Published Papers

Letter chunk frequency does not explain morphological masked priming

Journal: 

Psychonomic Bulletin and Review

Date: 

November, 2021

Research on visual word identification has extensively investigated the role of morphemes, recurrent letter chunks that convey a fairly regular meaning (e.g., lead-er-ship). Masked priming studies highlighted morpheme identification in complex (e.g., sing-er) and pseudo-complex (corn-er) words, as well as in nonwords (e.g., basket-y). The present study investigated whether such sensitivity to morphemes could be rooted in the visual system sensitivity to statistics of letter (co)occurrence.

Algorithms for the automated correction of vertical drift in eye tracking data

Journal: 

Behavior Research Methods

Date: 

June, 2021

 A common problem in eye-tracking research is vertical drift—the progressive displacement of fixation registrations on the vertical axis that results from a gradual loss of eye-tracker calibration over time. This is particularly problematic in experiments that involve the reading of multiline passages, where it is critical that fixations on one line are not erroneously recorded on an adjacent line. Correction is often performed manually by the researcher, but this process is tedious, timeconsuming, and prone to error and inconsistency.

Multi-lab direct replication of Flavell, Beach and Chinsky (1966): Spontaneous verbal rehearsal in a memory task as a function of age

Journal: 

Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science

Date: 

April, 2021

This is a large-scale, multi-lab replication effort in which we assessed the original data by Flavell, Beach and Chinsky (1966) showing that older children (10yo) spontaneously verbalise during working memory tasks, contrary to younger children (5yo). The original pattern of results was largely upheld: older children were more likely to verbalize, and their memory spans improved. We confirmed that 5- and 6-year-old children who verbalized recalled more than children who did not verbalize. However, unlike Flavell et al., substantial proportions of our 5- and 6-year-old samples overtly verbalized at least sometimes during the picture memory task.

This work was led by Emily Elliott, Candice Morey and Angela AuBuchon, and involved 17 different labs. All data, analyses and the manuscript itself are available at the Open Science Framework.

Brain Network Reconfiguration for Narrative and Argumentative Thought

Journal: 

Communications Biology

Date: 

March, 2021

In this work, we test the neural basis of the understanding of narrative and argumentative thought via inter-subject correlational measures in fMRI. We find that both kinds of thought enhance functional couplings within the frontoparietal control system. However, while a narrative specifically implicates the default mode system, an argument specifically induces synchronization between the intraparietal sulcus and multiple perisylvian areas in the language system.

Does morphological structure modulate access to embedded word meaning in child readers?

Journal: 

Memory & Cognition

Date: 

March, 2021

In this paper, we ask whether children's ability to access the meaning of embedded words is modulated by morphology, and in particular by the presence of a pseudosuffix (e.g., CORN in CORNER vs. PEA in PEACE; Nation and Cocksey, 2009). We replicate N&C's results that children do access the meaning of embedded words quite early on (in 3rd grade here). We also find a morphological effect -- the effect is larger in CORNER than in PEACE -- but only in the error rates, not in response times. We take these data to suggest that there is access to semantic informaton for subword chunks early on during reading acquisition, at least when the task is semantic in nature (like it was in this experiment). Morphology seems to kick in more at the level of strategic decison making (i.e., errors) rather than in connection to the implicit information processing stream (i.e., RTs). For a similar experiment with adults, check out here.

The article is available online here https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-021-01164-3 or as a PDF here https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.3758/s13421-021-01164-3.pdf. The raw data and the analysis code are here.

 

No fruits without color: Cross-modal priming and eeg reveal different roles for different features across semantic categories

Journal: 

PLoS ONE

Date: 

March, 2021

In this study, we explore the effects of a manipulation of a visual sensory (i.e., color) or functional (i.e., orientation) feature on the consequential semantic processing of fruits and vegetables (and tools, by comparison), first at the behavioral and then at the neural level (ERP). Behaviourally, we observed a reduction in priming for color-modified natural entities and orientation-modified artificial entities. In the ERP data for natural entities, an N400 effect was observed for the color-modified condition compared relative to normal and orientation condition. Conversely, there was no significant difference between conditions for the artificial category. These findings provide strong evidence that color is an integral property to the categorization of fruits/vegetables, thus substantiating the claim that feature-based processing guides ­ as a function of semantic category.

The paper is now in production at PLoS ONE and will be availble at the journal soon.

Morpheme position coding in reading development as explored with a letter search task

Journal: 

Journal of Cognition

Date: 

February, 2021

in this project, we investigated the development of sensitivity to affixes -- and their position within words -- during reading acquisition via a letter search task. A pre-registered experiment was conducted in Italian with 3rd graders, 5th graders, and adults. Results indicated position-specific processing differences between suffixes and non-suffix endings that develop throughout reading development; however, some effects were weak and only partially in line with the hypotheses. Therefore, we conducted a second experiment, and the effects of position-specific suffix identification could not be replicated. A combined analysis additionally using a Bayesian approach suggest no processing differences between suffix and non-suffix endings in our task.

The paper is freely accessible here. A pre-print and all data and scripts related to this project are available here.

A general-purpose mechanism of visual feature association in visual word identification and beyond

Journal: 

Current Biology

Date: 

January, 2021

In this series of experiments, we assess whether an effect that is typically studied in the context of letter and word visual identification -- and sometimes taken as a marker for orthographic processing -- that is, bigram coding, also applies to other types of visual objects. Subjects were passively familiarized with a set of composite visual items and tested in an oddball paradigm for their ability to detect novel stimuli. Participants showed robust sensitivity to the co-occurrence of features (‘‘bigram’’ coding) with strings of letter-like symbols, but also with made-up 3D objects and sinusoidal gratings. This suggests that the processing mechanisms involved in the visual recognition of novel words also support the recognition of other novel visual objects. These mechanisms would allow the visual system to capture statistical regularities in the visual environment.

The paper is published in Current Biology. A pre-print is also available on biorXiv, while you should click on the title to get an author-formatted post-print.

Algorithms for the automated correction of vertical drift in eye tracking data

Journal: 

Behavior Research Methods

Date: 

January, 2021

We evaluate nine algorithms for the correction of “vertical drift” in eye tracking data — the vertical displacement of fixations that results from a gradual loss of eye tracker calibration over time. Our results — based on both simulated and natural eye tracking data — show that certain algorithms are better than others on particular kinds of vertical drift and reading behavior. We offer evidence-based advice to researchers on how to choose an appropriate technique and concrete suggestions on how drift correction software can be improved going forward. A preprint and all the materials related to this project are available here and here, respectively.

Cognitive and communicative pressures in the emergence of grammatical structure: A closer look at whether number sense is encoded in privileged ways

Journal: 

Cognitive Neuropsychology

Date: 

August, 2020

In this short commentary, we contest the possibility that the distribution of Number values in natural languages is economically explained as consequence of cultural factors, as proposed by Everett (2019). We discuss in favor of a in interplay of referential, cognitive and communicative pressures, related to the core knowledge and to general properties of codes; we wish that our proposal can a first step to operationalize further experimental questions targeting each of these levels.
 

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