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  • Processes of Emotional Meaning and Response Coordination

    27 October 2017

    © Oxford University Press 2014. All rights reserved. When and how are meaning processes involved in unfolding emotions? This chapter evaluates answers to this question provided by contemporary psychological theory, distinguishing approaches that see emotions as meanings attached to behavioural episodes after the fact, as responses to prior meanings extracted from personenvironment transactions, and as actions that serve to communicate meanings to others. A fourth alternative is to see meaning as emergent rather than integrative, coordinative, or intended. Emotions are not only determinate responses to separately defined meanings or communicative acts driven by internal goals, but also situated adjustments to unfolding events and active ways of transforming or producing meaning in collaboration with other people. Further, emotional meaning can be seen as an activity performed by interactants rather than an integrated piece of cognitive content (a thought or mental representation). In emotion, "meaning" should be read as verb as well as noun.

  • The nonvisual illusion of self-touch: Misaligned hands and anatomical implausibility.

    21 February 2018

    The self-touch illusion is elicited when the participant (with eyes closed) administers brushstrokes to a prosthetic hand while the examiner administers synchronous brushstrokes to the participant's other (receptive) hand. In three experiments we investigated the effects of misalignment on the self-touch illusion. In experiment 1 we manipulated alignment (0 degrees, 45 degrees, 90 degrees, 135 degrees, 180 degrees) of the prosthetic hand relative to the participant's receptive hand. The illusion was equally strong at 0 degrees and 45 degrees: the two conditions in which the prosthetic hand was in an anatomically plausible orientation. To investigate whether the illusion was diminished at 90 degrees (and beyond) by anatomical implausibility rather than by misalignment, in experiment 2 hand positioning was changed. The illusion was equally strong at 0 degrees, 45 degrees, and 90 degrees, but diminished at 135 degrees despite the prosthetic hand now being in an anatomically plausible orientation. Thus the illusion is diminished with misalignment of 135 degrees, irrespective of anatomical plausibility. Having demonstrated that the illusion was equally strong with the hands aligned (0 degrees) or misaligned by 45 degrees, in experiment 3 we demonstrated that participants did not detect a 45 degrees misalignment. Large degrees of misalignment prevent a compelling experience of the self-touch illusion, and the self-touch illusion prevents detection of small degrees of misalignment.

  • Mu suppression - A good measure of the human mirror neuron system?

    20 March 2018

    Mu suppression has been proposed as a signature of the activity of the human mirror neuron system (MNS). However the mu frequency band (8-13 Hz) overlaps with the alpha frequency band, which is sensitive to attentional fluctuation, and thus mu suppression could potentially be confounded by changes in attentional engagement. The specific baseline against which mu suppression is assessed may be crucial, yet there is little consistency in how this is defined. We examined mu suppression in 61 typical adults, the largest mu suppression study so far conducted. We compared different methods of baselining, and examined activity at central and occipital electrodes, to both biological (hands) and non-biological (kaleidoscope) moving stimuli, to investigate the involvement of attention and alpha activity in mu suppression. We also examined changes in beta power, another candidate index of MNS engagement. We observed strong mu suppression restricted to central electrodes when participants performed hand movements, demonstrating that mu is indeed responsive to the activity of the motor cortex. However, when we looked for a similar signature of mu suppression to passively observed stimuli, the baselining method proved to be crucial. Selective suppression for biological versus non-biological stimuli was seen at central electrodes only when we used a within-trial baseline based on a static stimulus: this method greatly reduced trial-by-trial variation in the suppression measure compared with baselines based on blank trials presented in separate blocks. Even in this optimal condition, 16-21% of participants showed no mu suppression. Changes in beta power also did not match our predicted pattern for MNS engagement, and did not seem to offer a better measure than mu. Our conclusions are in contrast to those of a recent meta-analysis, which concluded that mu suppression is a valid means to examine mirror neuron activity. We argue that mu suppression can be used to index the human MNS, but the effect is weak and unreliable and easily confounded with alpha suppression.

  • The Genetic and Environmental Foundation of the Simple View of Reading in Chinese.

    20 March 2018

    The Simple View of Reading (SVR) in Chinese was examined in a genetically sensitive design. A total of 270 pairs of Chinese twins (190 pairs of monozygotic twins and 80 pairs of same-sex dizygotic twins) were tested on Chinese vocabulary and word reading at the mean age 7.8 years and reading comprehension of sentences and passages one year later. Results of behavior-genetic analyses showed that both vocabulary and word reading had significant independent genetic influences on reading comprehension, and the two factors together accounted for most but not all of the genetic influences on reading comprehension. In addition, sentence comprehension had a stronger genetic correlation with word reading while passage comprehension showed a trend of stronger genetic overlap with vocabulary. These findings suggest that the genetic foundation of the SVR in Chinese is largely supported in that language comprehension and decoding are two core skills for reading comprehension in nonalphabetic as well as alphabetic written languages.

