Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences Editors: Nicholas Voudouris PhD MAPS

Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences Editors: Nicholas Voudouris PhD MAPS
Combined Abstracts of
2010 Australian
Psychology Conferences
Editors: Nicholas Voudouris PhD MAPS
and Vicky Mrowinski Assoc MAPS
ISBN: 978-0-909881-42-9
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Nicholas Voudouris PhD MAPS
Senior Manager, Science & Education ..................................................................................... ii
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
Abstracts Editor: Simon J. Cropper
Simon J. Cropper .................................................................................................................... 1
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical
Abstracts Editor: Sarah E. McRae
Rachel Zombor...................................................................................................................... 44
© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd
am pleased to introduce the 2010 edition of the Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian
Psychology Conferences, which includes abstracts from the 37th Australasian Experimental
Psychology Conference, and the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical
Neuropsychologists. Neither conference would have been possible without the hard work of the
respective organising committees and their colleagues, who dedicated considerable time and
effort to making sure that each conference was a success. Thank you to all of those involved
and also to National Office staff members, Ms Jo Howard and Ms Vicky Mrowinski for the
collation, formatting and preparation of the abstracts for publication in this volume.
Nicholas Voudouris PhD MAPS
Senior Manager, Science & Education
The Australian Psychological Society Ltd
The Australian Psychological Society Ltd does not hold copies of any papers presented at conferences.
Anyone wanting papers should communicate directly with the author.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Psychology Conferences, pp. 2-43
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental
Psychology Conference
17-19 April 2010
Hosted by The University of Melbourne
Abstracts Editor: Dr Simon J Cropper
The University of Melbourne
The 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference was hosted and sponsored by the
Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne in April, 2010. There were
128 oral presentations in four streams and 49 posters. A significant proportion of the
presentations were by students. Research on a broad range of topics within experimental
psychology was presented, including visual and auditory perception, cross-modal influences in
perception, spatial processing, visual cognition, attention, face perception, learning, memory,
categorisation, judgment and decision making, reading and language processes. Student prizes
were awarded for five outstanding presentations. The recipients were (in alphabetical order):
Ms Erin Goddard (The University of Sydney)
Ms Stephanie Goodhew (The University of Queensland)
Mr Greg McLean (Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science/DSTO)
Ms Genevieve Quek (Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science)
Ms Sacha Stokes (Australian National University)
As Chair of the organising committee I would like to thank the other members of the committee,
the students from the University of Melbourne who volunteered to man the registration desk and
help with conference materials, and our excellent caterers!
Simon Cropper
Jason Forte
Meredith McKague
Philip Smith
Simon Cropper
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
Low intensity transcranial magnetic stimulation can improve detection of visual stimuli
(University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) of visual cortex can induce an illusory visual percept known as a
phosphene. The phosphene threshold is the level of TMS which induces phosphenes on a certain
proportion of trials. Stimulation above phosphene threshold usually impairs the detection of visual stimuli.
We examined the effect of stimulation of visual cortex at or below the phosphene threshold on the
detection of visual stimuli. A 2-interval-2-Alternative-Forced-Choice adaptive staircase procedure varied
the contrast of plaid patterns detected by human participants. TMS was delivered to the occipital lobe at
varying latencies after stimulus onset. We found that stimulus detection was better, compared with control
stimulation to Cz, when the occipital lobe was stimulated 120 ms after stimulus onset at an intensity equal
to or just below phosphene threshold. The results suggest that weak TMS can act as a pedestal and
improve the detection of visual stimuli.
Changes in visual sensitivity underlying alternations in visual consciousness
ALAIS, D. (University of Sydney), CASS, J. (University of Western Sydney), O‘SHEA, RP. (Southern
Cross University), & BLAKE, R. (Vanderbilt University)
[email protected]
Perceptual alternations in binocular rivalry are often attributed to adaptation: a weakening dominant
response exerts progressively less inhibition over a suppressed stimulus, eventually freeing the
suppressed stimulus to rebound to dominance. Previous studies have failed to find psychophysical
evidence of this weakening. We looked for this signature using a new ―reverse correlation‖ approach.
Observers tracked rivalry continuously over 3min sessions with near-threshold 2AFC probes presented
every ~3s (1500 probes; 25 sessions). Off-line analysis of key-tracking determined whether probes
occurred in dominance or suppression phases, and time since onset of that phase. Binning data into
within-phase times points showed probe sensitivity does change over time in dominance and suppression,
mostly late in rivalry phases. This was clearest when probe timing was expressed as a proportion of the
rivalry phase (normalising all phase durations), not as absolute time since the phase began. Consistent
with adaptation over time in a rivalry phase, probe sensitivity simultaneously falls in the dominant eye and
improves in the suppressed eye. Probe sensitivities converge just prior to dominance changes, correlating
with rivalry state changes. These findings square with adaptation operating within a reciprocal inhibition
model of rivalry.
Visual search performance in the autism spectrum: The radial frequency search task with
additional segmentation cues
Western Australia)
[email protected]
The Embedded Figures Test (EFT) requires rapidly detecting an embedded shape. Interestingly,
individuals with autism and those high on the Autism Quotient (AQ) are faster yet no less accurate on this
task. Our aim was to understand the visual processes producing this difference. Previously, we developed
a search task using radial frequency (RF) patterns (target RF3 amongst RF4s) with controllable amounts
of target/distracter overlap. High and low AQ groups were discriminated by the RT vs. set size (SS)
gradient. Overlapping increased the gradient for both groups, but did not alter their ratio. This study moves
closer to the EFT by adding two lines which traverse the display on random paths, intersecting or passing
by target and distracters. This resulted in a similar increase in RT across SSs for both groups, without
altering the ratio of RT gradients. That is, segmentation created by adding lines does not further
differentiate the groups.
What is the information for surface lightness?
ANDERSON, BL. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
How do we determine how much light a surface reflects? This problem has historically been treated as
under-determined. The problem arises because the amount of light that reaches the eyes depends on a
host of variables: the illumination field; the shape of the object; and it‘s albedo (i.e., the proportion of light
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
it reflects). This has led to the formation of theories that claim that some form of ―anchor‖ is needed to
transform the relative lightness values into a representation of absolute lightness values. I review the data
that led to this conclusion, and report data from both our and other labs that demonstrate that such
anchoring rules are empirically violated. I will further argue that the problem is a false problem, and only
arises in restricted geometric contexts in which it is theoretically impossible to disentangle the illuminant
from the surface reflectance.
Repetition blindness for words and pictures
ANDREWS, S., HARRIS, I. (University of Sydney), & HAYWARD, W. (University of Hong Kong)
[email protected]
Repetition blindness (RB) refers to people‘s tendency to omit the second occurrence of a repeated item
when recalling lists of briefly presented stimuli. RB has been reported for a variety of stimuli including both
words and pictures and has also been claimed to occur between pictures and words that refer to the same
concept, suggesting that it taps a conceptual level of representation. This paper reports a series of
experiments that compared RB for words and pictures to determine when and how processing of lexical
and pictorial stimuli converge on this conceptual level. Separate investigations of RB using only word or
picture stimuli revealed much stronger and more robust RB effects for words than pictures. However, an
experiment including both stimulus formats showed stronger RB for repeated pictures than for repeated
words or cross-format stimuli. The implications of the results for theories of RB and conceptual
representation will be discussed.
Perceived self-motion induced by consistent and inconsistent multisensory stimulation
ASH, A., PALMISANO, S. (University of Wollongong), & KIM, J. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
This study examined the effect of physical and simulated head oscillation on the vection in depth induced
by radial patterns of optic flow. In different trials, the real/simulated head oscillation occurred along either
the observer‘s fore-aft or left-right axis. Display oscillation always increased the strength of the vection
ratings – irrespective of whether the observer was stationary or oscillating their head. When the tracked
observer‘s physical head movements were incorporated into the visual display the resulting vection in
depth was stronger than comparable conditions where the display was unaltered by the observer‘s head
movements. Importantly, the ecological nature and amplitude of the display oscillation did not appear to
significantly influence vection. Both consistent and inconsistent multisensory stimulation improved
vection. These results suggest that ecological consistency between the different senses may not be
Semantic processes, verbal fluency and postural stability in Chinese readers with different reading
AU, A. (James Cook University), & MENG, W. (China National Institute for Educational Research)
[email protected]
This study investigated whether Chinese readers who were highly proficient in Chinese and English were
better than their average counterparts in various semantic, verbal fluency, postural stability and reading
measures. Sixty undergraduates were divided into good readers (n=30) and average readers (n=30) in
Chinese and English respectively. Semantic decision, semantic fluency, letter fluency, postural stability,
reading and spelling tests were administered. Results showed that good readers were better than average
readers in Chinese spelling, reading, and semantic decision. When processing English, good readers
were better than average readers in spelling, reading (including irregular words and pseudowords),
semantic decision, semantic fluency, letter fluency and postural stability. Implications of these processes
in learning Chinese and English among Chinese readers were discussed.
Low spatial frequency faces affect reaching behaviour
AWASTHI, B., FRIEDMAN, J., & WILLIAMS, M. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Although low spatial frequency (LSF) information is involved in the perception of faces whether it has a
behavioural consequence remains to be investigated. This study provides evidence for interference by
LSF faces when high spatial frequency (HSF) faces are the targets. We used reach trajectories as a
continuous behavioural measure to study perceptual processing of faces. Experimental stimuli were LSF3
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
HSF hybrids of male and female faces superimposed. The HSF face is more salient in these hybrid
images. Subjects were presented with two hybrid faces simultaneously at the periphery and were required
to point to a pre-assigned target gender. Data from the reaching trajectories indicate that subjects initiated
a response and started moving towards the LSF target gender face and then corrected that response midflight to touch the correct HSF target. This suggests that the LSF faces are processed faster and to a level
that affects behaviour.
Global-shape after-effects have a local substrate
BADCOCK, DR., DICKINSON, JE., ALMEIDA, RA., & BELL, J. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
Adaptation to stimuli is a ubiquitous property of the visual system that optimises its dynamic range. It is
common to consider the effects of adaptation in the context of the inducing stimuli, e.g. orientation
difference between successively-presented lines is exaggerated and an object‘s shape appears different
after viewing a similar shape; enhancing shape contrast. Orientation and shape adaptation are often
thought to arise at different levels of analysis. Here we consider whether adaptation within a substrate of
local oriented line detectors results in enhanced shape contrast for similar shapes. We show object
specific adaptation of a spatially coincident circle and Cartesian grid. We show that the tilt after-effect
predicts local changes in perceived orientation, and that smoothly varying fields of such local effects can
account for the global change in perceived shape-even for faces. A shape after-effect will occur in any
pattern with modestly different local orientations to the adaptor.
Retrosplenial cortex encodes heading direction in humans
BAUMANN, O., & MATTINGLEY, JB. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
The ability to encode and maintain representations of the direction in which we are heading is crucial to
successful navigation in both novel and familiar environments. Encoding of heading direction relies on the
activity of ―head direction‖ neurons in rats and other animals, but direct evidence for such cells in humans
has been lacking. Here we used fMRI to measure neural adaptation to distinctive landmarks associated
with one of four heading directions in a virtual environment. Activity within the retrosplenial cortex was
modulated by learned heading, suggesting that this region contains head-direction cells in humans. Our
study provides the first evidence for a human homologue of the head direction cell network found in other
animal species. Our findings complement the recent discoveries of human place cells and grid cells, two
other types of allocentric neuron that, together with head direction cells, form the neural basis for
‗cognitive maps‘ in humans.
A direct link between gaze perception and social attention
BAYLISS, AP., BARTLETT, J., & KRITIKOS, A. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
This study investigated the link between two important mechanisms involved in social cognition. The first
is our ability to work out where other people are looking, and the second is our propensity to automatically
orient our attention to that location. It is possible that the ‗gaze cueing‘ effect may be derived from a
domain-general attentional orienting mechanism that doesn‘t rely on gaze perception per se. A more
intuitive notion is that a mechanism dedicated to gaze perception determines gaze cueing – however,
there is little direct support for this account. Here, we systematically manipulated observers‘ perception of
gaze by implementing a gaze adaptation paradigm. This approach has previously been shown to bias
gaze perception independently from general spatial representations. Gaze cueing was reduced in
conditions where perception of specific averted gaze stimuli was impaired, demonstrating a direct link
between gaze perception and the consequential orienting of attention.
The relational account of attentional guidance: A critical test
BECKER, SI. (University of Queensland), FOLK, CL. (Villanova University), & REMINGTON, R.
(University of Queensland)
[email protected]
In visual search, observers do not always tune attention to the specific feature values of the target, (e.g.,
red), but often tune attention to the relational or contextual properties of the target (e.g., redder; relational
account of guidance; Becker 2008; JEP-HPP & Becker, in press; JEP-General). The present study
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
addresses two important questions: (1) Do observers genuinely tune attention to the relational properties
of the target, or do they tune attention to a feature value that is located further away from the nontargets
(filter shift)? (2) Do observers tune attention by default to the relational properties of the target, even when
it is possible to apply a feature-based search strategy? The results from a spatial cueing experiment and a
visual search experiment suggests that observers tune attention by default to the relational properties of
the target. The implications for current theories of visual search are discussed.
Featural and configural cues in same- and different-age face recognition of famous and unfamiliar
BENNETTS, R. (University of Western Sydney), & BURKE, D. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
Research suggests that two sources of information underlie the ability to recognise a face – facial features
and their configuration – and these cues may be processed differently for familiar and unfamiliar faces.
Although aging alters the appearance and configuration of facial features, individuals can recognise faces
at different ages. The effect of age-changes and familiarity on the contribution of featural and configural
cues to face recognition has not previously been explored. In this study, participants completed a
same/different task with famous and unfamiliar faces in same- or different-age pairs, in which images
were unmanipulated, inverted, blurred, or inverted and blurred. Results suggest that familiar and
unfamiliar face recognition depend equally on featural and configural information for same-age faces. For
different-age decisions, unfamiliar faces relies primarily on featural cues, whilst familiar faces depend
solely on configural cues. These results have important implications for the nature of stored
representations in face processing models.
Early morphological decomposition during visual word recognition: Evidence from masked
transposed-letter priming
BEYERSMANN, E., COLTHEART, M., & CASTLES, A. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
The present study was designed to further explore the theory of early morpho-orthographic segmentation
(Rastle, Davis, & New, 2004), which postulates that words with a true morphologically complex structure
(e.g. ‗cleaner‘) and words with a morphological pseudo-structure (e.g. ‗corner‘) are decomposed into affix
and stem morpheme. We used masked complex transposed-letter nonword primes in a lexical decision
task. Experiment 1 replicated the transposed-letter (TL) priming effect using monomorphemic nonword
primes (‗wran-WARN‘). Experiment 2 used the same nonword TL stems as Experiment 1, but combined
with real suffixes (e.g. ‗ish‘ as in ‗wranish-WARN‘). Priming was compared with that from non-suffixed
primes in which the real suffixes were replaced with non-morphemic endings (e.g. ‗-el‘ as in ‗wranelWARN‘). Significant priming was found in the suffixed condition but not in the non-suffixed condition,
suggesting that affix-stripping occurs at pre-lexical stages in visual word recognition prior to the resolution
of letter position coding.
Direction in the colour plane as a factor in chromatic flicker and chromatic motion
BIMLER, DL. (Massey University)
[email protected]
On the face of it, the residual ‗chromatic flicker‘ created by rapid alternation between two equally-luminant
hues is a separate phenomenon from the ‗chromatic motion‘ observed when a grating drifts across the
visual field, constructed from a sinusoidal spatial alternation between equal-luminance hues.
Nevertheless, the effects have features in common, hinting at a shared underlying cause. Some pairs of
contrasting hues (orange / blue) create stronger percepts of flicker and motion than other contrasts
(green-purple), even when the subjective dissimilarities between each hue pair are balanced in a uniformchromaticity space. The present study replicates and extends earlier work by comparing the effective
flicker- and motion-inducing contrast along various directions in the colour plane, while varying parameters
such as ambient lighting and temporal frequency. Multiplexing of chromatic and temporal variation
information along motion-processing pathways is discussed as a possible factor in both phenomena.
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
The decay of visual adaptation after-effects using radial frequency patterns
BOWDEN, V., MIGHALL, H., DICKINSON, JE., & BADCOCK, DR. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
After-effects are observed following adaptation to visual stimuli. In the case of simple shapes, the
adapting shape can alter the perception of a subsequently viewed circle so that it appears distorted in the
opposite phase to the adaptor. In this study we used Radial Frequency (RF) patterns to examine the
duration of the after-effect, as well as the influence of masking on the effect. Brief RF presentations
(30ms) were used to evoke an after-effect. Following repeated adaptor presentations the resulting
perceptual distortion was highly persistent, decaying according to a power-law function across a 24 hour
testing period. However, when a series of circles were introduced to mask the after-effect, the magnitude
of the after-effect was decreased by a factor of 0.5 for each circle presentation. This suggests that rapid
shape after-effects are remarkably enduring, but that specific subsequent adaptation can null the effect.
