Skip to main content

RFCS Paper of the Month

The UFSKW Paper of the Month gives a special stage to current cognitive science research from the Research Focus Cognitive Sciences (UFSKW). Beginning in 2021, the Paper of the Month is selected by the Selection Committee on a monthly basis from all submissions.

All members of the Research Focus and/or the UFSKW Postdoc Network can propose their own papers at any time. At least one of the (co-)authors must be a member of the UFSKW or the Postdoc Network.

To propose a paper, members need to send an email to the scientific coordinator, Dr. Raúl Bendezú Araujo (raul.bendezu.araujo at uni-potsdam.de)

Your email should include the following information:  
(1) the DOI and (2) a link to the published paper OR to the preprint of the paper (for non-open access articles) and (3) a short comment on what makes your paper special.

Submit a paper for the Paper of the Month


Paper of the Month, December 2023

clembench: Using Game Play to Evaluate Chat-Optimized Language Models as Conversational Agents

Authors: Kranti Chalamalasetti, Jana Götze, Sherzod Hakimov, Brielen Madureira, Philipp Sadler & David Schlangen

Comment: This paper is the first to propose a measuring framework for testing large language models (LLMs) as interactive, dynamic agent models. LLMs have shown impressive abilities in the last years, but this impression often comes from unsystematic testing and anecdotal evidence. This paper sets up a systematic testing framework for interactive tasks (framed as conversational "games"), implements various such games targetted at different interactional capabilities, and tests a large variety of LLMs. The results show that the best commercial models show beginnings of agentive abilities (and are much better than current open-weight models), but still decidedly fall short of human performance.

Link: 10.18653/v1/2023.emnlp-main.689

The N400 is elicited by meaning changes but not synonym substitutions: Evidence from Persian phrasal verbs

Authors: Katherine Stone, Naghmeh Khaleghi & Milena Rabovsky

Comment: The paper compares unexpected words in a sentence, one a synonym of the most expected word based on the context, the other a word that changes the expected meaning. Between the two equally unexpected words, only the word that changed the meaning of the sentence triggered an N400. This suggests that the N400 is more attuned to meaning than the specific form of a word. Some nice features of the paper are that it uses Persian---the diaspora in Berlin and Potsdam were very excited to participate!---and has open data and code.

Link:  https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.13394

Paper of the Month, November 2023

Philippine Psycholinguistics

Authors: Jed Sam Pizarro-Guevara & Rowena Garcia

Comment: My co-author and I had been invited to write this review, and we took this challenge thinking about what could have helped our younger researcher selves in starting to conduct studies on Philippine languages. We are proud of this paper because we think it is a good entry point for those in formal linguistics and related fields to know more about the few psycholinguistic studies that have already been done in Philippine languages, and for those in psycholinguistics to know more about the interesting properties of this language group. This paper will hopefully encourage and make it easier for researchers to investigate these understudied languages. I am additionally proud because in this paper, we could showcase our own studies from the University of Potsdam, which are pioneering work on children’s acquisition of Tagalog.

Link:  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguistics-031522-102844

Paper of the Month, October 2023

The Longitudinal Interplay between Adverse Peer Experiences and Self-Regulation Facets: A Prospective Analysis during Middle Childhood

Authors: Nele Westermann, Robert Busching, Annette M. Klein & Petra Warschburger

Comment: Positive peer experiences and self-regulation (SR) skills are crucial for children's healthy development, but little is known about how they interact during middle childhood. Therefore, we examined the prospective links between adverse peer experiences (APEs) and SR, drawing from the dataset of the PIER study. Across three measurement points, 1654 children aged 6–11 (T1), 7–11 (T2), and 9–13 years (T3) were included. We assessed the SR facets updating, flexibility, inhibition, emotional reactivity, inhibitory control, and planning using computerized tasks, parent- and teacher-reports. The latent variable of APEs consisted of measures of peer victimization and peer rejection assessed via self-, parent-, and teacher-report. Separate cross-lagged panel models were calculated, investigating the interplay of each SR facet and APEs. Results indicated that experiencing more APEs at T1 predicted higher emotional reactivity, and lower inhibition, inhibitory control, updating, and flexibility at T2. More APEs at T2 predicted higher emotional reactivity and lower planning at T3. Lower inhibition, updating, and flexibility at T2 predicted more APEs at T3. Accordingly, we found a negative bidirectional relationship between inhibition, updating, and flexibility with APEs. Our findings highlight that during middle childhood more APEs predict lower SR, which in turn predicts more experiences of peer victimization and rejection.

Link:  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-023-01117-1

Paper of the Month, September 2023

Object labeling and disambiguation in 4-month-old infants

Authors: Amanda Saksida & Alan Langus

Comment:  Word learning is generally thought to start around infants’ first birthday. However, recent studies suggest that infants as young as 6-months-of-age already know some common words. In this paper, we investigate whether some of the abilities necessary for word learning could therefore be present during the first months of life. Specifically, we test whether 4-month-old infants can rapidly associate linguistic labels to visual referents and whether they show some preliminary evidence for mutual exclusivity: i.e., the ability to disregard objects that have already been named as potential referents for novel words. In 4 experiments, we show that 4-month-old infants can associate a nonce word to an object or its movement after a single brief exposure. We also show that infants will subsequently ignore the object and movement for which they have learned the word as a referent for other novel words. This shows that some of the core abilities for word learning are present before infants know the meaning of any words. Importantly, we also show that these early word-learning abilities only work with linguistic sounds (i.e., nonce words), but not with non-linguistic sounds that have the complexity of spoken language (i.e., sinewave speech). Our results suggest that the ability to acquire words emerges much earlier in development than previously thought, and that the mechanisms infants use for word-learning are specific to spoken language.