  • A Putative Multiple-Demand System in the Macaque Brain.

    14 March 2018

    UNLABELLED: In humans, cognitively demanding tasks of many types recruit common frontoparietal brain areas. Pervasive activation of this "multiple-demand" (MD) network suggests a core function in supporting goal-oriented behavior. A similar network might therefore be predicted in nonhuman primates that readily perform similar tasks after training. However, an MD network in nonhuman primates has not been described. Single-cell recordings from macaque frontal and parietal cortex show some similar properties to human MD fMRI responses (e.g., adaptive coding of task-relevant information). Invasive recordings, however, come from limited prespecified locations, so they do not delineate a macaque homolog of the MD system and their positioning could benefit from knowledge of where MD foci lie. Challenges of scanning behaving animals mean that few macaque fMRI studies specifically contrast levels of cognitive demand, so we sought to identify a macaque counterpart to the human MD system using fMRI connectivity in 35 rhesus macaques. Putative macaque MD regions, mapped from frontoparietal MD regions defined in humans, were found to be functionally connected under anesthesia. To further refine these regions, an iterative process was used to maximize their connectivity cross-validated across animals. Finally, whole-brain connectivity analyses identified voxels that were robustly connected to MD regions, revealing seven clusters across frontoparietal and insular cortex comparable to human MD regions and one unexpected cluster in the lateral fissure. The proposed macaque MD regions can be used to guide future electrophysiological investigation of MD neural coding and in task-based fMRI to test predictions of similar functional properties to human MD cortex. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: In humans, a frontoparietal "multiple-demand" (MD) brain network is recruited during a wide range of cognitively demanding tasks. Because this suggests a fundamental function, one might expect a similar network to exist in nonhuman primates, but this remains controversial. Here, we sought to identify a macaque counterpart to the human MD system using fMRI connectivity. Putative macaque MD regions were functionally connected under anesthesia and were further refined by iterative optimization. The result is a network including lateral frontal, dorsomedial frontal, and insular and inferior parietal regions closely similar to the human counterpart. The proposed macaque MD regions can be useful in guiding electrophysiological recordings or in task-based fMRI to test predictions of similar functional properties to human MD cortex.

  • Factors influencing planning of a familiar grasp to an object: what it is to pick a cup.

    23 March 2018

    We assessed the factors influencing the planning of actions required to manipulate one of two everyday objects with matching dimensions but openings at opposite ends: a cup and a vase. We found that, for cups, measures of movement preparation to reach and grasp the object were influenced by whether the grasp was made to the functional part of the object (wide opening) and whether the action would end in a supinated as opposed to a pronated grasp. These factors interacted such that effects of hand posture were found only when a less familiar grasp was made to the non-functional part of the cup (the base). These effects were not found with the vase, which has a less familiar location for grasping. We interpret the results in terms of a parallel model of action selection, modulated by both the familiarity of the grasp to a part of the object, likely to reflect object 'affordances' and the end state comfort of the action.

  • Akshara-phonology mappings: The common yet uncommon case of the consonant cluster

    28 January 2018

    This study examined the reading and spelling of consonant clusters in Kannada among native speaking Grade 3 children (N = 62). The consonant cluster is represented by a CCV akshara and while the frequency of specific CCV akshara in child-directed texts is medium to very low, the generic akshara type is exceptionally productive and frequently encountered. The CCV akshara is an orthographic syllable that encodes a phonological syllable in a matched mapping of akshara-to-phonology, but within a word, can also encode other phonological information depending on neighbouring syllables. The study tested whether children are supported better when akshara-phonology mapping is matched and whether error patterns differ when reading and when spelling words with matched and mismatched mappings. The results showed that awareness of the principles of akshara-phonology mapping appears to be available early in literacy acquisition in Kannada, yet there are word level differences in children's awareness of these principles and mismatched mappings are more vulnerable to error. The results are used to discuss orthographic learning in akshara languages. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.

  • Re-thinking support: The hidden school-to-work challenges for individuals with special needs

    27 October 2017

    This paper examines the hidden challenges experienced by individuals with special needs during the transition years between school and work. An assessment framework is proposed that covers domains of difficulties, developmental tasks during the transition years, the matrix of support within the home-community-institutions ecosystems, and the individual's personal profile of schooling experience, academic attainments, interests, aptitudes and sense of self-determination. The paper ends with a model for intervention addressing self-efficacy and the social cognitive environment of the individual. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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