New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

The Brain’s Tendency to Bind Audiovisual Signals Is Stable but Not General

Brian Odegaard and Ladan Shams 

Studies have found that there is quite a bit of variability in the way people integrate information from different sensory modalities; however, little is known about the mechanism responsible for this between-person variability. Participants completed a temporal-numerosity judgment task in which they had to count the number of beeps and the number of flashes that were presented and a spatial localization task in which they had to localize auditory, visual, or audiovisual stimuli. The researchers found that while binding tendency was stable within task from one time point to another, binding tendencies did not generalize across tasks. These results suggest that multisensory integration is dependent on local mechanisms rather than on a global mechanism that would generalize across tasks.

Dynamic Engagement of Cognitive Control Modulates Recovery From Misinterpretation During Real-Time Language Processing

Nina S. Hsu and Jared M. Novick

People sometimes interpret heard speech incorrectly but are able to quickly resolve the error. To test the hypotheses that cognitive control may play a role in these corrections, the researchers manipulated participants’ cognitive control by interleaving a Stroop task with a language-comprehension task. In the task, congruent (color and word matched) or incongruent (color and word did not match) Stroop trials preceded ambiguous or nonambiguous sentences. Participants made fewer comprehension errors, dwelled less on incorrect interpretations, and recovered faster from incorrect interpretations when cognitive control was engaged. The researchers conclude that cognitive control helps people reinterpret sentences, avoiding interpretation failures.

Attention Alters Perceived Attractiveness

Viola S. Störmer and George A. Alvarez

Can attention alter the perceived attractiveness of a face? In a series of studies, participants were shown two faces in gray scale: one that moved upward and one that moved downward. In some studies, participants were told to judge the vertical position of the face they found most attractive; in other studies, they were told to judge the vertical position of the face with the most contrast around the eye. A cue was presented on one side of the screen before participants saw the faces. The purpose of this cue was to draw participant’s attention to a specific face, but the participants themselves were told that the cue was task irrelevant. Attended faces were judged as more attractive than unattended faces, and faces with greater contrast around the eyes were judged as more attractive than faces with lower contrast. The researchers hypothesize that attention to a face increases the appearance of contrast around the eyes, leading people to judge those faces as more attractive.

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