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Tania S. Zamuner; Theresa Rabideau; Margarethe McDonald; H. Henny Yeung
Developmental change in children's speech processing of auditory and visual cues: An eyetracking study Journal Article
In: Journal of Child Language, vol. 50, pp. 27–51, 2023.
This study investigates how children aged two to eight years ( N = 129) and adults ( N = 29) use auditory and visual speech for word recognition. The goal was to bridge the gap between apparent successes of visual speech processing in young children in visual-looking tasks, with apparent difficulties of speech processing in older children from explicit behavioural measures. Participants were presented with familiar words in audio-visual (AV), audio-only (A-only) or visual-only (V-only) speech modalities, then presented with target and distractor images, and looking to targets was measured. Adults showed high accuracy, with slightly less target-image looking in the V-only modality. Developmentally, looking was above chance for both AV and A-only modalities, but not in the V-only modality until 6 years of age (earlier on /k/-initial words). Flexible use of visual cues for lexical access develops throughout childhood.
Helen Rodger; Nayla Sokhn; Junpeng Lao; Yingdi Liu; Roberto Caldara
Developmental eye movement strategies for decoding facial expressions of emotion Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 229, pp. 1–23, 2023.
In our daily lives, we routinely look at the faces of others to try to understand how they are feeling. Few studies have examined the perceptual strategies that are used to recognize facial expressions of emotion, and none have attempted to isolate visual information use with eye movements throughout development. Therefore, we recorded the eye movements of children from 5 years of age up to adulthood during recognition of the six “basic emotions” to investigate when perceptual strategies for emotion recognition become mature (i.e., most adult-like). Using iMap4, we identified the eye movement fixation patterns for recognition of the six emotions across age groups in natural viewing and gaze-contingent (i.e., expanding spotlight) conditions. While univariate analyses failed to reveal significant differences in fixation patterns, more sensitive multivariate distance analyses revealed a U-shaped developmental trajectory with the eye movement strategies of the 17- to 18-year-old group most similar to adults for all expressions. A developmental dip in strategy similarity was found for each emotional expression revealing which age group had the most distinct eye movement strategy from the adult group: the 13- to 14-year-olds for sadness recognition; the 11- to 12-year-olds for fear, anger, surprise, and disgust; and the 7- to 8-year-olds for happiness. Recognition performance for happy, angry, and sad expressions did not differ significantly across age groups, but the eye movement strategies for these expressions diverged for each group. Therefore, a unique strategy was not a prerequisite for optimal recognition performance for these expressions. Our data provide novel insights into the developmental trajectories underlying facial expression recognition, a critical ability for adaptive social relations.
Monica Barbira; Mireille J. Babineaua; Anne-Caroline Fiévét; Anne Christophe
Rapid infant learning of syntactic–semantic links Journal Article
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 120, no. 1, pp. 1–6, 2023.
In the second year of life, infants begin to rapidly acquire the lexicon of their native language. A key learning mechanism underlying this acceleration is syntactic bootstrapping: the use of hidden cues in grammar to facilitate vocabulary learning. How infants forge the syntactic–semantic links that underlie this mechanism, however, remains specula- tive. A hurdle for theories is identifying computationally light strategies that have high precision within the complexity of the linguistic signal. Here, we presented 20-mo-old infants with novel grammatical elements in a complex natural language environment and measured their resultant vocabulary expansion. We found that infants can learn and exploit a natural language syntactic–semantic link in less than 30 min. The rapid speed of acquisition of a new syntactic bootstrap indicates that even emergent syntactic–semantic links can accelerate language learning. The results suggest that infants employ a cognitive network of efficient learning strategies to self-supervise language development.
Nathaniel J. Blanco; Brandon M. Turner; Vladimir M. Sloutsky
The benefits of immature cognitive control: How distributed attention guards against learning traps Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 226, pp. 1–16, 2023.
Cognitive control allows one to focus one's attention efficiently on relevant information while filtering out irrelevant information. This ability provides a means of rapid and effective learning, but using this control also brings risks. Importantly, useful information may be ignored and missed, and learners may fall into “learning traps” (e.g., learned inattention) wherein they fail to realize that what they ignore carries important information. Previous research has shown that adults may be more prone to such traps than young children, but the mechanisms underlying this difference are unclear. The current study used eye tracking to examine the role of attentional control during learning in succumbing to these learning traps. The participants, 4-year-old children and adults, completed a category learning task in which an unannounced switch occurred wherein the feature dimensions most relevant to correct categorization became irrelevant and formerly irrelevant dimensions became relevant. After the switch, adults were more likely than children to ignore the new highly relevant dimension and settle on a suboptimal categorization strategy. Furthermore, eye-tracking analyses reveal that greater attentional selectivity during learning (i.e., optimizing attention to focus only on the most relevant sources of information) predicted this tendency to miss important information later. Children's immature cognitive control, leading to broadly distributed attention, appears to protect children from this trap—although at the cost of less efficient and slower learning. These results demonstrate the double-edged sword of cognitive control and suggest that immature control may serve an adaptive function early in development.
Christina M. Blomquist; Rochelle S. Newman; Jan Edwards
The development of spoken word recognition in informative and uninformative sentence contexts Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 227, pp. 1–10, 2023.
Although there is ample evidence documenting the development of spoken word recognition from infancy to adolescence, it is still unclear how development of word-level processing interacts with higher-level sentence processing, such as the use of lexical–semantic cues, to facilitate word recognition. We investigated how the ability to use an informative verb (e.g., draws) to predict an upcoming word (picture) and suppress competition from similar-sounding words (pickle) develops throughout the school-age years. Eye movements of children from two age groups (5–6 years and 9–10 years) were recorded while the children heard a sentence with an informative or neutral verb (The brother draws/gets the small picture) in which the final word matched one of a set of four pictures, one of which was a cohort competitor (pickle). Both groups demonstrated use of the informative verb to more quickly access the target word and suppress cohort competition. Although the age groups showed similar ability to use semantic context to facilitate processing, the older children demonstrated faster lexical access and more robust cohort suppression in both informative and uninformative contexts. This suggests that development of word-level processing facilitates access of top-down linguistic cues that support more efficient spoken language processing. Whereas developmental differences in the use of semantic context to facilitate lexical access were not explained by vocabulary knowledge, differences in the ability to suppress cohort competition were explained by vocabulary. This suggests a potential role for vocabulary knowledge in the resolution of lexical competition and perhaps the influence of lexical competition dynamics on vocabulary development.
Christina Blomquist; Bob MCMurray
The development of lexical inhibition in spoken word recognition Journal Article
In: Developmental Psychology, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 186–206, 2023.
As a spoken word unfolds over time, similar sounding words (cap and cat) compete until one word “wins”. Lexical competition becomes more efficient from infancy through adolescence. We examined one potential mechanism underlying this development: lexical inhibition, by which activated candidates suppress competitors. In Experiment 1, younger (7–8 years) and older (12–13 years) children heard words (cap) in which the onset was manipulated to briefly boost competition from a cohort competitor (cat). This was compared to a condition with a nonword (cack) onset that would not inhibit the target. Words were presented in a visual world task during which eye movements were recorded. Both groups showed less looking to the target when perceiving the competitor-splice relative to the nonword-splice, showing engagement of lexical inhibition. Exploratory analyses of linguistic adaptation across the experiment revealed that older children demonstrated consistent lexical inhibition across the experiment and younger children did not, initially showing no effect in the first half of trials and then a robust effect in the latter half. In Experiment 2, adults also displayed consistent lexical inhibition in the same task. These findings suggest that younger children do not consistently engage lexical inhibition in typical listening but can quickly bring it online in response to certain linguistic experiences. Computational modeling showed that age-related differences are best explained by increased engagement of inhibition rather than growth in activation. These findings suggest that continued development of lexical inhibition in later childhood may underlie increases in efficiency of spoken word recognition.
Mathieu Lesourd; Alia Afyouni; Franziska Geringswald; Fabien Cignetti; Lisa Raoul; Julien Sein; Bruno Nazarian; Jean-luc Anton; Marie-Hélène Grosbras
Action observation network activity related to object-directed and socially-directed actions in adolescents Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 125–141, 2023.
The human action observation network (AON) encompasses brain areas consistently engaged when we observe other's actions. Although the core nodes of the AON are present from childhood, it is not known to what extent they are sensitive to different action features during development. Because social cognitive abilities continue to mature during adolescence, the AON response to socially-oriented actions, but not to object-related actions, may differ in adolescents and adults. To test this hypothesis, we scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) male and female typically-developing teenagers (n = 28; 13 females) and adults (n = 25; 14 females) while they passively watched videos of manual actions varying along two dimensions: sociality (i.e., directed toward another person or not) and transitivity (i.e., involving an object or not). We found that action observation recruited the same fronto-parietal and occipito-temporal regions in adults and adolescents. The modulation of voxel-wise activity according to the social or transitive nature of the action was similar in both groups of participants. Multivariate pattern analysis, however, revealed that decoding accuracies in intraparietal sulcus (IPS)/superior parietal lobe (SPL) for both sociality and transitivity were lower for adolescents compared with adults. In addition, in the lateral occipital temporal cortex (LOTC), generalization of decoding across the orthogonal dimension was lower for sociality only in adolescents. These findings indicate that the representation of the content of others' actions, and in particular their social dimension, in the adolescent AON is still not as robust as in adults.
Vladislava Staroverova; Anastasiya Lopukhina; Nina Zdorova; Nina Ladinskaya; Olga Vedenina; Sofya Goldina; Anastasiia Kaprielova; Ksenia Bartseva; Olga Dragoy
Phonological and orthographic parafoveal processing during silent reading in Russian children and adults Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 226, pp. 1–11, 2023.
Studies on German and English have shown that children and adults can rely on phonological and orthographic information from the parafovea during reading, but this reliance differs between ages and languages. In the current study, we investigated the development of phonological and orthographic parafoveal processing during silent reading in Russian-speaking 8-year-old children, 10-year-old children, and adults using the gaze-contingent boundary paradigm. The participants read sentences with embedded nouns that were presented in original, pseudohomophone, control for pseudohomophone, transposed-letter, and control for transposed-letter conditions in the parafoveal area to assess phonological and orthographic preview benefit effects. The results revealed that all groups of participants relied only on orthographic but not phonological parafoveal information. These findings indicate that 8-year-old children already preprocess parafoveal information similarly to adults.
Jay A. Edelman; Tim A. Ahles; Neelam Prashad; Madalyn Fernbach; Yuelin Li; Robert D. Melara; James C. Root
The effect of visual target presence and age on antisaccade performance Journal Article
In: Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 129, pp. 307–319, 2023.
Antisaccade and prosaccade (PS) performance were studied in a large cohort of females (age range 42–74 yr). Antisaccade performance was assessed in two variants of the task, a “traditional” antisaccade (TA) task, in which no visual stimuli were present at the saccade goal, and a visually guided antisaccade (VGA) task, in which small visual stimuli were present at the possible saccade goals prior to the imperative visual stimulus. Directional error frequency was similar in the two antisaccade tasks. However, reaction time (RT) was $sim$33 ms longer in the VGA task than in the TA task. Across participants, the average saccade amplitudes of prosaccades and TAs were both correlated with those of VGAs but not with each other. TAs had a hypermetria that increased with age. Saccade amplitude variability was much higher for TAs than for PSs and VGAs. Saccade polar angle variability was low for all three tasks. Age diminished performance with modest task dependence, except for an increase in TA hypermetria. These results suggest that the generation of antisaccade directional errors does not depend on visual target presence at the saccade goal, that antisaccade RT can be affected by target presence, that age can increase saccade hypermetria in the absence of visual guidance, and that visually guided antisaccades are governed by distinct voluntary and visually guided saccade mechanisms. Moreover, these results suggest that an understanding of human motor performance benefits from the use of a participant pool with a larger age range than that used in most studies.
Bret Eschman; Shannon Ross-Sheehy
Visual short-term memory persists across multiple fixations: An n-back approach to quantifying capacity in infants and adults Journal Article
In: Psychological Science, pp. 1–14, 2023.
Visual short-term memory (STM) is a foundational component of general cognition that develops rapidly during the first year of life. Although previous research has revealed important relations between overt visual fixation and memory formation, it is unknown whether infants can maintain distinct memories for sequentially fixated items or remember nonfixated array items. Participants (5-month-olds, 11-month-olds, and adults; n = 24 at each age) from the United States were tested in a passive change-detection paradigm with an n-back manipulation to examine memory for the last fixated item (one-back), second-to-last fixated item (two-back), or nonfixated item (change-other). Eye tracking was used to measure overt fixation while participants passively viewed arrays of colored circles. Results for all ages revealed convergent evidence of memory for up to two sequentially fixated objects (i.e., one-back, two-back), with moderate evidence for nonfixated array items (change-other). A permutation analysis examining change preference over time suggested that differences could not be explained by perseverative looking or location biases.
Julia Farrell; Stefania Conte; Ryan Barry-Anwar; Lisa S. Scott
Face race and sex impact visual fixation strategies for upright and inverted faces in 3- to 6-year-old children Journal Article
In: Developmental Psychobiology, vol. 65, pp. 1–15, 2023.
Everyday face experience tends to be biased, such that infants and young children interact more often with own-race and female faces leading to differential processing of faces within these groups relative to others. In the present study, visual fixation strategies were recorded using eye tracking to determine the extent to which face race and sex/gender impact a key index of face processing in 3- to 6-year-old children (n = 47). Children viewed male and female upright and inverted White and Asian faces while visual fixations were recorded. Face orientation was found to have robust effects on children's visual fixations, such that children exhibited shorter first fixation and average fixation durations and a greater number of fixations for inverted compared to upright face trials. First fixations to the eye region were also greater for upright compared to inverted faces. Fewer fixations and longer duration fixations were found for trials with male compared to female faces and for upright compared to inverted unfamiliar-race faces, but not familiar-race faces. These findings demonstrate evidence of differential fixation strategies toward different types of faces in 3- to 6-year-old chil- dren, illustrating the importance of experience in the development of visual attention to faces.
Charlotte Moore; Elika Bergelson
Examining the roles of regularity and lexical class in 18–26-month-olds' representations of how words sound Journal Article
In: Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 126, pp. 1–17, 2022.
By around 12 months, infants have well-specified phonetic representations for the nouns they understand, for instance looking less at a car upon hearing ‘cur' than ‘car' (Swingley and Aslin, 2002). Here we test whether such high-fidelity representations extend to irregular nouns, and regular and irregular verbs. A corpus analysis confirms the intuition that irregular verbs are far more common than irregular nouns in speech to young children. Two eyetracking experiments then test whether toddlers are sensitive to mispronunciation in regular and irregular nouns (Experiment 1) and verbs (Experiment 2). For nouns, we find a mispronunciation effect and no regularity effect in 18-month-olds. For verbs, in Experiment 2a, we find only a regularity effect and no mispronunciation effect in 18-month-olds, though toddlers' poor comprehension overall limits interpretation. Finally, in Experiment 2b we find a mispronunciation effect and no regularity effect in 26-month-olds. The interlocking roles of lexical class and regularity for wordform representations and early word learning are discussed.
Nicola Grossheinrich; Julia Schaeffer; Christine Firk; Thomas Eggermann; Lynn Huestegge; Kerstin Konrad
Childhood adversity and approach/avoidance-related behaviour in boys Journal Article
In: Journal of Neural Transmission, vol. 129, pp. 421–429, 2022.
Childhood adversity has been suggested to affect the vulnerability for developmental psychopathology, including both externalizing and internalizing symptoms. This study examines spontaneous attention biases for negative and positive emotional facial expressions as potential intermediate phenotypes. In detail, typically developing boys (6–13 years) underwent an eye-tracking paradigm displaying happy, angry, sad and fearful faces. An approach bias towards positive emotional facial expressions with increasing childhood adversity levels was found. In addition, an attention bias away from negative facial expressions was observed with increasing childhood adversity levels, especially for sad facial expressions. The results might be interpreted in terms of emotional regulation strategies in boys at risk for reactive aggression and depressive behaviour.
Isabelle Dautriche; Louise Goupil; Kenny Smith; Hugh Rabagliati
Two-year-olds' eye movements reflect confidence in their understanding of words Journal Article
In: Psychological Science, vol. 33, no. 11, pp. 1842–1856, 2022.