Link:  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13993

Paper of the Month, August 2023

Investigating the influence of body movements on children's mental arithmetic performance

Authors: Elena Sixtus, Nadja Lindner, Karolina Lohse & Jan Lonnemann

Comment: The development of number concepts and arithmetic learning are presumably shaped by sensorimotor experiences. Previous literature characterized mental arithmetic as “motion along a path”, where it might constitute shifts in attention along a mental number line. The present study investigates whether movements in physical space influence mental arithmetic in primary school children, and whether the expected effect depends on concurrency of body movements and mental arithmetic. After turning their body towards the left or right, 48 children aged 8 to 10 years solved simple subtraction and addition problems. Meanwhile, they either walked or stood still and looked towards the respective direction. We report a congruency effect between body orientation and operation type, i.e., higher performance for the combinations leftward orientation and subtraction and rightward orientation and addition. We found no significant difference between walking and looking conditions. The present results suggest that mental arithmetic in children is influenced by preceding sensorimotor cues and not necessarily by concurrent body movements.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2023.104003

Paper of the Month, July 2023

Regular rhythmic primes improve sentence repetition in children with developmental language disorder

Authors: Anna Fiveash, Enikő Ladányi, Julie Camici, Karen Chidiac, Catherine T. Bush, Laure-Hélène Canette, Nathalie Bedoin, Reyna L. Gordon & Barbara Tillmann

Comment: Our study shows the first time that listening to a rhythm with a regular beat improves sentence repetition performance in children with developmental language disorder and with typical development. These results extend previous findings on the facilitative effect of a regular rhythm on grammaticality judgment task performance, and support the view that the structures of musical rhythm and linguistic grammar are processed by shared underlying mechanisms. The findings also motivate future clinical research on the integration of rhythmic stimulation in traditional speech-language therapy to facilitate the treatment of children with developmental language disorder.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41539-023-00170-1

Paper of the Month, June 2023

Shame on me? Love me tender! Inducing and changing shame and fear in social anxiety in an analogous sample

Authors: Jakob Fink-Lamotte, Jürgen Hoyer, Pauline Platter, Christian Stierle & Cornelia Exner

Comment: This paper stands out by validating an online-adopted Autobiographical Emotional Memory Task to induce shame in 115 healthy subjects. Further the results indicate that self-compassion showed a significantly larger reduction in shame compared to an active control condition, with interactions influenced by trait social anxiety and trait self-compassion. These promising findings highlight the value of self-compassion interventions in alleviating intense shame experiences and call for further research in the field.

Link:https://doi.org/10.32872/cpe.7895

Paper of the Month, May 2023

Gaze patterns reflect and predict expertise in dynamic echocardiographic imaging

Authors: Jochen Laubrock, Alexander Krutz, Jonathan Nübel& Sebastian Spethmann

Comment: Dynamic echocardiography – ultrasound movies of the heart – is the most important imaging method for judging heart function. We temporarily set up our eyetracking lab at Charité to observe experts when viewing such ultrasound movies of patients and healthy controls, and compared them to a group of beginning medical students. Using signal detection measures we show that experts are indeed much better in diagnosing the health status. Eyetracking reveals that this is because experts focus their attention on diagnostically relevant regions, whereas students are distracted by salient but diagnostically irrelevant moving elements such as the mitral valve. Using machine learning, we identified the most relevant predictors from gaze data and built a predictive model from which we derive a numerical expertise score that can be used in education and assessment. Results may further be useful for the design of echocardiography user interfaces.

Link:10.1117/1.JMI.10.S1.S11906

Paper of the Month, April 2023

A sensorimotor perspective on numerical cognition

Authors: Elena Sixtus, Florian Krause, Oliver Lindemann, Martin Fischer

Comment: With this paper we aim to unify existing knowledge in the field of embodied numerical cognition and reconcile it with more traditional accounts. Numerical information is usually encountered in one of three symbolic formats: number words (e.g. “seven”), numerals (e.g. “7”) and sensorimotor symbols (e.g. holding up 7 fingers). But how does this information become meaningful to us? From an embodied cognition perspective, conceptual knowledge becomes meaningful by relating it to sensorimotor experiences with physical entities in the world. We argue that number symbols evoke not one but three distinct underlying semantic concepts: magnitude (continuous amount), ordinality (position in a sequence) and cardinality (discrete amount). We propose that number comprehension and numerical proficiency emerge from differently grounding these three numerical core concepts in (multiple) sensorimotor experiences. We discuss potential implications for education and treatment/prevention of numerical deficits, and we hope that this proposal stimulates further discussion as well as future research.