Effect of nicotine on saccadic eye movement latencies in non-smokers
BOWLING, A., & DONNELLY, J. (Southern Cross University)
[email protected]
The aim of this research was to examine effects of nicotine on inhibition using saccadic eye movement
tasks. Saccadic task switching research suggests that there is prolonged inhibition of the saccadic eye
movement system following antisaccade trials. Nicotine and placebo lozenges were administered on
separate days to 40 non-smokers who performed prosaccade and antisaccade trials in both blocked and
task switching conditions. Participants responded significantly faster overall in the nicotine condition than
in the placebo condition. For placebo antisaccade trials the latencies of repetition trials were significantly
longer than those of switch trials. In addition, an analysis of the repetition trials indicated that there was an
interaction between saccade type and sequence position for the placebo condition, but not the nicotine
condition. These results suggest that inhibition persists after antisaccade trials in a switching paradigm,
but that the duration of this inhibition is reduced by nicotine.
A magnetoencephalography (MEG) study of oscillatory brain responses to spoken words
BROCK, J., JOHNSON, B., SOWMAN, P., CALACOURIS, S., & HECK, P. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Language comprehension involves the dynamic coordination of activity occurring across an extensive
cortical and subcortical network. EEG studies have identified fluctuations in oscillatory neural activity in
response to linguistic stimuli. However, the neural generators of EEG responses are difficult to determine.
In the current study, therefore, we used MEG to measure brain responses to words in spoken sentences
and localise oscillatory activity. 12 participants listened to sentences in which the predictability of the final
word was manipulated. MEG responses to the final word were co-registered with structural MRI scans
obtained for each participant. Consistent with previous MEG studies, we identified a context-sensitive
M400 component of the event-related response, generated in temporal and left inferior frontal regions.
Sentence context also affected beta frequency (13-30 Hz) oscillatory activity in premotor and parietal
regions, as well as theta activity in the left medial temporal lobe. The functional significance of these
effects and implications for language disorders will be discussed.
All neuroscience is not bad science and all bad science is not neuroscience
BROWN, S. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
There is plenty of bad cognitive neuroscience, with people making all sorts of unjustified claims. However,
there is also plenty of bad behavioural psychology. Probably, there is more bad cognitive neuroscience
than bad mathematical psychology, but we mustn't ignore base rate: there are many more cognitive
neuroscientists than mathematical psychologists! Neural data can provide extra constraint on theoretical
development, beyond that provided by behavioural data. Neural data can also move us towards a larger
goal—more complete theories that account for data at both behavioural and neural levels. An illustration
of many of these points comes from decision models.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
A new viewpoint on the evolution of sexually dimorphic human faces
BURKE, D. (University of Newcastle), & SULIKOWSKI, D. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Human faces show marked sexual shape dimorphism, and this affects their attractiveness. Humans also
show marked height dimorphism, which means that men typically view women‘s faces from slightly above
and women typically view men‘s faces from slightly below. We tested the idea that this perspective
difference may be the evolutionary origin of the face shape dimorphism by having males and females rate
the masculinity/femininity and attractiveness of male and female faces that had been manipulated in pitch
(forward or backward tilt), simulating viewing the face from slightly above or below. As predicted, tilting
female faces upwards decreased their perceived femininity and attractiveness, whereas tilting them
downwards increased their perceived femininity and attractiveness. Male faces tilted up were judged to be
more masculine, and tilted down judged to be less masculine. This suggests that sexual selection may
have embodied this viewpoint difference into the actual facial proportions of men and women.
Inhibition and the attentional blink
BURT, JS., & MOTTO, D. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
When visual targets and distractors are presented in a fixed location in a rapid sequence, the identification
of a second target is impaired by a target several items earlier. This ―attentional blink‖ (AB) has been
attributed to the demands of identifying the prior target (T1). A recent alternative view is that the AB is
caused by the attentional control deployed to select targets and reject distractors. We assessed the claim
of the Boost (activation) and Bounce (inhibition) model that post-T1 items are inhibited. Distracter words
and new words were tested in perceptual identification immediately after an AB trial. Contrary to the
model, the repetition benefit in perceptual identification was equal for the ―boosted‖ T1+1 distracter and
the ―bounced‖ T1+2 distracter. In Experiment 2 there was no support for the prediction that distracter
inhibition, and thus the magnitude of the AB, would be reduced for homogeneous compared with
heterogeneous distractors.
Pupil betrays the timing of decision
CARTER, O. (University of Melbourne), KOCH, C. (California Institute of Technology), & EINHAUSER, W.
(University of Marburg)
[email protected]
The notion of "mind-reading" by carefully observing another individual's physiological responses has
recently become commonplace in popular culture, particularly in the context of brain imaging. The
question remains, however, whether outwardly accessible physiological signals can betray a decision
before a person voluntarily reports it. In one experiment we asked observers to push a button at any time
during a 10-second period (―immediate overt response‖). In a series of additional experiments observers
were asked to select one number from five sequentially presented digits but concealed their decision until
the trial‘s end (―covert choice‖). In all cases pupil dilation alone predicted the choice (timing of button
response or chosen digit, respectively). Given the tight link between pupil dilation and norepinephrine
levels during constant illumination, our results have implications beyond the tantalising mind-reading
speculations. These findings suggest that similar noradrenergic mechanisms may underlie the
consolidation of both overt and covert decisions.
Orientation masking revisited: Phase lets the DoGs out
CASS, J. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
A classic overlay masking paradigm was employed to measure elevations in detection threshold as a
function of differences in target-mask orientation difference and relative phase. Target and masking stimuli
were spatio-temporally narrowband (1.6 Hz, 1 c.p.d.) orientation filtered achromatic noise multiplied within
a circular raised cosine ramped envelope. In addition to varying the relative orientation of target and mask
across trials, stimuli were blocked according to their relative spatial phase (in-phase: 0°; or out-of-phase:
180°; or randomised). Trial-by-trial feedback was not provided. Subjects were instructed to detect the
target based on detection of the target orientation, and if unable, then to base their judgment on either a
perceived increment or decrement in the overall contrast, depending on the particular block. Both relative
phase and instruction had a profound effect on orientation masking functions. Phase/increment and out7
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
of-phase/decrement blocks produced functions well-fitted by a difference of Gaussian model combining
narrowband summation with broad suppression. Other blocks all produced classic monotonic masking
Role of form cues in second-order motion pooling
CASSANELLO, C., EDWARDS, M. (Australian National University), NISHIDA, S. (NTT Communication
Science Laboratories), & BADCOCK, DR. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
Form cues can affect how first-order (FO) motion signals are pooled. We investigated whether they also
affect the pooling of second-order (SO) signals. Global-Gabor stimuli were used. These consist of multiple
Gabors that define a global-motion vector by having their carriers all move in a manner that is consistent
with a single Intersection-of-Constraints (IOC) defined solution. Form cues were introduced by adding
orientation information to the apertures that were either consistent (aligned with) or inconsistent
(orthogonal to) with the global-solution. With FO stimuli, inconsistent form cues resulted in the loss of the
IOC solution, with observers instead perceiving motion along the axis defined by the orientation cue. No
such effect was observed for the SO stimuli. These results will be discussed in light of a related study that
has shown form cues affect the pooling of 1D motion signals but they do not affect the pooling of 2D
Early orthographic influences on phonemic awareness tasks: Evidence from a pre-school training
CASTLES, A. (Macquarie University), WILSON, K. (University of Melbourne), & COLTHEART, M.
(Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Experienced readers are known to show influences of orthographic knowledge on their performance on
tasks ostensibly tapping phonemic awareness. Here we draw on data from an experimental training study
to demonstrate that even pre-school children can show influences of their emerging orthographic abilities
when performing such tasks. A sample of 41 children were taught some letter-sound correspondences but
not others, and a selective effect of this training on their phonemic awareness task performance was
found. This effect could not be attributed to increased familiarity with the trained phonemes, as pure
phonemic awareness training did not produce the same item-specific pattern. These findings point to the
multi-determined nature of phonemic awareness tasks, which have implications for conclusions that can
be drawn about the causal role of phonemic awareness in reading acquisition.
The influence of environmental cues on the formation of object-location representations within a
virtual environment
CHAN, E., BAUMANN, O., BELLGROVE, M., & MATTINGLEY, JB. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
An enduring question in research on human navigation is how representations of object-location
information are formed. Previous studies have shown that retrieval of object-location information is more
efficient when the retrieved orientation of an object-array is aligned with an axis defined by an external cue
(e.g., room geometry) than when it is misaligned with this axis, even for orientations that were not
presented during encoding. We investigated the role of alignment cues within an active navigation
paradigm that required participants to learn object-location information via first-person exploration within a
virtual arena. A square mat was placed on the floor of the arena during encoding, the purpose of which
was to provide a cue to the intrinsic axis of the object array. Consistent with previous findings, participants
responded faster and more accurately when the imagined heading was aligned as opposed to misaligned
with the axis defined by the mat.
Passport identification of children and infants
CHARLTON, S. (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
[email protected]
Since 9/11 concerns over world-wide terrorist activity have resulted in an increased emphasis on security
measures such as photo identification from passports. Similarly, concerns regarding cross-border
trafficking of children and the prevention of child abductions have also led to changes in how children are
represented in passport photographs. There is, however, no applied research demonstrating whether the
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
current standard for passport photographs is sufficient to allow for correct identification of faces,
particularly for young children who undergo large changes in facial morphology over a short period of
time. Current regulations in a number of countries allow from 3 to 5 years before passports of infants must
be updated. The present study examined the ability of university students to identify videotaped children
from passport-type photographs of children or infants. The results demonstrate that the current standards
for identification of children from passports need further consideration.
The role of relative word frequency in inter-language speech intelligibility benefit
CHU, PCK., & TAFT, M. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
There is little consensus on the issue of whether non-native listeners are better at understanding nonnative speech than native listeners. Our study suggests that the discrepant results in the literature arise
from confounds in relation to the relative frequency of the intended and the mispronounced word. English
and Cantonese listeners transcribed English words spoken by English and Cantonese speakers. Words
which were expected to be mispronounced by Cantonese speakers as another word were included as
target items (e.g. ‗thin‘ pronounced as ‗fin‘). Results showed that Cantonese listeners recognised more
Cantonese-accented words than English listeners, particularly when the intended word (e.g. ‗thin‘) had a
higher frequency than the mispronounced version (e.g. ‗fin‘). In contrast, Cantonese listeners were no
better than English listeners in understanding Cantonese-accented words that were not ambiguous (e.g.
‗luck‘). Theoretical issues regarding the mental representation of second language speech sounds in
native and non-native listeners will be discussed.
How is image contrast represented in human visual cortex?
CLIFFORD, CWG., McDONALD, JS., & MANNION, DJ. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
A recent optical imaging study has claimed that the population response of V1 to plaid patterns is
predicted by the average of the responses to the individual components (MacEvoy et al (2009) Nat
Neurosci. 12:637). This prompted us to compare fMRI BOLD contrast response functions of plaids and
gratings in human visual cortex (n=8). We found that the responses of areas V1-V3 to a plaid comprising
orthogonal grating components of equal contrast were 15-30% higher than the responses to each
component grating. Thus, the BOLD response to a plaid early in human visual cortex is not the average of
the response to its components. Instead, the response to a plaid was well predicted by the response to a
grating of twice the contrast of the plaid components. This pattern of results is consistent with a process of
divisive normalisation operating to regulate contrast gain.
Levels of explanation: A commentary on cognition “versus” neuroscience
COLTHEART, M. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
What do we currently know about the brain that would rule out otherwise plausible models of cognition
expressed in information-processing terms? What do we know in information-processing terms about how
some particular mental process works that would rule out some otherwise plausible models of how the
brain works? In my view the answer to both questions is: ―Very little; perhaps nothing.‖ In order to
demonstrate any mutual constraints between these two levels of explanation, it is not sufficient to point out
that the results of some cognitive-neuroscientific study are consistent with some information-processing
model of the relevant cognitive domain, because it might be that any possible result of such a study would
be consistent with that model. If cognitive-neuroscientific studies are to speak to cognitive modelling it
must be shown that these studies have possible outcomes which are inconsistent with existing cognitive
models. Very little work of this kind has so far been done in cognitive neuroscience.
Repetition and report of coloured items in RSVP sequences
COLTHEART, V. (Macquarie University)*, ZAMPINI, M. (University of Trento), & LOACH, D.*
[email protected]
Repeated items are frequently missed when shown in rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) sequences
(10 items/sec), a phenomenon termed repetition blindness. This happens even when the repeated items
differ in colour from other items (both red) or when they are different colours (one red, the other green). In
these tasks there are usually only a few items per sequence, in other dual target tasks (used to study the
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
attentional blink) there are many items but only two coloured targets to be reported. With the dual target
search task, repetition blindness has been found to diminish with practice and repetition increases the
probability of reporting both targets. We report experiments that studied repetition effects for colourdefined targets as a function of task type and practice. Practice does not always alter repetition effects
and we consider the implications for explanations of repetition blindness.
Audiovisual synchrony and predictability of the stimulus
COOK, LA., VAN VALKENBURG, D., & BADCOCK, DR. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
Audio-visual synchrony judgments are affected by the ―complexity‖ of the stimuli – for example, we seem
to have greater tolerance for asynchrony in speech and music than for more simple stimuli such as tones
and flashes. Whilst previous researchers have considered the temporal density of salient features to be
the main component of complexity (e.g. Fujisaki & Nishida, 2007), we conducted three experiments to
consider whether predictability might also contribute (where higher predictability = lower complexity).
Participants made synchrony judgments for tone and flash sequences with varying temporal and/or pitch
predictability. Neither factor alone influenced judgments, but when both pitch and temporal pattern
became less predictable participants reported that they appeared simultaneous at larger asynchronies. A
fourth experiment showed that predictability interacts with temporal density - the effect of predictability is
larger at higher densities. These findings contribute towards developing a quantifiable measure of
The experimental investigation of Daoist psychological constructs
COTT, D. (Deakin University)
[email protected]
Daoism (Taoism) is a collection of Chinese philosophical beliefs and psychospiritual practices with a
history of thousands of years, and a living community that stretches throughout East Asia. I will argue that
Daoism and its corresponding texts such as those included in the Daozang provide a wealth of material
regarding experiences that may enhance Western psychologists‘ understanding of the mind, especially in
non-ordinary states such as deep meditation. Despite an abundance of research regarding the psychology
of other Eastern traditions (e.g., Buddhism), very few experimental studies concerning the psychology of
Daoism have been conducted. This presentation will therefore outline in detail one exemplary
experimental methodology that the presenter is currently employing to investigate Daoist psychology, and
some of the issues that arise during the (experimental) psychological study of Daoism. Methods employed
include the quantitative investigation of phenomenology and correlations between phenomenology and
certain personality traits.
The costs and benefits of holistic face processing
CRAIG, B., LIPP, O., & LIBERA, M. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
Schematic faces consisting of common (circular outline, eyes, nose) and distinct elements (up- or
downward tilted eyebrows, curved mouth-lines) are found fastest among neutral faces if they are angry,
followed by scheming, sad, and happy faces. Experiment 1 replicated this pattern for faces, but not for the
distinct elements (eyebrows and mouth-lines). Moreover, overall search performance was slower for faces
than elements by about 150 ms. This difference between stimulus configurations did not change when
distinct elements were presented within circular outlines (Experiment 2) or when participants were
instructed to pay attention to the eyebrows only when searching faces (Experiment 3) or that the elements
represent faces with different expressions when searching elements (Experiment 4). These results
indicate that schematic faces are processed holistically rather than by analysis of elements. This holistic
processing comes at a cost, it slows performance, but has benefits, it permits the perception of emotion.
Which way up is an hallucination?
CROPPER, SJ., PARTOS, T., ROBINSON, H., & SPEIGHT, J. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
This study uses the personality dimension of schizotypy to examine the nature of the construction of
meaning in a noisy stimulus in a normal healthy population. In this experiment observers (n=152) were
presented with faces embedded in pink noise and required to respond whether they saw a face or not; a
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
face was present 50% of the time. Images were filtered into 4 different spatial frequency bandwidths and
the faces were upright or inverted. The results are consistent with our previous data and show a reduced
sensitivity, but greater inclination to a false alarm in the high schizotype groups. There was an effect of
both the inversion and the spatial filtering but this was independent of schizotype. This data are consistent
with the theory that internal noise level in the system is both critical to image formation at threshold and
different between individuals.
Prosody for the eyes: Visual prosodic features are reduced when an interlocutor can be seen
CVEJIC, E., KIM, J, DAVIS, C., & GIBERT, G. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Although typically studied as an auditory phenomenon, prosody can also be conveyed by the visual
speech signal (e.g., through eyebrow and head movements accompanying speech production). This study
investigated whether visual correlates of prosody were affected by the visual presence of an interlocutor.
The head and face movements of four speakers were recorded by tracking the position of 39 optical
markers while the speakers completed a dialogue exchange task in which the interlocutor was either seen
or not. The speech production data were time-normalised and processed by a guided principal
components analysis. The results show changes in both direct (e.g., jaw) and indirect (e.g., head) speech
movements when the interlocutor was visible to the speaker. This suggests that the visual correlates of
speech prosody are reduced by speakers in order to minimise communicative effort.