We studied the fundamental issue of whether children evaluate the reliability of their language interpretation, that is, their confidence in understanding words. In two experiments, 2-year-olds (Experiment 1: N = 50; Experiment 2: N = 60) saw two objects and heard one of them being named; both objects were then hidden behind screens and children were asked to look toward the named object, which was eventually revealed. When children knew the label used, they showed increased postdecision persistence after a correct compared with an incorrect anticipatory look, a marker of confidence in word comprehension (Experiment 1). When interacting with an unreliable speaker, children showed accurate word comprehension but reduced confidence in the accuracy of their own choice, indicating that children's confidence estimates are influenced by social information (Experiment 2). Thus, by the age of 2 years, children can estimate their confidence during language comprehension, long before they can talk about their linguistic skills.
Sebastian P. Dys; Antonio Zuffianò; Veronika Orsanska; Nourhan Zaazou; Tina Malti
Children's attentional orientation is associated with their kind emotions Journal Article
In: Developmental Psychology, vol. 58, no. 9, pp. 1676–1686, 2022.
Why do some children feel happy about violating ethical norms whereas others feel guilty? This study examined whether children's attention to two types of competing cues during hypothetical transgressions related to their subsequent emotions. Eye tracking was used to test whether attending to other-oriented cues (i.e., a victim's face) versus self-serving cues (e.g., a stolen good) related to kind and selfish emotions. Participants were 4-, 6-, and 8-year-olds (N = 224; Mage = 6.85 years; 51% girls), whose first language was primarily English (80%), and whose primary caregivers mainly reported backgrounds from Asia (40%) or Europe (39%). Overall, almost all children spend more time attending to selfish than other-oriented cues. Latent difference score modeling revealed that higher scores on attentional orientation (i.e., more other-oriented attention compared with self-serving attention or smaller gaps between the two) was significantly related to more kind, but not selfish emotions. This relation remained across age groups. Furthermore, with age, children attended somewhat less to self-serving cues. These findings highlight attention's importance in developing kind emotions
Eric Failes; Mitchell S. Sommers
Using eye-tracking to investigate an activation-based account of false hearing in younger and older adults Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 13, pp. 1–15, 2022.
Several recent studies have demonstrated context-based, high-confidence misperceptions in hearing, referred to as false hearing. These studies have unanimously found that older adults are more susceptible to false hearing than are younger adults, which the authors have attributed to an age-related decline in the ability to inhibit the activation of a contextually predicted (but incorrect) response. However, no published work has investigated this activation-based account of false hearing. In the present study, younger and older adults listened to sentences in which the semantic context provided by the sentence was either unpredictive, highly predictive and valid, or highly predictive and misleading with relation to a sentence-final word in noise. Participants were tasked with clicking on one of four images to indicate which image depicted the sentence-final word in noise. We used eye-tracking to investigate how activation, as revealed in patterns of fixations, of different response options changed in real-time over the course of sentences. We found that both younger and older adults exhibited anticipatory activation of the target word when highly predictive contextual cues were available. When these contextual cues were misleading, younger adults were able to suppress the activation of the contextually predicted word to a greater extent than older adults. These findings are interpreted as evidence for an activation-based model of speech perception and for the role of inhibitory control in false hearing.
Xi Fan; Ronan G. Reilly
Eye movement control in reading Chinese: A matter of strength of character? Journal Article
In: Acta Psychologica, vol. 230, pp. 1–13, 2022.
This paper explores the processes underlying eye movement control in Chinese reading among a population of young 4th and 5th grade readers. Various proposals to explain the underlying mechanisms involved in eye movement control are examined and the paper concludes that the most likely account is of a two-factor process whereby the character is the main driver for longer saccades and that the word plays a role in shorter ones. A computational model is proposed to provide an integrated account of the dynamic interaction of these two factors.
Mahtab Farahbakhsh; Elaine J. Anderson; Roni O. Maimon-Mor; Andy Rider; John A. Greenwood; Nashila Hirji; Serena Zaman; Pete R. Jones; D. Samuel Schwarzkopf; Geraint Rees; Michel Michaelides; Tessa M. Dekker
A demonstration of cone function plasticity after gene therapy in achromatopsia Journal Article
In: Brain, vol. 145, pp. 3803–3815, 2022.
Recent advances in regenerative therapy have placed the treatment of previously incurable eye diseases within arms' reach. Achromatopsia is a severe monogenic heritable retinal disease that disrupts cone function from birth, leaving patients with complete colour blindness, low acuity, photosensitivity and nystagmus. While successful gene-replacement therapy in non-primate models of achromatopsia has raised widespread hopes for clinical treatment, it was yet to be determined if and how these therapies can induce new cone function in the human brain. Using a novel multimodal approach, we demonstrate for the first time that gene therapy can successfully activate dormant cone-mediated pathways in children with achromatopsia (CNGA3- and CNGB3-associated, 10–15 years). To test this, we combined functional MRI population receptive field mapping and psychophysics with stimuli that selectively measure cone photoreceptor signalling. We measured cortical and visual cone function before and after gene therapy in four paediatric patients, evaluating treatment-related change against benchmark data from untreated patients (n = 9) and normal-sighted participants (n = 28). After treatment, two of the four children displayed strong evidence for novel cone-mediated signals in visual cortex, with a retinotopic pattern that was not present in untreated achromatopsia and which is highly unlikely to emerge by chance. Importantly, this change was paired with a significant improvement in psychophysical measures of cone-mediated visual function. These improvements were specific to the treated eye, and provide strong evidence for successful read-out and use of new cone-mediated information. These data show for the first time that gene replacement therapy in achromatopsia within the plastic period of development can awaken dormant cone-signalling pathways after years of deprivation. This reveals unprecedented neural plasticity in the developing human nervous system and offers great promise for emerging regenerative therapies.
Lisa Feldmann; Carolin Zsigo; Charlotte Piechaczek; Pia Theresa Schröder; Christian Wachinger; Gerd Schulte-Körne; Ellen Greimel
Visual attention during cognitive reappraisal in adolescent major depression: Evidence from two eye-tracking studies Journal Article
In: Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol. 153, pp. 1–10, 2022.
Adolescent major depression (MD) is associated with impaired emotion regulation. However, results on cognitive reappraisal (CR) are mixed. Investigation of gaze behavior during CR allows a more thorough understanding of intact and deviant CR processes in MD. These studies examined for the first time the role of visual attention during CR in MD. We applied an established CR paradigm in two separate studies, with each study focusing on a different CR strategy. In Study 1, we investigated “distancing” in 39 adolescents with MD and 44 healthy controls (HCs). In Study 2, we applied “reinterpretation” in an independent sample of 37 HCs and 19 adolescents with MD. In both studies, adolescents either down-regulated negative affect to negative pictures via CR or attended them, while eye-movements were continuously recorded. Results of both studies showed that adolescents with MD and HCs did not differ in self-reported ER success. The groups showed comparable gaze behaviour patterns for emotional interest areas and entire pictures. Findings suggest that adolescents with MD are capable of applying CR when instructed and show intact visual attention processes. Future studies should examine whether repeatedly instructing adolescents with MD to apply CR might lead to improved emotion regulation in daily life.
John M. Franchak; Kellan Kadooka
Age differences in orienting to faces in dynamic scenes depend on face centering, not visual saliency Journal Article
In: Infancy, vol. 27, pp. 1032–1051, 2022.
The current study investigated how infants (6–24 months), children (2–12 years), and adults differ in how visual cues—visual saliency and centering—guide their attention to faces in videos. We report a secondary analysis of Kadooka and Franchak (2020), in which observers' eye movements were recorded during viewing of television clips containing a variety of faces. For every face on every video frame, we calculated its visual saliency (based on both static and dynamic image features) and calculated how close the face was to the center of the image. Results revealed that participants of every age looked more often at each face when it was more salient compared to less salient. In contrast, centering did not increase the likelihood that infants looked at a given face, but in later childhood and adulthood, centering became a stronger cue for face looking. A control analysis determined that the age-related change in centering was specific to face looking; participants of all ages were more likely to look at the center of the image, and this center bias did not change with age. The implications for using videos in educational and diagnostic contexts are discussed.
Conor I. Frye; Sarah C. Creel
Perceptual flexibility in word learning: Preschoolers learn words with speech sound variability Journal Article
In: Brain and Language, vol. 226, pp. 1–11, 2022.
Children's language input is rife with acoustic variability. Much of this variability may facilitate learning by highlighting unvarying, criterial speech attributes. But in many cases, learners experience variation in those criterial attributes themselves, as when hearing speakers with different accents. How flexible are children in the face of this variability? The current study taught 3–5-year-olds new words containing speech-sound variability: a single picture might be labeled both deev and teev. After learning, children's knowledge was tested by presenting two pictures and asking them to point to one. Picture-pointing accuracy and eye movements were tracked. While children pointed less accurately and looked less rapidly to dual-label than single-label words, they robustly exceeded chance. Performance was weaker when children learned two distinct labels, such as vayfe and fosh, for a single object. Findings suggest moderate learning even with speech-sound variability. One implication is that neural representations of speech contain rich gradient information.
Alma Gharib; Barbara L. Thompson
Analysis and novel methods for capture of normative eye-tracking data in 2.5-month old infants Journal Article
In: PloS ONE, vol. 17, pp. 1–22, 2022.
Development of attention systems is essential for both cognitive and social behavior maturation. Visual behavior has been used to assess development of these attention systems. Yet, given its importance, there is a notable lack of literature detailing successful methods and procedures for using eye-tracking in early infancy to assess oculomotor and attention dynamics. Here we show that eye-tracking technology can be used to automatically record and assess visual behavior in infants as young as 2.5 months, and present normative data describing fixation and saccade behavior at this age. Features of oculomotor dynamics were analyzed from 2.5-month old infants who viewed videos depicting live action, cartoons, geometric shapes, social and non-social scenes. Of the 54 infants enrolled, 50 infants successfully completed the eye-tracking task and high-quality data was collected for 32 of those infants. We demonstrate that modifications specifically tailored for the infant population allowed for consistent tracking of pupil and corneal reflection and minimal data loss. Additionally, we found consistent fixation and saccade behaviors across the entire six-minute duration of the videos, indicating that this is a feasible task for 2.5-month old infants. Moreover, normative oculomotor metrics for a free-viewing task in 2.5-month old infants are documented for the first time as a result of this high-quality data collection.
Tuomo Häikiö; Tinja Luotojärvi
The effect of syllable-level hyphenation on novel word reading in early Finnish readers: Evidence from eye movements Journal Article
In: Scientific Studies of Reading, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 38–46, 2022.
In early Finnish reading instruction, hyphens are used to denote syllable boundaries. However, this practice slows down reading already during the 1st grade. It has been hypothesized that hyphenation forces readers to rely more on phonology than orthography. Since hyphenation highlights the phonology of the word, it may facilitate reading during the very first encounters of the word. To assess whether this is the case, Finnish 1st and 2nd graders read stories about fictional animals while their eye movements were registered. Each story included four occurrences of a novel target (pseudo)word, hyphenated at the syllable level in half of the stories. Target words were read faster with repeated exposure but there were no effects regarding grade or hyphenation. The use of hyphenation does not give rise to enhanced processing of phonology in novel words and is likely to hinder the processes connected to the use of orthography.
Jarkko Hautala; Ladislao Salmerón; Asko Tolvanen; Otto Loberg; Paavo Leppänen
Task-oriented reading efficiency: Interplay of general cognitive ability, task demands, strategies and reading fluency Journal Article
In: Reading and Writing, vol. 35, no. 8, pp. 1787–1813, 2022.
The associations among readers' cognitive skills (general cognitive ability, reading skills, and attentional functioning), task demands (easy versus difficult questions), and process measures (total fixation time on relevant and irrelevant paragraphs) was investigated to explain task-oriented reading accuracy and efficiency (number of scores in a given time unit). Structural equation modeling was applied to a large dataset collected with sixth-grade students, which included samples of dysfluent readers and those with attention difficulties. The results are in line with previous findings regarding the dominant role of general cognitive ability in the accuracy of task-oriented reading. However, efficiency in task-oriented reading was mostly explained by the shorter viewing times of both paragraph types (i.e., relevant and irrelevant), which were modestly explained by general cognitive ability and reading fluency. These findings suggest that high efficiency in task orientation is obtained by relying on a selective reading strategy when reading both irrelevant and relevant paragraphs. The selective reading strategy seems to be specifically learned, and this potentially applies to most students, even those with low cognitive abilities.
Andrea Helo; Ernesto Guerra; Carmen Julia Coloma; Paulina Aravena-Bravo; Pia Rämä
Do children with developmental language disorder activate scene knowledge to guide visual attention? Effect of object-scene inconsistencies on gaze allocation Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, pp. 1–9, 2022.
Our visual environment is highly predictable in terms of where and in which locations objects can be found. Based on visual experience, children extract rules about visual scene configurations, allowing them to generate scene knowledge. Similarly, children extract the linguistic rules from relatively predictable linguistic contexts. It has been proposed that the capacity of extracting rules from both domains might share some underlying cognitive mechanisms. In the present study, we investigated the link between language and scene knowledge development. To do so, we assessed whether preschool children (age range = 5;4–6;6) with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), who present several difficulties in the linguistic domain, are equally attracted to object-scene inconsistencies in a visual free-viewing task in comparison with age-matched children with Typical Language Development (TLD). All children explored visual scenes containing semantic (e.g., soap on a breakfast table), syntactic (e.g., bread on the chair back), or both inconsistencies (e.g., soap on the chair back). Since scene knowledge interacts with image properties (i.e., saliency) to guide gaze allocation during visual exploration from the early stages of development, we also included the objects' saliency rank in the analysis. The results showed that children with DLD were less attracted to semantic and syntactic inconsistencies than children with TLD. In addition, saliency modulated syntactic effect only in the group of children with TLD. Our findings indicate that children with DLD do not activate scene knowledge to guide visual attention as efficiently as children with TLD, especially at the syntactic level, suggesting a link between scene knowledge and language development.
Andrea Helo; Ernesto Guerra; Carmen Julia Coloma; María Antonia Reyes; Pia Rämä
Objects shape activation during spoken word recognition in preschoolers with typical and atypical language development: An eye-tracking study Journal Article
In: Language Learning and Development, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 324–351, 2022.
Visually situated spoken words activate phonological, visual, and semantic representations guiding overt attention during visual exploration. We compared the activation of these representations in children with and without developmental language disorder (DLD) across four eye-tracking experiments, with a particular focus on visual (shape) representations. Two types of trials were presented in each experiment. In Experiment 1, participants heard a word while seeing (1) an object visually associated with the spoken word (i.e., shape competitor) together with a phonologically related object (i.e., cohort competitor), or (2) a shape competitor with an unrelated object. In Experiment 2 and 3, participants heard a word while seeing (1) a shape competitor with an object semantically related to the spoken word (i.e., semantic competitor), or (2) a shape competitor with an unrelated object. In Experiment 4, children heard a word while seeing a semantic competitor with (1) the visual referent of the spoken or (2) with an unrelated object. The visual context was previewed for three seconds before the spoken word, except for Experiment 2, where it appeared at the onset of the spoken word (i.e., no preview). The results showed that when a preview was provided both groups were equally attracted by cohort and semantic competitors and preferred the shape competitors over the unrelated objects. However, shape preference disappeared in the DLD group when no preview was provided and when the shape competitor was presented with a semantic competitor. Our results indicate that children with DLD have a less efficient retrieval of shape representation during word recognition compared to typically developing children.
Johannes M. Meixner; Jessie S. Nixon; Jochen Laubrock; Johannes M. Meixner; Jessie S. Nixon; Jochen Laubrock
The perceptual span is dynamically adjusted in response to foveal load by beginning readers Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 151, no. 6, pp. 1219–1232, 2022.
The perceptual span describes the size of the visual field from which information is obtained during a fixation in reading. Its size depends on characteristics of writing system and reader, but-according to the foveal load hypothesis-it is also adjusted dynamically as a function of lexical processing difficulty. Using the moving window paradigm to manipulate the amount of preview, here we directly test whether the perceptual span shrinks as foveal word difficulty increases. We computed the momentary size of the span from word-based eye-movement measures as a function of foveal word frequency, allowing us to separately describe the perceptual span for information affecting spatial saccade targeting and temporal saccade execution. First fixation duration and gaze duration on the upcoming (parafoveal) word N + 1 were significantly shorter when the current (foveal) word N was more frequent. We show that the word frequency effect is modulated by window size. Fixation durations on word N + 1 decreased with high-frequency words N, but only for large windows, that is, when sufficient parafoveal preview was available. This provides strong support for the foveal load hypothesis. To investigate the development of the foveal load effect, we analyzed data from three waves of a longitudinal study on the perceptual span with German children in Grades 1 to 6. Perceptual span adjustment emerged early in development at around second grade and remained stable in later grades. We conclude that the local modulation of the perceptual span indicates a general cognitive process, perhaps an attentional gradient with rapid readjustment. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
Emmelien Merchie; Sofie Heirweg; Hilde Van Keer
Mind maps: Processed as intuitively as thought? Investigating late elementary students' eye-tracked visual behavior patterns in-depth Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 13, pp. 1–18, 2022.