Link:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2023.01.002

Paper of the Month, March 2023

Music and language in the crib: Early cross-domain effects of experience on categorical perception of prominence in spoken language

Authors: Alan Langus, Natalie Boll-Avetisyan, Sandrien van Ommen & Thierry Nazzi

Comment: Die vorliegende Studie zeigt erstmals, dass frühkindliche Musikerfahrung im Elternhaus im Zusammenhang mit Sprachwahrnehmungfähigkeiten im Babyalter steht. Außerdem ist sie die erste, die demonstriert, das Wortbetonung mittels kategoriellen Wahrnehmungsfiltern verarbeitet wird. Die Psycholinguistik stellt seit einigen Jahren vermehrt die Frage, inwieweit nichtsprachliche Erfahrung Sprachverarbeitungsprozesse beeinflusst. So konnte die Forschung mit Erwachsenen zeigen, dass Musikerfahrung zu höheren Sprachleistungen führt – vor allem auf der Ebene der Prosodie. Unerforscht war bisher, ob Säuglinge in der frühen Phase des Spracherwerbs von musikalischem Input im Elternhaus profitieren. In unserer Studie fragten wir Eltern von sechsmonatigen Babys, ob und wie häufig zuhause Instrumente gespielt, Lieder gesungen und Kinderbücher vorgelesen wurden. Außerdem sollten die Eltern ihre Musikalität einschätzen und wie melodisch sie mit ihrem Kind sprachen. Per Eyetracking maßen wir die Pupillengröße der Babys in Reaktion auf Nichtwörter, die sich prosodisch in der Wortbetonung auf einem akustischen Kontinuum kategorisch (GAba vs gaBA) oder nur akustisch (GAba vs GAba) oder gar nicht (GAba vs GAba) unterschieden. Auf Gruppenebene fanden wir keine Reaktion auf Betonungsunterschiede. Jedoch zeigten diejenigen Babys mit überdurchschnittlicher kindgerichteter Musik- und Spracherfahrung starke Effekte der kategoriellen Wahrnehmung: Ihre Pupillen reagierten deutlich auf Betonungsunterschiede (GAba vs gaBA), aber nicht auf akustische Unterschiede. Interessanterweise waren kindgerichtete musikalische und sprachliche Aktivitäten der Eltern nicht korreliert. Augenscheinlich legen die meisten Eltern entweder auf musikalischen oder sprachlichen Input wert. Dennoch war es genau die Kombination aus beidem, die Babys mit starken Prosodiewahrnehmungsfähigkeiten erfahren hatten. Da die Prosodie ein wichtiger Wegbereiter für den Aufbau von Lexikon und Syntax ist, ist der vorliegende Befund zentral für die Spracherwerbsforschung: Sollte der Spracherwerbsverlauf tatsächlich positiv von musikalischen Aktivitäten beeinflusst werden können, wäre dies fundamental für unser Verständnis der Rolle von Erfahrung in kognitiven Prozessen und könnte Anwendungspotential in Erziehung und Bildung bergen.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.13383

Paper of the Month, February 2023

Space-valence mapping of social concepts: Do we arrange negative and positive ethnic stereotypes from left to right?

Authors: Katharina Kühne, Kristina Nenaschew & Alex Miklashevsky

Comment: Unser Körper trägt mehr zu unserer Kognition bei, als wir gewöhnlich annehmen. Die Körperspezifitätshypothese besagt beispielsweise, dass Rechtshänder*innen positive Konzepte mit der rechten Seite und negative Konzepte mit der linken Seite des Körpers assoziieren. Dieses Phänomen wurde mit verschiedenen Reizen nachgewiesen: Musikstücke, Zeichnungen und sogar Lebensmittel. Allerdings wurde sozialen Konzepten, wie z. B. Stereotypen, bisher wenig Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt. Dabei haben negative Stereotypen gegenüber Ethnien, Geschlechtern oder bestimmten anderen Gruppen weitreichende Folgen für persönliche Entscheidungen und die gesamte Gesellschaft. In Anlehnung an die Körperspezifitätshypothese postulierten wir, dass negative ethnische Stereotypen gegenüber einer Fremdgruppe mit der linken Seite und positive Stereotypen gegenüber der eigenen Gruppe mit der rechten Seite assoziiert werden. Unser Ziel war es, diese Zuordnung von Stereotypen im horizontalen Raum mit einer impliziten Aufgabe zu finden, die frei von den Nachteilen bisheriger Methoden ist. Wir dachten auch an mögliche Interventionen zur Änderung impliziter Einstellungen durch Manipulation des Raumparameters. Zum ersten Mal verwendeten wir sprachliche Reize, um diese Assoziation zu bewerten. Zunächst haben wir mit einem Impliziten Assoziationstest die positiven bzw. negativen Stereotypen deutscher Studierenden gegenüber Deutschen bzw. Arabern gemessen. Dann baten wir dieselben Teilnehmer*innen, Sätze mit arabischen und deutschen Namen durch Drücken der linken oder rechten Taste als sinnvoll oder nicht sinnvoll zu bewerten. Überraschenderweise konnten wir keine Zuordnung von negativen und positiven Stereotypen auf der horizontalen Dimension finden. Wahrscheinlich werden Stereotypen aufgrund ihrer komplexen Struktur oder ihrer abstrakten Verarbeitungsebene nicht automatisch mit der linken oder rechten Seite des Körpers assoziiert. Diese Studie ist einer der ersten Schritte zum Verständnis der Verkörperung komplexer sozialer Konstrukte.