In measuring masked stimulus processing more than the target matters
DAVIS, C., & KIM, J. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Studies examining whether a masked stimulus has been processed use priming as an index. Masked
priming studies have typically examined prime-on-target effects and until recently theories of masked
priming have only considered the relationship between the prime and the target (and sometimes the target
task). The current experiment examined the effect on prime-target processing of stimuli presented before
the prime and target. Each item consisted of two clearly displayed stimuli (word 1 & 2), a masked prime
and a clearly displayed target. To make the pre-prime stimuli relevant to target processing, the task was to
decide whether the target was a repetition of word 1 or 2, or unrepeated. Results showed masked
repetition priming was affected by the pre-prime words: clear priming was found when word 2 and the
target were repeated but no priming for word 1 and the target. Masked priming involves more than the
prime and target.
Holistic processing, part-based processing, and general object memory contribute to individual
differences in face recognition: Support for a tri-route model
DAWEL, A., & McKONE, E. (Australian National University)
[email protected]
Using individual differences, we investigated the contributions to face recognition ability (the Cambridge
Face Memory Test; CFMT) of three perceptual factors: holistic processing (the composite face effect;
CFE), part-based processing (sequential matching of isolated face parts), and general object memory
(memory for individual dogs). In contrast to a recent study (Konar, Bennett & Sekular, 2010), regression
analyses provided evidence that holistic processing correlates with face identification ability. Both other
factors also made independent contributions. An additional, surprising finding was that of competition (i.e.,
negative correlation) between holistic face processing and nonface object memory. Importantly, the
relationship between holistic processing and face recognition ability was only revealed when the negative
relationship between holistic processing and nonface object memory was taken into account. We argue
for a new tri-route model of face recognition that emphasises the importance of considering multiple
factors in face recognition.
A new illusion of visual extent
DAY, R., & RUTHERFORD, P. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
It was noted by chance that when a pair of horizontally separated dots is symmetrically positioned inside a
pair of vertical lines they appear to be farther apart than when viewed alone. Further observations
indicated a reverse but smaller effect - the dots appearing closer together - occurs when the lines are
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
presented between them. A literature search revealed that apart from an early paper by Obonai (1954)
there are no other reports of this strong illusion of extent. In the first of four experiments the observations
were confirmed. No effect was found when the conditions were reversed, i.e., when vertical lines are
symmetrically positioned inside and outside a pair of dots. The implication of these outcomes for a closer
understanding of perceived visual extents and their possible relationship to other illusions of extent are
Orthographic learning: Insights from Fixation-Related Potentials
DE LISSA, P., McARTHUR, G., & CASTLES, A. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Orthographic learning has been found to occur as novel words are repeatedly exposed during reading.
This process of forming orthographic representations has mostly been investigated through behavioural
measures such as spelling, accuracy and reaction times. Investigating what happens in the brain during
this process is, however, problematic. Event-Related Potential studies in this area contend with the
difficulty of controlling when individual words are read, limiting the flexibility of their ability to track this
process, as it normally occurs within context. The current study avoids this limitation by using an eyetracker combined with EEG recordings to form Fixation-Related Potentials, allowing for novel words
(pronounceable pseudowords) to be repeatedly presented within passages of text, rather than one word at
a time. Preliminary results will be presented and their implications interpreted regarding both orthographic
learning and FRP methodology.
Practice effects in absolute identification
DODDS, P., DONKIN, C., BROWN, S., & HEATHCOTE, A. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
In a typical Absolute Identification (AI) task, participants are given stimuli that vary on only one physical
dimension. Each stimulus is first presented with a unique label, for example, #1, #2…#n. During the test
phase, the participant is asked to try and remember these labels. Performance in AI tasks is generally
considered to be quite poor, as accuracy tends to increase slightly in the initial stages of the task, and
then reach a low level asymptote. Performance typically does not exceed the perfect identification of
approximately 7±2 stimuli (Miller, 1956). Recent research however (Rouder, Morey, Cowan & Pfaltz,
2004), demonstrated that people were able to improve their performance significantly beyond this limit if
given moderate practice. We replicated this learning effect and found that not only does this learning
effect extend across several stimulus dimensions, but that improvement in performance is associated with
initial accuracy level.
Eye-movement patterns for logical connectives
DUMITRU, M. (Macquarie University), JOERGENSEN, G., CRUICKSHANK, A., & ALTMANN, G.
(University of York)
[email protected]
Language comprehension activates internal representations of events in the form of schematic
representations stored in long-term memory (Lakoff, 1987; Langacker, 1987; Talmy, 2000) and in the form
of dynamic representations stored in short-term memory (Altmann, 2004). Using a visual-world paradigm
(Tanenhaus et. al, 1995), we investigated the representation of logical connectives by recording
participants‘ gaze while they listened to sentences featuring conjunctions and disjunctions (e.g. ‗Susan
saw an accordion and a chicken‘ vs. ‗Susan saw an accordion or a chicken‘) and simultaneously viewed
picture pairs of conjuncts or disjuncts (e.g. pictures of an accordion and a chicken). Disjunction pictures (in
particular those of first-mentioned disjuncts) were being fixated longer than conjunction pictures; there
was also a significant effect of verb-type (telic vs. atelic) on overall fixation duration, as well as on the
probability of fixating one vs. both pictures.
Neuroscience support for dual-process accounts of recognition memory: Two problems and a
DUNN, J. (University of Adelaide)
[email protected]
Dual-process models of recognition memory propose that recognition judgments depend upon two distinct
processes called recollection and familiarity. It has been claimed that the results of numerous
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
neuroscience studies support this view. However, the interpretation of these results in this way falls victim
to two problems and a pitfall. The problems are that; (1) measures of recollection and familiarity presuppose the validity of the dual-process models they supposedly independently support, and (2) these
measures pre-suppose a linear relationship between them and the relevant psychological constructs
which is unlikely to be correct. The pitfall is that comparisons are often made between conditions defined
by the participant‘s response rather than by the experimenter‘s intention, leading to a confound between
the construct of interest, such as memory strength, and a host of correlated item differences.
Delayed reentrant processing impairs visual awareness: An object substitution masking study
DUX, PE., VISSER, TAW., GOODHEW, SC., & LIPP, OV. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
In object substitution masking (OSM) a sparse, common-onsetting mask impairs target perception when it
offsets after the target and spatial attention is dispersed. OSM is thought to reflect the interaction of feedforward and re-entrant processes in the brain (e.g., Di Lollo, Enns & Rensink, 2000): upon stimulus
presentation a low-resolution target and mask representation progresses from sensory to anterior brain
regions, triggering re-entrant processing to confirm stimulus identity. It is hypothesised that dispersing
spatial attention delays/prolongs re-entrant iterations, increasing the likelihood that the mask
representation will substitute that for the target in consciousness. However, it is unclear whether this
stems from delayed feed-forward or re-entrant processing. Here we demonstrate that delayed re-entrant
processing can cause OSM, by showing that a task tapping high-level brain regions, involved in re-entrant
processing, leads to a spatially attended target being substituted. Our results confirm a key role of reentrant processing in conscious perception.
Intrinsic and extrinsic binding in working memory
ECKER, U., MAYBERY, M. (University of Western Australia), & ZIMMER, HD. (Saarland University)
[email protected]
Previous studies in long-term recognition (cf. Zimmer & Ecker, in press, Neuros & Biobehav Rev) have
shown that there are distinct binding mechanisms involved in the mnemonic representation of objects
(e.g., binding a shape with its intrinsic colour) versus objects-in-context (e.g., binding an object with its
background). We present a series of experiments that investigated whether this distinction also holds for
working memory. We found that the short-term recognition of abstract shapes was only influenced by
colour information if colour was perceived as intrinsic to the shape, not if colour was extrinsic. This shows
that, in working memory, the binding of object-intrinsic information is obligatory and more automatic than
contextual integration.
The role of form cues in the pooling of 1D and 2D motion signals
EDWARDS, M., CASSANELLO, C. (Australian National University), BADCOCK, DR. (University of
Western Australia), & NISHIDA, S. (NTT Communication Science Laboratories)
[email protected]
Local-motion signals can either be 1D (aperture problem not solved) or 2D (aperture problem solved). We
have previously shown that 1D and 2D signals are pooled differently: via intersection-of-constraints (IOC)
and vector-average processes, respectively. We investigated whether form cues differentially affect the
pooling of 1D and 2D signals by using global-Gabor (GG) and global-plaid (GP) stimuli. These stimuli
consist of multiple apertures that contain either Gabors or plaids. Form cues were introduced by adding
orientation information to the apertures that was either consistent (aligned with) or inconsistent
(orthogonal to) the global-solution. Form cues affected the pooling of GG but not 2D stimuli, indicating that
form cues can affect the pooling of 1D but not 2D signals. It is possible that the form cues do this by
disambiguating the family of possible 2D solutions by providing the direction of motion, hence turning the
1D signals into 2D signals.
Challenging the automaticity account of the Stroop phenomenon: Evidence from a forced reading
EIDELS, A., RYAN, K., & VAN DE MORTEL, F. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
Participants are often slower in naming the colour of incongruent displays (such as the word GREEN
printed in red) compared to naming the colour of congruent displays (RED printed in red) -- the Stroop
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
effect. Presumably, impaired performance on incongruent trials is due to the automatic (and hence
mandatory) nature of reading. We tested the theory of automaticity by comparing results from a classic
Stroop task (participants naming the print-colour of every word) and a novel forced-reading task
(participants naming the colour only if the word is a colour word). We measured response latencies with
manual and verbal responses, with two and three colours. Participants consistently exhibited a larger
Stroop effect in the forced-reading task. We conclude that word-reading in the classic Stroop task may
happen on some but not all trials, thus challenging the account of automaticity in reading. We propose and
test a simple probability-mixture model.
What counts? The role of mass/count features in lexical decision
FIEDER, N., NICKELS, L., & BIEDERMANN, B. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
The production and perception of grammatically correct utterances (e.g., ‗many beans‘, ‗much rice‘) can
require the selection of a number of lexical-syntactic features (e.g., ‗grammatical gender‘, ‗mass/count‘,
‗number‘). The presentation and processing of these features is still poorly understood. Results of a lexical
decision study (Taler & Jarema, 2007) suggested that the lexical-syntactic features ‗mass‘ and ‗count‘ play
a role not only in processing of grammatical units (e.g., noun phrases, sentences) but also in perceiving
‗bare‘ mass and count nouns (e.g., ‗bean‘, ‗rice‘). Taler and Jarema found a difference in the processing of
bare mass and count nouns with longer reaction times for mass nouns. However, there were some
important weaknesses in their study. We therefore replicated Taler and Jarema‘s lexical decision
experiment with a new set of stimuli and a modified design. In this presentation, we will report the results
and discuss their implications.
Second language audiovisual speech perception in noise
FITZPATRICK, M., & KIM, J. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Second language (L2) listeners‘ speech perception is more vulnerable to noise than that of first language
(L1) listeners. This suggests that L2 listeners are not as efficient in using acoustic cues degraded by noise
as L1 listeners. The present study examined whether L1 and L2 perceivers might also differ in using visual
speech cues. In the experiment English-Spanish and Spanish-English bilingual participants were tested
on phoneme identification of 16 English and 16 Spanish consonants (in the context of VCV syllables),
which were presented in auditory-only, visual-only or auditory-visual conditions. The results showed that
overall L1 perceivers outperformed L2 perceivers across all conditions; both groups improved in auditoryvisual compared to auditory-only conditions, with the degree of improvement being the same; AV
integration efficiency measures showed no significant difference between the listener groups. These
results suggest that L2 perceivers are as good as L1 perceivers in using visual cues for speech
Toys floating on water: Luring toddlers to the brink?
FREELING, C., WOOD, S., HOOLEY, M., & WILKE, B. (Deakin University)
[email protected]
Objects floating on the surface of swimming pools were first identified as a potential risk factor in
childhood drowning in 1978; to date no one has tested this claim. This research investigated the effect of
attractive and non-attractive floating objects on toddlers‘ approach and water-related behaviour at the
water‘s edge. Twenty-one toddlers aged 17-25 months (M=20.48; SD=2.9) were observed and videotaped as they played at the edge of a modified Visual Cliff. Participants completed three 4-minute trials
under different surface conditions: toy, debris and nothing on surface, appropriately counterbalanced
across participants. Trends suggested more toddlers approached, approached more quickly and were
engaged for longer at the water‘s edge when a toy was present on the water‘s surface. This effect
however was present only in the first and not subsequent trials, suggesting that floating toys may increase
toddlers‘ risk of drowning by attracting them to the edge and eliciting exploratory behaviour.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Measuring perceptual memory
FREEMAN, AW., IYER, PB., & BRIGNELL, C. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
When ambiguous stimuli are viewed continuously there is a cyclic alternation between one percept and
the other. When the stimuli are presented intermittently, however, the cycle tends to stop: there appears to
be a ―perceptual memory‖ favouring stabilisation. We sought to measure the strength of this memory. An
array of dots moved horizontally in simple harmonic motion, producing the percept of a rotating cylinder
with ambiguous rotation direction. The duty cycle of presentation was 3 s on and 3 s off, and subjects
signalled the perceived direction after each presentation. Binocular disparity was added to the dots to bias
the percept towards one direction. The binocular disparity required to null the stabilisation was 20% of the
disparity of the nearest point on the virtual cylinder. When measured in stimulus terms, the strength of
perceptual memory during intermittent stimulation is a substantial fraction of inducing stimulus strength.
Direct and indirect effects of background surfaces on the stereoscopic depth of foreground
GILLAM, B., & MARLOW, P. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
Background surfaces induce biases in the stereoscopic depth of foreground features. A horizontally
slanted background tends to appear frontal, producing a bias in the relative depth of foreground probes.
However, if the probes are more distant than the central (random dot) surface, bias disappears (Expt 1)
showing an interesting asymmetry in the stereoscopic role of surfaces. Frontal-plane flankers abutting the
horizontal edges increased surface slant and reduced the probe bias up to a surface height/flanker-toprobe separation of 4.4 deb. (Expt 2). In experiment 3 the flankers were slanted and the central surface (if
present) was frontal plane. The probe-bias for flankers alone diminished with separation but persisted at
4.4 deg. It was much reduced by adding an intermediate frontal surface. The stereoscopic depth of
foreground probes is thus influenced by their background and other surfaces acting on the background
surface and directly on the probes.
Colour preference argues against a dorsal component of human V4
[email protected]
High resolution functional MRI enables the reconstruction of retinotopic maps in human visual cortex, but
the organisation of these maps remains controversial. A critical debate is the location of the human
homologue of macaque area V4, an area very responsive to coloured images: specifically whether V4 is
divided between ventral and dorsal components, as in macaque, or whether in humans the entire
hemifield is represented in one ventral area. To address this we mapped responsivity to colour in the
widely accepted ventral region of V4 and its putative dorsal component. We acquired functional images of
occipital cortex while participants (n=6), viewed coloured versus black and white movie excerpts. We
found a robust colour preference in ventral V4 and surrounding areas, and little or no colour preference in
the vicinity of the dorsal counterpart. Our results argue against the existence of a dorsal component of V4
and for a ventral representation of the entire hemifield.
Assessing an attentional explanation for emotional shifts in perceptual asymmetry
GODFREY, HK., & GRIMSHAW, GM. (Victoria University of Wellington)
[email protected]
Emotional manipulations have been demonstrated to produce leftward shifts in perceptual asymmetries.
However, much of this research has used linguistic tasks to assess perceptual asymmetry and there are
thus two interpretations of the leftward shift. It may reflect a leftward shift in the spatial distribution of
attention as a consequence of emotional activation of the right hemisphere; alternatively it may reflect
emotional facilitation of right hemisphere linguistic processing. We used two non-linguistic attention tasks
to determine whether emotional prosody influences the spatial distribution of attention. In a dual-task
paradigm, participants listened to semantically neutral sentences in neutral, happy or sad prosodies while
completing a target discrimination task and a target detection task. There were no perceptual asymmetries
that interacted with emotional prosody, favouring the right hemisphere facilitation interpretation.
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
What triggers the recovery from OSM with prolonged mask exposure?
GOODHEW, SC., VISSER, TAW., LIPP, OV., & DUX, PE. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
Object substitution masking (OSM) is the phenomenon whereby a sparse, temporally-trailing four-dot
mask can impair target identification, even though it does not spatially overlap the target. We have
previously shown that there is a significant improvement in target identification with prolonged mask
exposure (e.g., 640ms), relative to intermediate mask durations (e.g., 240ms; Goodhew, Visser, Lipp, &
Dux, in press). Here, we investigate the factors that trigger this recovery effect. The results indicate that
recovery is not simply due to the passage of time. Rather, it is triggered by a perceptual event – in either
the visual (mask offset) or auditory (tone) modality. This reveals a previously-unknown property of crossmodal facilitation of vision: a non-target-predictive auditory stimulus presented over half a second after a
visual target can propel the visual stimulus into awareness.
Semantic activation and inhibition in schizotypy
GRIMSHAW, G. (Victoria University of Wellington)
[email protected]
Schizotypy refers to a constellation of traits that includes minor cognitive and perception aberrations,
language disturbances, and social difficulties. Two semantic priming studies revealed that schizotypy is
associated with a distinctive pattern of semantic activation and inhibition. Participants judged the
relatedness of an ambiguous prime (e.g., ball) followed by a target related to either its dominant meaning
(e.g., round) or its subordinate meaning (e.g., dancing). Low schizotypal individuals show initial automatic
activation of both dominant and subordinate word meanings, followed by continued activation of the
dominant meaning and inhibition of the subordinate meaning. In contrast, high schizotypal individuals
show slower automatic activation of both meanings, but no inhibition of the subordinate meaning, even
after long delays. Findings suggest that schizotypal individuals may show selective impairment in
inhibitory processes that are important for selection of appropriate word meanings. Implications for
language processing in schizotypy are discussed.