In this study, 44 late elementary students' visual behavior patterns when reading mind maps were investigated, more particularly, the intuitive processing nature of their visual characteristics, reading sequence and presentation mode (i.e., mind map before or after text). Eye-tracked data were investigated by means of static early attention and dynamic educational process mining (EPM) analysis and combined with learning performance and retrospective interview data. All students seem to struggle with the map's radial structure during initial reading. Also, the picture's position in the map diverts students from consecutively reading interconnected branches. EPM analyses revealed different reading patterns in proceeding reading behavior. Students receiving a text first, seem to grasp the radial structure slightly more and show higher information integration attempts. They also attained higher free recall and coherence scores. The study concludes with instructional design principles for urgently needed explicit visual literacy instruction in elementary grades.
Sara V. Milledge; Chuanli Zang; Simon P. Liversedge; Hazel I. Blythe
Phonological parafoveal pre-processing in children reading English sentences Journal Article
In: Cognition, vol. 225, pp. 1–13, 2022.
Although previous research has shown that, in English, both adult and teenage readers parafoveally pre-process phonological information during silent reading, to date, no research has been conducted to investigate such processing in children. Here we used the boundary paradigm during silent sentence reading, to ascertain whether typically developing English children, like adults, parafoveally process words phonologically. Participants' eye movements (adults: n = 48; children: n = 48) were recorded as they read sentences which contained, in preview, correctly spelled words (e.g., cheese), pseudohomophones (e.g., cheeze), or spelling controls (e.g., cheene). The orthographic similarity of the target words available in preview was also manipulated to be similar (e.g., cheese/cheeze/cheene) or dissimilar (e.g., queen/kween/treen). The results indicate that orthographic similarity facilitated both adults' and children's pre-processing. Moreover, children parafoveally pre-processed words phonologically very early in processing. The children demonstrated a pseudohomophone advantage from preview that was broadly similar to the effect displayed by the adults, although the orthographic similarity of the pseudohomophone previews was more important for the children than the adults. Overall, these results provide strong evidence for phonological recoding during silent English sentence reading in 8–9-year-old children.
Lyndall Murray; Signy Wegener; Hua-Chen Wang; Rauno Parrila; Anne Castles
Children processing novel irregular and regular words during reading: An eye tracking study Journal Article
In: Scientific Studies of Reading, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 417–431, 2022.
Children may link words in their oral vocabulary with novel printed word forms through a process termed mispronunciation correction, which enables them to adjust an imperfect phonological decoding. Additional evidence suggests that sentence context may play a role in helping children to make link between a word in oral vocabulary and its irregular written form. Four groups of children were orally trained on a set of novel words but received no training on a second set. Half the trained words were designated irregular spellings and half regular spellings. Children later read the words in contextually supportive or neutral sentences while their eye movements were monitored. Fixations on untrained words were longer than on trained regular words but were similar to trained irregular words. Fixations on regular words were shorter than on irregular words, and there were larger differences between irregular and regular words viewed in contextually supportive sentences. Subsequently, children were able to read irregular words more accurately when they had previously appeared in a supportive context. These results suggest that orally known irregular words undergo additional processing when first viewed in text, which is consistent with the online operation of a mispronunciation correction mechanism.
Dinavahi V. P. S. Murty; Keerthana Manikandan; Wupadrasta Santosh Kumar; Ranjini Garani Ramesh; Simran Purokayastha; Bhargavi Nagendra; M. L. Abhishek; Aditi Balakrishnan; Mahendra Javali; Naren Prahalada Rao; Supratim Ray
Stimulus-induced gamma rhythms are weaker in human elderly with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease Journal Article
In: Bio-protocol, vol. 12, no. 7, pp. 1–13, 2022.
Stimulus-induced narrow-band gamma oscillations (20–70 Hz) are induced in the visual areas of the brain when particular visual stimuli, such as bars, gratings, or full-screen hue, are shown to the subject. Such oscillations are modulated by higher cognitive functions, like attention, and working memory, and have been shown to be abnormal in certain neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer's disease. However, although electroencephalogram (EEG) remains one of the most non-invasive, inexpensive, and accessible methods to record brain signals, some studies have failed to observe discernable gamma oscillations in human EEG. In this manuscript, we have described in detail a protocol to elicit robust gamma oscillations in human EEG. We believe that our protocol could help in developing non-invasive gamma-based biomarkers in human EEG, for the early detection of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Victoria I. Nicholls; Jan M. Wiener; Andrew Isaac Meso; Sebastien Miellet
The relative contribution of executive functions and aging on attentional control during road crossing Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 13, pp. 1–9, 2022.
As we age, many physical, perceptual and cognitive abilities decline, which can critically impact our day-to-day lives. However, the decline of many abilities is concurrent; thus, it is challenging to disentangle the relative contributions of different abilities in the performance deterioration in realistic tasks, such as road crossing, with age. Research into road crossing has shown that aging and a decline in executive functioning (EFs) is associated with altered information sampling and less safe crossing decisions compared to younger adults. However, in these studies declines in age and EFs were confounded. Therefore, it is impossible to disentangle whether age-related declines in EFs impact on visual sampling and road-crossing performance, or whether visual exploration, and road-crossing performance, are impacted by aging independently of a decline in EFs. In this study, we recruited older adults with maintained EFs to isolate the impacts of aging independently of a decline EFs on road crossing abilities. We recorded eye movements of younger adults and older adults while they watched videos of road traffic and were asked to decide when they could cross the road. Overall, our results show that older adults with maintained EFs sample visual information and make similar road crossing decisions to younger adults. Our findings also reveal that both environmental constraints and EF abilities interact with aging to influence how the road-crossing task is performed. Our findings suggest that older pedestrians' safety, and independence in day-to-day life, can be improved through a limitation of scene complexity and a preservation of EF abilities.
Gal Nitsan; Shai Baharav; Dalith Tal-Shir; Vered Shakuf; Boaz M. Ben-David
Speech processing as a far-transfer gauge of serious games for cognitive training in aging: Randomized controlled trial of web-based effectivate training Journal Article
In: JMIR Serious Games, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 1–15, 2022.
Background: The number of serious games for cognitive training in aging (SGCTAs) is proliferating in the market and attempting to combat one of the most feared aspects of aging-cognitive decline. However, the efficacy of many SGCTAs is still questionable. Even the measures used to validate SGCTAs are up for debate, with most studies using cognitive measures that gauge improvement in trained tasks, also known as near transfer. This study takes a different approach, testing the efficacy of the SGCTA-Effectivate-in generating tangible far-transfer improvements in a nontrained task-the Eye tracking of Word Identification in Noise Under Memory Increased Load (E-WINDMIL)-which tests speech processing in adverse conditions. Objective: This study aimed to validate the use of a real-time measure of speech processing as a gauge of the far-transfer efficacy of an SGCTA designed to train executive functions. Methods: In a randomized controlled trial that included 40 participants, we tested 20 (50%) older adults before and after self-administering the SGCTA Effectivate training and compared their performance with that of the control group of 20 (50%) older adults. The E-WINDMIL eye-tracking task was administered to all participants by blinded experimenters in 2 sessions separated by 2 to 8 weeks. Results: Specifically, we tested the change between sessions in the efficiency of segregating the spoken target word from its sound-sharing alternative, as the word unfolds in time. We found that training with the SGCTA Effectivate improved both early and late speech processing in adverse conditions, with higher discrimination scores in the training group than in the control group (early processing: F1
Gal Nitsan; Karen Banai; Boaz M. Ben-David
One size does not fit all: Examining the effects of working memory capacity on spoken word recognition in older adults using eye tracking Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 13, pp. 1–12, 2022.
Difficulties understanding speech form one of the most prevalent complaints among older adults. Successful speech perception depends on top-down linguistic and cognitive processes that interact with the bottom-up sensory processing of the incoming acoustic information. The relative roles of these processes in age-related difficulties in speech perception, especially when listening conditions are not ideal, are still unclear. In the current study, we asked whether older adults with a larger working memory capacity process speech more efficiently than peers with lower capacity when speech is presented in noise, with another task performed in tandem. Using the Eye-tracking of Word Identification in Noise Under Memory Increased Load (E-WINDMIL) an adapted version of the “visual world” paradigm, 36 older listeners were asked to follow spoken instructions presented in background noise, while retaining digits for later recall under low (single-digit) or high (four-digits) memory load. In critical trials, instructions (e.g., “point at the candle”) directed listeners' gaze to pictures of objects whose names shared onset or offset sounds with the name of a competitor that was displayed on the screen at the same time (e.g., candy or sandal). We compared listeners with different memory capacities on the time course for spoken word recognition under the two memory loads by testing eye-fixations on a named object, relative to fixations on an object whose name shared phonology with the named object. Results indicated two trends. (1) For older adults with lower working memory capacity, increased memory load did not affect online speech processing, however, it impaired offline word recognition accuracy. (2) The reverse pattern was observed for older adults with higher working memory capacity: increased task difficulty significantly decreases online speech processing efficiency but had no effect on offline word recognition accuracy. Results suggest that in older adults, adaptation to adverse listening conditions is at least partially supported by cognitive reserve. Therefore, additional cognitive capacity may lead to greater resilience of older listeners to adverse listening conditions. The differential effects documented by eye movements and accuracy highlight the importance of using both online and offline measures of speech processing to explore age-related changes in speech perception.
Sara S. Nozadi; Andrea Aguiar; Ruofei Du; Elizabeth A. Enright; Susan L. Schantz; Curtis Miller; Brandon Rennie; Mallery Quetawki; Debra MacKenzie; Johnnye L. Lewis
Cross-cultural applicability of eye-tracking in assessing attention to emotional faces in preschool-aged children Journal Article
In: Emotion, pp. 1–16, 2022.
Humans show an attention bias toward emotional versus neutral information, which is considered an adaptive pattern of information processing. Deviations from this pattern have been observed in children with socially withdrawn behaviors, with most research being conducted in controlled settings among children from urban areas. The goal of the current study was to examine the crosscultural applicability of two eye-tracking–based measures in assessing attention biases and their relations to children's symptoms of socially withdrawn behaviors in two independent and diverse samples of preschool children. The cross-cultural comparison was conducted between the Navajo Birth Cohort study (NBCS), an indigenous cohort with relatively low socioeconomic status (SES), and the Illinois Kids Development study (IKIDS), a primarily Non-Hispanic White and high SES cohort. Children in both cohorts completed eye-tracking tasks with pictures of emotional faces, and mothers reported on children's symptoms of socially withdrawn behaviors. Results showed that general patterns of attention biases were mostly the same across samples, reflecting heightened attention toward emotional versus neutral faces. The differences across two samples mostly involved the magnitude of attention biases. NBCS children were slower to disengage from happy faces when these emotional faces were paired with neutral faces. Additionally, socially withdrawn children in the NBCS sample showed a pattern of attentional avoidance for emotional faces. The comparability of overall patterns of attention biases provides initial support for the cross-cultural applicability of the eye-tracking measures and demonstrates the robustness of these methods across clinical and community settings.
Marissa Ogren; Scott P. Johnson
Nonverbal emotion perception and vocabulary in late infancy Journal Article
In: Infant Behavior and Development, vol. 68, pp. 1–10, 2022.
Language has been proposed as a potential mechanism for young children's developing understanding of emotion. However, much remains unknown about this relation at an individual difference level. The present study investigated 15- to 18-month-old infants' perception of emotions across multiple pairs of faces. Parents reported their child's productive vocabulary, and infants participated in a non-linguistic emotion perception task via an eye tracker. Infant vocabulary did not predict nonverbal emotion perception when accounting for infant age, gender, and general object perception ability ($beta$ = −0.15
Shireen Parimoo; Anika Choi; Lauren Iafrate; Cheryl Grady; Rosanna Olsen
Are older adults susceptible to visual distraction when targets and distractors are spatially separated? Journal Article
In: Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, pp. 1–37, 2022.
Older adults show preserved memory for previously distracting information due to reduced inhibitory control. In some previous studies, targets and distractors overlap both temporally and spatially. We investigated whether age differences in attentional orienting and disengagement affect recognition memory when targets and distractors are spatially separated at encoding. In Experiments 1 and 2, eye movements were recorded while participants completed an incidental encoding task under covert (i.e., restricted viewing) and overt (i.e., free-viewing) conditions, respectively. The encoding task consisted of pairs of target and distractor item-color stimuli presented in separate visual hemifields. Prior to stimulus onset, a central cue indicated the location of the upcoming target. Participants were subsequently tested on their recognition of the items, their location, and the associated color. In Experiment 3, targets were validly cued on 75% of the encoding trials; on invalid trials, participants had to disengage their attention from the distractor and reorient to the target. Associative memory for colors was reduced among older adults across all experiments, though their location memory was only reduced in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, older and younger adults directed a similar proportion of fixations toward targets and distractors. Explicit recognition of distractors did not differ between age groups in any of the experiments. However, older adults were slower to correctly recognize distractors than false alarm to novel items in Experiment 2, suggesting some implicit memory for distraction. Together, these results demonstrate that older adults may only be vulnerable to encoding visual distraction when viewing behavior is unconstrained.
Ashley C. Parr; Olivia G. Calancie; Brian C. Coe; Sarosh Khalid-Khan; Douglas P. Munoz
Impulsivity and emotional dysregulation predict choice behavior during a mixed-strategy game in adolescents with borderline personality disorder Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Neuroscience, vol. 15, pp. 1–21, 2022.
Impulsivity and emotional dysregulation are two core features of borderline personality disorder (BPD), and the neural mechanisms recruited during mixed-strategy interactions overlap with frontolimbic networks that have been implicated in BPD. We investigated strategic choice patterns during the classic two-player game, Matching Pennies, where the most efficient strategy is to choose each option randomly from trial-to-trial to avoid exploitation by one's opponent. Twenty-seven female adolescents with BPD (mean age: 16 years) and twenty-seven age-matched female controls (mean age: 16 years) participated in an experiment that explored the relationship between strategic choice behavior and impulsivity in both groups and emotional dysregulation in BPD. Relative to controls, BPD participants showed marginally fewer reinforcement learning biases, particularly decreased lose-shift biases, increased variability in reaction times (coefficient of variation; CV), and a greater percentage of anticipatory decisions. A subset of BPD participants with high levels of impulsivity showed higher overall reward rates, and greater modulation of reaction times by outcome, particularly following loss trials, relative to control and BPD participants with lower levels of impulsivity. Additionally, BPD participants with higher levels of emotional dysregulation showed marginally increased reward rate and increased entropy in choice patterns. Together, our preliminary results suggest that impulsivity and emotional dysregulation may contribute to variability in mixed-strategy decision-making in female adolescents with BPD.
Olga Parshina; Anastasiya Lopukhina; Sofya Goldina; Ekaterina Iskra; Margarita Serebryakova; Vladislava Staroverova; Nina Zdorova; Olga Dragoy
Global reading processes in children with high risk of dyslexia: A scanpath analysis Journal Article
In: Annals of Dyslexia, vol. 72, no. 3, pp. 403–425, 2022.
The study presents the first systematic comparison of the global reading processes via scanpath analysis in Russian-speaking children with and without reading difficulties. First, we compared basic eye-movement characteristics in reading sentences in two groups of children in grades 1 to 5 (N = 72 in high risk of developmental dyslexia group and N = 72 in the control group). Next, using the scanpath method, we investigated which global reading processes these children adopt to read the entire sentence and how these processes differ between the groups. Finally, we were interested in the timeframe of the change in the global reading processes from the 1st to the 5th grades for both groups. We found that the main difference in word-level measures between groups was the reading speed reflected in fixation durations. However, the examination of the five identified global reading processes revealed qualitative similarities in reading patterns between groups. Children in the control group progressed quickly and by the 4th grade engaged in an adult-like fluent reading process. The high-risk group started with the beginner reading process, then similar to first graders in the control group, engaged mostly in the intermediate and upper-intermediate reading processes in 2nd to 4th grades. They reach the advanced process in the 5th grade, the same pattern preferred by the control group second graders. Overall, the scanpath analysis reveals that although there are quantitative differences in the word-level eye-tracking measures between groups, qualitatively children in the high-risk group read on par with typically developing peers but with a 3-year reading delay.
