whether IDS is well designed for teaching phonetic categories. Using the theory, we generate ideal data for teaching phonetic categories in English. We qualitatively compare the simulated teaching data with human IDS, finding that the teaching data exhibit many features of IDS, including some that have been taken as evidence IDS is not for teaching. The simulated data reveal potential pitfalls for experimentalists exploring the role of IDS in language learning. Focusing on different formants and phoneme sets leads to different conclusions, and the benefit of the teaching data to learners is not apparent until a sufficient number of examples have been provided. Finally, we investigate transfer of IDS to learning ADS. The teaching data improve classification of ADS data but only for the learner they were generated to teach, not universally across all classes of learners. This research offers a theoretically grounded framework that empowers experimentalists to systematically evaluate whether IDS is for teaching. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)