Effects of MDMA („ecstasy‟) on sensitivity to reinforcement
HARPER, D. (Victoria University of Wellington)
[email protected]
Long-term use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is associated with impairments in
behavioural tasks such as decision making and self-control. However, the mechanism by which MDMA
decreases performance in these tasks is not clear. One possibility is that MDMA influences choice
behaviour via an alteration in reinforcer sensitivity. The present experiment assessed the effects of acute
and chronic MDMA exposure on sensitivity to reinforcement in rats using an established operant choice
paradigm (Davison & Baum, 2000). Results indicated that although ongoing chronic MDMA exposure
reduced overall response rates, there were no systematic changes in reinforcer sensitivity. However,
acute MDMA exposure produced an increase in ‗preference pulses‘ (perseverative responding on the
previously reinforced option), which in turn, resulted in an overall increase in reinforcer sensitivity.
Therefore, increases in reinforcer sensitivity across concurrently available response options may underlie
the performance impairments found in other behavioural tasks at least with respect to the behavioural
changes observed during acute (as opposed to chronic) MDMA exposure.
Binding object identity and orientation in brief displays
HARRIS, IM., HARRIS, JA., & CORBALLIS, MC. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
This study investigates how object identity and orientation dissociate under conditions of spatial and
temporal uncertainty. Brief, masked, displays of two familiar objects presented in different orientations
appeared either sequentially in the same spatial location, or simultaneously in different locations. Subjects
decided whether a cued object was present on the trial and reported its orientation. The results indicate
that object identity was extracted more reliably than object orientation and that correct judgement of object
orientation was contingent on correct identification of the object. Subjects made frequent conjunctions
errors between the identity and orientation of two objects presented in close temporal proximity at the
same spatial location, but not between objects presented in different locations. This suggests that object
identity is determined independently of orientation and that establishing the object's orientation is a later
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
process that can be prone to incorrect conjunctions between the features of competing objects.
Effects of noise and transcranial magnetic stimulation on sensitivity to visual motion
HARRIS, J. (University of Sydney)*, RUZZOLI, M. (University of Verona), ABRAHAMYAN, A.*, MINIUSSI,
C. (University of Brescia), & CLIFFORD, C.*
[email protected]
TMS is a popular tool for mapping perceptual processes in the human brain. It uses a magnetic field to
modify ongoing activity in cortical neurons. Its acute effects have been likened to a ―virtual lesion‖,
implying the interruption of neural processes, but have also been attributed to an injection of ―neural
noise‖, consistent with the impact of TMS in depolarising neurons. To test these alternatives, we delivered
TMS to motion-sensitive area MT/V5 while participants judged the direction of motion of a random dot
kinetogram. Motion discrimination thresholds increased with the number of randomly moving (―noisy‖)
dots. TMS increased discrimination thresholds overall, and its effect interacted multiplicatively with the
amount of noise in the stimulus. These findings confirm our previous observations when TMS was applied
to occipital pole, and suggest that the functional effect of TMS on sensory processing is a reduction in
signal strength rather than an injection of noise.
How is spatial attention deployed to visual onsets during saccadic remapping?
HARRISON, W., DOZO, N., MATTINGLEY, J., & REMINGTON, R. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
When we move our eyes, the location of visual objects on our retina changes, yet we perceive a stable
image of the world. To maintain this stable percept, information about the locations of visual objects needs
to be updated with each eye movement. What impact does this updating have on shifts of spatial
attention? We tested whether an onset cue presented just prior to an eye movement captures attention at
the retinal location of the cue, or at a location corresponding to where the cue would be after the eye
movement is executed. Preliminary results (n=10) reveal response times were not facilitated when a visual
probe appeared at the cued location, but instead were increasingly facilitated as the location of the probe
approached the future retinal location of the cue. These results suggest that attentional capture can be
influenced by mechanisms responsible for spatial updating across saccadic eye movements.
Identity priming reveals that unattended faces initiate recognition processes
HARRY, B., DAVIS, C., & KIM, J. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Finkbeiner and Palermo (2009) showed that unattended faces are processed even when presented briefly
and backward masked to prevent participants from involuntarily attending to them; in contrast, there was
no evidence that unattended non-face stimuli were processed. They argued that the processing of faces is
qualitatively different from that engaged by other objects. However, the measure of face processing used
in the study (congruency priming in a sex categorisation task) did not necessarily require processing the
identity of faces whereas the non-face object classification task may have. Given this ambiguity, the
present study used repetition priming to ensure the measure of unattended face processing involved
identity processing. The results of three experiments showed that spatially unattended, masked faces
produced repetition priming effects regardless of whether the face was exogenously cued. These results
provide stronger evidence that unattended faces do engage mechanisms related to recognition and
Hick‟s Law: How high can it go?
HAWKINS, G., BROWN, S. (University of Newcastle), STEYVERS, M. (University of California, Irvine), &
WAGENMAKERS, EJ. (University of Amsterdam)
[email protected]
Most choice decision making research has focused on binary decision making. When there are more than
two choice alternatives the typical result is Hick's Law, that response time and the logarithm of the number
of choice alternatives are linearly related (Hick, 1952). However, Hick‘s Law does not hold for decisions
with high stimulus-response compatibility or following extensive practice. We explored a third case where
Hick‘s Law may not hold: a large number of choice alternatives. We employed an evidence accumulation
task with up to 20 choice alternatives where the participant identified a target from a set of distractors. In
this task we demonstrated that the linear Hick‘s Law relationship broke down once the number of choice
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
alternatives exceeded approximately 12. We will discuss the results of this research, as well as a second
evidence accumulation task, and their implications for models of Hick‘s Law.
Converging measures of workload capacity
HEATHCOTE, A., EIDELS, A., DONKIN, C., & BROWN, SD. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
Does processing more than one stimulus concurrently impede or facilitate performance relative to
processing just one stimulus? This fundamental question about workload capacity was surprisingly difficult
to address empirically until Townsend and Nozawa (1995) developed a set of nonparametric analyses
called Systems Factorial Technology. We develop an alternative parametric approach based on the Linear
Ballistic Accumulator (LBA) decision model (Brown & Heathcote, 2008), which uses the model‘s
parameter estimates to measure processing capacity. We show that these two methods have
complementary strengths, and that, in a data set where participants varied greatly in capacity, the two
approaches provide convergent evidence.
Improvement of error awareness and modulation of error-related BOLD activity via single-dose
dopamine (methylphenidate) in healthy adults
HESTER, R. (University of Melbourne), NANDAM, LS., WAGNER, J. (The University of Queensland)*,
NATHAN, PJ. (University of Cambridge), MATTINGLEY, JB., & BELLGROVE, MA.*
[email protected]
Poor detection of errors has been linked to clinical symptoms including the loss of insight, delusions and
perseverative behaviour, in conditions such as schizophrenia and drug addiction. These conditions share
alterations in monoamine signalling that may influence the neural mechanisms underlying error
processing, however our understanding of the neurochemical drivers is limited. We conducted a
randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design of the influence of selective dopamine
(methylphenidate), noradrenaline (atomoxetine) and serotonin (citalopram) reuptake inhibitors on error
awareness in 24 healthy participants. The Error Awareness Task, a Go/No-go response inhibition
paradigm, was administered to assess the influence of monoaminergic agents on errors that the
participant was either aware or unaware of committing and the associated event-related fMRI changes.
Methylphenidate was associated with a significant improvement in error awareness, but not response
inhibition accuracy or speed, in comparison to placebo and either atomoxetine or citalopram.
Methylphenidate also significantly influenced BOLD activity arising from the anterior cingulate cortex and
bilateral inferior parietal regions, with moderate increases in aware error activity and large decreases in
unaware error activity when compared to the placebo condition. These data suggest dopamine may aid
attention to task, thereby setting ideal conditions for promoting awareness of one‘s errors.
Reaction time: Does it tell the whole story during development?
HICKEY, J., & CHALMERS, K. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
During childhood, there is a developmental improvement in processing speed. A large body of research
indicates that males outperform females in performance of speeded tasks. The aim of the current study
was to investigate the development of processing speed using a cross-sectional / longitudinal design. 116
children aged 8 – 11 years were measured at 6 monthly intervals within a 12 month period. Processing
speed was measured using two tasks: inspection time and choice reaction time (including decision and
movement time). Results indicated that although there was a developmental improvement on all
measures, the rate of improvement varied with age and task. The effect of gender also differed as a
function of age and task. This is contrary to theories predicting simultaneous changes across different
measures of speed during development. Furthermore, these results show that a single reaction time
measure is not sufficient when investigating developmental changes in processing speed.
In the eye of the beholder: Is the own-race bias driven by face encoding strategies?
HILLIAR, KF., & KEMP, RI. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
The own-race bias refers to the tendency for people to recognise faces from their own racial group (ownrace faces) better than faces from a different racial group (different-race faces). This bias has important
implications for a wide range of cross-cultural interactions. Research so far, however, has found it difficult
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
to disentangle the relative importance of perceptual processes (having less practice encoding differentrace faces) and social-motivational processes (less motivated to encode different-race faces) in the ownrace bias. Our study investigated whether there are any differences in the encoding strategies participants
use for own-race and different-race faces. Participants‘ eye movements were monitored as they looked at
same-race and different-race faces presented individually or in pairs. The results and implications will be
Inability to perceive the spatial relationship of objects revolving too quickly to follow with attention
HOLCOLMBE, AO. (University of Sydney), LINARES, D. (NTT Communication Science Laboratories), &
VAZIRI-PASHKAM, M. (Harvard University)
[email protected]
Six blobs were evenly spaced along a ring encircling fixation. Three colors were used in two identicallyordered triplets, e.g. red-green-cyan-red-green-cyan. In an attentional tracking task, one blob was cued
and after several seconds of revolution observers point out the new location of the target. This was not
possible above 1.5 rps. A second outer ring of blobs with three new colors, e.g. yellow-blue-fuchsiayellow-blue-fuchsia, was added. Each blob in the inner ring was aligned with another in the outer ring and
observers judged, for any color they chose of the inner ring, which color it was aligned with in the outer
ring. Observers could identify the colours at fast rates. However, they could not determine the relative
location of any two colors above ~1.4 rps, similar to the tracking limit. This striking deficit, together with
other results, suggests that extracting most spatial relationships requires individuation by attention over an
extended interval.
Unexpectedly poor spelling and orthographic processing
HOLMES, VM. (University of Melbourne), & KINOSHITA, S. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
In English, there can be unexpectedly poor spellers, that is, people who can read many more words than
they can spell exactly. This experiment investigated the orthographic processing skill of such individuals
and of good readers who were good spellers. In a printed lexical decision task, unexpectedly poor
spellers were less efficient at classifying regularly spelt words (harvest), strangely spelt words (receipt),
and items with transposed letters (selifsh), though they were no less efficient at classifying standard
nonwords (platcher). They were also less efficient at detecting transpositions in a new task in which an
intact word (either short or long) was presented briefly, followed by either the same word (transfertransfer) or a word with transposed letters, either adjacent (prospect-propsect) or two letters distant
(dramatic-dratamic). The effortful orthographic processing of unexpectedly poor spellers hinders the
creation of stable and precise orthographic representations necessary for accurate spelling.
The neural correlates of disinhibition in human lesion models
HORNBERGER, M., O‘CALLAGHAN, C., & HODGES, JR. (Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute)
[email protected]
The neural correlates of healthy and diseased behaviour are still very poorly understood. In a series of
studies we investigated experimentally the failure to inhibit responses which has been often attributed to
dysfunction in prefrontal cortex areas and in particular the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). To determine
whether the OFC is crucial for such intact processing we employed a human lesion model approach in
combination with structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in two neurodegenerative conditions,
frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Alzheimer disease (AD), as well as a healthy control group. The results of
our tests showed severe disinhibition which was associated with the underlying orbitofrontal cortex
atrophy. The atrophy of this region with the concomitant disinhibition explains the behavioural symptoms
in these patients, which also allows disambiguating them from AD patients and controls. Our results
suggest, therefore, that adjusting behaviour by inhibiting prepotent responses is crucially dependent upon
normal functioning of the OFC.
Do attention-induced Müller-Lyer illusions produce the same biases and sensitivities as those
reported for the standard Müller-Lyer illusion?
HOSKING, S., & CRASSINI, B. (Defence Science and Technology Organisation)
[email protected]
Three experiments examined whether attention-induced Müller-Lyer (M-L) illusions produced the same
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
asymmetries in judging segments of the M-L shaft as those reported for standard M-L illusions.
Experiment 1 found that as the length of the judged shaft-segment decreased, the magnitude of the
illusion decreased for the standard M-L illusion, but not for the attention-induced M-L illusion. Experiment
2 found that attention-induced M-L illusions are influenced by both the relationship between fin colour and
shaft colour, and on the psychophysical method used to test the effect. Experiment 3 used the necessary
psychophysical procedures and fin-shaft colour relationships established in Experiment 2 to investigate
whether attention-induced M-L illusions produced the same biases and sensitivities as the standard M-L
illusion. The results suggest that while some of the asymmetries of attention-induced M-L illusions can be
explained by spatial-based theories of attention, cognitive processes other than attention must also be
Influence of the horizontal-vertical illusion on accuracy for judging two-dimensional squares
HOWELL, J. (Monash University)
[email protected]
Most research investigating the horizontal-vertical illusion (HVI) is based on L and inverted T figures. The
aim of this study was to investigate whether the influence of this illusion extends to whole shapes by
examining inaccuracies in the perception of squares created using haptics and visual-guidance. In
Experiment 1 participants created squares using visual-guidance. The y-axis of the squares was
overestimated and was therefore made shorter to match the x-axis, resulting in a rectangle elongated in
the horizontal direction. In Experiment 2 the squares were created using only haptic information and
similar results were obtained to those of Experiment 1 whereby ―squares‖ were elongated in the horizontal
direction. It was concluded that the HVI influenced size judgments in both vision and haptics, which may
indicate both modalities rely on the same area of the brain for spatial processing.
A comparison of EEG and MEG for assessment of hemispheric asymmetries in brain function
JOHNSON, BW., REID, M., McARTHUR, G., CASTLES, A., & HAUTUS, M. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Hemispheric brain asymmetries are of interest to researchers in diverse areas of psychology. In the
present study we compared the capabilities of EEG and MEG for assessing asymmetric brain function.
Brain measurements were obtained from reading delayed and control children. Auditory stimuli were 500
ms duration broadband noises. Auditory evoked responses (AERs) were characterised by a P100 (EEG)
and P100m (MEG) component at a latency of 100 ms. For control subjects, both EEG and MEG
responses were strongly lateralised to the left hemisphere (EEG: p<.01; MEG: p <<.001), while the
reading impaired group showed no significant lateralisation for either response. For the P100m, the group
comparison confirmed significantly greater lateralisation for the control group. For the P100 the group
difference did not reach statistical significance (p = .1). These results confirm that MEG has relatively
greater sensitivity to hemispheric differences in brain function than EEG.
Increasing the requirement for top-down control in task-switching: ERP evidence from a voluntary
task-switching paradigm
KARAYANIDIS, F., & MANSFIELD, EL. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
Behavioural, electrophysiological and neuroimaging evidence suggests that switching between tasks
requires an active control process, part of which can be completed in anticipation of an upcoming task.
Traditionally, the cued-trials task-switching paradigm (Meiran, 1996) has been used to examine these
processes. However, some researchers have argued that the relevant task-set may be automatically
retrieved when the associated cue is presented, negating the requirement for a top-down control process
in this paradigm. In this study, we designed a voluntary task switching paradigm in which we compare
cued-trials task-switching against a condition in which participants select the task to complete on a trial by
trial basis. By allowing participants to voluntarily choose which task to perform next, the demand for
internally-generated plans for action is increased, thus allowing us to more directly target and characterise
the active control processes required for switching between tasks.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Using variability in RT distribution to identify functional significance of ERP components in taskswitching paradigm
KARAYANIDIS, F., PROVOST, A., BROWN, S. (University of Newcastle)*, PATON, B. (Monash
University), & HEATHCOTE, A.*
[email protected]
Mean RT measures and average ERP waveforms often mask a wealth of information regarding intraindividual variation in performance across trials. When preparing for a validly cued target, cue-locked
ERPs show a larger centroparietal positivity for switch than repeat trials which has been variably
associated with a switch-specific or general preparation process. Stimulus-locked ERPs show a large
broad negativity for switch compared to repeat trials representing either larger P300 for repeat trials or a
superimposed negativity for switch trials. We examined variation in these ERP components as a function
of variation across the RT distribution using a revised orthogonal polynomial trend analysis procedure.
Results showed differential modulation of different cue-locked and stimulus-locked ERP components with
RT variation. Some effects were specific to switch trials whereas others occurred for both trial types,
supporting multiple process involvement. Implications for models of task-switching and other applications
of the OPTA procedure will be discussed.