Olga Parshina; Irina A. Sekerina; Anastasiya Lopukhina; Titus Malsburg
Monolingual and bilingual reading processes in Russian: An exploratory scanpath analysis Journal Article
In: Reading Research Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 469–492, 2022.
In the present study, we used a scanpath approach to investigate reading processes and factors that can shape them in monolingual Russian-speaking adults, 8-year-old children, and bilingual Russian-speaking readers. We found that monolingual adults' eye movement patterns exhibited a fluent scanpath reading process, representing effortless processing of the written material: They read straight from left to right at a fast pace, skipped words, and regressed rarely. Both high-proficiency heritage-language speakers' and second graders' eye movement patterns exhibited an intermediate scanpath reading process, characterized by a slower pace, longer fixations, an absence of word skipping, and short regressive saccades. Second-language learners and low-proficiency heritage-language speakers exhibited a beginner reading process that involved the slowest pace, even longer fixations, no word skipping, and frequent rereading of the whole sentence and of particular words. We suggest that unlike intermediate readers who use the respective process to resolve local processing difficulties (e.g., word recognition failure), beginner readers, in addition, experience global-level challenges in semantic and morphosyntactic information integration. Proficiency in Russian for heritage-language speakers and comprehension scores for second-language learners were the only individual difference factors predictive of the scanpath reading process adopted by bilingual speakers. Overall, the scanpath analysis revealed qualitative differences in scanpath reading processes among various groups of readers and thus adds a qualitative dimension to the conventional quantitative evaluation of word-level eye-tracking measures.
Salome Pedrett; Alain Chavaillaz; Andrea Frick
Age-related changes in how 3.5- to 5.5-year-olds observe and imagine rotational object motion Journal Article
In: Spatial Cognition and Computation, pp. 1–29, 2022.
Mental representations of rotation were investigated in 3.5- to 5.5-year-olds (N = 74) using a multi-method approach. In a novel mental-rotation task, children were asked to choose one of two rotated shapes that would fit onto a counterpart. The developmental trajectory of mental rotation was compared to eye-tracking results on how the same children observed and anticipated circular object motion. On the mental-rotation task, children below age 4 performed above chance up to angles of 150°, and performance improved with age. Eye-tracking results indicated that mental representations of circular motion were largely developed by the age of 3.5 years. In contrast, perception of rotational motion and mental rotation of asymmetrical shapes continued to develop between 3.5 and 5.5 years of age.
Elie Poncet; Gaelle Nicolas; Nathalie Guyader; Elena Moro; Aurélie Campagne
Spatio-temporal attention toward emotional scenes across adulthood Journal Article
In: Emotion, pp. 1–14, 2022.
Research on emotion suggests that the attentional preference observed toward the negative stimuli in young adults tends to disappear in normal aging and, sometimes, to shift toward a preference for positive stimuli. The current eye-tracking study investigated visual exploration of paired natural scenes of different valence (Negative–Neutral, Positive–Neutral, and Negative–Positive pairs) in three age groups (young, middle-aged, and older adults). Two arousal levels of stimuli (high and low arousal) were also considered given role of this factor in age-related effects on emotion. Results showed the automatic attentional orienting toward the negative stimuli was relatively preserved in our three age groups although reduced in the elderly, in both arousal conditions. A similar negativity bias was also observed in initial attention focusing but shifted toward a positivity bias over time in the three age groups. Moreover, it appeared the spatial exploration of emotional scenes evolved over time differently for older adults compared with other age groups. No difference between young adults and middle-aged adults in ocular behavior was observed. This study confirms the interest of studying both spatial and temporal characteristics of oculomotor behaviors to better understand the age-related effects on emotion.
Jonathan E. Prunty; Jolie R. Keemink; David J. Kelly
Infants show pupil dilatory responses to happy and angry facial expressions Journal Article
In: Developmental Science, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 1–11, 2022.
Facial expressions are one way in which infants and adults communicate emotion. Infants scan expressions similarly to adults, yet it remains unclear whether they are receptive to the affective information they convey. The current study investigates 6-, 9- and 12-month infants' (N = 146) pupillary responses to the six “basic” emotional expressions (happy, sad, surprise, fear, anger, and disgust). To do this we use dynamic stimuli and gaze-contingent eye-tracking to simulate brief interactive exchanges, alongside a static control condition. Infants' arousal responses were stronger for dynamic compared to static stimuli. And for dynamic stimuli we found that, compared to neutral, infants showed dilatory responses for happy and angry expressions only. Although previous work has shown infants can discriminate perceptually between facial expressions, our data suggest that sensitivity to the affective content of all six basic emotional expressions may not fully emerge until later in ontogeny.
Tianying Qing; Ying Xiao; Huidong Xue; Wei Wang; Ming Ye; Jing Hu; Licheng Xue; Bing Chen; Yating Lv; Jing Zhao
Development of attentional bias towards visual word forms in the environment in preschool children Journal Article
In: Visual Cognition, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 214–227, 2022.
Environmental prints (e.g., the name “Mcdonald's” on advertising boards) provide a visual environment rich in written words at the early stage of learning to read. Children's attention to words is closely related to the process of learning to read. However, what remains unclear is how children's attention to words in environmental prints develops and is related to their reading ability before conventional reading training begins. Using the eye-tracking technique, the present study examined the early development of attention to words in environmental prints. Four-, five-, and six-year-old preschool children were tested. We transformed the original format of each environmental print into three versions with gradually minimized contextual cues (i.e., colour, logo, and font type). The results showed that attentional bias towards words increases with age even before conventional reading training. Moreover, it appears that a rapid increase occurs between the ages of four and five. The logo cue (rather than colour cue or font type cue) has a salient effect on the attentional bias towards words. Attentional bias towards words is increased with children's reading ability.
Gwendolyn Rehrig; Taylor R. Hayes; John M. Henderson; Fernanda Ferreira
Visual attention during seeing for speaking in healthy aging Journal Article
In: Psychology and Aging, pp. 1–18, 2022.
As we age, we accumulate a wealth of information, but cognitive processing becomes slower and less efficient. There is mixed evidence on whether world knowledge compensates for age- related cognitive decline (Umanath & Marsh, 2014). We investigated whether older adults are more likely to fixate more meaningful scene locations than are young adults. Young (N=30) and older adults (N=30, aged 66-82) described scenes while eye movements and descriptions were recorded. We used a logistic mixed-effects model to determine whether fixated scene locations differed in meaning, salience, and center distance from locations that were not fixated, and whether those properties differed for locations young and older adults fixated. Meaning predicted fixated locations well overall, though the locations older adults fixated were less meaningful than those that young adults fixated. These results suggest that older adults' visual attention is less sensitive to meaning than young adults, despite extensive experience with scenes.
Emily B. Reilly; Kelli L. Dickerson; Lara J. Pierce; Jukka Leppänen; Viviane Valdes; Alma Gharib; Barbara L. Thompson; Lisa J. Schlueter; Pat Levitt; Charles A. Nelson
Maternal stress and development of infant attention to threat-related facial expressions Journal Article
In: Developmental Psychobiology, vol. 64, no. 7, pp. 1–12, 2022.
Attentional biases to threat-related stimuli, such as fearful and angry facial expressions, are important to survival and emerge early in development. Infants demonstrate an attentional bias to fearful facial expressions by 5–7 months of age and an attentional bias toward anger by 3 years of age that are modulated by experiential factors. In a longitudinal study of 87 mother–infant dyads from families predominantly experiencing low income, we examined whether maternal stress and depressive symptoms were associated with trajectories of attentional biases to threat, assessed during an attention disengagement eye-tracking task when infants were 6-, 9-, and 12-month old. By 9 months, infants demonstrated a generalized bias toward threat (both fearful and angry facial expressions). Maternal perceived stress was associated with the trajectory of the bias toward angry facial expressions between 6 and 12 months. Specifically, infants of mothers with higher perceived stress exhibited a greater bias toward angry facial expressions at 6 months that decreased across the next 6 months, compared to infants of mothers with lower perceived stress who displayed an increased bias to angry facial expressions over this age range. Maternal depressive symptoms and stressful life events were not associated with trajectories of infant attentional bias to anger or fear. These findings highlight the role of maternal perceptions of stress in shaping developmental trajectories of threat-alerting systems.
Tracy Reuter; Mia Sullivan; Casey Lew-Williams
Look at that: Spatial deixis reveals experience-related differences in prediction Journal Article
In: Language Acquisition, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1–26, 2022.
Prediction-based theories posit that interlocutors use prediction to process language efficiently and to coordinate dialogue. The present study evaluated whether listeners can use spatial deixis (i.e., this, that, these, and those) to predict the plurality and proximity of a speaker's upcoming referent. In two eye-tracking experiments with varying referential complexity (N = 168), native English-speaking adults, native English-learning 5-year-olds, and nonnative English-learning adults viewed images while listening to sentences with or without informative deictic determiners, e.g., Look at the/this/that/these/those wonderful cookie(s). Results showed that all groups successfully exploited plurality information. However, they varied in using deixis to anticipate the proximity of the referent; specifically, L1 adults showed more robust prediction than L2 adults, and L1 children did not show evidence of prediction. By evaluating listeners with varied language experiences, this investigation helps refine proposed mechanisms of prediction and suggests that linguistic experience is key to the development of such mechanisms.
Matthew K. Robison; Nathaniel T. Diede; Jessica Nicosia; B. Hunter Ball; Julie M. Bugg
A multimodal analysis of sustained attention in younger and older adults Journal Article
In: Psychology and Aging, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 307–325, 2022.
Age-related cognitive decline has been attributed to processing speed differences, as well as differences in executive control and response inhibition. However, recent research has shown that healthy older adults have intact, if not superior, sustained attention abilities compared to younger adults. The present study used a combination of reaction time (RT), thought probes, and pupillometry to measure sustained attention in samples of younger and older adults. The RT data revealed that, while slightly slower overall, older adults sustained their attention to the task better than younger adults, and did not show a vigilance decrement. Older adults also reported fewer instances of task-unrelated thoughts and reported feeling more motivated and alert than younger adults, despite finding the task more demanding. Additionally, older adults showed larger, albeit laterpeaking, task-evoked pupillary responses (TEPRs), corroborating the behavioral and self-report data. Finally, older adults did not show a shallowing of TEPRs across time, corroborating the finding that their RTs also did not change across time. The present findings are interpreted in light of processing speed theory, resourcedepletion theories of vigilance, and recent neurological theories of cognitive aging.
Kati Roesmann; Ida Wessing; Sophia Kraß; Elisabeth J. Leehr; Tim Klucken; Thomas Straube; Markus Junghöfer
Developmental aspects of fear generalization – A MEG study on neurocognitive correlates in adolescents versus adults Journal Article
In: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, vol. 58, pp. 1–12, 2022.
Background: Fear generalization is pivotal for the survival-promoting avoidance of potential danger, but, if too pronounced, it promotes pathological anxiety. Similar to adult patients with anxiety disorders, healthy children tend to show overgeneralized fear responses. Objective: This study aims to investigate neuro-developmental aspects of fear generalization in adolescence – a critical age for the development of anxiety disorders. Methods: We compared healthy adolescents (14–17 years) with healthy adults (19–34 years) regarding their fear responses towards tilted Gabor gratings (conditioned stimuli, CS; and slightly differently titled generalization stimuli, GS). In the conditioning phase, CS were paired (CS+) or remained unpaired (CS-) with an aversive stimulus (unconditioned stimuli, US). In the test phase, behavioral, peripheral and neural responses to CS and GS were captured by fear- and UCS expectancy ratings, a perceptual discrimination task, pupil dilation and source estimations of event-related magnetic fields. Results: Closely resembling adults, adolescents showed robust generalization gradients of fear ratings, pupil dilation, and estimated neural source activity. However, in the UCS expectancy ratings, adolescents revealed shallower generalization gradients indicating overgeneralization. Moreover, adolescents showed stronger visual cortical activity after as compared to before conditioning to all stimuli. Conclusion: Various aspects of fear learning and generalization appear to be mature in healthy adolescents. Yet, cognitive aspects might show a slower course of development.
Shannon Ross-Sheehy; Bret Eschman; Esther E. Reynolds
Seeing and looking: Evidence for developmental and stimulus-dependent changes in infant scanning efficiency Journal Article
In: PLoS ONE, vol. 17, no. 9, pp. 1–24, 2022.
Though previous work has examined infant attention across a variety of tasks, less is known about the individual saccades and fixations that make up each bout of attention, and how individual differences in saccade and fixation patterns (i.e., scanning efficiency) change with development, scene content and perceptual load. To address this, infants between the ages of 5 and 11 months were assessed longitudinally (Experiment 1) and cross-sectionally (Experiment 2). Scanning efficiency (fixation duration, saccade rate, saccade amplitude, and saccade velocity) was assessed while infants viewed six quasi-naturalistic scenes that varied in content (social or non-social) and scene complexity (3, 6 or 9 people/objects). Results from Experiment 1 revealed moderate to strong stability of individual differences in saccade rate, mean fixation duration, and saccade amplitude, and both experiments revealed 5-month-old infants to make larger, faster, and more frequent saccades than older infants. Scanning efficiency was assessed as the relation between fixation duration and saccade amplitude, and results revealed 11-month-olds to have high scanning efficiency across all scenes. However, scanning efficiency also varied with scene content, such that all infants showing higher scanning efficiency when viewing social scenes, and more complex scenes. These results suggest both developmental and stimulus-dependent changes in scanning efficiency, and further highlight the use of saccade and fixation metrics as a sensitive indicator of cognitive processing.
Kelly C. Roth; Kenna R. H. Clayton; Greg D. Reynolds
Infant selective attention to native and non-native audiovisual speech Journal Article
In: Scientific Reports, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 1–12, 2022.
The current study utilized eye-tracking to investigate the effects of intersensory redundancy and language on infant visual attention and detection of a change in prosody in audiovisual speech. Twelve-month-old monolingual English-learning infants viewed either synchronous (redundant) or asynchronous (non-redundant) presentations of a woman speaking in native or non-native speech. Halfway through each trial, the speaker changed prosody from infant-directed speech (IDS) to adult-directed speech (ADS) or vice versa. Infants focused more on the mouth of the speaker on IDS trials compared to ADS trials regardless of language or intersensory redundancy. Additionally, infants demonstrated greater detection of prosody changes from IDS speech to ADS speech in native speech. Planned comparisons indicated that infants detected prosody changes across a broader range of conditions during redundant stimulus presentations. These findings shed light on the influence of language and prosody on infant attention and highlight the complexity of audiovisual speech processing in infancy.
Rachel Yep; Matthew L. Smorenburg; Heidi C. Riek; Olivia G. Calancie; Ryan H. Kirkpatrick; Julia E. Perkins; Jeff Huang; Brian C. Coe; Donald C. Brien; Douglas P. Munoz
Interleaved pro/anti-saccade behavior across the lifespan Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, vol. 14, pp. 1–15, 2022.
The capacity for inhibitory control is an important cognitive process that undergoes dynamic changes over the course of the lifespan. Robust characterization of this trajectory, considering age continuously and using flexible modeling techniques, is critical to advance our understanding of the neural mechanisms that differ in healthy aging and neurological disease. The interleaved pro/anti-saccade task (IPAST), in which pro- and anti-saccade trials are randomly interleaved within a block, provides a simple and sensitive means of assessing the neural circuitry underlying inhibitory control. We utilized IPAST data collected from a large cross-sectional cohort of normative participants (n = 604, 5–93 years of age), standardized pre-processing protocols, generalized additive modeling, and change point analysis to investigate the effect of age on saccade behavior and identify significant periods of change throughout the lifespan. Maturation of IPAST measures occurred throughout adolescence, while subsequent decline began as early as the mid-20s and continued into old age. Considering pro-saccade correct responses and anti-saccade direction errors made at express (short) and regular (long) latencies was crucial in differentiating developmental and aging processes. We additionally characterized the effect of age on voluntary override time, a novel measure describing the time at which voluntary processes begin to overcome automated processes on anti-saccade trials. Drawing on converging animal neurophysiology, human neuroimaging, and computational modeling literature, we propose potential frontal-parietal and frontal-striatal mechanisms that may mediate the behavioral changes revealed in our analysis. We liken the models presented here to “cognitive growth curves” which have important implications for improved detection of neurological disease states that emerge during vulnerable windows of developing and aging.
