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Author: Werner Sommer (154)


Oct
2017

The enhanced N1 component in event-related potentials (ERP) to face stimuli, termed N170, is considered to indicate the structural encoding of faces. Previously, individual differences in the latency of the N170 have been related to face and object cognition abilities. By orthogonally manipulating content domain (faces vs objects) and task demands (easy/speed vs difficult/accuracy) in both psychometric and EEG tasks, we investigated the uniqueness of the processes underlying face cognition as compared with object cognition and the extent to which the N1/N170 component can explain individual differences in face and object cognition abilities.

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Dec
1969

Facial identity and facial expression processing are crucial socio-emotional abilities but seem to show only limited psychometric uniqueness when the processing speed is considered in easy tasks. We applied a comprehensive measurement of processing speed and contrasted performance specificity in socio-emotional, social and non-social stimuli from an individual differences perspective. Performance in a multivariate task battery could be best modeled by a general speed factor and a first-order factor capturing some specific variance due to processing emotional facial expressions.

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Dec
2017

Adaptive behavior frequently depends on inference from past experience. Recent studies suggest that the underlying process of integrating related memories may depend on interaction between hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Here, we investigated how hippocampal damage affects memory integration.

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Oct
2017

Little is known about the effects of the motivational significance of errors in Go/No-go tasks. We investigated the impact of monetary punishment on the error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe) for both overt errors and partial errors, that is, no-go trials without overt responses but with covert muscle activities. We compared high and low punishment conditions where errors were penalized with 50 or 5 yen, respectively, and a control condition without monetary consequences for errors.

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Dec
1969

According to recent interpretations of repetition priming, response codes are automatically bound to a stimulus and retrieved during successive presentations of the stimulus, hence, affecting its current processing. Despite a solid corpus of behavioural evidence in line with this interpretation, electrophysiological studies have reported contrasting results regarding the nature and the timing of response code retrieval. The present experiment aims to establish at which stage of information processing decision and action codes are retrieved in repetition priming.

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Jul
2017

Previous research on the association between intra-subject variability (ISV) in reaction times (RTs) and the ValMet polymorphism of the catechol-o-methyltransferase gene (COMT; rs4680) has yielded mixed results. The present study compared the associations between COMT genotype and ISV in P3b latency measured during working and secondary memory tasks using residue iteration decomposition (RIDE) of single trial latencies. We compared the outcome of the present analyses with a previous analysis of the same data (N=70, n-back tasks) using an alternative single-trial method.

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Jul
2017

Although a direct link has been established between self-experienced disgust and salivary secretion, it is unclear whether this physiological index is modulated by the social experience of disgust (i.e., exposure to the facial expression of disgust).

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May
2017

Covert shifts of attention that follow the presentation of a cue are associated with lateralized components in the event-related potential (ERP): the "early directing attention negativity" (EDAN) and the "anterior directing attention negativity" (ADAN). Traditionally, these shifts are thought to take place while gaze is fixated and, thus, in the absence of saccades. However, microsaccades of small amplitude (<1°) occur frequently and involuntarily also during fixation and are closely correlated with spatial attention.

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Jun
2017

Visuospatial attention is an important mechanism in reading that governs the uptake of information from foveal and parafoveal regions of the visual field. However, the spatiotemporal dynamics of how attention is allocated during eye fixations are not completely understood. The current study explored the use of EEG alpha-band oscillations to investigate the spatial distribution of attention during reading.

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Dec
1969

Microsaccades - i.e., small fixational saccades generated in the superior colliculus (SC) - have been linked to spatial attention.

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Apr
2017

The intra-subject variability (ISV) in brain responses during cognitive processing across experimental trials has been recognised as an important facet of neural functionality reflecting an intrinsic neurophysiological characteristic of the brain. In recent decades, ISV in behaviour has been found to be significantly associated with cognitive functioning varying across individuals, development, ages, and pathological conditions. Event-related potentials (ERPs) measured in single trials are important tools for characterizing ISV at the neural level.

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Apr
2017

Despite a wealth of knowledge about the neural mechanisms behind emotional facial expression processing, little is known about how they relate to individual differences in social cognition abilities. We studied individual differences in the event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by dynamic facial expressions. First, we assessed the latent structure of the ERPs, reflecting structural face processing in the N170, and the allocation of processing resources and reflexive attention to emotionally salient stimuli, in the early posterior negativity (EPN) and the late positive complex (LPC).