The processing of invariant and variant face cues in the Garner Paradigm: Interaction between
race, age, and sex and emotional expressions
KARNADEWI, F., & LIPP, O. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
Faces provide a complex source of information via invariant (e.g., race, sex and age) and variant (e.g.,
emotional expressions) cues. At present, it is not clear whether these cues are processed separately or
whether they interact. Using the Garner Paradigm, Experiment 1 confirmed that race, sex, and age cues
affected the categorisation of faces according to emotional expression whereas expression had no effect
on the categorisation by sex, age, or race. Experiment 2 employed inverted faces and replicated this
pattern of asymmetrical interference for race and age cues, but not for sex cues for which no interference
was observed. Experiment 3 confirmed this finding with a more stringently matched set of faces. Overall,
this study suggests that invariant cues interfere with the processing of emotional expressions. It indicates
that the processing of invariant cues, but not of emotional expressions, is obligatory and that it precedes
that of emotional expressions.
Noun or verb? Adults and children are sensitive to spelling cues to grammatical category
KEMP, N., & GLASS, T. (University of Tasmania)
[email protected]
In English spelling, there are certain letter patterns at the end of two-syllable words that are most often
associated with nouns (e.g., -oon) or with verbs (e.g., -olve), beyond such obvious grammatical endings
as –ing (Arciuli & Cupples, 2006). Adults seem to be sensitive to these associations in their spelling
choices for novel words (Arciuli & Cupples, 2006; Kemp, Nilsson, & Arciuli, 2009). In Experiment 1, we
employed modified tasks to confirm this sensitivity to spelling cues to grammatical category in a group of
90 undergraduates. In Experiment 2, we extended the tasks to 90 children in Grades 2, 4, and 6. Spelling
sensitivity improved with grade, and was at near-adult levels by Grade 6. Sensitivity developed earlier for
nouns than for verbs, and showed few links to other literacy skills. We discuss the implications – both
general, and those specific to word-recognition – of this kind of statistical learning.
How fast were you travelling? Factors which affect estimates of motor vehicle speed
KEMP, R., SRIRAM, V., (University of New South Wales), & PATERSON, H. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
Eyewitnesses are often asked to estimate the speed of vehicles involved in motor vehicle accidents
(MVAs), but it is well known that post-event information (PEI) can alter witnesses‘ recall of an event. In an
MVA, one source of PEI is the knowledge that the vehicle crashed. Furthermore, past research suggests
that susceptibility to PEI is influenced by the participants‘ level of involvement in the event. We used a
driving simulator to investigate if these factors affected estimates of speed prior to the MVA. Half the
participants thought their partner was driving the vehicle (active condition) while the others knew they
were watching a pre-recorded film (passive condition). In the active condition, participants who saw the
crash gave significantly higher speed estimates than those who did not see a crash, but this difference
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
was not significant for participants in the passive condition. Implications for memory research and MVA
investigations are discussed.
Effects of media exposure on implicit cognitive processing of food cues
KEMPS, E., TIGGEMANN, M., & WILSON, A. (Flinders University)
[email protected]
Central to cognitive-motivational models is the notion that consumption behaviour is governed by
automatic cue-elicited processes. Consequently, we tested the prediction that media exposure to
environmental food cues biases information processing. In each of two experiments, female
undergraduate participants viewed a series of television commercials advertising either food or non-food
products. Contrary to expectations, response times to food words in a subsequent lexical decision task did
not differ between the two commercial conditions (Experiment 1). However, participants in the food
commercial condition did produce significantly more food words on a newly developed word stem
completion task (Experiment 2). Unlike the lexical decision task, an implicit measure of stable individual
differences, the word stem task is a reactive one, responsive to environmental contingencies. This
discrepancy between tasks to effect acute changes in information processing following media exposure
has important methodological implications for cognitive-experimental research into eating and other
consumption behaviour.
Bimodal emotion recognition
KIM, J., & DAVIS, C. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
This study examined the processing of emotional information from the talker‘s face and voice. The aims
were to determine (1) the degree to which each emotion is delivered across different modalities and (2)
the degree to which each emotion is expressed across different regions of face. In the experiment, the
auditory and visual speech of five talkers expressing angry, disgust, fearful, happy, sad, surprised or
neutral emotion were presented in auditory-only, visual-only and auditory-visual presentation conditions.
The speech stimuli in the visual-only and auditory-visual conditions included the upper, lower and whole
face conditions. The participant‘s task was to indicate which emotion was perceived. The results showed
that face and voice convey different degree/types of emotion information. The upper and lower parts of the
talker‘s face were not equally informative for all the types of emotion. As expected, there were
complementary AV effects especially when emotion accuracy was relatively low.
Magical number 4: "leet priming" of letters and digits is length-dependent
KINOSHITA, S., & LAGOUTARIS, S. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
The "leet priming" (Carreiras, Dunabeitia, & Perea, 2007, TICS) phenomenon shows that NUMB3R5 used
in place of letters produce masked priming of words. Using the same-different match task, Perea,
Dunabeitia, Pollatsek, and Carreiras (in press, QJEP) reported that numbers produced leet priming for
pseudowords (e.g., V35Z3D-VESZED) but letters did not produce leet priming for digit strings (e.g.,
7ES6E8-735638). They took this result to argue that leet priming reflects top-down feedback that
regularises the shape of leet characters. We show that this difference between digit string and
pseudoword is due to the capacity limit of visual short term memory, and that for short strings,
pseudowords and digit strings show equal leet priming effects. We also show that single letters and highfrequency words show equal-sized leet priming effects. These results fit better with an account of masked
priming that does not assume top-down feedback (e.g., Norris & Kinoshita, 2008, JEP:G).
Something in the way she moves me – but only if I‟m watching
KRITIKOS, A., McTAGGART, L., BAYLISS, A., & PAINTER, D. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
The fundamental issue of biological motion paradigms is that sufficient information is carried by a specific
subset of points in space over time to convey information about the animate being. But is this process
automatic or do attentional resources have to be directed to these displays? And beyond detection of
these features, does it matter to the observer such that it alters their movement? Participants watched
videos of models reaching for a glass or a point-display of the same reach. They responded by making a
goal-directed or pantomimed reach to a glass. When attention was directed to the fingers the width of the
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
grasp of the participants was greater than when attention was directed to the upper arm, but these effects
were evident only for point-display stimuli. Together, the findings suggest the primacy of motion
information, but it is not, in fact an automatic process, and requires attentional resources.
Effects of schizotypy, need for structure, and feedback on visual perception
LAPIERRE, M., CROPPER, SJ., & PARTOS, T. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Hallucinations and illusions are generally considered distinct phenomena though they have features and
brain mechanisms in common. This study investigated such perception with a focus on the influence of
individual difference factors on perceptual learning. The relevant factors are the personality trait
‗schizotypy‘, and the dispositional need for structure in the form of simple, unambiguous mental
representations. Previous research found that high levels of schizotypy or of a need for structure are
associated with a tendency to perceive false patterns. Such research was extended through the use of a
face detection task involving perceptual learning. Results revealed those high on schizotypy showed less
improvement when given correct feedback, yet showed more improvement when given random feedback.
No associations were found with need for structure. The findings suggest that those high on schizotypy
are less responsive to feedback, though this operates at a cognitive level distinct from that involved in
structuring simple mental representations.
Demonstrated testimonial inaccuracy and the reliability of witness testimony
LAVIS, T., & BREWER, N. (Flinders University)
[email protected]
Witnesses are frequently shown to be wrong about some aspect of their testimony. While it is established
that a single testimonial inaccuracy is not a strong predictor of inaccuracy for other testimonial details, it is
yet to be established whether the inaccuracy will have implications for overall testimonial reliability.
Experiment 1 examined whether an inaccuracy in one area of witness testimony undermined mock-jurors‘
assessments of the reliability of witness memory. Participants were exposed to eyewitness testimony
containing a central, peripheral, or no inaccuracy. Where an eyewitness was inaccurate, mock-jurors
consistently downgraded the reliability of the eyewitness‘s memory for the crime (central and peripheral
details), and general memory (peripheral details). Experiments 2 and 3 involved a replication and
extension of Experiment 1, to investigate the role of eyewitness/victim integrity, and the impact of
inaccuracy on verdict. Possible theoretical mechanisms underpinning the findings are described, as well
as implications for the Courts.
Living on the edge: Toward interventions for toddler drowning
LEMONDINE, J., & HOOLEY, M. (Deakin University)
[email protected]
Drowning among toddlers in backyard swimming pools is a longstanding health issue. This study
examined the risks for unintentional water entry associated with flat-edge and dropped-edge pools.
Dropped-edge pools may exacerbate overbalancing events as toddlers possess a high centre of gravity. A
flat- and 10cm dropped-edge was constructed using a modified visual cliff which contained a shallow pool
of water above a 1-meter drop-off. Twenty-one toddlers (16-25 months, M=21.10, SD=3.21, 17-males)
were secured in a safety harness and provided 4 minutes of free-play exposed to each edge-type. Carryover effects were evident in the results. Toddlers who received a flat-dropped presentation order engaged
in high levels of water play across trials. Toddlers who received a dropped-flat presentation engaged in
lower levels of water play. The dropped edge design appeared to possess an aversive property which
deterred toddlers‘ engagement with water. Overbalancing events are discussed considering edge-type
and toddler development.
Models of cognition and (unnecessary?) constraints from neuroscience: A case study involving
LEWANDOWSKY, S. (University of Western Australia), & BROWN, G. (University of Warwick)
[email protected]
Research in the neurosciences has been burgeoning during the last few decades and it is often claimed
that cognitive models—that is, models dedicated to providing a behavioural and psychological explanation
of the phenomena under consideration—must acknowledge constraints provided by the neurosciences to
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
remain viable. We examine the case of ―consolidation‖, a putative process by which existing memories are
strengthened over time. While there is agreement in the neurosciences that consolidation exists, the
concept has yet to be adapted by most cognitive models. How compelling is the case for consolidation?
Can we explain forgetting without recourse to consolidation? Can the neuroscientific evidence be
explained in alternative ways?
Time to turn the other cheek? The influence of left and right poses on perceptions of academic
LINDELL, AK., & SAVILL, NJ. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
The human face expresses emotion asymmetrically. Whereas the left cheek is more emotionally
expressive, the right cheek appears more impassive, hence the appropriate cheek to put forward depends
on the circumstance. Given that different academic disciplines differ markedly in their stereotypical
emotionality (e.g., ―serious‖ scientist vs. ―creative‖ writer), we reasoned that cheek shown may influence
perceived academic specialisation. Participants (M=90, F=119) viewed pairs of left and right cheek poses,
making a forced-choice decision to indicate which image depicted a Chemistry, Psychology or English
student. Consistent with prediction, participants were more likely to select left images for English, and right
images for Chemistry. The results confirm that determining your best side depends on academic
expertise: right cheeks suggest hard science, whereas left cheeks imply the arts. Psychology produced no
left or right bias, consistent with its position as a discipline, straddling the boundary between art and
Putting the crowd back in the „face in the crowd‟ effect
LIPP, O., WESTCOTT, C., & TERRY, D. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
The face in the crowd effect, the faster detection of angry faces among happy faces than vice versa, is
part of the core discipline knowledge in psychology. The vast majority of previous studies have, however,
used repetitions of pictures of the same individual as crowds. In a variable background procedure (angry
targets among happy backgrounds and vice versa), no effect of crowd composition was found for
photographic or schematic faces (Experiment 1). In a constant background procedure (angry, happy, sad
targets; neutral backgrounds; Experiment 2) photographic angry faces were found faster than happy faces
in same individual crowds but not in different individual crowds. Crowd composition did not affect
performance with schematic faces. This suggests that the expression of anger will be detected
preferentially if visual search is easy (among schematic faces or same individual crowds) but not if the
search is more complex – such as searching different individual crowds.
Individual differences in masked semantic priming: A mixed-effects analysis
LO, S., & ANDREWS, S. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
Research has rarely shown evidence of semantic effects in masked priming paradigms. The present study
investigated whether this is mediated by individual differences in reading and spelling ability. 106
undergraduate students (79 female; average age = 19.2) participated in a masked priming lexical decision
task based on stimuli adapted from Moss, Ostrin, Tyler, and Marslen-Wilson (1995). The critical primes
varied in terms of their semantic type (category coordinates or functionally related), association
(normatively or weakly associated) and relatedness (related or unrelated). Participants completed a
battery of individual differences measures on reading comprehension, reading speed, spelling production,
spelling recognition and vocabulary. Mixed effects modelling, which allows simultaneous modelling of item
and subject characteristics, was conducted to contrast results from traditional ANCOVA analyses. Results
for semantic priming were discussed with reference to the broader applications and possibilities of mixed
Processing fluency and distracter devaluation: Does the processing of repeatedly presented
distracters influence subjective liking?
LODGE, J. & COTTRELL, D. (James Cook University)
[email protected]
The mere exposure effect occurs when any repeated exposure to a stimulus leads to a preference for it,
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
most likely through increased processing fluency. In contrast, distracters viewed during visual selective
attention tasks become disliked. This is known as the distracter devaluation effect and poses a
contradiction to the mere exposure effect. Participants were exposed to distracting stimuli for very brief
periods (30ms) whilst engaged in difficult visual search tasks. Processing fluency was assessed using
affective masked priming trials. Increased processing fluency due to the exposure to the distracting
stimulus resulted in positive affect evidenced by interference with responses to negative words in the
priming task. Conversely, subjective ratings of the distracter were more negative than those of novel
shapes and related to stimulus features and orientation. These results indicate that the influence of
increased processing fluency for visual stimuli is not always subjectively positive despite being implicitly
Spatial neglect: Paradoxical leftward extension into the neglected space
LOETSCHER, T. (University of Melbourne)*, BRUGGER, P., KAVAN, N. (University Hospital Zurich)**,
BRADSHAW, JL. (Monash University), NICHOLLS, MER.*, & LENGGENHAGER, B.**
[email protected]
Damage to the right parietal cortex can lead to spatial neglect, which is characterised by a failure to
respond or orient to stimuli presented to the side opposite the brain lesion. This study required neglect
patients to judge the vanishing point of a horizontally moving object, which suddenly disappeared. We
found that the patients misplaced the final position in the direction of the moving stimuli. Intriguingly, this
systematic forward misplacement was significantly modulated by the target‘s trajectory. A target moving to
the left resulted in a much larger forward displacement than targets moving towards the right. That is,
patients considerably overestimated the trajectory of the target in their neglected side of space. We
discuss this paradoxical finding with reference to the idea of a distorted space representation in patients
with neglect.
Social category cues like sex and race affect the evaluation of emotional expressions: An ERP
MALLAN, KM., LIPP, OV. (University of Queensland)*, SMITH, JR. (University of Exeter), TERRY, DJ.*, &
HESS, U. (University of Quebec at Montreal)
[email protected]
The present study used ERPs to elucidate the role of sex and race in the processing of emotional
expressions. Participants viewed a series of neutral, happy and angry faces of different sex and race
(Caucasian or Chinese) posers and made a button-press response to neutral faces. Stimulus-locked
ERPs were calculated and three early components (N1, P2 and N2) and a late positive complex (LPC)
were identified. Poser sex modulated N1 and P2 which were larger to male than female faces. Race
affected N1 which was larger to out-group (Chinese) than in-group (Caucasian) faces. Effects of emotional
expression were evident in N2 which was larger to happy faces. Emotional expression also affected the
LPC which was facilitated to angry faces. Sex, but not race, modulated the LPC to angry faces in a
manner consistent with a stereotype violation effect: angry female faces elicited a larger LPC than angry
male faces.
Anisotropies in the response of human visual cortex to simple and complex spatial form
MANNION, DJ., McDONALD, JS., & CLIFFORD, CWG. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
Representing the orientation of features in the visual image is a fundamental operation of the early cortical
visual system. The nature of such representations can be informed by considering anisotropic distributions
of response across the range of orientations. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to
investigate modulations in the cortical activity elicited by observation of simple and complex spatial form
which varied in orientation. Observation of simple grating stimuli evoked an anisotropic distribution of
responses from within the early retinotopic areas; oblique orientations and those that were radial to the
point of fixation were associated with higher levels of activity. This radial bias was also evident when
orientation was defined within complex Glass patterns, and was accompanied by a preference for vertical
orientations in V1. Furthermore, a bias towards tangential orientations was obtained only for polar Glass
patterns, demonstrating a preference of human visual cortex towards circular orientation structure.
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
Reading and spelling of bisyllabic words with open and closed syllables in beginning readers
MARINUS, E. (Macquarie University), MOMMERS, S., & DE JONG, PF. (University of Amsterdam)
[email protected]
Thus far, most word-recognition studies have focused on monosyllabic word reading in skilled adult
readers. In contrast, the present study examined the reading and spelling of bisyllabic words in children
(grade 4/5), learning to read in Dutch. Experiment 1 measured reading and spelling performance for
words with open (e.g., 'hoping') and closed syllables (e.g., 'hopping'). Children were found to be more
accurate and faster in reading words with closed syllables and this effect was stronger for pseudowords
than for words. However, they made less spelling errors in open than in closed-syllable words. Experiment
2 examined if reading performance of open-syllable words could be improved by highlighting the first
syllable. Although the children did become more accurate in reading polysyllabic pseudowords of which
the syllables were alternatively highlighted, no such improvement was found for open-syllable words. The
results will be discussed in the context of developmental and computational models of reading.