Emanuela Yeung; Dimitrios Askitis; Velisar Manea; Victoria Southgate
Emerging self-representation presents a challenge when perspectives conflict Journal Article
In: Open Mind: Discoveries in Cognitive Science, vol. 6, pp. 232–249, 2022.
The capacity to take another's perspective appears to be present from early in life, with young infants ostensibly able to predict others' behaviour even when the self and other perspective are at odds. Yet, infants' abilities are difficult to reconcile with the well-known problems that older children have with ignoring their own perspective. Here we show that it is the development of the self-perspective, at around 18 months, that creates a perspective conflict between self and other during a non-verbal perspective-tracking scenario. Using mirror self-recognition as a measure of self-awareness and pupil dilation to index conflict processing, our results show that mirror recognisers perceive greater conflict during action anticipation, specifically in a high inhibitory demand condition, in which conflict between self and other should be particularly salient.
Ehud Zohary; Daniel Harari; Shimon Ullman; Itay Ben-Zion; Ravid Doron; Sara Attias; Yuval Porat; Asael Y. Sklar; Ayelet McKyton
Gaze following requires early visual experience Journal Article
In: PNAS, vol. 119, no. 20, pp. 1–12, 2022.
Gaze understanding-a suggested precursor for understanding others' intentions-requires recovery of gaze direction from the observed person's head and eye position. This challenging computation is naturally acquired at infancy without explicit external guidance, but can it be learned later if vision is extremely poor throughout early childhood? We addressed this question by studying gaze following in Ethiopian patients with early bilateral congenital cataracts diagnosed and treated by us only at late childhood. This sight restoration provided a unique opportunity to directly address basic issues on the roles of “nature” and “nurture” in development, as it caused a selective perturbation to the natural process, eliminating some gaze-direction cues while leaving others still available. Following surgery, the patients' visual acuity typically improved substantially, allowing discrimination of pupil position in the eye. Yet, the patients failed to show eye gaze-following effects and fixated less than controls on the eyes-two spontaneous behaviors typically seen in controls. Our model for unsupervised learning of gaze direction explains how head-based gaze following can develop under severe image blur, resembling preoperative conditions. It also suggests why, despite acquiring sufficient resolution to extract eye position, automatic eye gaze following is not established after surgery due to lack of detailed early visual experience. We suggest that visual skills acquired in infancy in an unsupervised manner will be difficult or impossible to acquire when internal guidance is no longer available, even when sufficient image resolution for the task is restored. This creates fundamental barriers to spontaneous vision recovery following prolonged deprivation in early age.
Xiaomei Zhou; Shruti Vyas; Jinbiao Ning; Margaret C. Moulson
Naturalistic face learning in infants and adults Journal Article
In: Psychological Science, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 135–151, 2022.
Everyday face recognition presents a difficult challenge because faces vary naturally in appearance as a result of changes in lighting, expression, viewing angle, and hairstyle. We know little about how humans develop the ability to learn faces despite natural facial variability. In the current study, we provide the first examination of attentional mechanisms underlying adults' and infants' learning of naturally varying faces. Adults (n = 48) and 6- to 12-month-old infants (n = 48) viewed videos of models reading a storybook; the facial appearance of these models was either high or low in variability. Participants then viewed the learned face paired with a novel face. Infants showed adultlike prioritization of face over nonface regions; both age groups fixated the face region more in the high- than low-variability condition. Overall, however, infants showed less ability to resist contextual distractions during learning, which potentially contributed to their lack of discrimination between the learned and novel faces. Mechanisms underlying face learning across natural variability are discussed.
Wei Zhou; Yi Fan; Yulin Chang; Wenjuan Liu; Jiuju Wang; Yufeng Wang
Pathogenesis of comorbid ADHD and Chinese developmental dyslexia: Evidence from eye-movement tracking and rapid automatized naming Journal Article
In: Journal of Attention Disorders, pp. 1–13, 2022.
Background: ADHD and Chinese developmental dyslexia (DD) have a very high comorbidity rate; however, which cognitive deficits characterize the comorbidity and when they occur during cognitive processing are still under debate. Methods: Rapid automatic naming (RAN) tasks with eye-movement tracking were conducted with 75 children who were typically developing, had comorbid ADHD and DD, had only ADHD, and had only DD. Results: The clinical groups had longer first fixation durations than the control for RAN digits. Temporal eye-movement measures, such as gaze duration and total reading time, were found to vary between the comorbidity and ADHD groups. Spatial eye-movement measures, such as regression probability and incoming saccade amplitude, differed between the comorbidity and DD groups. Conclusions: These results indicate that investigation with eye-movement measures combined with RAN tasks can strengthen the understanding of the pathogenesis of comorbid ADHD and DD.
Li Zhou; Li Zhang; Yuening Xu; Fuyi Yang; Valerie Benson
Attentional engagement and disengagement differences for circumscribed interest objects in young Chinese children with autism Journal Article
In: Brain Sciences, vol. 12, pp. 1–22, 2022.
The current study aimed to investigate attentional processing differences for circumscribed interest (CI) and non-CI objects in young Chinese children with autism spectrum condition (ASC) and typically developing (TD) controls. In Experiment 1, a visual preference task explored attentional allocation to cartoon CI and non-CI materials between the two groups. We found that ASC children (n = 22, 4.95 ± 0.59 years) exhibited a preference for CI-related objects compared to non-CI objects, and this effect was absent in the TD children (n = 22, 5.14 ± 0.44 years). Experiment 2 utilized the traditional gap-overlap paradigm (GOP) to investigate attentional disengagement from CI or non-CI items in both groups (ASC: n = 20, 5.92 ± 1.13 years; TD: n = 25, 5.77 ± 0.77 years). There were no group or stimulus interactions in this study. Experiment 3 adopted a modified GOP (MGOP) to further explore disengagement in the two groups (ASC: n = 20, 5.54 ± 0.95 years; TD: n = 24, 5.75 ± 0.52 years), and the results suggested that exogenous disengagement performance was preserved in the ASC group, but the children with ASC exhibited increased endogenous attentional disengagement compared to TD peers. Moreover, endogenous disengagement was influenced further in the presence of CI-related objects in the ASC children. The current results have implications for understanding how the nature of engagement and disengagement processes can contribute to differences in the development of core cognitive skills in young children with ASC.
Andrea M. Zawoyski; Scott P. Ardoin; Katherine S. Binder
The impact of test-taking strategies on eye movements of elementary students during reading comprehension assessment Journal Article
In: School Psychology, pp. 1–8, 2022.
Teachers often encourage students to use test-taking strategies during reading comprehension assessments, but these strategies are not always evidence-based. One common strategy involves teaching students to read the questions before reading an associated passage. Research findings comparing the passage-first (PF) and questions-first (QF) strategies are mixed. The present study employed eye-tracking technology to record 84 third and fourth-grade participants' eye movements (EMs) as they read a passage and responded to multiple-choice (MC) questions using PF and QF strategies in a within-subject design. Although there were no significant differences between groups in accuracy on MC questions, EM measures revealed that the PF condition was superior to the QF condition for elementary readers in terms of efficiency in reading and responding to questions. These findings suggest that the PF strategy supports a more comprehensive understanding of the text. Ultimately, within the PF condition, students required less time to obtain the same accuracy outcomes they attained when reading in the QF condition. School psychologists can improve reading comprehension instruction by encouraging the importance of teaching children to gain meaning from the text rather than search the passage for answers to MC questions.
Anna Katariina Aatsinki; Eeva Leena Kataja; Eveliina Munukka; Leo Lahti; Anniina Keskitalo; Riikka Korja; Saara Nolvi; Tuomo Häikiö; Saija Tarro; Hasse Karlsson; Linnea Karlsson
Infant fecal microbiota composition and attention to emotional faces Journal Article
In: Emotion, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 1159–1170, 2022.
The gut microbiota has been suggested to influence neurodevelopment in rodents. Preliminary human studies have associated fecal microbiota composition with features of emotional and cognitive development as well as differences in thalamus-amygdala connectivity. Currently, microbiota-gut-brain axis studies cover heterogenous set of infant and child brain developmental phenotypes, while microbiota associations with more fine-grained aspects of brain development remain largely unknown. Here (N = 122, 53% boys), we investigated the associations between infant fecal microbiota composition and infant attention to emotional faces, as bias for faces is strong in infancy and deviations in early processing of emotional facial expressions may influence the trajectories of social-emotional development. The fecal microbiota composition was assessed at 2.5 months of age and analyzed with 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Attention to emotional faces was assessed with an age-appropriate face-distractor paradigm, using neutral, happy, fearful, and scrambled faces and salient distractors, at 8 months of age. We observed an association between a lower abundance of Bifidobacterium and a higher abundance of Clostridium with an increased “fear bias,” that is, attention toward fearful versus happy/neutral faces. This data suggests an association between early microbiota and later fear bias, a well-established infant phenotype of emotionally directed attention. However, the clinical significance or causality of our findings remains to be assessed.
Evin Aktar; Cosima A. Nimphy; Mariska E. Kret; Koraly Pérez-Edgar; Maartje E. J. Raijmakers; Susan M. Bögels
Attention biases to threat in infants and parents: Links to parental and infant anxiety dispositions Journal Article
In: Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 387–402, 2022.
Parent-to-child transmission of information processing biases to threat is a potential causal mechanism in the family aggregation of anxiety symptoms and traits. This study is the first to investigate the link between infants' and parents' attention bias to dynamic threat-relevant (versus happy) emotional expressions. Moreover, the associations between infant attention and anxiety dispositions in infants and parents were explored. Using a cross-sectional design, we tested 211 infants in three age groups: 5-to-7-month-olds (n = 71), 11-to-13-month-olds (n = 73), and 17-to-19-month-olds (n = 67), and 216 parents (153 mothers). Infant and parental dwell times to angry and fearful versus happy facial expressions were measured via eye-tracking. The parents also reported on their anxiety and stress. Ratings of infant temperamental fear and distress were averaged across both parents. Parents and infants tended to show an attention bias for fearful faces with marginally longer dwell times to fearful versus happy faces. Parents dwelled longer on angry versus happy faces, whereas infants showed an avoidant pattern with longer dwell times to happy versus angry expressions. There was a significant positive association between infant and parent attention to emotional expressions. Parental anxiety dispositions were not related to their own or their infant's attention bias. No significant link emerged between infants' temperament and attention bias. We conclude that an association between parental and infant attention may already be evident in the early years of life, whereas a link between anxiety dispositions and attention biases may not hold in community samples.
Sally Andrews; Aaron Veldre; Roslyn Wong; Lili Yu; Erik D. Reichle
How do task demands and aging affect lexical prediction during online reading of natural texts? Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, pp. 1–24, 2022.
Facilitated identification of predictable words during online reading has been attributed to the generation of predictions about upcoming words. But highly predictable words are relatively infrequent in natural texts, raising questions about the utility and ubiquity of anticipatory prediction strategies. This study investigated the contribution of task demands and aging to predictability effects for short natural texts from the Provo corpus. The eye movements of 49 undergraduate students (mean age 21.2) and 46 healthy older adults (mean age 70.8) were recorded while they read these passages in two conditions: (a) reading for meaning to answer occasional comprehension questions; (b) proofreading to detect “transposed letter” lexical errors (e. g., clam instead of calm) in intermixed filler passages. The results suggested that the young adults, but not the older adults, engaged anticipatory prediction strategies to detect semantic errors in the proofreading condition, but neither age group showed any evidence of costs of prediction failures. Rather, both groups showed facilitated reading times for unexpected words that appeared in a high constraint within-sentence position. These findings suggest that predictability effects for natural texts reflect partial, probabilistic expectancies rather than anticipatory prediction of specific words.
Vladislav Ayzenberg; Stella Lourenco
Perception of an object's global shape is best described by a model of skeletal structure in human infants Journal Article
In: eLife, vol. 11, pp. 1–20, 2022.
Categorization of everyday objects requires that humans form representations of shape that are tolerant to variations among exemplars. Yet, how such invariant shape representations develop remains poorly understood. By comparing human infants (6–12 months; N=82) to computational models of vision using comparable procedures, we shed light on the origins and mechanisms underlying object perception. Following habituation to a never-before-seen object, infants classified other novel objects across variations in their component parts. Comparisons to several computational models of vision, including models of high-level and low-level vision, revealed that infants' performance was best described by a model of shape based on the skeletal structure. Interestingly, infants outperformed a range of artificial neural network models, selected for their massive object experience and biological plausibility, under the same conditions. Altogether, these findings suggest that robust representations of shape can be formed with little language or object experience by relying on the perceptually invariant skeletal structure.
Anna Bánki; Martina Eccher; Lilith Falschlehner; Stefanie Hoehl; Gabriela Markova
Comparing online webcam- and laboratory-based eye-tracking for the assessment of infants' audio-visual synchrony perception Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, pp. 1–19, 2022.
Online data collection with infants raises special opportunities and challenges for developmental research. One of the most prevalent methods in infancy research is eye-tracking, which has been widely applied in laboratory settings to assess cognitive development. Technological advances now allow conducting eye-tracking online with various populations, including infants. However, the accuracy and reliability of online infant eye-tracking remain to be comprehensively evaluated. No research to date has directly compared webcam-based and in-lab eye-tracking data from infants, similarly to data from adults. The present study provides a direct comparison of in-lab and webcam-based eye-tracking data from infants who completed an identical looking time paradigm in two different settings (in the laboratory or online at home). We assessed 4-6-month-old infants (n = 38) in an eye-tracking task that measured the detection of audio-visual asynchrony. Webcam-based and in-lab eye-tracking data were compared on eye-tracking and video data quality, infants' viewing behavior, and experimental effects. Results revealed no differences between the in-lab and online setting in the frequency of technical issues and participant attrition rates. Video data quality was comparable between settings in terms of completeness and brightness, despite lower frame rate and resolution online. Eye-tracking data quality was higher in the laboratory than online, except in case of relative sample loss. Gaze data quantity recorded by eye-tracking was significantly lower than by video in both settings. In valid trials, eye-tracking and video data captured infants' viewing behavior uniformly, irrespective of setting. Despite the common challenges of infant eye-tracking across experimental settings, our results point toward the necessity to further improve the precision of online eye-tracking with infants. Taken together, online eye-tracking is a promising tool to assess infants' gaze behavior but requires careful data quality control. The demographic composition of both samples differed from the generic population on caregiver education: our samples comprised caregivers with higher-than-average education levels, challenging the notion that online studies will per se reach more diverse populations.
Liam P. Blything; Maialen Iraola Azpiroz; Shanley Allen; Regina Hert; Juhani Järvikivi; Juhani Jarvikivi
The influence of prominence cues in 7- to 10-year-olds' pronoun resolution: Disentangling order of mention, grammatical role, and semantic role Journal Article
In: Journal of Child Language, vol. 49, no. 5, pp. 930–958, 2022.
In two visual world experiments we disentangled the influence of order of mention (first vs. second mention), grammatical role (subject vs object), and semantic role (proto-agent vs proto-patient) on 7- to 10-year-olds' real-time interpretation of German pronouns. Children listened to SVO or OVS sentences containing active accusative verbs (küssen "to kiss") in Experiment 1 (N = 72), or dative object-experiencer verbs (gefallen "to like") in Experiment 2 (N = 64). This was followed by the personal pronoun er or the demonstrative pronoun der. Interpretive preferences for er were most robust when high prominence cues (first mention, subject, proto-agent) were aligned onto the same entity; and the same applied to der for low prominence cues (second mention, object, proto-patient). These preferences were reduced in conditions where cues were misaligned, and there was evidence that each cue independently influenced performance. Crucially, individual variation in age predicted adult-like weighting preferences for semantic cues (Schumacher, Roberts & Järvikivi, 2017).
Elisabeth E. F. Bradford; Victoria E. A. Brunsdon; Heather J. Ferguson
Cognitive mechanisms of perspective-taking across adulthood: An eye-tracking study using the director task Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, pp. 1–15, 2022.
Perspective-taking plays an important role in daily life, allowing consideration of other people's per- spectives and viewpoints. This study used a large sample of 265 community-based participants (aged 20–86 years) to examine changes in perspective-taking abilities—a component of “Theory of Mind”— across adulthood, and how these changes may relate to individual differences in executive functions at different ages. Participants completed a referential-communication task (the “Director” task) while be- havioral responses and eye movements were recorded, along with four measures of executive functions (inhibitory control, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and planning). Results revealed a quadratic fit of age in egocentric errors; performance on the task plateaued between 20 to $37 years old but showed a substantial decline from $38 years onward (i.e., increased egocentric errors). A similar pattern was established in eye-movement measures, demonstrating that advancing age led to a decrease in efficient attention orientation to a target. In other words, older adults were more distracted by a hidden competitor object (egocentric interference) and were therefore delayed in orienting their attention to the correct target object. Mediation analyses revealed that executive functions partially mediated the effect of age on perspective-taking abilities. Importantly, however, the relationship between age and egocentric bias in task performance remained significant when controlling for changes in executive functions, indicating a decline in social cognition abilities with advancing age that was independent of age-related declines in more domain-general abilities, such as executive functions.
