Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:
M. Karl Healey, K. W. Joan Ngo, and Lynn Hasher
Researchers have argued that successful retrieval of a memory requires suppression of competing information. The authors examined the suppression abilities of older and younger adults using a novel paradigm that allowed them to study below-baseline suppression, which is considered a hallmark of true suppression effects. They found that younger adults suppressed competing information to below-baseline levels of activity, even when the competing information was never explicitly presented. Older adults, in contrast, did not suppress competing information. This suggests that memory deficits in older adults may be related to impaired suppression abilities.
Olivier Mascaro and Gergely Csibra
How do infants learn social-dominance hierarchies? Infants viewed a series of video clips in which one character was dominant over another. The videos were presented either in dominance order (A > B, B > C, C > D) or out of dominance order (A > B, C > D, B > C). The infants then viewed test videos that were either congruent or incongruent with the previously established dominant relationships. Infants who viewed the original clips out of dominance order looked longer at incongruent videos than did infants who had seen the original clips presented in dominance order, which suggests that infants build social structures incrementally.
Roger Johansson and Mikael Johansson
People often make spontaneous eye movements when recalling episodic information from memory, but the role of these eye movements is not well understood. Participants saw 24 objects distributed equally among four quadrants of a computer screen. They then answered questions about the spatial arrangement or orientation of the objects while viewing a blank screen, fixating on a central point, or looking inside a square congruent or incongruent with the location of the objects. Memory for an item was best when focusing on the square congruent with the location of the item, suggesting that eye movements play a functional role during memory retrieval.
Fabienne Chetail and Alain Content
Although researchers have made great strides in understanding how we process monosyllabic words, less is known about how we process multisyllabic words. To test the authors’ hypothesis that the arrangement of consonants and vowels in the letter strings of words serves as a parsing cue that aids in word processing, participants estimated the length of words that differed in number of orthographic units (units of contiguous vowels). Words with fewer orthographic units were estimated to be shorter than words of the same length with more orthographic units, which supports the authors’ hypothesis.