The contributions of size, distance, and multiple motion processing mechanisms for emergent
global motion from element vectors
MARLIN, SG., GRAYSON-COLLINS, J., SMITH, A., & JOLLY, T. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
Global motion perception can be achieved via multiple perceptual mechanisms. Using our wagon wheel
stimulus, where a global wheel is comprised of patterned elements, we first investigated if the robustness
of the global motion is due to size channel segregation where the global motion is determined by the lower
spatial frequencies. We systematically varied the size of the elements of 2 superimposed 4-arm wheels. In
experiment 2 we systematically varied the distance (spatial offset) of a 3, 4 and 6 arm wheel to determine
if absolute or proportional distance was the critical factor. In experiment 3, we tested the contributions of
1st order, 2nd order and figural-based motion systems to the global motion perception. Results
demonstrate that: 1) global motion can be disrupted by size differences, 2) absolute spatial offsets of
elements is critical and 3) 1st order motion systems are much more robust than higher order motion cues.
Pictures or words: Children‟s understanding of facts and emotions in storybooks
MARRIOTT, S., & KEMP, N. (University of Tasmania)
[email protected]
Sharing storybooks with children can be an important interactive tool for social and cognitive development.
This study investigated the understanding of facts and emotions in 64 children in Kinder and Prep.
Children were presented with either a verbal or a pictorial version of a story and then questioned (in a
series of four-picture choice tasks) on their emotional and factual knowledge of events in the story. As
hypothesised, children in the verbal story condition understood significantly more about the story‘s
emotional content (mean = 51% correct), compared to children in the picture condition (mean = 38%
correct), even after controlling for receptive vocabulary. In comparison, children‘s factual knowledge of the
story did not differ significantly with story type (mean ≈83% for both). These findings highlight the
importance of talking to children about emotions during storybook interactions, and have implications for
the development of children‘s understanding of emotions.
Effects of visual and auditory perceptual load on neural responses to irrelevant visual stimuli
MATTINGLEY, JB., & HALL, SE. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
The perceptual-load model of selective attention proposes that effective exclusion of distracters occurs
when limited-capacity resources are exhausted by a central task. We used steady-state evoked potentials
(SSEPs) and frequency-tagged stimuli to examine whether neural activity evoked by an irrelevant,
peripheral visual stimulus was modulated by the load of a central visual or auditory task. Participants
monitored the task-relevant central stream of stimuli presented at 4 Hz, while ignoring a 10 Hz contrastmodulated checkerboard in the periphery. Fourier transforms on SSEP amplitudes revealed that neural
activity evoked by the distracter stimulus was attenuated as task load increased for the central visual
stimulus. By contrast, neural activity associated with the same peripheral stimulus was enhanced with
increases in task load for the central auditory task. These results imply that central and peripheral visual
stimuli compete strongly for limited attentional resources, whereas central auditory stimuli potentiate
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
neural representations of ignored visual distracters.
A dual-process account of visual change detection
McANALLY, K., MARTIN, R., WOLFGANG, B., & McCALLUM, M. (Defence Science and Technology
[email protected]
Previous studies of change detection have concluded that changes to brief visual displays are detected by
a signal-detection process rather than a high-threshold process. We investigated observers' abilities to
detect a change to the shape of one of an array of 8 symbols which were presented for 3 seconds before
a potential change occurred. The processes underlying change detection were inferred by analysis of
receiver operating characteristics (ROCs). Individual ROCs could not be explained by a simple signal
detection process in which detectors were equally sensitive, but instead reflected a mixture of detectors
with high sensitivity and detectors with lower sensitivity. It is possible that the more sensitive detectors
operate on durable memory representations of sensory categories or verbal descriptors of symbol
features. Detection models with detectors of mixed sensitivities were also able to predict identification of
the changed object.
The aetiology of poor auditory task scores in children with reading and language impairments
McARTHUR, G. (Macquarie University), & HOGBEN, J. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
This study investigated the aetiology of poor auditory discrimination task scores in children with specific
reading disability (SRD) or specific language impairment (SLI). Twenty-two children with SRD or SLI who
scored poorly on an auditory discrimination task did up to 140 repeated runs on the same task. Examining
each child‘s data series suggested that only 18.5% of poor auditory task scores stemmed from a problem
with auditory perception. The remaining poor scores appeared to reflect poor attention (30%), slightly
delayed task learning (33%), or severely delayed task learning (18.5%). In 85% of cases, it was possible
to predict from a child‘s first two runs on a task whether their poor scores stemmed from poor auditory
perception, poor attention, or delayed task learning. This suggests that the aetiology, and hence
treatment, of children‘s poor auditory task scores might be understood from just two runs on an auditory
The effect of contour length on the perception of local perturbations
McDONALD, JS., & CONTINI, E. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
The visual system probably evolved to optimally process informative contour irregularities, such as
corners. However, little is known about how context affects the perception of such irregularities. We
investigate the effect of contour length on the perception of local irregularities. Experiment 1: 12
participants matched the amplitude of a sinusoidal line perturbation of isolated test-segments to the
perturbation amplitude of contour-embedded segments. Embedding a segment in contours causes
overestimation of perturbation amplitude. Experiment 2: In a 2-alternative-forced-choice task, 15
participants judged whether perturbations bowed leftward or rightward, in isolated vertical segments and
vertical segments embedded in contours. Perturbation direction detection was better for isolated
segments. We explain Experiment 1 in terms of a gain normalisation model previously proposed to
account for the tilt illusion (Schwartz & Simoncelli, 2001). However, Experiment 2 cannot be easily
reconciled with this explanation and instead is discussed in terms of local versus global processing.
Adaptation to surface motion perceived through touch
McINTYRE, S., SEIZOVA-CAJIC, T., HOLCOMBE, AO. (University of Sydney), & BIRZNIEKS, I. (Prince
of Wales Medical Research Institute)
[email protected]
Sustained observation of a moving surface can cause adaptation in the human visual system, such that
subsequently observed motion appears slower. We explored the possibility of speed adaptation in the
tactile domain. To create tactile motion, we used ridged, rotating drums on which participants rested their
fingers. After adapting to motion, participants judged the speed of a test stimulus that was a) the same
direction as the previously exposed adapting stimulus, and b) the opposite direction to the adapting
stimulus. The test surface appeared slower regardless of the direction of the adapting motion, thus
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
showing no signs of direction selectivity. The decrease in perceived speed we observed may be due to
adaptation to pressure or to temporal frequency.
Dissociative masked form-priming signatures of lexical and episodic memory
McKAGUE, M., & THAM, P. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
The research aimed to identify signatures of episodic and lexical memory processes in reading. Sixty-four
participants completed both lexical decision and episodic recognition. Two lists of items (half words, half
nonwords) were counterbalanced across tasks. Half of the items in each list were high-N and half were
low-N. Targets in both tasks were preceded by one of three masked primes; 1-letter-different, 2/3-letterdifferent, and an all-letters-different control. Distinct patters of priming were observed, evidenced by a
significant Task x Prime x N interaction. In episodic recognition, both studied words and nonwords showed
facilitatory form priming regardless of N, even when primes differed by two or three letters, and priming
was greatest for high-N items. Significantly less form priming was observed in lexical decision, and was
only significant for low-N words when primes differed by a single letter. These distinct priming signatures
will inform training studies investigating the acquisition of new words.
Do all components of executive function follow the same path? An investigation of the
development of working memory, shifting, and response inhibition during childhood
McKAY, P., CHALMERS, KA., KARAYANIDIS, F., & SANDAY, D. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
Executive Function (EF) is a higher order cognitive ability that is important for goal-directed behaviour.
Recent research sees EF as multi-faceted, and made up of three key components: working memory,
shifting and response inhibition. To date, there has been limited research investigating this model of EF
during childhood. In the present study, we mapped the developmental trajectories of working memory,
shifting and inhibition, in children aged 5-14 years. We used an integrative framework in which the basic
features of all tasks were similar, allowing us to better understand the relationship between the three
components. Age related improvements were seen on all measures of EF, with development being
continuous up until 12 years of age, and then levelling off. Results indicate that EF has a protracted
course of development, and support recent theories that suggest that working memory, shifting and
inhibition are separate, but related components of EF.
Face recognition is like language: Plasticity in early childhood disappears in adolescence and
McKONE, E., PIDCOCK, M., & HALL, A. (Australian National University)
[email protected]
For language, initial perceptual narrowing in infancy is followed by a relatively lengthy period of retained
plasticity that extends throughout primary school. Learning a new language as an adult, however, is
difficult. Here, we argue face recognition follows a similar course. We employed the specific demographics
and immigration history of Australia to dissociate effects of exposure to other-race and other-ethnicity
faces at different developmental stages: as babies, at primary school, at high school, and as adults. We
measured the 'other-race' effect (difference in memory between own-race and other-race faces) and the
'other-ethnicity' effect (difference between British-heritage Caucasian faces typical in Canberra, and
American Caucasian faces). Neither effect correlated with any aspect of reported contact in adulthood or
at high school. However, correlations were found with contact as a baby/toddler and in primary school. We
conclude plasticity of face recognition, like language, is greatest in early childhood.
No evidence for a prolonged attentional blink in developmental dyslexia
McLEAN, G., CASTLES, A., COLTHEART, V. (Macquarie University), & STUART, G. (Defence Science
and Technology Organisation)
[email protected]
When two targets are presented within 500msec of each other in rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP),
second target accuracy is significantly reduced; a phenomenon termed the attentional blink. Recent
studies have reported that individuals with dyslexia exhibit inferior performance on attentional blink tasks,
yet ambiguity remains as to the nature of these deficits and their relationship with reading difficulties. This
study addressed these issues by exploring attentional blink deficits in relation to different aspects of
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
reading impairment. Twenty-two children with dyslexia were compared to 22 controls on an attentional
blink task with the dyslexia group exhibiting impaired performance regardless of the temporal lag between
targets. These deficits appeared tied to general dual-target RSVP performance rather than the attentional
blink and group differences fell below significance when controlling for general performance factors. A
review of previous attentional blink studies is consistent with this conclusion with no evidence (group-lag
interaction) for a prolonged attentional blink in dyslexia.
Can memes be studied experimentally?
McMULLEN, T. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
In The Selfish Gene (1976) Richard Dawkins proposed that cultural practices and behavioural traits are
transmitted in populations as ―memes‖ by the non-genetic process of imitation. Memes are replicators that
work in a manner analogous to genes: natural selection determines whether a meme (e.g. the use of
mathematics, belief in God, performing the Maori haka by New Zealand sporting teams) survives in a
given population. Examination of the arguments of Susan Blackmore, a prominent psychological advocate
of a science of memetics (The Meme Machine, 1999) shows that memes have no place in psychology or
social anthropology because they are empty constructs, reifications based on fundamental logical
The comparison of happy and sad music on mood and task-switching
MILLER, S. (Queensland University of Technology), & AU, A. (James Cook University)
[email protected]
This study aimed to compare happy and sad music on mood arousal and task-switching. Twenty-eight
undergraduates participated in both music conditions which were administered on different days. In each
condition, positive and negative affect were measured by PANAS before and after music exposure. Finger
tapping was obtained during music listening. Error rates and response times in task-switching were
measured immediately after music exposure, but before the PANAS post test. Results showed that
listening to sad music significantly decreased positive affect but listening to happy music did not improve
the positive affect. Both types of music did not induce significant changes in negative effect. Participants
tapped more in happy music than in sad music, but there were no differences in both response times and
error rates between the two music conditions. Different types of music may selectively affect only certain
emotions, and can have differential effects on various behavioural and cognitive measures.
Levels of processing with schematic faces: Emotional content or affective context?
MOKHTARI, S., BUTTLE, H., & STILLMAN, J. (Massey University)
[email protected]
Processing of faces can occur via global or local details. The aim of this research was to investigate
whether the observer‘s mood (as a contextual factor) and facial expressions (emotional content) affect the
way that faces are processed. Moreover, the interaction of the contextual factor and content on the level
of processing (global/local) for face stimuli was studied. The participants were induced in to sad or happy
moods through musical pieces conveying such moods. They then completed a computer-based task that
contained schematic emotional faces by counting specific parts of the faces (local level task). Reaction
times to happy and sad faces were significantly slower than to neutral faces (sad slowest). This suggests
that the global level of emotional facial expressions captures attention rendering slower reaction times to
the local level task. No effect of context was found in the initial study, but effects of mood manipulation will
be discussed.
Seeing is believing: Neural mechanisms of action perception are biased by team membership
[email protected]
Sports fans are familiar with the feelings of frustration that accompany apparently erroneous decisions
made against members of their own team. For the first time we show that neural mechanisms associated
with action perception can be directly influenced by social context. Volunteers who were randomly divided
into two teams judged the actions of their own team members as roughly 30 ms faster than identical
actions of other-team members. Crucially, brain imaging with fMRI showed that this bias arose from
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
differences in the way the brain processes observed actions of own-team compared with other-team
members. Our results therefore suggest that the neural mechanisms of action perception are biased by
group membership and, as a consequence, group members do not see the actions of their own team
The effect of lighting and scene detail on ground slant perception during simulated aircraft landing
MURRAY, R., & PALMISANO, S. (University of Wollongong)
[email protected]
We examined the visual perception of ground slant during simulated aircraft landings when glideslope
(experiment 1) and ground slant (experiment 2) were varied. Each simulation stopped after 4s, and the
participant then had to adjust the slant of the runway so it appeared horizontal (by rotating the ground
around the simulated aimpoint using a joystick). Comparisons were made between day and night
conditions with and without scenery (3D buildings and a visible horizon). We found that perceived ground
slant (as measured by this nulling task) was closer to veridical during day conditions when 3D buildings
were present. Results of experiment 2 indicate a significant effect of scenery and a near significant effect
of lighting, again was more veridical during day conditions with scenery. These results have important
implications for pilots landing on sloping runways, as there appears to be a number of variables
contributing to the perception of ground slant.
Levels of explanation in category learning: Do neuroscience data necessitate multiple systems?
NEWELL, BR. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
Many multiple-system accounts contrast a nominally ‗explicit‘ system with a nominally ‗implicit‘ one. This
distinction has gained traction in the category learning literature over the past decade in part due to
convergent evidence from neuroimaging studies. I will review some of this evidence and discuss the role
of behavioural data in constraining inferences about the existence of multiple-systems. I will highlight
some of the problems that arise once multiple-system interpretations are invoked and present data that
challenge dominant multiple-system accounts of probabilistic and non-probabilistic category learning.
Monkey see monkey don‟t: The role of the human mirror system in complementary actions
OCAMPO, B., KRITIKOS, A., & CUNNINGTON, R. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
Action observation activates neural circuits typically involved in the motor planning and execution of those
same actions. This ‗mirror system‘ is believed to be involved in imitation by matching perceived actions
directly onto their corresponding motor representations. Recent evidence suggests, however, that the
mirror system is active during the preparation of non-identical actions (Newman-Norlund et al., 2007). We
do not know, however, whether these results were simply due to stimulus-response associations. Using
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined the BOLD signal in the inferior frontal gyrus
and bilateral inferior parietal lobes while participants observed and subsequently executed
imitative/complementary goal-directed actions in two opposing contexts. In a control condition, participants
responded to symbolic arrow cues. The degree of fronto-parietal activation specific to hand actions (and
therefore the mirror system) rather than more general response selection demands constant in both hand
and arrow conditions, will be discussed.
Is stimulus continuity necessary for perceptual overestimation of increasing acoustic intensity?
OLSEN, KN., & STEVENS, CJ. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Perceptual overestimation of continuous, rising intensity reflects a bias for looming auditory motion.
However, a non-continuous increase of intensity may elicit comparable results. Intensity change direction
(increasing, decreasing), intensity region (high 70-90dB SPL, low 50-70dB SPL), interstimulus interval (0
s, 1.8 s, 3.6 s), and timbre (vowel, violin) were manipulated within-subjects. The dependent variable was
perceived loudness change in response to pairs of 500 ms steady-state sounds corresponding to onset
and offset levels of previously used continuous dynamic intensities. It was hypothesised that noncontinuous increases of intensity are overestimated in loudness change, relative to decreases, in both
intensity regions. The hypothesis was partially supported. At the high intensity region, increasing
intensities were perceived to change more in loudness than decreasing intensities. At the low intensity
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
region, decreasing intensities were perceived to change more in loudness than increasing intensities. A
‗perceptual bias for rising intensity‘ is not dependent on continuous change.
The action of spatial attention and stimulus properties in the attentional blink
ORR, C., & NICHOLLS, M. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
This research examined the interaction of voluntary spatial attention and involuntary attentional capture by
salient stimuli. A dual-stream attentional blink paradigm, in which naturalistic stimuli were presented, was
used to assess how emotional face distracters affect perception of targets. While maintaining central
visual fixation, participants attended to either a central or peripheral RSVP stream and detected watch
targets presented at the attended location. ANOVA revealed a significant deficit in T2 performance for
trials on which emotional face distracters were presented. This effect was mediated by the focus of
spatial attention and location of the distracter. Analysis of the profile of the attentional blink demonstrated
that salient, task irrelevant stimuli influence can cause spatiotemporal changes in focal attention.