Olivia G. Calancie; Donald C. Brien; Jeff Huang; Brian C. Coe; Linda Booij; Sarosh Khalid-Khan; Douglas P. Munoz
Maturation of temporal saccade prediction from childhood to adulthood: Predictive saccades, reduced pupil size, and blink synchronization Journal Article
In: Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 69–80, 2022.
When presented with a periodic stimulus, humans spontaneously adjust their movements from reacting to predicting the timing of its arrival, but little is known about how this sensorimotor adaptation changes across development. To investigate this, we analyzed saccade behavior in 114 healthy humans (ages 6–24 years) performing the visual metronome task, who were instructed to move their eyes in time with a visual target that alternated between two known locations at a fixed rate, and we compared their behavior to per- formance in a random task, where target onsets were randomized across five interstimulus intervals (ISIs) and thus the timing of appearance was unknown. Saccades initiated before registration of the visual target, thus in anticipation of its appearance, were la- beled predictive [saccade reaction time (SRT),90ms] and saccades that were made in reaction to its appearance were labeled reac- tive (SRT.90ms). Eye-tracking behavior including saccadic metrics (e.g., peak velocity, amplitude), pupil size following saccade to target, and blink behavior all varied as a function of predicting or reacting to periodic targets. Compared with reactive saccades, pre- dictive saccades had a lower peak velocity, a hypometric amplitude, smaller pupil size, and a reduced probability of blink occurrence before target appearance. The percentage of predictive and reactive saccades changed inversely from ages 8–16, at which they reached adult-levels of behavior. Differences in predictive saccades for fast and slow target rates are interpreted by differential maturation of cerebellar-thalamic-striatal pathways.
Frederick H. F. Chan; Hin Suen; Antoni B. Chan; Janet H. Hsiao; Tom J. Barry
The effects of attentional and interpretation biases on later pain outcomes among younger and older adults: A prospective study Journal Article
In: European Journal of Pain, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 181–196, 2022.
Background: Studies examining the effect of biased cognitions on later pain outcomes have primarily focused on attentional biases, leaving the role of interpretation biases largely unexplored. Also, few studies have examined pain-related cognitive biases in elderly persons. The current study aims to fill these research gaps. Methods: Younger and older adults with and without chronic pain (N = 126) completed an interpretation bias task and a free-viewing task of injury and neutral scenes at baseline. Participants' pain intensity and disability were assessed at baseline and at a 6-month follow-up. A machine-learning data-driven approach to analysing eye movement data was adopted. Results: Eye movement analyses revealed two common attentional pattern subgroups for scene-viewing: an “explorative” group and a “focused” group. At baseline, participants with chronic pain endorsed more injury-/illness-related interpretations compared to pain-free controls, but they did not differ in eye movements on scene images. Older adults interpreted illness-related scenarios more negatively compared to younger adults, but there was also no difference in eye movements between age groups. Moreover, negative interpretation biases were associated with baseline but not follow-up pain disability, whereas a focused gaze tendency for injury scenes was associated with follow-up but not baseline pain disability. Additionally, there was an indirect effect of interpretation biases on pain disability 6 months later through attentional bias for pain-related images. Conclusions: The present study provided evidence for pain status and age group differences in injury-/illness-related interpretation biases. Results also revealed distinct roles of interpretation and attentional biases in pain chronicity. Significance: Adults with chronic pain endorsed more injury-/illness-related interpretations than pain-free controls. Older adults endorsed more illness interpretations than younger adults. A more negative interpretation bias indirectly predicted pain disability 6 months later through hypervigilance towards pain.
Catia Correia-Caeiro; Abbey Lawrence; Abdelhady Abdelrahman; Kun Guo; Daniel Mills
How do children view and categorise human and dog facial expressions? Journal Article
In: Developmental Science, pp. 1–14, 2022.
Children are often surrounded by other humans and companion animals (e.g., dogs, cats); and understanding facial expressions in all these social partners may be critical to successful social interactions. In an eye-tracking study, we examined how children (4–10 years old) view and label facial expressions in adult humans and dogs. We found that children looked more at dogs than humans, and more at negative than positive or neutral human expressions. Their viewing patterns (Proportion of Viewing Time, PVT) at individual facial regions were also modified by the viewed species and emotion, with the eyes not always being most viewed: this related to positive anticipation when viewing humans, whilst when viewing dogs, the mouth was viewed more or equally compared to the eyes for all emotions. We further found that children's labelling (Emotion Categorisation Accuracy, ECA) was better for the perceived valence than for emotion category, with positive human expressions easier than both positive and negative dog expressions. They performed poorly when asked to freely label facial expressions, but performed better for human than dog expressions. Finally, we found some effects of age, sex, and other factors (e.g., experience with dogs) on both PVT and ECA. Our study shows that children have a different gaze pattern and identification accuracy compared to adults, for viewing faces of human adults and dogs. We suggest that for recognising human (own-face-type) expressions, familiarity obtained through casual social interactions may be sufficient; but for recognising dog (other-face-type) expressions, explicit training may be required to develop competence. Highlights: We conducted an eye-tracking experiment to investigate how children view and categorise facial expressions in adult humans and dogs Children's viewing patterns were significantly dependent upon the facial region, species, and emotion viewed Children's categorisation also varied with the species and emotion viewed, with better performance for valence than emotion categories Own-face-types (adult humans) are easier than other-face-types (dogs) for children, and casual familiarity (e.g., through family dogs) to the latter is not enough to achieve perceptual competence.
Raheleh Saryazdi; Joanne Nuque; Craig G. Chambers
Pragmatic inferences in aging and human-robot communication Journal Article
In: Cognition, vol. 223, pp. 1–12, 2022.
Despite the increase in research on older adults' communicative behavior, little work has explored patterns of age-related change in pragmatic inferencing and how these patterns are adapted depending on the situation-specific context. In two eye-tracking experiments, participants followed instructions like “Click on the greenhouse”, which were either played over speakers or spoken live by a co-present robot partner. Implicit inferential processes were measured by exploring the extent to which listeners temporarily (mis)understood the unfolding noun to be a modified phrase referring to a competitor object in the display (green hat). This competitor was accompanied by either another member of the same category or an unrelated item (tan hat vs. dice). Experiment 1 (no robot) showed clear evidence of contrastive inferencing in both younger and older adults (more looks to the green hat when the tan hat was also present). Experiment 2 explored the ability to suppress these contrastive inferences when the robot talker was known to lack any color perception, making descriptions like “green hat” implausible. Younger but not older listeners were able to suppress contrastive inferences in this context, suggesting older adults could not keep the relevant limitations in mind and/or were more likely to spontaneously ascribe human attributes to the robot. Together, the findings enhance our understanding of pragmatic inferencing in aging.
Karola Schlegelmilch; Annie E. Wertz
Visual segmentation of complex naturalistic structures in an infant eye-tracking search task Book
An infant's everyday visual environment is composed of a complex array of entities, some of which are well integrated into their surroundings. Although infants are already sensitive to some categories in their first year of life, it is not clear which visual information supports their detection of meaningful elements within naturalistic scenes. Here we investigated the impact of image characteristics on 8-month-olds' search performance using a gaze contingent eye-tracking search task. Infants had to detect a target patch on a background image. The stimuli consisted of images taken from three categories: vegetation, non-living natural elements (e.g., stones), and manmade artifacts, for which we also assessed target background differences in lower- and higher-level visual properties. Our results showed that larger target-background differences in the statistical properties scaling invariance and entropy, and also stimulus backgrounds including low pictorial depth, predicted better detection performance. Furthermore, category membership only affected search performance if supported by luminance contrast. Data from an adult comparison group also indicated that infants' search performance relied more on lower-order visual properties than adults. Taken together, these results suggest that infants use a combination of property- and category-related information to parse complex visual stimuli.
Vladislava Segen; Marios N. Avraamides; Timothy J. Slattery; Jan M. Wiener
Age-related changes in visual encoding strategy preferences during a spatial memory task Journal Article
In: Psychological Research, vol. 86, no. 2, pp. 404–420, 2022.
Ageing is associated with declines in spatial memory, however, the source of these deficits remains unclear. Here we used eye-tracking to investigate age-related differences in spatial encoding strategies and the cognitive processes underlying the age-related deficits in spatial memory tasks. To do so we asked young and older participants to encode the locations of objects in a virtual room shown as a picture on a computer screen. The availability and utility of room-based landmarks were manipulated by removing landmarks, presenting identical landmarks rendering them uninformative, or by presenting unique landmarks that could be used to encode object locations. In the test phase, participants viewed a second picture of the same room taken from the same (0°) or a different perspective (30°) and judged whether the objects occupied the same or different locations in the room. We found that the introduction of a perspective shift and swapping of objects between encoding and testing impaired performance in both age groups. Furthermore, our results revealed that although older adults performed the task as well as younger participants, they relied on different visual encoding strategies to solve the task. Specifically, gaze analysis revealed that older adults showed a greater preference towards a more categorical encoding strategy in which they formed relationships between objects and landmarks.
Elena Selezneva; Nicole Wetzel
The impact of probabilistic cues on sound-related pupil dilation and ERP responses in 7–9-year-old children Journal Article
In: Auditory Perception & Cognition, vol. 5, no. 1-2, pp. 86–106, 2022.
Control of involuntary orienting of attention toward new but task-irrelevant events is essential to successfully perform a task. We investigated top-down control of involuntary orienting of attention caused by task-irrelevant novel sounds embedded in a sequence of repeated standard sounds in 7–9-year-old children (N = 30) and in an adult control group (N = 30). The type of sound was announced by visual cues, which were correct in 80% of the trials. We co-registered sound-related pupil dilation responses (PDR), the attention-related component P3a in the EEG and performance. Task-irrelevant novel sounds evoked increased amplitudes of the PDR and the P3a and prolonged reaction times in both age groups. In children only, invalidly cued novel sounds evoked larger PDR amplitudes than validly cued novel sounds, while this cue effect was not observed for standard sounds. In both age groups, P3a amplitudes in the centro-parietal region were reduced to the correctly cued compared to the incorrectly cued novel sounds, indicating top-down control of orienting of attention. The reaction time prolongation to both validly and invalidly cued novel sounds were similar in both age groups. These findings demonstrate that children are capable of reducing the orienting of attention and evaluation triggered by task-irrelevant sounds by using probabilistic cues. Children's pupil results indicate a high sensitivity of pupil dynamics to cue-related top-down influences on novel sound processing, emphasizing the utility of pupillometry in developmental research.
Adi Shechter; Ronen Hershman; David L. Share
A pupillometric study of developmental and individual differences in cognitive effort in visual word recognition Journal Article
In: Scientific Reports, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 1–7, 2022.
Throughout the history of modern psychology, the neural basis of cognitive performance, and particularly its efficiency, has been assumed to be an essential determinant of developmental and individual differences in a wide range of human behaviors. Here, we examine one aspect of cognitive efficiency—cognitive effort, using pupillometry to examine differences in word reading among adults (N = 34) and children (N = 34). The developmental analyses confirmed that children invested more effort in reading than adults, as indicated by larger and sustained pupillary responses. The within-age (individual difference) analyses comparing faster (N = 10) and slower (N = 10) performers revealed that in both age groups, the faster readers demonstrated accelerated pupillary responses compared to slower readers, although both groups invested a similar overall degree of cognitive effort. These findings have the potential to open up new avenues of research in the study of skill growth in word recognition and many other domains of skill learning.
Frederick Shic; Adam J. Naples; Erin C. Barney; Shou An Chang; Beibin Li; Takumi McAllister; Minah Kim; Kelsey J. Dommer; Simone Hasselmo; Adham Atyabi; Quan Wang; Gerhard Helleman; April R. Levin; Helen Seow; Raphael Bernier; Katarzyna Charwaska; Geraldine Dawson; James Dziura; Susan Faja; Shafali Spurling Jeste; Scott P. Johnson; Michael Murias; Charles A. Nelson; Maura Sabatos-DeVito; Damla Senturk; Catherine A. Sugar; Sara J. Webb; James C. McPartland
The autism biomarkers consortium for clinical trials: Evaluation of a battery of candidate eye-tracking biomarkers for use in autism clinical trials Journal Article
In: Molecular Autism, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 1–17, 2022.
Background: Eye tracking (ET) is a powerful methodology for studying attentional processes through quantification of eye movements. The precision, usability, and cost-effectiveness of ET render it a promising platform for developing biomarkers for use in clinical trials for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Methods: The autism biomarkers consortium for clinical trials conducted a multisite, observational study of 6–11-year-old children with ASD (n = 280) and typical development (TD
Sabine Soltani; Dimitri M. L. Ryckeghem; Tine Vervoort; Lauren C. Heathcote; Keith O. Yeates; Christopher Sears; Melanie Noel
Clinical relevance of attentional biases in pediatric chronic pain: An eye-tracking study Journal Article
In: Pain, vol. 163, no. 2, pp. E261–E273, 2022.
Attentional biases have been posited as one of the key mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of chronic pain and co-occurring internalizing mental health symptoms. Despite this theoretical prominence, a comprehensive understanding of the nature of biased attentional processing in chronic pain and its relationship to theorized antecedents and clinical outcomes is lacking, particularly in youth. This study used eye-tracking to assess attentional bias for painful facial expressions and its relationship to theorized antecedents of chronic pain and clinical outcomes. Youth with chronic pain (n = 125) and without chronic pain (n = 52) viewed face images of varying levels of pain expressiveness while their eye gaze was tracked and recorded. At baseline, youth completed questionnaires to assess pain characteristics, theorized antecedents (pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, and anxiety sensitivity), and clinical outcomes (pain intensity, interference, anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress). For youth with chronic pain, clinical outcomes were reassessed at 3 months to assess for relationships with attentional bias while controlling for baseline symptoms. In both groups, youth exhibited an attentional bias for painful facial expressions. For youth with chronic pain, attentional bias was not significantly associated with theorized antecedents or clinical outcomes at baseline or 3-month follow-up. These findings call into question the posited relationships between attentional bias and clinical outcomes. Additional studies using more comprehensive and contextual paradigms for the assessment of attentional bias are required to clarify the ways in which such biases may manifest and relate to clinical outcomes.
Sietske Viersen; Athanassios Protopapas; George K. Georgiou; Rauno Parrila; Laoura Ziaka; Peter F. Jong
Lexicality effects on orthographic learning in beginning and advanced readers of Dutch: An eye-tracking study Journal Article
In: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol. 75, no. 6, pp. 1135–1154, 2022.
Orthographic learning is the topic of many recent studies about reading, but much is still unknown about conditions that affect orthographic learning and their influence on reading fluency development over time. This study investigated lexicality effects on orthographic learning in beginning and relatively advanced readers of Dutch. Eye movements of 131 children in Grades 2 and 5 were monitored during an orthographic learning task. Children read sentences containing pseudowords or low-frequency real words that varied in number of exposures. We examined both offline learning outcomes (i.e., orthographic choice and spelling dictation) of target items and online gaze durations on target words. The results showed general effects of exposure, lexicality, and reading-skill level. Also, a two-way interaction was found between the number of exposures and lexicality when detailed orthographic representations were required, consistent with a larger overall effect of exposure on learning the spellings of pseudowords. Moreover, lexicality and reading-skill level were found to affect the learning rate across exposures based on a decrease in gaze durations, indicating a larger learning effect for pseudowords in Grade 5 children. Yet, further interactions between exposure and reading-skill level were not present, indicating largely similar learning curves for beginning and advanced readers. We concluded that the reading system of more advanced readers may cope somewhat better with words varying in lexicality, but is not more efficient than that of beginning readers in building up orthographic knowledge of specific words across repeated exposures.
Monica Vanoncini; Natalie Boll-Avetisyan; Birgit Elsner; Stefanie Hoehl; Ezgi Kayhan
The role of mother-infant emotional synchrony in speech processing in 9-month-old infants Journal Article
In: Infant Behavior and Development, vol. 69, pp. 1–13, 2022.