Link: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1070177

Paper of the Month, January 2023

On Trees Blocking Roads and Cameras Recording Burglars: An Experimental Comparison of the Availability of Inverse Scope in English and German

Authors: Mareike Philipp & Malte Zimmermann

Comment: In this paper, we present a cross-linguistic investigation of English and German regarding the phenomenon of quantifier scope ambiguites in doubly-quantified sentences. The literature offers specific claims about the cross-linguistic pattern: only English is predicted to give rise to this type of ambiguities in the sentence types we investigated, while German is not, due to its free word order (e.g. Frey 1993, Bobaljik & Wurmbrand 2012). In order to test this cross-linguistic prediction, we ran the same experiment in both English and German. We further tested the impact of two factors in each language: embedding and plausibility. The relevance of this paper is characterized by novel experimental data, which contradicts two important claims in the literature: (i) German is not categorically different from English and allows for inverse readings, despite its free worder; (ii) a relative clause embedding does not fully block inverse readings in either language, contra longstanding wisdom (e.g. May 1977, Huang 1995). The paper is therefore of major theoretical relevance: Observation (i) supports a cross-linguistically unified analysis of the phenomenon of quantifier scope and its underlying mechanism, with language-specific properties resulting in gradual rather than categorical differences between languages. Observation (ii) challenges the status of relative clauses as scope islands and suggests that semantic approaches to inverse readings might in fact be more adequate than the more popular syntactic approach of Quantifier Raising (May 1977, 1985). The experiments further show that plausibility considerations play a major role in scope resolution and that speakers of the same language follow different resolution strategies.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1162/ling_a_00493

Paper of the Month, December 2022

Sustained attention as measured by RT variability is a strong modulator for the P600, but not the N400

Authors: Friederike Contier, Mathias Weymar, Isabell Wartenburger & Milena Rabovsky

Comment: Two components of the event-related potential (ERP) observed during sentence processing, N400 and P600, play an important role for neurocognitive models of language comprehension. The N400 is sensitive to the semantic fit of a word, whereas the P600 is typically elicited by structural violations. However, their functional significance is still under debate. In this study, we tested whether the two components vary with the degree of sustained attention, using reaction time variability as a continuous, online read-out of sustained attention over the course of a sentence comprehension task. We found a negative effect of reaction time variability on the P600: Amplitudes were larger in periods of low reaction time variability (high sustained attention) compared to periods of high reaction time variability (low sustained attention). In contrast, the degree of reaction time variability did not affect the amplitude of the N400. Our results provide novel insights into the cognitive processes underlying the two components: Since executive resources necessary for controlled – but not for automatic – processes are only available under sustained attention, results suggest that the P600 component reflects more controlled, and the N400 more automatic processes during sentence processing. Further, this study was the first attempt at adopting the index of reaction time variability from other areas in cognitive neuroscience, thus showcasing its further potential as a continuous measure to monitor fluctuations in sustained attention in psycholinguistic research.

Link: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.11.18.469143v2

Paper of the Month, November 2022

The role of mother-infant emotional synchrony in speech processing in 9-month-old infants

Authors: Monica Vanoncini, Natalie Boll-Avetisyan, Birgit Elsner, Stefanie Hoehl, & Ezgi Kayhan

Comment: Rhythmicity, namely a sequence’s tendency to recur, generates predictability and characterizes both mother-infant interactions and spoken language. High predictability in a certain aspect drives a selective sensitivity to that aspect of the environment, compared to other less predictable aspects. In this paper, we target the question of whether predictability of the environment creates an ideal language learning environment for infants. Specifically, we investigated whether the degree of predictability of behaviours in mother-infant interaction was linked to infants’ ability to segment words from fluent speech. To do so, here, we focused on synchrony in mothers’ and infants’ emotions creating a predictability of recurrence of emotional states: we coded both mother’s and infant’s facial expressions with a sampling rate of 40 msec during five minutes of free play. Emotional synchrony was defined as the time in which mother and infant matched their facial expression. Infant’s word segmentation was separately examined with an eye-tracking paradigm. We found that higher levels of emotional predictability during mother-infant interaction was associated with a more advanced infants’ performance in word segmentation. These findings suggest that predictable sequences of facial expressions, potentially allowing infants’ brains to be more efficient, may help infants to detect rhythms in social exchanges as well as in the spoken language. For the first time, our study provides a clear foundation for understanding the role of experience of synchrony and predictability in social interactions in language development, which raises important questions to be addressed by future research. Importantly, the results highlight that we will better understand the causes of individual variation in language development if we consider that language acquisition happens in social interactions – a point that has been neglected in the past.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2022.101772

Paper of the Month, October 2022

Evidence for a modulating effect of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) on salivary alpha-amylase as indirect noradrenergic marker: A pooled mega-analysis

