The CogSci/Psych ULAB is the Cognitive Sciences and Psychology division of the Undergraduate Lab @ Berkeley (ULAB). We are an entirely undergraduate-run lab consisting of project groups who replicate a published study and extend the methods based on an original idea throughout the academic year.
Psycholinguistics is the study of how neuroanatomical processes influence language acquisition, language structure, and language use (Menn & Dronkers, 2017). According to the field of psycholinguistics, a concept is represented in the mind and is different from the word associated with those representations. Representational theory of mind seeks to explain concepts through symbols and models of cognitive processes (Williams, 1984). In order to be relevant from a psychological standpoint, representational theory of mind must utilize a computational model rather than focus on individual beliefs. Many different theories use a representational model to explore how individuals acquire and categorize concepts. The aim of this study is to develop a theoretical cognitive model—titled the Semantic-Phonological Association Network (SPAN)—of singular concept generation. While developing SPAN, an examination of the current literature and different theories of models relating to concept generation are used as the foundation for the research. For example, Pinker’s “Why We Curse” explores the relationship between the phonetics of swear words and the physical manifestations they represent (Pinker, 2007). It is necessary to represent the phonological and semantic networks as separate but intricately connected systems. SPAN seeks to symbolize the connection between the phonological and semantic system. The main goal is to establish auditory-semantic priming effects from the relationship between the mental systems and introduce a nuanced version about how one is able to generate singular concepts that contain semantic, phonological and lexical information.You can find our presentation link here:
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Several lines of evidence indicate that glucose can enhance cognitive performancewithout being ingested. Previous research has found that the effect of food anticipation can boostcognitive resources in a testing environment . This study was designed to replicate thefindings utilizing the same population, examining the effect that food anticipation has oncognitive abilities among multiple weight groups. 182 students were included in this replicationstudy. In order to accurately measure the results, the study randomized the order that foodanticipation tasks and cognitive tests were performed. The results indicated that an anticipatoryfood reward effect enhanced the cognitive capabilities of individuals categorized by BMI asoverweight and obese. Furthermore, this effect shifted the attention of these individuals towardlite food options as opposed to regular. Finally, this anticipatory food effect reduced emotionalarousal regarding food for individuals in the obese BMI category. We replicated previousfindings of increased cognitive resources in the presence of food anticipation prior to test taking.These findings add to the growing literature that the presence of food can boost cognitiveresources in testing environments. Future studies should shift the focus away from weight as adriving factor in the results, and instead look at how socio-economic status (SES) and foodinsecurity may affect eye gaze behavior and the anticipatory reward effect associated with foodcues.
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Much of research surrounding reading difficulties is based solely on behavioral analyses.A child’s early and correct diagnosis is imperative to insure that they receive adequate resourcesand support which can severely affect equal opportunities for success in the future. Afterstudying different methods of diagnosis for reading difficulties, we saw most of these tests couldnot assert significant differences between children with and without reading difficulties. Thiscontributes to diagnoses being heavily reliant on behavioral observations. Since statisticallysignificant distinction can’t be made with behavioral tests, researchers are pushed to exploredifferent approaches.In order to explore more concrete approaches to diagnoses, we then looked at fMRI datato determine if we could accurately attribute functional localizations in the brain to responses towords and pictures. Through this, researchers aimed to use specific neuroanatomical images todetermine how the brain activity of a person without reading difficulties corresponds to wordandimage-processing. We compared data between two runs of the same subject as well asbetween subjects in order to determine consistency of the study. Although we could not findconsistency between subject, we were able to explore possible ways to optimize fMRI studies forfuture diagnoses. We hope to one day optimize the data collection system in order to use thelocalization of brain activity to diagnose children with reading difficulties in an unbiased,systematic way.