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Sunday, October 02nd,   2011 [18:00 - 20:00]

PS_3.014 - Anxiety-related attentional biases and cognitive control

Anzulewicz, A. , Taraday, M. & Walentowska, W.

Institute of Psychology. Jagiellonian University. Cracow, Poland.

Attentional biases toward threat-related stimuli have been observed in a number of studies and are considered as a robust phenomenon. Moreover, attentional bias research suggest that these biases occur in equal magnitude in all anxiety-related disorders. The aim of the presented study was to examine the processing of emotional stimuli (angry vs neutral faces) in low and high anxious individuals. Based on attentional control theory, we hypothesize that anxiety disrupts the two central cognitive functions: inhibition and shifting. In order to assess attentional control, a modified anti-saccade task was used. The modification allowed the assesment of not only inhibition (as is done in its classical version) but also the shifting function. Preliminary results conform predictions of attentional control theory. Furthermore, it was shown that relatively slight differences in intensity of trait anxiety can lead to significant decrease in inhibition function. Further data is beeing collected.

PS_3.015 - ANTI-V task: Sample size can be fitted to task assessment requirements?

López-Ramón, M. , Castro, C. , Roca, J. & Lupiañez, J.

Universidad de Granada, Spain

Experimental behavioral tasks developed for assessing cognitive processes should be adapted to sample characteristics and time demands depending on the context to which they will be applied (e.g. schools, cognitive impaired patients, etc). The ANTI-V (vigilance) task can be beneficial to be used in different contexts because it measures vigilance (plus the ANTI measures of phasic alertness, attentional orienting, and executive control) by adding the detection of infrequent, unpredictable and intermittent stimuli. The present study aims to create a useful tool that will allow the user of the ANTI-V to previously determine the sample size and the amount of experimental blocks that will be needed to obtain the expected attentional effects according to the evaluation context. Eighty participants completed the ANTI-V task. We analyzed RT measures for phasic alertness, executive control and orientation networks and SDT (Signal Detection Theory) measures for tonic alert. We performed a block analysis (2 to 7 experimental blocks, of 4 min each) of the effects for each attentional network in reduced samples of 10, 20, 30 and 40 participants. As a result of these analyses, researches will be provided with a simple and useful tool that will give robustness to the results to be obtained.

PS_3.016 - Shared gender membership modulates gaze-mediated orienting in human children

Pavan, G. , Castelli, L. , Dal Bosco, S. & Galfano, G.

DPSS. University of Padova. Padova, Italy

Gaze-mediated orienting, namely the tendency to shift attention in the direction gazed by another individual, is a fundamental component of social attention. Although the eyes are a social stimulus, the possibility that social factors modulate gaze-mediated orienting has attracted interest only in recent years. In the present research, we tested the impact of shared gender membership between the cuing face and the participant on gaze-mediated orienting. This hypothesis was tested in an ecological context, namely in children attending the same class, Grade 4 at primary school. During this age, gender is one of the most relevant dimensions influencing group formation and friendships. Moreover, in the present study, children played the role of both participants and stimuli. Indeed, female and male participants were presented with a spatial-cuing paradigm in which they viewed photographs of their classmates gazing left or right before the onset of a lateralized target requiring an identification response. A significant gaze-mediated orienting emerged only towards same-gender classmates. The results highlight the role of gender as a moderator of social attention in children and emphasize the social nature of gaze-mediated orienting.

