September 18, 2006

"Physical Activity Moderates Time-of-Day Differences in Older Adults' Working Memory Performance"

"Experimental Aging Research
Issue: Volume 32, Number 4 / October-December 2006
Pages: 431 - 446
URL: Linking Options

Physical Activity Moderates Time-of-Day Differences in Older Adults' Working Memory Performance

Julie M. Bugg A1, Edward L. DeLosh A1, Benjamin A. Clegg A1

A1 Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA


Based on a synthesis of the literature on time of day and physical fitness effects on cognition, the current study examined whether physical activity moderated time-of-day differences in older adults' performance on a working memory task. Sedentary older adults' working memory performance declined significantly from morning to evening, whereas more active older adults performed similarly across the day. This interaction did not extend to performance on a simple reaction time task. A novel explanation based on the selective effect of mental fatigue on executive control processes is proposed."

September 14, 2006

"Balance and dyslexia: An investigation of adults’ abilities"

European Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue: Volume 18, Number 6 / November 2006
Pages: 909 - 936

Balance and dyslexia: An investigation of adults’ abilities

Jamie L. Needle A1, Angela J. Fawcett A1, Roderick I. Nicolson A1

A1 Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK


Balance ability in dyslexia is an issue of considerable theoretical and applied significance, but the literature currently lacks consensus. This study applied objective measures to established balance tasks. 17 dyslexic adults and 20 controls matched for age and IQ undertook the heel-to-toe balance test for 1 minute. Further “dual task? tests were also undertaken in which the subject had to balance while undertaking secondary cognitive tasks (counting, slow choice reaction, fast choice reaction). Two factor analyses of variance revealed significant between-group balance differences in the dual task conditions. 24–82% of the dyslexic group showed balance impairment, depending on the criterion chosen. At the group level, the results are directly consistent with the Nicolson and Fawcett (1990) automatisation deficit hypothesis, but the considerable within-group heterogeneity deserves further investigation.

March 30, 2006

"Study Casts Doubt on Claims That Conservative Students Face Discrimination in Classes "

Thursday, March 30, 2006
From The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Study Casts Doubt on Claims That Conservative Students Face Discrimination in Classes


A study showing that conservative and liberal students do equally well in courses with politically charged content casts doubt on conservative activists' claims that liberal faculty members routinely discriminate against their conservative students.

The study found no difference in the grades conservative and liberal students receive in sociology, cultural anthropology, and women's-studies courses. It also found that conservative students tend to earn higher grades than their liberal classmates in business and economics courses.

Titled "What's in a Grade? Academic Success and Political Orientation," the study was conducted by Markus Kemmelmeier, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Nevada at Reno, who was the lead author; Cherry Danielson, a research fellow at Wabash College; and Jay Basten, a lecturer in kinesiology at the University of Michigan.

The researchers published their paper in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin last October, but it has attracted little attention, even as activists like David Horowitz continue to press state legislatures to adopt a so-called academic bill of rights to make college campuses more "intellectually diverse" and more tolerant of conservatives.

Mr. Kemmelmeier's study follows two others, published within the past seven years, that found that conservative students tended to earn slightly lower grades in majors such as sociology and anthropology. The professor, who describes his politics as slightly left of center, says he did not undertake the study to contribute to the ongoing discussion of political bias on college campuses, but to address ongoing questions in social psychology about the choices people make regarding their interaction with organizations and what personal characteristics contribute to their success within those organizations.

The earlier studies are "consistent with what Horowitz might suggest -- that conservative students are actually not doing all that well in fields that are thought more left-leaning," says Mr. Kemmelmeier. But there's a problem with that argument, he says: The students' performance "has nothing to do with bias" on the part of their professors.

In a four-year longitudinal study that began in the late 1990s, he surveyed 3,890 students at a major public university in the Midwest. Asked to describe their political orientation, 2.7 percent identified themselves as far left, 34.6 percent as liberal, 42 percent as middle of the road, 20 percent as conservative, and 1.2 percent as far right.

Mr. Kemmelmeier then compared the transcripts of a variety of students taking the same courses, specifically courses taught in the economics department and the business school (which Mr. Kemmelmeier considered "hierarchy-enhancing," or conservative) and those taught in American culture, African-American studies, cultural anthropology, education, nursing, sociology, and women's studies (which he considered "hierarchy-attenuating," or liberal).