Authors: Manon Giraudier, Carlos Ventura-Bort, Andreas M. Burger, Nathalie Claes, Martina D'Agostini, Rico Fischer, Mathijs Franssen, Michael Kaess, Julian Koenig, Roman Liepelt, Sander Nieuwenhuis, Aldo Sommer, Taras Usichenko, Ilse Van Diest, Andreas von Leupoldt, Christopher M. Warren, & Mathias Weymar

Comment: Die transkutane aurikuläre Vagusnervstimulation (taVNS) ist eine Weiterentwicklung der konventionellen und invasiven Vagusnervstimulation, und ermöglicht die Stimulation des Vagusnervs auf nicht-invasive Weise. Es gibt zahlreiche Hinweise auf eine modulierende Rolle der taVNS auf kognitive und affektive Hirnprozesse, die vermutlich durch die Aktivierung des Locus Coeruleus-Noradrenalin (LC-NA) Systems vermittelt wird. Zuverlässige Effekte der taVNS auf Marker der Aktivität des LC-NA Systems konnten bisher jedoch nicht nachgewiesen werden. In diesem Kollaborationsprojekt wurden Daten aus unterschiedlichen nationalen und internationalen Laboren (insgesamt 10 Studien mit N = 381), die die Auswirkungen der taVNS auf die Speichel-Alpha-Amylase, ein mutmaßlicher Marker für noradrenerge Aktivität, untersucht haben, zusammengeführt. Lineare gemischte Modell-Analysen mit einer Vielzahl von Modellierungsansätzen zeigten, dass die afferente Stimulation des Vagusnervs über taVNS die Speichel-Alpha-Amylase im Vergleich zur Scheinstimulation erhöhte, was die Annahme unterstützt, dass taVNS eine NA-Freisetzung auslöst. Der tageszeitliche Verlauf der Alpha- Amylase-Aktivität im Speichel konnte ebenfalls repliziert werden. Somit weist dieses Paper auf eine Aktivierung des LC-NA Systems durch taVNS und den potenziellen Nutzen von Speichel- Alpha-Amylase als nicht-invasiven, kostengünstigen und indirekten noradrenergen Marker im Rahmen der taVNS-Forschung hin. Darüber hinaus verdeutlichen unsere Ergebnisse die Vorteile des "Data Pooling", d.h. des offenen Datenaustauschs, sowie den Einsatz verschiedener statistischer Methoden mit dem Ziel der Veröffentlichung aussagekräftigerer und wertvollerer Ergebnisse. Der Open-Science Ansatz steht dabei im Mittelpunkt dieses Kollaborationsprojekts und beinhaltet die Präregistrierung der Hypothesen, Methoden und Analysen und den offenen Zugang zu allen Forschungsdaten und Analysen.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2022.09.009

Papers of the Month, September 2022

Mapping Research Domain Criteria using a transdiagnostic mini‐RDoC assessment in mental disorders: a confirmatory factor analysis

Authors: Bernd R. Förstner, Mira Tschorn, Nicolas Reinoso‐Schiller, Lea Mascarell Maričić, Erik Röcher, Janos L. Kalman, Sanna Stroth, Annalina V. Mayer, Kristina Schwarz, Anna Kaiser, Andrea Pfennig, André Manook, Marcus Ising, Ingmar Heinig, Andre Pittig, Andreas Heinz, Klaus Mathiak, Thomas G. Schulze, Frank Schneider, Inge Kamp‐Becker, Andreas Meyer‐Lindenberg, Frank Padberg, Tobias Banaschewski, Michael Bauer, Rainer Rupprecht, Hans‐Ulrich Wittchen, & Michael A. Rapp

Comment: Ziel dieser Studie aus dem BMBF geförderten Forschungsprojekt PD-CAN im deutschen Forschungsnetzwerk für „Psychische Erkrankungen“ (https://fzpe.de/) war es, die latenten Konstrukte aus der Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)-Initiative des National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research/research-funded-by-nimh/rdoc) an einer transnosologischen Population zu untersuchen. Hierfür wurden bereits etablierte Selbsteinschätzungsinstrumente und Verhaltensbeurteilungen in einem Mini-RDoC-Assessment verwendet um die Konstrukte positives (PVS) und negatives Valenzsystemen (NVS), kognitive Systeme (CS) und soziale Prozesse (SP) abzubilden.
Die Daten von 1431 TeilnehmerInnen wurden in einer konfirmatorischen Faktorenanalyse (CFA) analysiert, um die zugrunde liegende latente RDoC-Struktur zu belegen. Das Vier-Faktoren-Modell, der Kerndomänen PVS und NVS sowie CS und SP zeigte, auch im Vergleich zu einem 1-Faktor-Modell, einen guten Model-Fit in dieser Stichprobe. Die Verbindungen zwischen den Domänen PVS, NVS und SP konnten nachgewiesen werden, was auf eine universelle latente Struktur hindeutet, die sich über bekannte nosologische Kategorien hinweg erstreckt.
Diese Studie lässt also einen ersten Einblick auf die latente Struktur und die Interkorrelationen zwischen den vier zentralen RDoC (Kriterien) in einer transnosologischen Stichprobe zu. Wir möchten dabei betonen, dass bereits existierende und gut validierte Selbsteinschätzungsfragebögen und Verhaltensmessungen zur Erfassung von Aspekten der latenten Struktur verwendet werden können. Diese Grundlagenforschung eröffnet uns die Möglichkeit das Wesen von psychischer Gesundheit bzw. Krankheit im Hinblick auf unterschiedliche Grade der Dysfunktion in grundlegenden psychologischen/biologischen Systemen besser zu verstehen.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-022-01440-6