PS_3.017 - When radial seems horizontal: Bisection of words and lines in patients with spatial neglect

Arduino, L. S. 1, 2 , Veronelli, L. 3, 4 , Vallar, G. 3, 5 & Girelli, L. 3

1 Department Of Psychology, LUMSA University, Rome, Italy
2 ISTC-CNR, Rome, Italy
3 Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy
4 Department of Neuro Rehabilitative Sciences, Casa Di Cura Privata del Policlinico, Milan, Italy
5 IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy

In radial line bisection tasks, neurologically unimpaired participants (UP) transect the line too far (up) from the body with respect to the objective midpoint of the stimulus, while right-brain damaged patients with unilateral spatial neglect (USN) could do so close (down) to the body (Halligan and Marshall, 1993). In a recent study with UP, Arduino, Previtali and Girelli (2010) reported a “length effect” specific to orthographic stimuli in the bisection of horizontal strings, with a leftward bias for long stimuli, and a rightward bias for short ones. In the present study, nine USN patients and matched healthy controls were asked to bisect radial words (5-10 letters) and comparable lines. A directional bias closer the body in USN patients with respect to controls was found. Furthermore, both patients and controls bisected differently words and lines, with a “length effect”, i.e., a bias toward the body for short stimuli, limited to words. This pattern of results mimics what reported by Arduino et al. (2010) in lateral bisection: visuo-perceptual and linguistic features of the stimulus modulate the participants’ performance in lateral and radial bisection.

PS_3.018 - A paradigm to study the relationship between “Inhibition of Return” and “Cost” and “Benefits” orienting effects

Martín-Arévalo, E. & Lupiáñez, J.

University of Granada, Spain

Attentional orienting is traditionally described as driven by either of two mechanisms: endogenous orienting and exogenous orienting. The cost and benefit paradigm has been used to study these two spatial attention mechanisms: to study the endogenous orienting, a central symbolic informative cue predicts the most likely location of target appearance, orienting attention voluntary. In contrast, for investigating exogenous orienting, an uninformative peripheral cue is used, which is supposed to involuntarily capture spatial attention. In the present work we have developed an adaptation of the cost and benefit paradigm to measure both types of attentional effects separatly, as indexed by “costs” and “benefits” orienting effects, and the “Inhibition of Return” (IOR) effect, respectively. Endogenous and exogenous cues were presented in each trial and their validity was manipulated across experiments to examine whether they have independent effects on detection and discrimination tasks. Results showed that both effect could be separately measured. Interestingly, IOR correlated negatively across participants with the Cost effect. Moreover, the attentional benefits at validly cued locations decreased with practice while the costs at invalidly cued locations were constant across blocks of trials, thus, showing an interesting dissociation between them. The possible mechanisms for these effects are discussed.

PS_3.019 - Endogenous versus exogenous attention in inhibition of return in schizophrenia patients

Kalogeropoulou, F. 1 , Vivas, A. 2 & Woodruff, P. 3

1 South East European Research Centre, Thessaloniki, Greece
2 City College, Thessaloniki, Greece
3 University of Sheffield, UK

Previous research has failed to report significant inhibition of return (IOR) with a single cue procedure in schizophrenia patients (Huey & Wexler,1994). This finding has been attributed to a deficit (Fuentes & Santiago, 1999) in voluntary re-orientating attention to the centre, however this hypothesis has not been tested directly. In this study the target appeared in 60% of the trials in the centre in an otherwise typical single cue IOR procedure (Posner & Cohen, 1984), to encourage endogenous shifting of attention to the center after the cue. In line with Posner and Cohen’s findings early facilitation effects were eliminates in the group of healthy adults. However, facilitation persisted in the group of schizophrenia patients. Most important patients similarly to healthy controls were able to shift their attention to the center according to expectations (overall faster responses to the central targets). These results suggest that endogenous manipulation of attention does not remove abnormally increased facilitation in schizophrenia. Furthermore, the lack of significant IOR in the group of patient cannot be attributed to a re-orienting deficit.