Rhythmicity characterizes both interpersonal synchrony and spoken language. Emotions and language are forms of interpersonal communication, which interact with each other throughout development. We investigated whether and how emotional synchrony between mothers and their 9-month-old infants relates to infants' word segmentation as an early marker of language development. Twenty-six 9-month-old infants and their German-speaking mothers took part in the study. To measure emotional synchrony, we coded positive, neutral and negative emotional expressions of the mothers and their infants during a free play session. We then calculated the degree to which the mothers' and their infants' matching emotional expressions followed a predictable pattern. To measure word segmentation, we familiarized infants with auditory text passages and tested how long they looked at the screen while listening to familiar versus novel words. We found that higher levels of predictability (i.e. low entropy) during mother-infant interaction is associated with infants' word segmentation performance. These findings suggest that individual differences in word segmentation relate to the complexity and predictability of emotional expressions during mother-infant interactions.
Aaron Veldre; Roslyn Wong; Sally Andrews
Predictability effects and parafoveal processing in older readers Journal Article
In: Psychology and Aging, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 222–238, 2022.
Normative aging is accompanied by visual and cognitive changes that impact the systems that are critical for fluent reading. The patterns of eye movements during reading displayed by older adults have been characterized as demonstrating a trade-off between longer forward saccades and more word skipping versus higher rates of regressions back to previously read text. This pattern is assumed to reflect older readers' reliance on top-down contextual information to compensate for reduced uptake of parafoveal information from yet-to-be fixated words. However, the empirical evidence for these assumptions is equivocal. This study investigated the depth of older readers' parafoveal processing as indexed by sensitivity to the contextual plausibility of parafoveal words in both neutral and highly constraining sentence contexts. The eye movements of 65 cognitively intact older adults (61–87 years) were compared with data previously collected from young adults in two sentence reading experiments in which critical target words were replaced by valid, plausible, related, or implausible previews until the reader fixated on the target word location. Older and younger adults showed equivalent plausibility preview benefits on first-pass reading measures of both predictable and unpredictable words. However, older readers did not show the benefit of preview orthographic relatedness that was observed in young adults and showed significantly attenuated preview validity effects. Taken together, the data suggest that older readers are specifically impaired in the integration of parafoveal and foveal information but do not show deficits in the depth of parafoveal processing. The implications for understanding the effects of aging on reading are discussed.
Katie Von Holzen; Sandrien Ommen; Katherine S. White; Thierry Nazzi
The impact of phonological biases on mispronunciation sensitivity and novel accent adaptation Journal Article
In: Language Learning and Development, pp. 1–20, 2022.
Successful word recognition requires that listeners attend to differences that are phonemic in the language while also remaining flexible to the variation introduced by different voices and accents. Previous work has demonstrated that American-English-learning 19-month-olds are able to balance these demands: although one-off one-feature mispronunciations typically disrupt English-learning toddlers' lexical access, they no longer do after toddlers are exposed to a novel accent in which these changes occur systematically. The flexibility to deal with different types of variation may not be the same for toddlers learning different first languages, however, as language structure shapes early phonological biases. We examined French-learning 19-month-olds' sensitivity and adaptation to a novel accent that shifted either the standard pronunciation of /a/ from [a] to [ɛ] (Experiment 1) or the standard pronunciation of /p/ from [p] to [t] (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, French-learning toddlers recognized words with /a/ produced as [ɛ], regardless of whether they were previously exposed to an accent that contained this vowel shift or not. In Experiment 2, toddlers did not recognize words with /p/ pronounced as [t] at test unless they were first familiarized with an accent that contained this consonant shift. These findings are consistent with evidence that French-learning toddlers privilege consonants over vowels in lexical processing. Together with previous work, these results demonstrate both differences and similarities in how French- and English-learning children treat variation, in line with their language-specific phonological biases.
Carla A. Wall; Frederick Shic; Sreeja Varanasi; Jane E. Roberts
Distinct social attention profiles in preschoolers with autism contrasted to fragile X syndrome Journal Article
In: Autism Research, pp. 1–15, 2022.
Social attention is a critical skill for learning and development. Social attention difficulties are present in both non-syndromic autism spectrum disorder (nsASD) and fragile X syndrome (FXS), and our understanding of these difficulties is complicated by heterogeneity in both disorders, including co-occurring diagnoses like intellectual disability and social anxiety. Existing research largely utilizes a single index of social attention and rarely includes children with intellectual impairment or uses a cross-syndrome approach. This study investigated whether multi-trait social attention profiles including naturalistic initial eye contact, facial attention, and social scene attention differ in preschool children with nsASD and FXS matched on developmental ability (DQ) and contrasted to neurotypical (NT) controls. The relationship between DQ, ASD severity, and social anxiety and social attention profiles was also examined. Initial eye contact related to social scene attention, implicating that naturalistic social attention is consistent with responses during experimental conditions. Reduced eye contact and lower social scene attention characterized nsASD and FXS. Children with nsASD displayed less facial attention than FXS and NT children, who did not differ. Lower DQ and elevated ASD severity associated with decreased eye contact in nsASD and FXS, and lower DQ was associated with lower social scene attention in FXS. Sex, social anxiety, and age were not associated with social attention. These findings suggest social attention profiles of children with nsASD are highly similar to, yet distinct from, children with FXS. Children with nsASD may present with a global social attention deficit whereas FXS profiles may reflect context-dependent social avoidance.
Stephanie Wermelinger; Lea Moersdorf; Simona Ammann; Moritz M. Daum
Exploring the role of COVID-19 pandemic-related changes in social interactions on preschoolers' emotion labeling Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 13, pp. 1–13, 2022.
During the COVID-19 pandemic people were increasingly obliged to wear facial masks and to reduce the number of people they met in person. In this study, we asked how these changes in social interactions are associated with young children's emotional development, specifically their emotion recognition via the labeling of emotions. Preschoolers labeled emotional facial expressions of adults (Adult Faces Task) and children (Child Faces Task) in fully visible faces. In addition, we assessed children's COVID-19-related experiences (i.e., time spent with people wearing masks, number of contacts without masks) and recorded children's gaze behavior during emotion labeling. We compared different samples of preschoolers (4.00–5.75 years): The data for the no-COVID-19-experience sample were taken from studies conducted before the pandemic (Adult Faces Task: N = 40; Child Faces Task: N = 30). The data for the with-COVID-19-experience sample (N = 99) were collected during the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland between June and November 2021. The results did not indicate differences in children's labeling behavior between the two samples except for fearful adult faces. Children with COVID-19-experience more often labeled fearful faces correctly compared to children with no COVID-19 experience. Furthermore, we found no relations between children's labeling behavior, their individual COVID-19-related experiences, and their gaze behavior. These results suggest that, even though the children had experienced differences in the amount and variability of facial input due to the pandemic, they still received enough input from visible faces to be able to recognize and label different emotions.
Stephanie Wermelinger; Lea Moersdorf; Moritz M. Daum
How experience shapes infants' communicative behaviour: Comparing gaze following in infants with and without pandemic experience Journal Article
In: Infancy, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 937–962, 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been influencing people's social life substantially. Everybody, including infants and children needed to adapt to changes in social interactions (e.g., social distancing) and to seeing other people wearing facial masks. In this study, we investigated whether these pandemic-related changes influenced 12- to 15-months-old infants' reactions to observed gaze shifts (i.e., their gaze following). In two eye-tracking tasks, we measured infants' gaze-following behavior during the pandemic (with-COVID-19-experience sample) and compared it to data of infants tested before the pandemic (no-COVID-19-experience sample). Overall, the results indicated no significant differences between the two samples. However, in one sub-task infants in the with-COVID-19-experience sample looked longer at the eyes of a model compared to the no-COVID-19-experience sample. Within the with-COVID-19-experience sample, the amount of mask exposure and the number of contacts without mask were not related to infants' gaze-following behavior. We speculate that even though infants encounter fewer different people during the pandemic and are increasingly exposed to people wearing facial masks, they still also see non-covered faces. These contacts might be sufficient to provide infants with the social input they need to develop social and emotional competencies such as gaze following.
Jingwen Yang; Zelin Chen; Guoxin Qiu; Xiangyu Li; Caixia Li; Kexin Yang; Zhuanggui Chen; Leyan Gao; Shuo Lu
Exploring the relationship between children's facial emotion processing characteristics and speech communication ability using deep learning on eye tracking and speech performance measures Journal Article
In: Computer Speech and Language, vol. 76, pp. 1–19, 2022.
The ability of efficient facial emotion recognition (FER) plays a significant role in successful human communication and is closely associated with multiple speech communication disorders (SCD) in children. Despite the relevance, little is known about how speech communication abilities (SCA) and FER are correlated or of their underlying mechanism. To address this, we monitored eye movements of 115 children while watching human faces with different emotions and designed a machine-learning based SCD prediction model to explore the underlying pattern of eye movements during the FER task as well as their correlation with SCA. Strong and detailed correlations were found between different dimensions of SCA and various eye-movement features. A group of FER gazing patterns was found to be highly sensitive to the possibility of children's SCD. The SCD prediction model reached an accuracy as high as 88.9%, which offers a possible technique to fast screen SCD for children.
Holly Joseph; Daisy Powell
Does a specialist typeface affect how fluently children with and without dyslexia process letters, words, and passages? Journal Article
In: Dyslexia, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 448–470, 2022.
Children with dyslexia are at risk of poor academic attainment and lower life chances if they do not receive the support they need. Alongside phonics-based interventions which already have a strong evidence base, specialist dyslexia typefaces have been offered as an additional or alternative form of support. The current study examined whether one such typeface, Dyslexie, had a benefit over a standard typeface in identifying letters, reading words, and reading passages. 71 children, aged 8–12 years, 37 of whom had a diagnosis of dyslexia, completed a rapid letter naming task, a word reading efficiency task, and a passage reading task in two typefaces, Dyslexie and Calibri. Spacing between letters and words was kept constant. Results showed no differences in word or passage reading between the two typesfaces, but letter naming did appear to be more fluent when letters were presented in Dyslexie rather than Calibri text for all children. The results suggest that a typeface in which letters are designed to be distinctive from one another may be beneficial for letter identification and that an intervention in which children are taught letters in a specialist typeface is worthy of consideration.
Eeva Leena Kataja; Eeva Eskola; Juho Pelto; Riikka Korja; Sasu Petteri Paija; Saara Nolvi; Tuomo Häikiö; Linnea Karlsson; Hasse Karlsson; Jukka M. Leppänen
The stability of early developing attentional bias for faces and fear from 8 to 30 and 60 months in the FinnBrain Birth Cohort Study Journal Article
In: Developmental Psychology, vol. 58, no. 12, pp. 2264–2274, 2022.
Most infants exhibit an attentional bias for faces and fearful facial expressions. These biases reduce toward the third year of life, but little is known about the development of the biases beyond early childhood. We used the same methodology longitudinally to assess attention disengagement patterns from nonface control pictures and faces (neutral, happy, and fearful expressions) in a large sample of children at 8, 30, and 60 months (N = 389/393/492, respectively; N = 72 for data in all three assessment; girls.45.3% in each assessment). “Face bias” was measured as a difference in disengagement probability (DP) from faces (neutral/happy) versus nonface patterns. “Fear bias” was calculated as a difference in DP for fearful versus happy/neutral faces. At group level, DPs followed a nonlinear longitudinal trajectory in all face conditions, being lowest at 8 months, highest at 30 months, and intermediate at 60 months. Face bias declined between 8 and 30 months, but did not change between 30 and 60 months. Fear bias declined linearly from 8 to 60 months. Individual differences in disengagement were generally not stable across age, but weak correlations were found in face bias between 8 and 60-month, and in DPs between 30 and 60-month (rs =.22–.41). The results suggest that prioritized attention to faces— that is, a hallmark of infant cognition and a key aspect of human social behavior—follows a nonlinear trajectory in early childhood and may have only weak continuity from infancy to mid childhood.
Krista R. Kelly; Dorsa Mir Norouzi; Mina Nouredanesh; Reed M. Jost; Christina S. Cheng-Patel; Cynthia L. Beauchamp; Lori M. Dao; Becky A. Luu; David R. Stager; James Y. Tung; Ewa Niechwiej-Szwedo
Temporal eye–hand coordination during Visually guided reaching in 7- to 12-year-old children with strabismus Journal Article
In: Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, vol. 63, no. 12, pp. 1–10, 2022.
PURPOSE. We recently found slow visually guided reaching in strabismic children, espe- cially in the final approach. Here, we expand on those data by reporting saccade kine- matics and temporal eye–hand coordination during visually guided reaching in children treated for strabismus compared with controls. METHODS. Thirty children diagnosed with esotropia, a form of strabismus, 7 to 12 years of age and 32 age-similar control children were enrolled. Eye movements and index finger movements were recorded. While viewing binocularly, children reached out and touched a small dot that appeared randomly in one of four locations along the horizontal peak velocity, and frequency of corrective and reach-related saccades) and temporal eye– meridian (±5° or ±10°). Saccade kinematic measures (latency, accuracy and precision, hand coordination measures (saccade-to-reach planning interval, saccade-to-reach peak velocity interval) were compared. Factors associated with impaired performance were also evaluated. RESULTS. During visually guided reaching, strabismic children had longer primary saccade latency (strabismic, 195 ± 29 ms vs. control; 175 ± 23 ms; P = 0.004), a 25% decrease in final saccade precision (0.16 ± 0.06 vs. 0.11 ± 0.03; P < 0.001), and more reach-related primary saccade precision (0.15 ± 0.06 vs. 0.12 ± 0.03; P= 0.007), a 45% decrease in the group. No measurable stereoacuity was related to poor saccade kinematics. saccades (16 ± 13% of trials vs. 8 ± 6% of trials; P = 0.001) compared with a control CONCLUSIONS. Strabismus impacts saccade kinematics during visually guided reaching in children, with poor binocularity playing a role in performance. Coupled with previous data showing slow reaching in the final approach, the current saccade data suggest that children treated for strabismus have not yet adapted or formed an efficient compensatory strategy during visually guided reaching.
Jill King; Julie Markant
Selective attention to lesson-relevant contextual information promotes 3- to 5-year-old children's learning Journal Article
In: Developmental Science, vol. 25, pp. 1–15, 2022.
Attending to distracting or competing information is typically considered detrimental to learning, but the presence of competing information can also facilitate learning when it is relevant to ongoing task goals. Educational settings often contain contextual elements such as classroom decorations or visual aids to enhance student learning. Despite this, most research examining effects of contextual information on children's learning has only utilized lesson-irrelevant stimuli. While this research has shown that increased looking to task-irrelevant information hinders learning, the extent to which looking to lesson-relevant information can benefit children's learning is unknown. We addressed this question by examining 3- to 5-year-old children's attention to and learning from lesson-relevant contextual information. We recorded children's eye movements as they viewed video science lessons while lesson-relevant and -irrelevant images appeared in the periphery. We assessed learning based on improvements in content knowledge following the video lessons and separately measured selective attention skills using the Track-It task. Children overall spent more time looking at lesson-relevant versus -irrelevant images, and those with more initial knowledge of the lesson topics or more advanced selective attention skills showed increased preferential looking to the relevant images. This increased preferential looking to lesson-relevant images related to more effective learning during trials in which both relevant and irrelevant images were present. These results suggest that the effects of competing contextual information on early learning depend on the relationship between information content and task goals, as well as children's ability to actively select task-relevant information from their environment.
Kelsey E. Klein; Elizabeth A. Walker; Bob McMurray
Delayed lexical access and cascading effects on spreading semantic activation during Spoken word recognition in children with hearing aids and cochlear implants: Evidence from eye-tracking Journal Article
In: Ear and Hearing, pp. 1–20, 2022.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to characterize the dynamics of real-time lexical access, including lexical competition among phonologically similar words, and spreading semantic activation in school-age children with hearing aids (HAs) and children with cochlear implants (CIs). We hypothesized that developing spoken language via degraded auditory input would lead children with HAs or CIs to adapt their approach to spoken word recognition, especially by slowing down lexical access. DESIGN: Participants were children ages 9- to 12-years old with normal hearing (NH), HAs, or CIs. Participants completed a Visual World Paradigm task in which they heard a spoken word and selected the matching picture from four options. Competitor items were either phonologically similar, semantically similar, or unrelated to the target word. As the target word unfolded, children's fixations to the target word, cohort competitor, rhyme competitor, semantically related item, and unrelated item were recorded as indices of ongoing lexical access and spreading semantic activation. RESULTS: Children with HAs and children with CIs showed slower fixations to the target, reduced fixations to the cohort competitor, and increased fixations to the rhyme competitor, relative to children with NH. This wait-and-see profile was more pronounced in the children with CIs than the children with HAs. Children with HAs and children with CIs also showed delayed fixations to the semantically related item, although this delay was attributable to their delay in activating words in general, not to a distinct semantic source. CONCLUSIONS: Children with HAs and children with CIs showed qualitatively similar patterns of real-time spoken word recognition. Findings suggest that developing spoken language via degraded auditory input causes long-term cognitive adaptations to how listeners recognize spoken words, regardless of the type of hearing device used. Delayed lexical access directly led to delays in spreading semantic activation in children with HAs and CIs. This delay in semantic processing may impact these children's ability to understand connected speech in everyday life.