Physical exercise training as preceding treatment to cognitive behavioral therapy in mild to moderate major depressive disorder: A randomized controlled trial

Authors: Stephan Heinzel, Melanie Schwefel, Alba Sanchez, Darlene Heinen, Lydia Fehm, Romy Henze, Christina Terán, Gunnar Kallies, Michael A. Rapp, Thomas Fydrich, Andreas Ströhle, & Andreas Heissel 

Comment: Many patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) remain untreated or do not respond to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Physical exercise shows antidepressive effects and may serve as an effective augmentation treatment. However, research on combining exercise with CBT is sparse in MDD and underlying mechanisms of exercise are not well understood to date. IN this study high intense physical exercise did not lead to a general enhancement of CBT outcome, but higher increases in physical fitness seem to improve symptom change during CBT. Our results suggest that the implementation of more individually tailored exercise programs could be a promising approach for future research and clinical practice.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2022.09.024

Paper of the Month, August 2022

During the COVID‐19 pandemic participants prefer settings with a face mask, no interaction
and at a closer distance

Authors: Katharina Kühne, Martin H. Fischer, & Melinda A. Jeglinski

Comment: Diese Studie betrachtet die Wahrnehmung von Sicherheitsmaßnahmen, welche im Rahmen der Covid-19-Pandemie eingeführt und umgesetzt worden sind. Die Testung fand im Frühjahr 2021 statt während der dritten Covid-19-Pandemie-Welle in Deutschland. Die Studie ist relevant, um zu messen, ob die Bevölkerung die empfohlenen Schutzmaßnahmen, Abstand halten, Maske tragen und physische Interaktion vermeiden, verinnerlicht hat.
Die Ergebnisse unserer Studie zeigen, dass die Testpersonen eine mittlere Distanz (90 cm) über einer engen Distanz (50 cm) zweier Personen, die sie auf einem Bild sehen, bevorzugen. Dies ist in Einklang mit den herrschenden Covid-19-Schutzmaßnahmen, nämlich, dass die Nähe zwischen zwei Personen eine Gefahr darstellt. Weiterhin hat unsere Studie gezeigt, dass die Versuchspersonen Bilder ohne soziale Interaktion (Hände schütteln) gegenüber sozialer Interaktion bevorzugen. Auch dies ist in Einklang mit den herrschenden Schutzmaßnahmen, dass körperlicher Kontakt vermieden werden soll. Zudem bestätigen unsere Ergebnisse weiterhin, dass die Atemschutzmaske soziale Interaktion erleichtert, da die Versuchspersonen Bilder von Individuen mit Atemschutzmasken bevorzugten. Unsere Ergebnisse zeigen daher, dass die empfohlenen Schutzmaßnahmen während der Pandemie von unseren Versuchspersonen verinnerlicht und bevorzugt worden sind.
Wir haben diese Ergebnisse erhalten, indem wir die Reaktionszeiten auf die Bilder gemessen haben in einer einfachen Entscheidungs-Aufgabe (das Geschlecht der Personen auf den Bildern entscheiden). Aus ethischen Gründen war er nicht möglich (Ansteckungsgefahr), unsere Versuchspersonen im Labor zu testen und reale soziale Interaktion zu messen. Dies bedeutet, dass die Versuchspersonen diese Ergebnisse aus einer Dritte-Person-Perspektive heraus gezeigt haben. Dies verdeutlicht, wie sehr diese die empfohlenen Schutzmaßnahmen, Maske tragen, Abstand halten, keine physische Interaktion verinnerlicht haben: Obgleich sie nur andere Personen auf den Bildern bei den respektiven Handlungen beobachtet haben, sind implizite Vorlieben, die die Schutzmaßnahmen favorisieren, deutlich geworden. Dies zeigt, wie stark neue soziale Parameter bereits nach einem Jahr in unserem Habitus sind.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-16730-1

Paper of the Month, July 2022

Assessing the availability of inverse scope in German in the covered box paradigmAssessing the availability of inverse scope in German in the covered box paradigm

Authors: Gisbert Fanselow, Malte Zimmermann, & Mareike Philipp

Comment:  In this paper, we provide an experimental investigation of how speakers of German interpret doubly-quantified sentences. This type of sentences is of particular interest to the field of linguistics, as they can give rise to ambiguities. The relevance of this paper is characterized by both methodological and theoretical insights. Methodologically, the paper stands out in that it is the first experimental study on inverse scope in German employing a covered box design. Thereby it shows that this method is cross-linguistically suitable for examining scope ambiguities. Results from more direct surveys (yes/no answers to direct content questions) could be replicated here with a more indirect method. Since indirect methods are preferable to more direct ones in studies with naive speakers, these results make a relevant contribution to future experimental research in this area. Furthermore, the experimental results are relevant for theory building, as they underpin (i) that doubly-quantified sentences of the type investigated in here give rise to ambiguities in German, contrary to what is often assumed; (ii) that the availability of different scope interpretations ​​is not categorically regulated by a macroparameter between languages, as has been proposed, but is gradual in nature; (iii) that even within a particular language, scope ambiguities are not a one-dimensional phenomenon that is strictly encoded in the grammar, but is characterized by great variation between speakers and items and therefore depends on a wide range of linguistic and cognitive factors.

