- P3b reflects periodicity in linguistic sequences (2012)
- Temporal predictability is thought to affect stimulus processing by facilitating the allocation of attentional resources. Recent studies have shown that periodicity of a tonal sequence results in a decreased peak latency and a larger amplitude of the P3b compared with temporally random, i.e., aperiodic sequences. We investigated whether this applies also to sequences of linguistic stimuli (syllables), although speech is usually aperiodic. We compared aperiodic syllable sequences with two temporally regular conditions. In one condition, the interval between syllable onset was fixed, whereas in a second condition the interval between the syllables’ perceptual center (p-center) was kept constant. Event-related potentials were assessed in 30 adults who were instructed to detect irregularities in the stimulus sequences. We found larger P3b amplitudes for both temporally predictable conditions as compared to the aperiodic condition and a shorter P3b latency in the p-center condition than in both other conditions. These findings demonstrate that even in acoustically more complex sequences such as syllable streams, temporal predictability facilitates the processing of deviant stimuli. Furthermore, we provide first electrophysiological evidence for the relevance of the p-center concept in linguistic stimulus processing.
- Aesthetic and emotional effects of meter and rhyme in poetry (2013)
- Metrical patterning and rhyme are frequently employed in poetry but also in infant-directed speech, play, rites, and festive events. Drawing on four line-stanzas from nineteenth and twentieth German poetry that feature end rhyme and regular meter, the present study tested the hypothesis that meter and rhyme have an impact on aesthetic liking, emotional involvement, and affective valence attributions. Hypotheses that postulate such effects have been advocated ever since ancient rhetoric and poetics, yet they have barely been empirically tested. More recently, in the field of cognitive poetics, these traditional assumptions have been readopted into a general cognitive framework. In the present experiment, we tested the influence of meter and rhyme as well as their interaction with lexicality in the aesthetic and emotional perception of poetry. Participants listened to stanzas that were systematically modified with regard to meter and rhyme and rated them. Both rhyme and regular meter led to enhanced aesthetic appreciation, higher intensity in processing, and more positively perceived and felt emotions, with the latter finding being mediated by lexicality. Together these findings clearly show that both features significantly contribute to the aesthetic and emotional perception of poetry and thus confirm assumptions about their impact put forward by cognitive poetics. The present results are explained within the theoretical framework of cognitive fluency, which links structural features of poetry with aesthetic and emotional appraisal.
- Physical exercise during encoding improves vocabulary learning in young female adults: a neuroendocrinological study (2013)
- Acute physical activity has been repeatedly shown to improve various cognitive functions. However, there have been no investigations comparing the effects of exercise during verbal encoding versus exercise prior to encoding on long-term memory performance. In this current psychoneuroendocrinological study we aim to test whether light to moderate ergometric bicycling during vocabulary encoding enhances subsequent recall compared to encoding during physical rest and encoding after being physically active. Furthermore, we examined the kinetics of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in serum which has been previously shown to correlate with learning performance. We also controlled for the BDNF val66met polymorphism. We found better vocabulary test performance for subjects that were physically active during the encoding phase compared to sedentary subjects. Post-hoc tests revealed that this effect was particularly present in initially low performers. BDNF in serum and BDNF genotype failed to account for the current result. Our data indicates that light to moderate simultaneous physical activity during encoding, but not prior to encoding, is beneficial for subsequent recall of new items.