Predicting visual consciousness electrophysiologically
O‘SHEA, RP. (Southern Cross University), KORNMEIER, J. (Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology
and Mental Health, Freiburg), & ROEBER, U. (University of Leipzig)
[email protected]
When each eye views a different stimulus, visual consciousness alternates irregularly between them:
binocular rivalry. Interrupting rival stimuli by a short gap can prompt alternations. We showed rival gratings
for 1000 ms, then a 200-ms gap, then the same stimuli for another 1000 ms; this yielded about 50%
alternations and about 50% of no alternations. We compared event-related potentials from these two
outcomes, the event being onset of the first set of rival stimuli. At about 1000 ms before onset of the
second set of rival stimuli, we could predict from occipital electrodes which trials would yield an
alternation. The first negative deflection (N1, 180 ms) was larger when there was a later alternation than
when not. We propose that this enhanced response to rival stimuli yields greater adaptation, making it
more likely that some perturbation, such as a gap, will lead to an alternation.
Sudden-onsets do capture attention because they are new objects, sometimes
OWENS, C. (University of Sydney)
[email protected]
While it is well established that sudden-onsets capture attention, the ―new object account‖, as first
proposed by Yantis and Hillstrom (1994), has been strongly challenged. Franconeri, Hollingworth and
Simons (2005) showed that when luminance transients are masked, new objects no longer achieve
attentional priority. However this influential paradigm also ensured objects no longer suddenly appeared.
Here, a new paradigm based on apparent motion is employed to create true ‗sudden-onset‘ new objects
with no change at all in local luminance. It is found that new-objects reliably capture attention because of
their object status alone. However by manipulating the shape of arrays, it is also found that visual short
term memory and even the Gestalt of the scene may affect whether new objects capture attention at all.
Cross-cortical-map comparisons introduce a source of variability into relative position judgements
OWENS, R., DICKINSON, JE., & BADCOCK, D. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
Shape information is thought to be coded retinotopically in an increasingly complex way with each
successive visual cortical stage: low-level features processed earlier and objects later. Many early- to
intermediate-stages are represented retinotopically suggesting relative positions of similar forms are
encoded at each stage. Given this, and because dissimilar forms are likely processed in separate areas,
relative position judgements of dissimilar forms may be less precise than similar forms due to the
variability introduced because of the cross-cortical-map comparison. This idea was investigated using
luminance-defined dots, detected early in the system, and the centres of radial frequency patterns, whose
extraction requires prior global processing. We calculated the uncertainty attributable to each pattern and
determined whether the combined uncertainty accounted for performance (if not, there must be an
additional source of noise).Variance was higher than predicted for dissimilar pattern conditions, indicating
a precision cost when cross-cortical-map comparisons are made.
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
Do people use similar prior instances when making categorisation and induction decisions?
PAPADOPOULOS, C., & HAYES, B. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
Novel instances can be categorised on the basis of classification rules and/or specific similarity to prior
instances. Allen and Brooks (1991) found evidence for the latter although this effect was only found for
stimuli that were presented perceptually rather than verbally. Contrarily, the present study found evidence
that people categorised novel instances on the basis of specific similarity to prior instances for stimuli that
were primarily verbal in presentation (cf. Neal, Hesketh & Andrews, 1995). However, this effect was only
robust when people were not provided with the classification rule prior to category learning. Given the
close relationship between categorisation and inductive reasoning the present study also examined the
latter. However, unlike categorisation, no evidence was found to suggest that people made inductive
predictions based upon similar prior instances. Instead, people seemed to be using the category label to
infer missing features above novel instances. Future possible courses of investigation that speak to the
issue of the use of similar prior instances in categorisation and induction are discussed.
The role of creativity and schizotypy in performance on a visual detection task: Implications for
hallucination proneness
PARTOS, TR., CROPPER, SJ., & RAWLINGS, D. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Visual perception can vary with personality, for example high schizotypy has been linked to having
―hallucination-like‖ visual experiences. As a group, creative artists tend to score higher than average on
the schizotypy personality dimension. A novel signal detection-style task was used to investigate the role
of schizotypy in the perception of meaning in random visual images, in a group of creative artists (n=31)
and undergraduate controls (n=98). For controls, schizotypy played an important role and was associated
with the adoption of a more liberal response criterion and the making of more false alarms. For artists,
despite scoring significantly higher than the controls, performance on the task was not so strongly
associated with levels of schizotypy. Instead, creative artists showed much slower reaction times than
controls when performing the task. Results are discussed with respect to differences in perceptual style,
cerebral dominance, hallucinations-proneness and ―healthy schizotypy‖.
Your body is not what you think it is
PATON, B., & HOHWY, J. (Monash University)
[email protected]
Recent research has begun to unlock how we form, interpret and use our own body image. Using two
related paradigms, the rubber hand and out of body illusions, touch sensations are projected to non-body
objects and locations. Work using these paradigms have shown how, what seems to be such a stable
perception, our body image, is open to manipulation. Just what happens after inducing these kinds of
illusions and what the possible consequences are is not yet understood. Results will be presented,
collected using a variant of these ‗body‘ illusions, where further stimuli are delivered after illusion onset.
Some of these further stimuli are incongruent with maintenance of the illusion, rather than breaking the
illusion they produce very unusual experiences. Using a Bayesian framework, I wish to show how this
illusion and the resulting unusual sensory and cognitive states can lead to ‗as if‘ supernatural experiences
and interesting physiological changes.
Levels of explanation and the actual workings of science
PERFORS, A. (University of Adelaide)
[email protected]
What do different levels of explanation in psychology tell us? How do the dynamics of the way science
actually works affect what becomes "known"? The first question is particularly important for understanding
the second. I will be discussing research exploring how different kinds of data support different
inferences—for instance, suggesting that a maximally efficient strategy for hypothesis testing involves
seeking out both falsification and confirmation in a particular way. I will relate this research to the abstract
problem of scientific discovery, and consider it in light of the other types of dynamics that affect the course
of scientific research—particularly the tension between newer methods and older ones, and especially
when they span different levels of explanation.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Adult language learners under cognitive load do not over-regularise like children
PERFORS, A., & BURNS, N. (University of Adelaide)
[email protected]
The ―less is more‖ hypothesis suggests that one reason adults and children differ in their language
acquisition abilities is that they also differ in other cognitive capacities: for instance, the relatively poor
memory and/or processing abilities of children may make them more likely to over-regularise inconsistent
input (Hudson Kam & Newport, 2005). We investigate this hypothesis by placing adults under a high
cognitive load using a standard working memory task. Does their tendency to over-regularise in a
simultaneous language-learning task increase? Results indicate that although the cognitive load is high
enough to impair overall learning, neither the presence of load nor poor working memory predicts greater
over-regularisation. This suggests that if the ―less is more‖ hypothesis explains over-regularisation in
children, the relevant cognitive capacity is not one that was impaired by our task.
Activity associated with extensive practice in a mental rotation task: Evidence for different
PROVOST, A. (University of Newcastle)*, JOHNSON, B. (Macquarie University), BROWN, S., &
[email protected]
The ability to imagine the rotation of an object is referred to as mental rotation. Theories from both
cognitive science and brain sciences propose that when participants repeatedly practice this skill,
improvements occur not by developing this specific spatial ability but result from a shift in strategy to
categorisation (automaticity). If participants switch strategy to categorisation improvement following
practice should not transfer to novel stimuli. We examined the effects of practice on reaction time (RT)
and event-related brain responses during performance of a Shepard-Metzler mental rotation task.
Participants trained on 320 stimuli for one week and were tested on the training stimuli as well as 320
similar but novel stimuli. Pre-practice RT showed a monotonic increase as a function of angular mismatch.
Participants‘ mean RT and variability decreased with practice. These preliminary behavioural,
electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography results show practice-related changes associated
with mental rotation improvement not a switch in strategy.
The effect of attention on nonconscious processing: Comparing faces and non-faces
QUEK, G., & FINKBEINER, M. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Perspectives concerning the role of attention in nonconscious processing have shifted dramatically over
the last decade. Where once such processing was thought to proceed independently of attention,
researchers have since demonstrated attention to be a necessary prerequisite for the processing of
nonconscious stimuli. Recent research by Finkbeiner and Palermo (2009) suggests that this dependence
varies with information type – specifically, nonconscious non-faces require attention to be processed, but
nonconscious faces do not. The current study investigates this possibility further by combining a masked
priming paradigm with an exogenous cuing procedure across a range of stimulus types. Using reaching
trajectories as our dependent measure, we find support for Finkbeiner and Palermo‘s (2009) findings.
Namely, face stimuli appear to be processed independently of attention, whereas non-face stimuli are only
processed when attended.
Cued-recall and recognition memory impairment in chronic schizophrenia for words and faces
REECE, N., HEATHCOTE, A., MICHIE, P., CHALMERS, K., & COHEN, M. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
We investigate whether memory impairment in schizophrenia is due to encoding deficits effecting words
and faces, as it has been suggested that individuals with schizophrenia have difficulty spontaneously
organising new information (Cirillo & Seidman, 2003). We minimised encoding deficits using highly
structured lists and strategic direction during study and retrieval. Participants provided with strategic
direction demonstrated a greater performance both immediately and after a one-week delay. Patients
showed a greater benefit for words, whereas controls showed a greater benefit for faces. A surprise
memory test for stimuli used as foils in the one-week recognition test (Jacoby et al., 2005) suggested
patients also tend to have an encoding deficit effecting test as well as study. These findings indicate
memory dysfunction in schizophrenia may benefit from targeted cognitive remediation. Future research
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
will assess long-term remediation benefits of encoding training for individuals with schizophrenia in the
Functional brain imaging of pre-school aged children using a child-sized whole-head MEG system
REID, M., JOHNSON, BW., TESAN, G., THORNTON, R., & CRAIN, S. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
In the last several decades the advent of modern neuroimaging techniques has dramatically expanded our
understanding of the functional organisation of the adult human brain. For a number of reasons, most of
these techniques are not well suited for the routine study of young children, particularly for pre-school
aged children. With the recent development of child-sized whole head magnetoencephalographic (MEG)
neuroimaging systems (Johnson et al., 2010; Clin. Neurophysiol. 121, 340), new opportunities have been
opened for the study of cognitive brain development in young children. These opportunities bring with
them some unique challenges, since specialised techniques are required for the testing of healthy, awake
pre-school aged children. In this presentation, we will describe the child MEG system at the KITMacquarie Brain Research Laboratory; our child-friendly neuroimaging methods; and recent MEG studies
of normal and abnormal brain development in children aged 2-5 years.
Breaking the set: Surprise capture in a contingent capture paradigm
RETELL, J., REMINGTON, RW., & BECKER, SI. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
Contingent capture has shown that involuntary shifts of attention are influenced by top-down attentional
control settings. Using a contingent capture paradigm we investigated whether introducing a dynamic
discontinuity (motion) into the cue frame as a surprise event would intrude on existing attentional control
settings and capture attention. Motion was created by rotating a single cue on the cue frame and
presented in competition with a valid target-colour cue. Preliminary results (n=4) show elevated response
times to validly cued targets when motion occurred at a non-target location. These results suggest that
surprising and rare motion singletons can capture attention even when they compete with a colour cue
that is of the same colour as the target.
Speak clearly mummy: Speech to 6- and 9- month old infants with degraded input
RICE, L., & BURNHAM, D. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
This study examines the attentional and instructional aspects of 12 mothers‘ speech to an adult (adultdirected speech, ADS), or to their 6- or 9-month-old infant (IDS) was studied under three conditions when the infant could see and: hear her (Sound), could not hear her (No Sound), or could hear a distorted
speech version of her speech (Distorted Sound). It was expected that as (i) infants begin to pay increased
attention to their native language around 9 months, (ii) and as the nature of mothers‘ speech facilitates
language development, and (iii) and as mothers‘ speech is influenced by infant responsiveness, it was
expected that: (i) speech to 6-month-olds would be equivalent in the Sound and Distorted Sound
conditions but more infant-directed in these than they would differ in the No Sound condition; and (ii)
speech to 9-month-olds would be decreasingly infant-directed from the differ between the Sound, to
Distorted Sound, and to the No Sound condition. Results show no differential age x sound effects, but
there was a general decrease irrespective of sound condition from 6 to 9 months. It was found that
mothers tend to decrease the degree of vowel hyperarticulation, irrespective of age, from 6 to 9 months.
Across sound conditions it was found that both vowel hyperarticulation space was more expanded and
pitch height was higher in IDS than ADS across all three sound conditions, greater in the Sound and the
Distorted Sound and No Sound conditions, whereas pitch range remained constant across IDsound
speech conditions. The results suggest implications for the synergy between IDS speech, infant
development, and hearing impairment in infancy.
Heads up! Testing the importance of heads in learned person recognition
ROBBINS, RA. (University of Western Sydney), & COLTHEART, M. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
How important is the head (compared to the rest of the body) for person recognition? In Experiment 1
subjects learned to name six people presented as movies. After learning we tested naming of full person,
heads covered or bodies covered, both moving and still. Subjects were best at naming moving whole
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
people, next best with still whole people and bodies covered, then still heads covered, and worst with
moving heads and bodies covered. In Experiment 2 subjects learned to name still images. After learning
we tested naming of full person, heads alone, bodies alone, or mismatched heads and bodies, both
upright and inverted. Subjects were slightly better at naming whole bodies or heads than bodies presented
alone. They also had a strong tendency to name mismatched stimuli as the identity of the head. Inversion
effects were large. So heads are important for recognising people but body cues also contribute.
Imagery cultivation and anomalous cognition: An experimental protocol and preliminary data
ROCK, A., STORM, L., & COTT, C. (Deakin University)
[email protected]
Previous research suggests that mental quietude is linked to anomalous cognitive processes (e.g.,
clairvoyance). In contrast, we developed, and empirically tested, an imagery cultivation model which
suggests that visualisation techniques may promote anomalous cognition. One hundred and eight
participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (1) a control condition consisting of sitting
quietly with eyes open; or (2) a treatment condition that involved visualisation instructions followed by 15
minutes of listening to monotonous drumming. Subsequently, participants completed an anomalous
picture identification task which tested their ability to rank correctly (i.e., at Rank #1) a randomly-selected
and concealed target picture. This target picture was a copy of one of four pictures, the original of which
was concealed in an envelope amongst three other pictures (decoys). Results concerning direct hitting
(i.e., correctly identifying the concealed line drawing) are presented and directions for future research are
Instant false memories: Just add phonemes!
ROODENRYS, S., & CIVIDIN, E. (University of Wollongong)
[email protected]
Errors in memory experiments are ubiquitous and have been a useful source of information about memory
processes. When researchers attempt to elicit a particular incorrect item they are described as false
memories. The experiments reported here use a variation on the DRM paradigm to induce false recall of
a target word in short-term memory, in the immediate serial recall task and recognition, solely on the basis
of a phonological relationship, and in the time frame of just a few seconds. The results show that the
target words are falsely recalled more often than in a control experiment and that targets from small
phonological neighbourhoods were more likely to be falsely recalled than the targets from large
neighbourhoods. It is argued that that these errors originate in a phonological network in which activation
from lexical entries spreads through the network to influence the activation of the target word.
The implicit learning of metrical and non-metrical rhythmic patterns in a serial reaction-time task
SCHULTZ, B., STEVENS, K., TILLMANN, B. (University of Western Sydney), & KELLER, P. (Max Planck
Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences)
[email protected]
Implicit learning (IL) occurs unconsciously and unintentionally (Shanks, 2005). IL of Musical Rhythm (MR)
and its properties (e.g. metre) has received minimal attention. According to dynamic attending theory
(DAT), metrical frameworks should strengthen expectancies for event onsets. It was hypothesised that
learning occurs more readily for metrical patterns (MP) than non-metrical patterns (NMP). Syllable stimuli
forming a MP or NMP were presented in a serial reaction-time task (SRT). In the SRT, learning is
traditionally characterised by decreases in RT over blocks containing the exposure pattern, RT increases
when a new pattern is introduced, and RT recovery upon reintroduction of the exposure pattern. Results
did not reflect decreases in RT over blocks for either pattern. The expected rise in RT for the new pattern
and recovery upon reintroduction of the exposure pattern only occurred for NMPs. From the outset, RTs
were faster for MPs than NMPs. A follow-up experiment is presented.
An empirical test of gain and orienting models of visual spatial attention
SEWELL, DK., & SMITH, PL. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
A considerable source of debate in the attention literature concerns the distinction between gain and
orienting models of attention. The gain/orienting dichotomy holds that attention controls either a) the
temporally stable spatial distribution of processing resources, or b) the temporally variable position of an
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
all-or-none processing ―spotlight‖. We report 2 experiments that manipulated the relative timing of stimulus
and onset transient events (simultaneous or delayed presentation). Consistent with a general orienting
account of attention, cuing effects on performance were greatest when offset stimuli were combined with a
delayed orienting signal. Subsequent modeling with the Integrated Systems Model of Smith and Ratcliff
(2009) however, revealed that both gain and orienting models produced good fits to data (though an
orienting model maintained a quantitative edge). We conclude that despite the theoretical tension, a
decisive test between gain and orienting models of attention will remain elusive.