Link: https://doi.org/10.16995/glossa.5766

Paper of the Month, June 2022

The Perceptual Span Is Dynamically Adjusted in Response to Foveal Load by Beginning Readers

Authors: Johannes M. Meixner, Jessie S. Nixon, & Jochen Laubrock

Comment:  Weil kognitive Verarbeitung langsamer ist als perzeptuelle Verarbeitung, wählt die Aufmerksamkeit aus dem perzeptuellen Angebot aus. Beim Lesen muss dazu kognitive Verarbeitung das perzeptuelle Sampling der Sakkaden inhibieren können. Beeinflusst kognitive Inhibition beim Lesen, welche perzeptuelle Information zu einem gegebenen Zeitpunkt in das kognitive System hereingelassen wird? Dies ist ein Grundgedanke der Foveal-Load-Hypothese. Sie besagt, dass der Fokus der Aufmerksamkeit beim Lesen kleiner wird, wenn schwierige Wörter kognitiv verarbeitet werden. Deshalb sollen weniger Ressourcen für die parafoveale Vorverarbeitung zur Verfügung stehen und die Wahrnehmungsspanne kleiner werden. Bisher ist die Foveal-Load-Hypothese nur indirekt getestet worden. Hier liefern wir durch Kombination einer großen Stichprobe aus der PIER-Studie mit modernen statistischen Methoden und blickkontingenter Präsentation die erste direkte Evidenz für die Modulation der Wahrnehmungsspanne durch die foveale Wortschwierigkeit. Die Wahrnehmungsspanne wird dynamisch moduliert: sie wird kleiner, wenn schwere Wörter gelesen werden und größer, wenn leichte Wörter gelesen werden. Diese Modulation findet man bereits in frühen Schuljahren, was dafür spricht, dass ein allgemeiner Mechanismus dafür verantwortlich ist, der bereits vor dem Lesenlernen etabliert ist, z.B. ein dynamischer Aufmerksamkeitsgradient.

Ein zweiter wichtiger neuer Aspekt ist die Trennung räumlicher und zeitlicher Informationsakkumulation. In einer Vorarbeit (Sperlich, Meixner & Laubrock, 2016) haben wir Methoden entwickelt, mit denen sich Personenparameter für die längsschnittliche Evaluation individueller Unterschiede in der Wahrnehmungsspanne generieren lassen. Diesen Ansatz mit nichtlinearen gemischten Regressionmodellen haben wir in der vorliegenden Studie genutzt, um wortbasierte Schätzungen für zeitliche und räumliche Verarbeitung zu gewinnen. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass die Wahrnehmungsspanne sich deutlich zwischen räumlichen und zeitlichen Entscheidungen unterscheidet. Die räumliche Sakkadenzielauswahl nutzt deutlich weitere Vorschau als die zeitliche Steuerung der Sakkaden. 

Drittens zeigen wir, dass die Entwicklung der Wahrnehmungsspanne eher ihre Grenze erreicht als die Entwicklung der Lesegeschwindigkeit. Dies lässt vermuten, dass bei fortgeschritteneren Lesern die Entwicklung postperzeptueller Prozesse zur Erhöhung der Lesegeschwindigkeit beitragen, etwa des lexikalischen Zugriffs, der syntaktischen Verarbeitung, und der Integration eines mentalen Modells des Textes.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0001140

Additional short summary here

Paper of the Month, May 2022

Creating meaning by taking initiative: Proactive work behavior fosters work meaningfulness

Authors: Doris Fay, Karoline Strauss, Christopher Schwake, & Tina Urbach

Comment: To experience meaning is regarded as essential for psychological well-being and individual growth. Work psychologists, who focus on understanding the factors that contribute to experiencing one’s work as meaningful, emphasize the role of work design and the content of the job. This approach puts the working individual into a position of a passive recipient of their working circumstances. The present paper departs from this by assigning the individual an active role.

Proactive work behavior reflects discretionary, future- and change oriented behaviors at work. Based on the observation that meaningfulness is experienced when people are able to connect to the future we propose that proactive work behavior is associated with higher levels of experienced work meaningfulness. Across three studies with working individuals, two scenario-based experiments and one daily-diary study, we show that proactive work behavior is associated with higher work meaningfulness, and that this effect is particularly strong when individuals work in a context where they find it difficult to connect to the future. 

Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12385

Paper of the Month, April 2022

Association of regional socioeconomic deprivation and rurality with global developmental delay in early childhood: Data from mandatory school entry examinations in Germany

Authors: Stephanie Hoffmann, Mira Tschorn, Niels Michalski, Jens Hoebel, Bernd R. Förstner, Michael A. Rapp, & Jacob Spallek

Comment: In dieser populationsbasierten Analyse von Daten Brandenburger Schuleingangsuntersuchungen untersuchten wir den Einfluss individueller sowie regionaler sozioökonomische Faktoren auf die Entwicklung von Vorschulkindern. Regionale Sozioökonomie wurde mittels German Index of Social Deprivation (GISD) operationalisiert, welcher vom Robert Koch-Institut entwickelt und herausgegeben wird und für jede Postleitzahl Indikatoren aus den Bereichen Bildung, Beruf und Einkommen aggregiert abbildet. Die Daten aller 22.801 Kinder, die in 2018 und 2019 in Brandenburg auf Schuleignung untersucht wurden, wurden im Hinblick auf das Vorhandensein einer allgemeinen Entwicklungsverzögerung untersucht, welche mindestens mit Entwicklungsverzögerungen in den Domänen Sprache und kognitive Fähigkeiten einhergehen. Wir konnten dabei zeigen, dass die familiäre Sozioökonomie den deutlich stärksten Zusammenhang zur Entwicklungsverzögerung der Kinder aufwies, jedoch die regionale Deprivation als kontextuelle Sozioökonomie darüber hinaus einen zusätzlichen Einfluss auf die Entwicklung der Kinder zeigt. Demnach konnten wir zeigen, dass selbst unter Berücksichtigung der familiären Sozioökonomie, die regionale Deprivation einen zusätzlichen Einfluss auf Entwicklungsverzögerungen in den Domänen Sprache und kognitive Fähigkeiten bei Vorschulkindern aufweist. 

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2022.102794

Paper of the Month, March 2022

Pupillary entrainment reveals individual differences in cue weighting in 9-month-old German-learning infants

Authors: Mireia Marimon, Barbara Höhle, & Alan Langus

Comment: In this paper, we investigated how German-speaking adults and 9-month-old German-learning infants weight statistical and prosodic cues when segmenting continuous speech. Measuring pupil size, we showed that adult participants’ pupil size synchronized with prosodic words whilst listening to the speech stream. Regarding infants, the variability in temporal alignment of the pupillary changes indicated that prosodic and statistical cues compete for dominance. Whereas some infants’ pupils synchronized more to prosodic words, other infants’ pupils synchronized to statistical words. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that at least some German-learning infants can segment such a speech stream with statistical cues. In addition, we showed for the first time that this variability in word segmentation at 9 months is related to later language development. In sum, our results reveal individual differences in the relative weighting of statistical and prosodic cues in infants of the same age and how these differences influence later language development. We, therefore, open new research questions for further research.
This project was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105054

Paper of the Month, February 2022

Outcomes of a Delirium Prevention Program in Older Persons After Elective Surgery: A Stepped-Wedge Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial

Authors: Friederike Deeken, Alba Sánchez, Michael A. Rapp, Michael Denkinger, Simone Brefka, Juliane Spank,Carola Bruns, Christine A. F. von Arnim, Olivia C. Küster, Lars O. Conzelmann, Brigitte R. Metz, Christoph Maurer, Yoanna Skrobik, Oksana Forkavets, Gerhard W. Eschweiler, & Christine Thomas

Comment: Postoperative delirium is the most common complication following surgical procedures in elderly patients and can be associated with a number of short- and long-term consequences, including increased morbidity and mortality, cognitive impairment, and increased institutionalization rates. The PAWEL study investigated whether the use of a multimodal, multisector, nonpharmacologic intervention leads to a reduction in postoperative delirium in patients over the age of 70 who have undergone elective surgery. Unique to the study is the transsectoral approach with a 12-month follow-up with regard to the long-term consequences of delirium.
The results of the study, with a total of 1470 patients, demonstrate the effectiveness of the intervention. The PAWEL study demonstrates that a structured, non-pharamacological intervention is a safe and effective preventive measure to reduce the incidence of postoperative delirium in the elderly. However, this effect was not demonstrated for patients undergoing cardiac surgery. The publication appeared in JAMA Surgery, the world's most important journal for surgery.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1001/jamasurg.2021.6370

Paper of the Month, January 2022

Effects of competence feedback on therapist competence and patient outcome: A randomized controlled trial

Authors: Florian Weck, Yvonne M. Junga, Reinhold Kliegl, Daniela Hahn, Katharina Brucker, & Michael Witthöft

Comment: In the present study, a randomized controlled design was used to investigate whether psychotherapy can be improved by feedback (regarding the implementation of the treatment). It was found that feedback improved the quality of the therapy, but not the outcome of the treatment (i.e., there was no difference between the feedback and control groups in terms of patient symptomatology). These findings raise important questions regarding previous assumptions about how psychotherapy works. The work also involves an innovative approach to the analysis of the data. The project was funded by the German Research Foundation (WE 4654/7).

(A pdf version of the paper can be requested from Florian Weck.)

Link: https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000686


UFSKW Papers of the Month 2021

Papers of the Month, January 2021

Papers of the Month, February 2021

Paper of the Month, March 2021

Paper of the Month, April 2021

Paper of the Month, May 2021

Paper of the Month, June 2021

Papers of the Month, July & August 2021

Paper of the Month, September 2021

Paper of the Month, October 2021

Paper of the Month, November 2021

Paper of the Month, December 2021