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Feb
2017

The classic Stroop task demonstrates the persistent and automatic effects of the meaning of color words that are very hard to inhibit when the task is to name the word color. Post-hypnotic instructions may enable highly-hypnotizable participants to inhibit the automatic access to word meaning. Here we compared the consequences of hypnosis alone and hypnosis with post-hypnotic instructions on the Stroop effect and its facilitation and inhibition components.

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Dec
1969

Stimulus-locked averaged event-related potentials (ERPs) are among the most frequently used signals in Cognitive Neuroscience. However, the late, cognitive or endogenous ERP components are often variable in latency from trial to trial in a component-specific way, compromising the stability assumption underlying the averaging scheme. Here we show that trial-to-trial latency variability of ERP components not only blurs the average ERP waveforms, but may also attenuate existing or artificially induce condition effects in amplitude.

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Nov
2016

Overt articulation produces strong artifacts in the electroencephalogram and in event-related potentials (ERPs), posing a serious problem for investigating language production with these variables. Here we describe the properties of articulation-related artifacts and propose a novel correction procedure. Experiment 1 co-recorded ERPs and trajectories of the articulators with an electromagnetic articulograph from a single participant.

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Oct
2016

Motor learning is associated with a decrease in frontal control-related brain activity and increase of central and parietal motor-related activity. Contextual interference (CI), manipulated typically by blocked versus randomized training schedules, affects motor learning, resulting in inferior performance during training but in superior performance during retention and transfer. The CI effect is often explained by increased processing demands under high CI training.

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Oct
2016

According to Schmidt's schema theory skill acquisition is based on schema formation where multiple learning incidents with varying task features are abstracted to a unifying pattern, the schema. Practice can be scheduled block-wise, with low contextual interference (CI) or randomly, with high CI. The greater effort during high CI training usually results in reduced training success but enhanced retention and transfer performance.

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Dec
1969

The rejection of unfair offers in the ultimatum game (UG) indicates negative reciprocity. The model of strong reciprocity claims that negative reciprocity reflects prosociality because the rejecting individual is sacrificing resources in order to punish unfair behavior. However, a recent study found that the rejection rate of unfair offers is linked to assertiveness (status defense model).

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Sep
2016

Neural correlates of word recognition are commonly studied with (rapid) serial visual presentation (RSVP), a condition that eliminates three fundamental properties of natural reading: parafoveal preprocessing, saccade execution, and the fast changes in attentional processing load occurring from fixation to fixation. We combined eye-tracking and EEG to systematically investigate the impact of all three factors on brain-electric activity during reading. Participants read lists of words either actively with eye movements (eliciting fixation-related potentials) or maintained fixation while the text moved passively through foveal vision at a matched pace (RSVP-with-flankers paradigm, eliciting ERPs).

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Feb
2016

In this study on skill acquisition in a computerized throwing task, we examined the effect of graded correct-related performance feedback on the reward positivity of the event-related brain potential (ERP). Theories of reinforcement learning predict effects of reward magnitude and expectancy on the reward prediction error. The later is supposed to be reflected in reward positivity, a fronto-central ERP component.

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Feb
2016

Affect and motivation influence the error-related negativity (ERN) elicited by full errors; however, it is unknown whether they also influence ERNs to correct responses accompanied by covert incorrect response activation (partial errors). Here we compared a neutral condition with conditions, where correct responses were rewarded or where incorrect responses were punished with gains and losses of small amounts of money, respectively. Data analysis distinguished ERNs elicited by full and partial errors.

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Feb
2016

The late components of event-related brain potentials (ERPs) pose a difficult problem in source localization. One of the reasons is the smearing of these components in conventional averaging because of trial-to-trial latency-variability. The smearing problem may be addressed by reconstructing the ERPs after latency synchronization with the Residue Iteration Decomposition (RIDE) method.

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Dec
2015

Semantic knowledge is thought to be at least partially grounded in sensory, motor, and affective information, acquired through experiences in our inner and outer world. The reactivation of experience-related information during meaning access is called simulation. In the affective simulation account, it is assumed that the grounding information depends on the concepts' concreteness.

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Oct
2015

Natural reading involves the preprocessing of upcoming words, resulting in shorter fixations on words visible in the parafovea during preceding fixations. While this preview benefit is established in behavior, its brain-electric correlates have only recently been investigated. Using fixation-related potentials, an attenuation of the occipitotemporal N1 component for words that were parafoveally visible during preceding fixations has been demonstrated.