Sungyoon Lee; Steven Woltering; Christopher Prickett; Qinxin Shi; Huilin Sun; Julie L. Thompson
Exploring the associations between reading skills and eye movements in elementary children's silent sentence reading Journal Article
In: Reading Psychology, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 85–103, 2022.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the associations between elementary students' reading skills and their online reading (i.e., real-time reading) behaviors during silent sentence processing. Thirty-five students participated in this study and their eye movements were recorded during sentence reading tasks. The effects of students' reading skills measured by traditional standardized measures were investigated for widely-used eye tracking measures such as first fixation duration, gaze duration, regression path duration, total duration, word skipping, fixation count, and regression frequency. The eye tracking measures were chosen to represent early/late cognitive processes and temporal/spatial gaze behaviors. Linear mixed-effects regression analyses revealed that children's performances in reading skills predict most of the eye tracking measures.
Meijia Li; Huamao Peng
How cues of being watched promote risk seeking in fund investment in older adults Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, pp. 1–15, 2022.
Social cues, such as being watched, can subtly alter fund investment choices. This study aimed to investigate how cues of being watched influence decision-making, attention allocation, and risk tendencies. Using decision scenarios adopted from the “Asian Disease Problem,” we examined participants' risk tendency in a financial scenario when they were watched. A total of 63 older and 66 younger adults participated. Eye tracking was used to reveal the decision-maker's attention allocation (fixations and dwell time per word). The results found that both younger and older adults tend to seek risk in the loss frame than in the gain frame (i.e., framing effect). Watching eyes tended to escalate reckless gambling behaviors among older adults, which led them to maintain their share in the depressed fund market, regardless of whether the options were gain or loss framed. The eye-tracking results revealed that older adults gave less attention to the sure option in the eye condition (i.e., fewer fixations and shorter dwell time). However, their attention was maintained on the gamble options. In comparison, images of “watching eyes” did not influence the risk seeking of younger adults but decreased their framing effect. Being watched can affect financial risk preference in decision-making. The exploration of the contextual sensitivity of being watched provides us with insight into developing decision aids to promote rational financial decision-making, such as human-robot interactions. Future research on age differences still requires further replication.
Sainan Li; Yongsheng Wang; Zebo Lan; Xiaoyuan Yuan; Li Zhang; Guoli Yan
Effects of word spacing on children's reading: Evidence from eye movements Journal Article
In: Reading and Writing, vol. 35, pp. 1019–1033, 2022.
Word is important in Chinese reading. However, when inter-word spaces are inserted into Chinese text, there is no facilitation or disruption to adults' reading. Researchers argued that there was a trade-off between word segmentation facilita- tion and disruption due to format unfamiliarity. To assess the trade-off hypothesis, in Experiment 1, we tested Grade 1, 2 and 3 children who have less reading experi- ence than adults and manipulated four spacing conditions: normal unspaced, word spaced, character spaced, and nonword spaced text. In Experiment 2, we collected data from Grade 1 and 3 with the word spaced condition and normal unspaced con- dition. Overall, global analyses from both Experiments consistently showed that word spacing facilitated Grade 1 reading, with much reduced facilitation for higher grade readers; local measures (total reading time and second-pass reading time) replicated the same pattern in which word spacing effects were more pronounced among younger readers. In summary, we obtained greater facilitatory effects of word spacing for younger compared with elder readers, which provides strong evidence for the trade-off hypothesis.
Feifei Liang; Qi Gao; Xin Li; Yongsheng Wang; Xuejun Bai; Simon P. Liversedge
The importance of the positional probability of word final (but not word initial) characters for word segmentation and identification in children and adults' natural Chinese reading Journal Article
In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, pp. 1–18, 2022.
Word spacing is important in guiding eye movements during spaced alphabetic reading. Chinese is unspaced and it remains unclear as to how Chinese readers segment and identify words in reading. We conducted two parallel experiments to investigate whether the positional probabilities of the initial and the final characters of a multicharacter word affected word segmentation and identification in Chinese reading. Two-character words were selected as targets. In Experiment 1, the initial character's positional probability was manipulated as being either high or low, and the final character was kept identical across the two conditions. In Experiment 2, an analogous manipulation was made for the final character of the target word. We recorded adults' and children's eye movements when they read sentences containing these words. In Experiment 1, reading times on targets did not differ in the two conditions for both children and adults, providing no evidence that a word initial character's positional probability contributes to word segmentation. In Experiment 2, adults had shorter reading times and made fewer refixations on targets that comprised final characters with high relative to low positional probabilities; a similar effect was observed in children, but this effect had a slower time course. The results demonstrate that the positional probability of the final (but not the initial) character of a word influences segmentation commitments in reading. It suggests that Chinese readers identify where a currently fixated word ends, and via this commitment, by default, they identify where the subsequent word begins
Amy M. Lieberman; Allison Fitch; Arielle Borovsky
Flexible fast-mapping: Deaf children dynamically allocate visual attention to learn novel words in American Sign Language Journal Article
In: Developmental Science, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 1–15, 2022.
Word learning in young children requires coordinated attention between language input and the referent object. Current accounts of word learning are based on spoken language, where the association between language and objects occurs through simultaneous and multimodal perception. In contrast, deaf children acquiring American Sign Language (ASL) perceive both linguistic and non-linguistic information through the visual mode. In order to coordinate attention to language input and its referents, deaf children must allocate visual attention optimally between objects and signs. We conducted two eye-tracking experiments to investigate how young deaf children allocate attention and process referential cues in order to fast-map novel signs to novel objects. Participants were deaf children learning ASL between the ages of 17 and 71 months. In Experiment 1, participants (n = 30) were presented with a novel object and a novel sign, along with a referential cue that occurred either before or after the sign label. In Experiment 2, a new group of participants (n = 32) were presented with two novel objects and a novel sign, so that the referential cue was critical for identifying the target object. Across both experiments, participants showed evidence for fast-mapping the signs regardless of the timing of the referential cue. Individual differences in children's allocation of attention during exposure were correlated with their ability to fast-map the novel signs at test. This study provides first evidence for fast-mapping in sign language, and contributes to theoretical accounts of how word learning develops when all input occurs in the visual modality.
A. Lyu; A. E. Silva; S. H. Cheung; B. Thompson; L. Abel; A. M. Y. Cheong
Effects of visual span on Chinese reading performance in normal peripheral vision Journal Article
In: Vision Research, vol. 201, pp. 1–13, 2022.
The current study examined the relationships among temporal processing speed, spatial visual span and Chinese character reading speed in normal central and peripheral vision. Maximum reading speed (MRS) and critical print size (CPS) of 26 native Chinese readers (13 young and 13 older adults) were determined at three visual field locations: central vision, 10° left and 10° below fixation using a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task. Temporal processing speed was measured using trigrams of randomly selected Chinese characters presented at a range of exposure durations, while spatial visual span was measured using trigrams presented at different spatial positions. It was found that shorter temporal processing speed and larger spatial visual span were associated with faster MRS at the central and inferior visual field locations, but not at the left of fixation location. As expected, reading and visual span metrics were better in central vision compared to both peripheral locations. In addition, reading, temporal processing, and spatial visual span metrics were better in the young than older subjects (except for similar temporal processing speed at two peripheral locations). The results for central and inferior presentation locations support the hypothesis that temporal processing speed and spatial visual span were associated with Chinese character reading speed. Surprisingly, no correlation was observed for the 10° left of the fixation location, suggesting that the factors affecting reading speed might differ for inferior and lateral peripheral viewing locations.
Wenbo Ma; Min Li; Junru Wu; Zhihao Zhang; Fangfang Jia; Mingsha Zhang; Hagai Bergman; Xuemei Li; Zhipei Ling; Xin Xu
Multiple step saccades in simply reactive saccades could serve as a complementary biomarker for the early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, vol. 14, pp. 1–14, 2022.
Objective: It has been argued that the incidence of multiple step saccades (MSS) in voluntary saccades could serve as a complementary biomarker for diagnosing Parkinson's disease (PD). However, voluntary saccadic tasks are usually difficult for elderly subjects to complete. Therefore, task difficulties restrict the application of MSS measurements for the diagnosis of PD. The primary objective of the present study is to assess whether the incidence of MSS in simply reactive saccades could serve as a complementary biomarker for the early diagnosis of PD. Materials and methods: There were four groups of human subjects: PD patients, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients, elderly healthy controls (EHCs), and young healthy controls (YHCs). There were four monkeys with subclinical hemi-PD induced by injection of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) through the unilateral internal carotid artery and three healthy control monkeys. The behavioral task was a visually guided reactive saccade. Results: In a human study, the incidence of MSS was significantly higher in PD than in YHC, EHC, and MCI groups. In addition, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis could discriminate PD from the EHC and MCI groups, with areas under the ROC curve (AUCs) of 0.76 and 0.69, respectively. In a monkey study, while typical PD symptoms were absent, subclinical hemi-PD monkeys showed a significantly higher incidence of MSS than control monkeys when the dose of MPTP was greater than 0.4 mg/kg. Conclusion: The incidence of MSS in simply reactive saccades could be a complementary biomarker for the early diagnosis of PD.
Wenbo Ma; Mingsha Zhang
The effects of age and sex on the incidence of multiple step saccades and corrective saccades Journal Article
In: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, vol. 14, pp. 1–11, 2022.
Objective: Although multiple step saccades (MSS) is occasionally observed in healthy subjects, it is more pronounced in patients with aging-related neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson's disease (PD). Thus, MSS has been treated as a complementary biomarker for diagnosing PD. Despite the aforementioned knowledge, several questions remain unexplored: (1) How does aging affect MSS? (2) Is there a sex difference in MSS? (3) Are there differences in MSS between vertical and horizontal saccades? (4) Are MSS and corrective saccade (CS) the same behavior? (5) How do age and sex affect CS? The objectives of the present study are to address these questions. Method: Four hundred eighty healthy participants were recruited to perform a visually guided reactive saccade task. Participants were divided into six groups according to their ages. Each group consisted of 40 male and 40 female participants. Eye movements were recorded with infrared eye trackers. Results: The incidence of MSS increased as a function of age, whereas the incidence of CS first increased with age 20–49 and then decreased with age 50–79. The incidences of both MSS and CS did not show sex differences. The incidence of MSS in vertical saccades was significantly higher than that in horizontal saccades, and their difference increased with increasing age, whereas the incidence of CS showed a reversed pattern. Conclusion: Age and saccadic direction affect the occurrences of MSS and CS differently, indicating that MSS and CS are different saccadic behaviors. In addition, measuring saccades could reliably reflect the function of human's brain which is affected by aging.
Isabel A. Martin; Matthew J. Goupell; Yi Ting Huang
Children's syntactic parsing and sentence comprehension with a degraded auditory signal Journal Article
In: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 151, pp. 1–13, 2022.
During sentence comprehension, young children anticipate syntactic structures using early-arriving words and have difficulties revising incorrect predictions using late-arriving words. However, nearly all work to date has focused on syntactic parsing in idealized speech environments, and little is known about how children's strategies for predicting and revising meanings are affected by signal degradation. This study compares comprehension of active and passive sentences in natural and vocoded speech. In a word-interpretation task, 5-year-olds inferred the meanings of novel words in sentences that (1) encouraged agent-first predictions (e.g., The blicket is eating the seal implies The blicket is the agent), (2) required revising predictions (e.g., The blicket is eaten by the seal implies The blicket is the theme), or (3) weakened predictions by placing familiar nouns in sentence-initial position (e.g., The seal is eating/eaten by the blicket). When novel words promoted agent-first predictions, children misinterpreted passives as actives, and errors increased with vocoded compared to natural speech. However, when familiar words were sentence-initial that weakened agent-first predictions, children accurately interpreted passives, with no signal-degradation effects. This demonstrates that signal quality interacts with interpretive processes during sentence comprehension, and the impacts of speech degradation are greatest when late-arriving information conflicts with predictions.
Negar Mazloum-Farzaghi; Nathanael Shing; Leanne Mendoza; Morgan D. Barense; Jennifer D. Ryan; Rosanna K. Olsen
The impact of aging and repetition on eye movements and recognition memory Journal Article
In: Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, pp. 1–27, 2022.
The modulation of gaze fixations on neural activity in the hippocampus, a region critical for memory, has been shown to be weaker in older adults compared to younger adults. However, as such research has relied on indirect measures of memory, it remains unclear whether the relationship between visual exploration and direct measures of memory is similarly disrupted in aging.$beta$ The current study tested older and younger adults on a face memory eye-tracking task previously used by our group that showed that recognition memory for faces presented across variable, but not fixed, viewpoints relies on a hippocampal-dependent binding function. Here, we examined how aging influences eye movement measures that reveal the amount (cumulative sampling) and extent (distribution of gaze fixations) of visual exploration. We also examined how aging influences direct (subsequent conscious recognition) and indirect (eye movement repetition effect) expressions of memory. No age differences were found in direct recognition regardless of facial viewpoint. However, the eye movement measures revealed key group differences. Compared to younger adults, older adults exhibited more cumulative sampling, a different distribution of fixations, and a larger repetition effect. Moreover, there was a positive relationship between cumulative sampling and direct recognition in younger adults, but not older adults. Neither age group showed a relationship between the repetition effect and direct recognition. Thus, despite similar direct recognition, age-related differences were observed in visual exploration and in an indirect eye-movement memory measure, suggesting that the two groups may acquire, retain, and use different facial information to guide recognition.
Jasmine R. Aziz; Samantha R. Good; Raymond M. Klein; Gail A. Eskes
Role of aging and working memory in performance on a naturalistic visual search task Journal Article
In: Cortex, vol. 136, pp. 28–40, 2021.
Studying age-related changes in working memory (WM) and visual search can provide insights into mechanisms of visuospatial attention. In visual search, WM is used to remember previously inspected objects/locations and to maintain a mental representation of the target to guide the search. We sought to extend this work, using aging as a case of reduced WM capacity. The present study tested whether various domains of WM would predict visual search performance in both young (n = 47; aged 18–35 yrs) and older (n = 48; aged 55–78) adults. Participants completed executive and domain-specific WM measures, and a naturalistic visual search task with (single) feature and triple-conjunction (three-feature) search conditions. We also varied the WM load requirements of the search task by manipulating whether a reference picture of the target (i.e., target template) was displayed during the search, or whether participants needed to search from memory. In both age groups, participants with better visuospatial executive WM were faster to locate complex search targets. Working memory storage capacity predicted search performance regardless of target complexity; however, visuospatial storage capacity was more predictive for young adults, whereas verbal storage capacity was more predictive for older adults. Displaying a target template during search diminished the involvement of WM in search performance, but this effect was primarily observed in young adults. Age-specific interactions between WM and visual search abilities are discussed in the context of mechanisms of visuospatial attention and how they may vary across the lifespan.
Sarah Chabal; Sayuri Hayakawa; Viorica Marian
How a picture becomes a word: Individual differences in the development of language-mediated visual search Journal Article
In: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 1–10, 2021.
Over the course of our lifetimes, we accumulate extensive experience associating the things that we see with the words we have learned to describe them. As a result, adults engaged in a visual search task will often look at items with labels that share phonological features with the target object, demonstrating that language can become activated even in non-linguistic contexts. This highly interactive cognitive system is the culmination of our linguistic and visual experiences—and yet, our understanding of how the relationship between language and vision develops remains limited. The present study explores the developmental trajectory of language-mediated visual search by examining whether children can be distracted by linguistic competitors during a non-linguistic visual search task. Though less robust compared to what has been previously observed with adults, we find evidence of phonological competition in children as young as 8 years old. Furthermore, the extent of language activation is predicted by individual differences in linguistic, visual, and domain-general cognitive abilities, with the greatest phonological competition observed among children with strong language abilities combined with weaker visual memory and inhibitory control. We propose that linguistic expertise is fundamental to the development of language-mediated visual search, but that the rate and degree of automatic language activation depends on interactions among a broader network of cognitive abilities.