New publication by Irune Fernandez-Prieto

Congratulations to Irune who, with her colleagues at Jordi Navarra's lab, has just published a study showing that passive exposure to melodies elicits spatial predictions.

Reference: Romero-Rivas, C., Vera-Constán, F., Rodríguez-Cuadrado, S., Puigcerver, L., Fernandez-Prieto, I., Navarra, J. (2018). Seeing music: The perception of melodic 'ups and downs' modulates the spatial processing of visual stimuli. Neuropsychologia, 117, 67-74. Doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.05.009

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Abstract: Musical melodies have "peaks" and "valleys". Although the vertical component of pitch and music is well-known, the mechanisms underlying its mental representation still remain elusive. We show evidence regarding the importance of previous experience with melodies for crossmodal interactions to emerge. The impact of these crossmodal interactions on other perceptual and attentional processes was also studied. Melodies including two tones with different frequency (e.g., E4 and D3) were repeatedly presented during the study. These melodies could either generate strong predictions (e.g., E4-D3-E4-D3-E4-[D3]) or not (e.g., E4-D3-E4-E4-D3-[?]). After the presentation of each melody, the participants had to judge the colour of a visual stimulus that appeared in a position that was, according to the traditional vertical connotations of pitch, either congruent (e.g., high-low-high-low-[up]), incongruent (high-low-high-low-[down]) or unpredicted with respect to the melody. Behavioural and electroencephalographic responses to the visual stimuli were obtained. Congruent visual stimuli elicited faster responses at the end of the experiment than at the beginning. Additionally, incongruent visual stimuli that broke the spatial prediction generated by the melody elicited larger P3b amplitudes (reflecting 'surprise' responses). Our results suggest that the passive (but repeated) exposure to melodies elicits spatial predictions that modulate the processing of other sensory events.

Alicia Leiva is awarded a Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral grant!

 Alicia testing a participant in the Cognitive Psychology Laboratory

Alicia testing a participant in the Cognitive Psychology Laboratory

Congratulations to Alicia who has just been awarded a 2 years post-doctoral position by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness to go work with Prof. Juan Lupiañez at the University of Granada. Alicia was ranked 3rd nation-wide and is one of only 7 recipients of this highly competitive scheme in the psychology category.

The Juan de la Cierva scheme is one of two national schemes aimed at promoting the post-doctoral fundamental research training of young scientists in Spanish researcher centers. A total of 225 grants have been awarded as part of the 2017 call, 7 of them in psychology.

Keynote address at the 13th Annual Meeting of the Portuguese Society for Experimental Psychology

 Prof. Fabrice Parmentier delivering the keynote address at the 13th Annual Meeting of the APPE (April 13th, 2018)

Prof. Fabrice Parmentier delivering the keynote address at the 13th Annual Meeting of the APPE (April 13th, 2018)

On April 13th-14th, the University of Minho hosted the 13th Annual Meeting of the Portuguese Society for Experimental Psychology (APPE), an exciting and stimulating event gathering researchers in all fields of experimental psychology from all around Portugal and, as this year's Keynote Speaker, Prof. Fabrice Parmentier.

Keynote conference by Fabrice Parmentier: Why do unexpected sounds distract us?

Abstract: 
Unexpected auditory stimuli presented in the context of an otherwise repetitive or structured acoustic background ineluctably break through selective attention filters and capture our attention. Past research abundantly described the electrophysiological markers of such phenomenon. Unexpected sounds also affect behavioral performance in an ongoing, unrelated, task, resulting in distraction. Such distraction typically translates in slower response to target stimuli. While this effect was initially regarded as a simple byproduct of an involuntary orienting response towards novelty, recent studies have shed light on the cognitive mechanisms underpinning this effect and unearthed a number of factors mediating it. In this talk, I will review experimental results aiming to identify the cognitive determinants of this type of distraction, its mediation by some stimulus- and participant-based characteristics, and present some recent evidence suggesting that unexpected sounds might disrupt motor actions.

Electroencephalographic and skin temperature indices of vigilance and inhibitory control

Fluctuations of attention can be monitored using EEG and skin temperature. Congratulations to Enrique Molina for his latest publication!

Reference
Lara, T., Molina, E., Madrid, J. A., & Correa, A. (2018). Electroencephalographic and skin temperature indices of vigilance and inhibitory control, Manuscript in press in Psicologica.

Abstract
Neurophysiological markers of the ability to sustain attention and exert inhibitory control of inappropriate responses have usually relied on neuroimaging methods, which are not easily applicable to real-world settings. The current research tested the ability of electroencephalographic and skin temperature markers to predict performance during the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART), which demands vigilance and inhibitory control. In Experiment 1, we recorded the electroencephalogram (EEG) during the performance of SART and found that eventrelated potentials underlying inhibitory control (N1 and N2/P3) were influenced by a time on task effect, suggesting a decrement in attentional resources necessary for optimal inhibitory control. In Experiments 2 and 3, we recorded skin temperatures (distal, proximal and the distal-proximal temperature gradient –DPG) and found that 2 they were sensitive to differential demands of mental workload, and that they were related to behavioural performance in the SART. This study suggests that the recording of EEG and skin temperature may be used to monitor fluctuations of attention in natural settings, although further research should clarify the exact psychological interpretation of these physiological indices.

Download the paper here