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Dec
1969

The present study contributes to the discussion on the automaticity of semantic processing. Whereas most previous research investigated semantic processing at word level, the present study addressed semantic processing during sentence reading. A dual task paradigm was combined with the recording of event-related brain potentials.

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Dec
1969

It has been shown that counterintuitive ideas from mythological and religious texts are more acceptable than other (non-religious) world knowledge violations. In the present experiment we explored whether this relates to the way they are interpreted (literal vs. metaphorical).

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Jan
2016

The late positive potential (LPP) elicited by affective stimuli in the event-related brain potential (ERP) is often assumed to be a member of the P3 family. The present study addresses the relationship of the LPP to the classic P3b in a published data set, using a non-parametric permutation test for topographical comparisons, and residue iteration decomposition to assess the temporal features of the LPP and the P3b by decomposing the ERP into several component clusters according to their latency variability. The experiment orthogonally manipulated arousal and valence of words, which were either read or judged for lexicality.

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Sep
2015

Due to capacity limitation, visual attention must be focused to a limited region of the visual field. Nevertheless, it is assumed that the size of that region may vary with task demands. We aimed to obtain direct evidence for the modulation of visuospatial attention as a function of foveal and parafoveal task load.

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Dec
1969

Readers differ considerably in their speed of self-paced reading. One factor known to influence fixation durations in reading is the preprocessing of words in parafoveal vision. Here we investigated whether individual differences in reading speed or the amount of information extracted from upcoming words (the preview benefit) can be explained by basic differences in extrafoveal vision--i.

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Jun
2015

Trial-to-trial latency variability pervades cognitive EEG responses and may mix and smear ERP components but is usually ignored in conventional ERP averaging. Existing attempts to decompose temporally overlapping and latency-variable ERP components show major limitations. Here, we propose a theoretical framework and model of ERPs consisting of temporally overlapping components locked to different external events or varying in latency from trial to trial.

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Jul
2015

Despite the well-known influence of emotional meaning on cognition, relatively less is known about its effects on reading behavior. We investigated whether fixation behavior during the reading of Chinese sentences is influenced by emotional word meaning in the parafovea. Two-character target words embedded into the same sentence frames provided emotionally positive, negative, or neutral contents.

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Jul
2015

Conventionally, event-related brain potentials (ERPs) are obtained by averaging a number of single trials. This can be problematic due to trial-to-trial latency variability. Residue iteration decomposition (RIDE) was developed to decompose ERPs into component clusters with different latency variability and to re-synchronize the separated components into a reconstructed ERP.

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Jan
2015

Covert shifts of visuospatial attention are traditionally assumed to occur in the absence of oculomotor behavior. In contrast, recent behavioral studies have linked attentional cueing effects to the occurrence of microsaccades, small eye movements executed involuntarily during attempted fixation. Here we used a new type of electrophysiological marker to explore the attention-microsaccade relationship, the visual brain activity evoked by the microsaccade itself.

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Jan
2015

There is a widely accepted notion that movement elements are assembled prior to movement execution in a central motor programming stage. However, it is not clear how this stage is structured-whether it is a unitary stage allowing different motor parameters to cross talk or whether there are several independent processes dealing with each motor parameter. We addressed this question by orthogonally manipulating two movement-related factors: response sequence complexity and movement duration.

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Dec
1969

Despite the importance of perceiving and recognizing facial expressions in everyday life, there is no comprehensive test battery for the multivariate assessment of these abilities. As a first step toward such a compilation, we present 16 tasks that measure the perception and recognition of facial emotion expressions, and data illustrating each task's difficulty and reliability. The scoring of these tasks focuses on either the speed or accuracy of performance.

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Oct
2014

Processing of reward is the basis of adaptive behavior of the human being. Neural correlates of reward processing seem to be influenced by developmental changes from adolescence to late adulthood. The aim of this study is to uncover these neural correlates during a slot machine gambling task across the lifespan.

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Aug
2014

We investigated the motor planning and reprogramming of facial expressions of happiness and anger with a response-priming task. A response signal commanded the production of a validly or invalidly cued facial expression. Electromyogram showed performance costs of inhibiting the falsely prepared expression and reprogramming the correct one in invalid trials.