He found that in the latter courses, students' political orientations had no effect on their grades -- which, the study says, suggests that disciplines such as sociology and anthropology "might be more accepting of a broad range of student perspectives," while economics and business classes "appear to be more sensitive to whether student perspectives are compatible with those of the academic discipline."

In economics and business classes, the study found, conservative students earned better grades. It also found that conservative students were likely to graduate with higher GPA's in those courses than liberal students who entered college with similar SAT scores.

According to the study, conservative students might have an advantage over their peers in such courses because the conservative students might view the courses as more relevant to their future careers and therefore might be motivated to work harder.

Also, the study notes, conservative students might be "more comfortable" with such subjects "because making money is more likely to be a personal goal for them than for liberal students." Moreover, in economics and business courses, "teaching methods and classroom structure might be more amenable to conservative than liberal students, for example, by emphasizing competition over cooperation."

But the study's authors say that liberal students are unlikely to face discrimination from conservative faculty members in such courses. To discriminate against liberal students, professors would need to know the political views of individual students in what are typically large classes; it's unlikely that professors would know their students that well, Mr. Kemmelmeier says. He adds that many professors who teach big courses don't grade their students' papers themselves -- teaching assistants do.

Mr. Kemmelmeier and his colleagues acknowledge that instructors sometimes do grade students to reward or punish them for behavior not at all related to their academic performance.

Still, he does not deny that conservative students -- and sometimes liberal students -- feel sidelined by their professors' views, if those views are openly expressed. "I'm not yet clear that this means the professor will really grade them down," Mr. Kemmelmeier says. "I find it plausible, but I’ve seen no evidence of it." "

March 29, 2006

"Longitudinal change and longitudinal stability of individual differences in children's emotion understanding"

Cognition & Emotion

"Volume 19, Number 8 / December 2005

1158 - 1174

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Longitudinal change and longitudinal stability of individual differences in children's emotion understanding

Francisco Pons and Paul L. Harris

A1 University of Aalborg, Denmark
A2 Harvard University, USA


Individual differences in children's emotion understanding have been intensively investigated during the past decade. Theses studies suggest that individual differences emerge quite early, are present among both preschool and school?aged children, are not restricted to the understanding of some specific components of emotions, correlate with other characteristics of the individual and his or her social network, and may persist even after an intervention programme. However, because few of these studies had a longitudinal design we know little about change and stability in these individual differences especially among school?aged children when several components of emotion understanding, both simple and complex, are assessed. Therefore, the two aims of the present study were to examine both change and stability in individual differences among school?aged children in their understanding of several components of emotion. For this purpose, 42 children aged 7, 9, and 11 years at Time I were retested 13 months later at Time II on several components of emotion understanding, both simple and complex, with the Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC). The results show that: (1) The two younger age groups clearly improved their overall level of emotion understanding; (2) this improvement was not equally distributed across the different components of emotion understanding; (3) individual differences in the overall level of emotion understanding were very stable, with overall level at Time I being a good predictor of overall level at Time 2; and (4) this stability was observable for both simple and complex components of emotion understanding. "

Multidimensional scaling of emotional responses to music: The effect of musical expertise and of the duration of the excerpts

Cognition & Emotion
Volume 19, Number 8 / December 2005

1113 - 1139

Linking Options

Multidimensional scaling of emotional responses to music: The effect of musical expertise and of the duration of the excerpts

E. Bigand , S. Vieillard , F. Madurell , J. Marozeau , A. Dacquet

A1 LEAD?CNRS, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France
A2 IRCAM?CNRS?Paris, France
A3 LEAD?CNRS, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon and UFR de musicologie, Paris IV?Sorbonne, France
A4 IRCAM?CNRS?Paris, France
A5 UFR de musicologie, Paris IV?Sorbonne, France


Musically trained and untrained listeners were required to listen to 27 musical excerpts and to group those that conveyed a similar emotional meaning (Experiment 1). The groupings were transformed into a matrix of emotional dissimilarity that was analysed through multidimensional scaling methods (MDS). A 3?dimensional space was found to provide a good fit of the data, with arousal and emotional valence as the primary dimensions. Experiments 2 and 3 confirmed the consistency of this 3?dimensional space using excerpts of only 1 second duration. The overall findings indicate that emotional responses to music are very stable within and between participants, and are weakly influenced by musical expertise and excerpt duration. These findings are discussed in light of a cognitive account of musical emotion.