PS_3.020 - Attentional shifts between audition and vision in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Occelli, V. 1 , Esposito, G. 1, 2 , Venuti, P. . 1 , Arduino, G. M. 1, 3 & Zampini, M. 1, 4

1 Department of Cognitive Sciences and Education, University of Trento, Rovereto (TN), Italy
2 Kuroda Research Unit, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Saitama, Japan
3 Centre for Autism and Asperger Syndrome, ASL1 CN1, Mondovì, Italy
4 Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Rovereto (TN), Italy

Previous evidence on adults shows that the presentation of a stimulus allocates the attention to its modality, resulting in faster responses to a subsequent target presented in the same (vs. different) modality. In this study, we compared the performance of a group of patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs; high-functioning; N=14; age: 12-16 yrs) and a group of neurotypical controls (N=17; 11-17 yrs). Participants were asked to detect a target (S2), auditory or visual, which was preceded, at different SOAs (i.e., 150, 600, 1,000 msec), by an uninformative cue (S1), either in the same or a different modality. Besides a generalized slowing down of the responses in the ASD patients (vs. controls), systematic differences between the two groups emerged. In controls, regardless of SOA, when S2 was visual, S1 modality did not affect performance. Unlikely, when S2 was auditory, and SOA was long, a visual S1 produced longer RTs as compared to when it was auditory. In the ASD group, an a-specific speeding up of responses was observed when S1 was auditory (vs. visual), with no effects on the detection of S2. The discrepancy of performance suggests that ASDs affect the processing of sensory inputs and the attentional crossmodal shift.

PS_3.021 - Visual word recognition is influenced by the oscillations of auditory attention

Brochard, R. , Tassin, M. & Zagar, D.

Psychology Dept/SPMS Lab. Universite de Bourgogne. Dijon, France

Background music affects the speed of visual discrimination. For example, pictures are processed faster when they are displayed "on beat", i.e. in synchrony with a highly expected time position of an auditory rhythm. The objective of our study was to investigate if similar effects could be observed with written words. 32 participants were presented with bisyllabic words which were displayed on the screen while a to-be-ignored binary sound sequence looped. In each trial, a first group of letters, corresponding to the first part of an item (P1), was displayed for 40 ms. Then it was erased (for 125 ms) until the remaining part of the item (P2) was displayed (also for 40 ms). Depending on the trials, the letters of P1 could be congruent with the correct syllabation of the item (e.g. pan in pan/da) or not (e.g. pa in pa/nda). Participants had to perfom a lexical decision on P1+P2. Our results showed that incorrect syllabation of written words led to longer RTs. More interestingly, this disadvantage was increased when P1 occurred on-beat with the auditory rhythm. This suggests, in accordance with Jones's Dynamic Attending Theory, that the visual word recognition can be influenced by the oscillations of auditory attention.

PS_3.022 - Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery and low and superior cognitive processes in the elderly

Morales, B. 1 , Facal, D. 1 , González, M. F. 1 , Díaz, U. 1 , Ansorena, X. 1 , Alonso, L. 2 & Urdaneta, E. 1

1 Fundación Instituto Gerontologico Matia - INGEMA
2 Departamento de Psicología Biológica y de la Salud - Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

Memory and attentional processes have been classically related to processing resources in middle-aged and elderly persons, including speed of response. In most of these studies, these processes have been measured through paper-and-pencil tasks. In this research, we aim to replicate these findings through computerized tasks. We applied to a Spanish sample of 88 elders (age =69,99; s.d.=6,66) a set of test from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), including Paired Associates Learning (PAL, visual memory and new learning), Intra-Extra Dimensional Set Shift (IED, shifting and flexibility of attention), Reaction Time (RTI, Five-choice speed of response) and Motor Screening (MOT, simple speed of response). Pearson bivariate correlations showed significant relations, some of them inverse, between age and RTI (r=0.337, p=0.002), MOT (r=0.297, p=0.007) and PAL stages completed on first trial (r=-0.240, p=0.031), total errors adjusted (r=0.350, p=0.001), first trial memory score (r=-0.297, p=0.007) and stages completed (r=-0.312, p=0.005), but not between age and IED. Low to moderate but inversely significant correlations were found between MOT and stages completed of PAL and IED (r=0.315, p=0.003; r=-0.243, p=0.024). These results point to a some kind of relation between speed of response and superior processes. Other different factors should be studied.

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