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Dec
1969

Face cognition is a crucial skill for social interaction and shows large individual differences in healthy adults, suggesting a possibility for improvement in some. We developed and tested specific training procedures for the accuracy of face memory and the speed of face cognition. Two groups each of 20 healthy middle-aged trainees practiced for 29 daily sessions of 15 minutes duration with different computerized home-based training procedures.

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Dec
1969

Syntactic violations in sentences elicit a P600 component in the event-related potential, which is frequently interpreted as signaling reanalysis or repair of the sentence structure. However, P600 components have been reported also for semantic and combined semantic and syntactic violations, giving rise to still other interpretations. In many of these studies, the violation might be of special significance for the task of the participants; however there is a lack of studies directly targeting task effects on the P600.

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Mar
2014

Event-related potentials provide strong evidence for a face-specific process that peaks at about 170 ms following stimulus onset--the N170 effect. The N170 has been shown to be sensitive to adaptation, reflected in an amplitude reduction by repeated face presentation, which is usually considered to be driven by bottom-up processes. Here we investigated whether the N170 adaptation profile can be modulated by top-down factors aiming at holistic or feature-based processing.

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Dec
1969

Although most people can identify facial expressions of emotions well, they still differ in this ability. According to embodied simulation theories understanding emotions of others is fostered by involuntarily mimicking the perceived expressions, causing a "reactivation" of the corresponding mental state. Some studies suggest automatic facial mimicry during expression viewing; however, findings on the relationship between mimicry and emotion perception abilities are equivocal.

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Jun
2014

Face cognition performance is related to individual differences in cognitive subprocesses, as reflected in the amplitudes and latencies of event-related brain potentials (ERPs; Herzmann, Kunina, Sommer, & Wilhelm, 2010). In order to replicate and extend these findings, 110 participants were tested on a comprehensive task battery measuring face cognition abilities and established cognitive abilities, followed by ERP recordings in a face-learning-and-recognition task. We replicated the links of the ERP components indicating the speed of structural face encoding (N170 latency) and access to structural representations in memory (early repetition effect [ERE]/N250r) with the accuracy and speed of face cognition and with established cognitive abilities.

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Feb
2014

Emotional facial expressions usually arise dynamically from a neutral expression. Yet, most previous research focused on static images. The present study investigated basic aspects of processing dynamic facial expressions.

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Dec
2014

Coding of facial emotion expressions is increasingly performed by automated emotion expression scoring software; however, there is limited discussion on how best to score the resulting codes. We present a discussion of facial emotion expression theories and a review of contemporary emotion expression coding methodology. We highlight methodological challenges pertinent to scoring software-coded facial emotion expression codes and present important psychometric research questions centered on comparing competing scoring procedures of these codes.

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Nov
2013

This paper outlines a theoretical approach for optimisation of the coagulation zone for thermal ablation procedures and considerations for its practical application.
The theoretical approach is outlined in the Cartesian coordinate system. Considerations for practical application are implemented.

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Sep
2013

We studied the case of transparent word labels (e.g., "push") placed on glass doors, when viewed from the other side as mirror-reversed script, hence requiring an action opposite to word meaning.

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Dec
1969

Although research addresses the effects of a meal's context on food preference, the psychological consequences of meal situations are largely unexplored. We compared the cognitive and emotional effects of a restaurant meal eaten in the company of others to a solitary meal consumed in a plain office using pre- and post-tests analysis and controlling for the kind and amount of food consumed. Three tasks were conducted, measuring: (1) semantic memory (2) cognitive control and error monitoring, and (3) processing of emotional facial expressions.

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Dec
1969

A number of studies have shown an impact of speed of a developing facial expression of emotion on its recognition and perceived naturalness. Still, the impact of speed at constant, short presentation times, as normally used in many experiments is unclear. In the present study participants classified faces displaying facial expressions of six basic emotions in static and dynamic presentation modes and three different types of neutral movements.

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Dec
1969

Microsaccades during fixation have been suggested to counteract visual fading. Recent experiments have also observed microsaccade-related neural responses from cellular record, scalp electroencephalogram (EEG), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The underlying mechanism, however, is not yet understood and highly debated.

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Dec
1969

Choice reaction times are shorter when stimulus and response locations are compatible than when they are incompatible as in the Simon effect. Recent studies revealed that Simon effects are strongly attenuated when there is temporal overlap with a different high-priority task, accompanied by a decrease of early location-related response priming as reflected in the lateralized readiness potential (LRP). The latter result was obtained in a study excluding overlap of stimulus location with any other dimension in the tasks.

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