Stimulus and response-related aspects of brain markers of conflict
SMITH, JL. (University of Newcastle)
[email protected]
The putative brain markers of response conflict are the N2 and P3, which are increased whenever a
planned response is changed to a different response. However, these markers also increase whenever a
template mismatch occurs. This study examined stimulus- and response-related aspects of RT, errors and
N2/P3 in a cued Go/NoGo task. On response-related conflict trials, participants were required to inhibit a
planned response (NoGo target after Go cue), change a planned response to a different one (Invalid
cueing), and activate an unexpected response (Go target after NoGo cue). On stimulus-related conflict
trials, stimuli were a mismatch for the expected stimulus, but demanded the expected response. These
trials produced minimal change in RT, errors, N2 and P3. RT and N2 were increased whenever a new
motor response was selected, while errors and P3 were increased whenever a planned response was
inhibited, even where a different response was subsequently executed.
Brain dynamics of picture naming in preschoolers: An MEG study
SOWMAN, P., JOHNSON, B., REID, M., HARRISON, E., & CRAIN, S. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
The production of speech involves rapid neural interactions across a network of cortical structures. This
network has previously only been described in adult subjects. In this study we used MEG to measure
brain responses to overt picture naming in a group of preschool children aged between 3 and 5 years.
Neural activity prior to the onset of speech was co-registered with structural MRI templates. Connectivity
analysis was performed between source waveforms extracted from significantly activated brain areas. The
functional significance of these observations and their implications for developmental studies of the neural
control of speech will be discussed.
Contrast polarity and perceived aspect ratio of simple outline shapes
SPEHAR, B., & VU, L. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
Here we investigate how the perceived aspect ratio depends on the presence of contrast polarity
variations along closed contours of simple circular and square shapes. The square outlines appear more
vertically elongated when contrast polarity changes at points of intersection of differently oriented
component lines (corners), compared to configurations with no contrast polarity variations and
configurations where contrast polarity variations appear at the collinear line segments. With circular
shapes, the curvature along the contour changes smoothly but the perceived aspect ratio is affected by
the global orientation of segments varying in contrast polarity. Similar perceived distortions are apparent in
square shapes when segments of different contrast polarity have global vertical orientation, even with
corners that locally preserve the contrast polarity of intersecting contours. These results suggest an
important and previously unreported role of contrast polarity in combining local parts of object contours
into globally perceived shapes.
The contribution of luminance, contrast and ocular dominance to onset rivalry
STANLEY, J., CARTER, O., & FORTE, J. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
When an observer is presented with dissimilar images to the right and left eye, the images will alternate
every few seconds in a phenomenon known as binocular rivalry. In sustained viewing, the timing of these
switches appears to be unpredictable, but recent research has suggested that the initial ‗onset‘ period of
rivalry is not random and may be different in its neural mechanism. Differences in luminance and contrast
have a significant influence on average dominance during sustained rivalry, and perception of luminance
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
can vary between individuals and across the visual field. We therefore investigated whether contrast also
plays a role in onset rivalry. Observers viewed equiluminant rival targets for brief presentations in eight
locations of the near periphery and reported the colour that was first dominant in each location. Results
show that minimising differences between luminance and contrast yields a stronger pattern of onset
dominance bias and reveals evidence of monocular dominance.
Social context effects on the impact of category labels
STEPHENS, R., PERFORS, A., & NAVARRO, D. (University of Adelaide)
[email protected]
We explore whether social context affects how labels (relative to other features) affect category learning.
We taught 123 participants four novel categories using a feature inference task. In a between-participants
design, we manipulated: 1) the social context of the task (social context vs. on the computer); and 2)
which dimension of the category members could be used to perfectly predict the target feature: the
category label, a ―biased‖ feature or a ―non-biased‖ feature. Learning curves were used to assess whether
participants assumed that labels were uniquely helpful compared to other features. The results suggest
that the extent to which labels are privileged depends on the context in which the category learning task is
presented. When the task is social, people learn quickly regardless of whether a label or another feature is
the most informative. When the task is not, both labels and biased features are more useful than nonbiased features.
Does the other-race effect on face memory reflect a lack of holistic processing? A reevaluation
STOKES, S., McKONE, E., DARKE, H. (Australian National University), & DAVIES, AA. (University of
[email protected]
Recent studies argue that poor memory for other-race faces (the ‗other-race effect‘; ORE), is associated
with deficient holistic processing; yet, this was found only in Caucasian subjects, with Asians showing
equally strong holistic processing for own-race and other-race faces. Furthermore, the tasks included no
inverted-face control, meaning the 'holistic processing' measured for upright faces might not necessarily
be face-specific. Here, we measured holistic processing via the ‗overlaid faces task‘ (an upright and an
inverted face are overlaid in transparency and less contrast is needed to perceive the upright face), and a
‗composite task‘ which produces composite effects only upright and not inverted. Results showed a large
ORE on memory, but no reduced holistic processing for other-race faces, for either race of subject. Thus,
there was no support for the holistic processing deficit explanation of the ORE, implying that other factors
are involved in its etiology.
Subtypes and dual deficits in dyslexia: Application of recent developments in measurement and
STUART, GW. (Defence Science and Technology Organisation), CASTLES, A. (Macquarie University), &
BATES, TC. (University of Edinburgh)
[email protected]
The dual-route theory of reading and reading disorder posits that there are at least two distinct,
dissociable, processes involved in reading. Common methods used to measure these processes include
the application of threshold scores to define subtypes, or the use of standard regression analysis to
calculate discrepancy scores. Problems with these methods include (i) arbitrary application of cutoffs to
continuous distributions (ii) highly skewed raw score distributions and ceiling effects (iii) inconsistent
regression-based discrepancy scores due to the minimisation of error variance for the dependent variable
alone. Raw normative scores on non-word and irregular word reading lists were converted to cumulative
probabilities using the recently developed power binomial distribution. Independent summary scores were
calculated to represent both general reading ability and the symmetric contrast between non-word and
irregular word reading. Bivariate plots were constructed to explore the nature of the dissociation between
the two scores. The power binomial distribution fitted both raw-score distributions well and yielded
cumulative probabilities for scores outside the observed distributions. There was no indication of
bimodality or clustering in the bivariate distribution. Ceiling effects and differential skew in the raw score
distributions had pathological effects on the calculation of discrepancy scores. These were ameliorated by
the use of cumulative probabilities from the fitted distributions. The independent general reading ability
and discrepancy scores provided the ability to weight discrepancy scores to favour the lower end of the
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
reading distribution. The improved methods represent a robust and general framework that can be used to
examine the dissociation between reading abilities, free from restrictive measurement assumptions.
The importance of internal syllable structure for letter position assignment in reading: A
comparison of English and Korean
TAFT, M. (University of New South Wales), & LEE, CH. (Sogang University)
[email protected]
Lee and Taft (2009) showed interference in English to lexical decision responses with nonwords that were
created by transposing two consonants across syllables (e.g., NAKPIN from "napkin"), but not in Korean.
It was argued that this pattern of effects arose from the fact that, unlike English, Korean script provides
physical information about the position of the onset, vowel, and coda, and that such functional information
is involved in the assignment of letters to their correct position in visual word recognition. The present
research extends these findings to within-syllable transpositions (e.g., NAPNIK, NPAKIN), where a
contrast is again observed between English and Korean. Only one type of Korean nonword showed
interference, namely, when the two consonants of a complex coda were transposed. It is concluded from
the Korean and English data that letters are assigned to onset, vowel, and coda slots at an early stage of
word recognition during reading.
English speech prosody acquisition: The effects of a tone language background
TANG, X., & TAFT, M. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
―Prosody‖ refers to acoustic cues that modify speech sounds, such as intonation or rhythm, and can be
manipulated to emphasise or modify the meaning of spoken words. The most salient prosodic cue in
English is intonation. In contrast, intonation is restricted in tone languages (e.g. Cantonese) as pitch
contours are systematically paired with lexical information. To assess the effects of a tone language
background on English prosody acquisition, Early and Late Cantonese-English bilinguals and English
monolinguals were studied. ‗Early‘ and ‗Late‘ groups were based on age of arrival in Australia and were
differentiated to examine critical period effects. A balanced design was implemented to evaluate both
encoding and decoding of prosody, and forms of prosody studied include new and given information,
emotion and sarcasm. Results for Late bilinguals support the critical period hypothesis. In comparison,
Early bilinguals performed better than, poorer than, or similar to, monolinguals across the different tasks.
Death by bullet points? On interest and images in slideware presentations
TANGEN, JM., CONSTABLE, MD. (University of Queensland), & KIM, JA. (McMaster University)
[email protected]
With the advent of technologies that allow lecturers to develop presentations (referred to as ―slideware‖),
lectures and meetings are beginning to resemble cinematic experiences rather than the text filled
transactions that have been the norm for the last decade. Unfortunately, there has been little research
regarding the best practice of slideware use. To address this gap, we tested 90 participants on a lecture of
the visual system that consisted of three styles of presentation: (1) Image Congruent: images relevant to
the target information, (2) Image Incongruent: images relevant to the narration but not the target
information and, (3) Text Based: bullet point summaries of the narration. Throughout these conditions,
participants provided ratings of interest and then a quiz to measure recognition, recall and transfer. Are
people more interested in bullet point or image-rich presentations? Does interest translate into better
performance? Do the images need to be relevant to the topic?
Expertise in matching fingerprints and faces
THOMPSON, MB., TANGEN, JM., IVISON, KJ., & TRELOAR, R. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
The TV show ‗CSI‘ gives viewers the impression that matching crime-scene fingerprints is fully automated.
But it‘s actually humans (fingerprint experts) who ultimately decide whether a crime-scene print belongs to
a suspect or not. Despite this fact, there have been no published, peer-reviewed studies directly
examining the extent to which experts can correctly match fingerprints to one another. In two experiments
presented here we aim to determine the factors affecting accuracy using non-expert participants and test
(1) whether the advantage found for the sequential presentation of faces applies to prints and (2) whether
the amount of information in a print matters.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Special recall of the first direction of travel: An examination of the first-perspective alignment
TLAUKA, M. (Flinders University), WILSON, PN., & CARTER, P. (University of Hull)
[email protected]
People often remember environments from the first perspective encountered or the first direction of travel.
This study examined the conditions responsible for this first-perspective alignment effect. University
students explored the outside of a virtual building that was presented on a desk-top computer screen.
Participants‘ spatial memory of the simulated building was then tested employing a pointing task. The
main variables of interest were participants‘ previous experience with the environment surrounding the
virtual building and the delay between initial exploration and pointing task. The first-perspective alignment
effect was found under two conditions: (1) when participants had no experience of the surroundings and
were tested immediately following exploration, and (2) when participants had experience of the
surrounding environment, but there was a delay between learning and testing. The results are discussed
in relation to current theories of spatial reference frames.
Discrimination of non-native fricative contrasts by English monolinguals and Arabic-English
TYLER, MD., & BEST, CT. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Adults have difficulty discriminating some, but not all, non-native speech contrasts. For the Perceptual
Assimilation Model (PAM; Best, 1995), attunement to native-language articulatory-phonetic properties
explains this phenomenon, whereas the Articulatory Organ Hypothesis (AOH; Goldstein & Fowler, 2003)
predicts poorer discrimination for phoneme pairs produced with a single articulator (within-organ
contrasts) than those with different articulators (between-organ contrasts). To evaluate these hypotheses
we presented posterior fricatives from Nuu Chah Nulth (NCN) to English monolinguals and Arabic-English
bilinguals, as English has only one posterior fricative and Arabic has three posterior fricatives. Participants
categorised and goodness-rated the NCN stimuli, and then tried to discriminate within- and betweenorgan contrast pairs. Results failed to support the AOH because monolinguals discriminated within-organ
contrasts more accurately than between-organ contrasts. In support of PAM, there were clear effects of
language experience, as the bilinguals outperformed the monolinguals on discriminating consonants pairs
that were assimilated to different Arabic categories.
The acquisition of expressions of space in young children
URSINI, FA., & AKAGI, N. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Adpositions are the main part of speech conveying spatial information, and capture two 'core' semantic
relations. One is 'proper' vs. 'partial' inclusion of one object in another. Another is 'stable' vs. 'changing'
position, whether an object's position is 'result' or 'cause' of an event of motion (Parsons, 1990; Zwarts &
Winter, 2000). Little is known about children's understanding of adpositions. It is known that children (3.04.0 years) can produce adpositions in an adult-like manner, but not if they can also understand them. In
this paper I will report data from a longitudinal study with two English-speaking children, ages 2.3-3.1 and
3.1-4.0 (mean age: 2.7-3.6 years), based on the truth-value judgment task (TVJT, Crain & Thornton
(1999)). I will offer evidence suggesting that, if children are asked to judge whether a sentence correctly
describes a certain 'spatial' state of affairs (as per the TVJT), they will display adult-like understanding of
Automatic (filtering) for the people? An unexpected result
VISSER, TAW. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
When two targets are presented in rapid succession, identification of the first (T1) is highly accurate, while
identification/detection of the second is usually impaired when inter-target interval is less than about 600
ms (attentional blink). It has long been known that the second target can escape impairment if it follows
directly after the first, and more recent studies suggest this sparing can spread to three or four
consecutive targets. This has led to various models that propose processing of T1 inevitably leads to
benefits for subsequent targets. Here, I show that this benefit is not inevitable, but extends only to targets
that are expected. For example, if observers expect two targets, and are shown three, sparing is only
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
found for the first two. This suggests that input-filtering mechanisms may be set for defining properties of
a stimulus, but inputs matching these properties do not automatically pass the filter.
The role of spatial frequency in local and global form processing
VU, L., & SPEHAR, B. (University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
Investigations of the role of spatial frequency information in global/ local processing have typically used
compound letter stimuli in which a larger global letter is formed by many smaller local letters. These
studies have demonstrated that the advantage to report the global percept is diminished when this type of
stimulus is filtered to remove low spatial frequencies (high-pass), but have neglected processing when
high spatial frequencies are removed (low-pass) due to local element distortion during the filtering
process. The current study introduces a variant of the compound stimulus that when filtered, contains
comparable orientation information in both high and low spatial frequencies. Using this stimulus variant,
global and local processing of low-pass, high-pass and unfiltered stimuli are compared and discussed.
Finding angry faces is easy, but it‟s even easier if they are cross(es)
WALLIS, G., COELHO, C., & CLOETE, S. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
Some researchers have argued for the presence of evolutionarily expedient pathways dedicated to the
processing of certain facial expressions. Evidence for this proposal comes largely from tasks showing that
threatening expressions are more rapidly detected than other expressions. An open criticism of this effect
is that it may be due to low-level visual artifacts, rather than biological preparedness. One successful
approach for controlling low-level differences has been to use schematic faces (simplified, line drawings).
This study investigated whether schematic stimuli might introduce other sources of artifact. The first study
replicated the standard threat search advantage, but also measured an effect using stimuli comprised of
obliquely oriented lines. Similar results were achieved with these stimuli rotated, which served to remove
any residual resemblance to a face. The results suggest that low-level features underlie the search
advantage for angry, schematic faces, thereby undermining evidence for a search advantage for specific
facial expressions.
Estimating internal noise: An evaluation of methods and application to the study of migraine
WEBSTER, K., DICKINSON, JE. (University of Western Australia)*, BATTISTA, J., McKENDRICK, A.
(University of Melbourne), & BADCOCK, DR. *
[email protected]
Visual performance is limited not only by the signal–to-noise ratio in the external stimulus but also by
noise within the visual system. Internal noise can be estimated by adding external noise to a stimulus and
then using an n-pass paradigm (repeating identical stimuli and measuring the variation in responses).
Internal noise models were evaluated with the aim of establishing the most suitable for use with a clinical
sample. We conclude the most practical method for use on a clinical population is the N-Pass procedure.
This method was utilised with Migraineurs to determine whether elevated internal noise accounts for the
performance differences observed on a global motion task. Internal noise levels did not differ on this task,
nor on several others assessing global processing, suggesting that lower sensitivity to global motion
signal rather than elevated internal noise may be the cause of performance differences.
Solving the passport problem: Improving photo identification processes
WHITE, D., KEMP, R., BURTON, M. (University of New South Wales), & JENKINS, R. (University of
[email protected]
We are very good at recognising familiar faces, but perform poorly on identity decisions involving
unfamiliar faces. Research demonstrates that identity verification from images of unfamiliar faces is
performed poorly by both humans and computers, and this represents a significant problem for identity
management in a number of real-world forensic and security settings. For example, customs officers
required to check travelers‘ passports are likely to miss some cases of identity fraud. We refer to this as
the ‗passport problem‘. Here we report a series of studies investigating whether system performance can
be improved by either modifying the format of images contained in identification documents, or by
selecting staff that are naturally good at this task. By solving problems associated with both image
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
variation and individual differences in performance measures, we hope to improve the ‗real-world‘
performance of face recognition systems and increase our understanding of familiar and unfamiliar face
The role of the orbitofrontal cortex in the evaluation of approachability
WILLIS, M. (Macquarie University), PALERMO, R. (Australian National University), BURKE, D. (University
of Newcastle), McGRILLEN, K., & MILLER, L. (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital))
[email protected]
The aim of the current study was to investigate the impact of orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) lesions on
approachability judgements. Six patients with damage to the OFC were compared to four patients with
frontal lesions that spared this region and a group of matched healthy controls on two tasks. In the first,
they judged the approachability of faces with varying expressions, and in the second they labelled the
expressions displayed by the faces. Patients with OFC lesions had difficulty using negative facial
expressions to guide approachability judgements compared to both healthy and brain damaged controls.
These abnormal approachability judgements were evident despite the fact that OFC patients‘ ability to
label facial expressions did not differ from that of healthy and brain damaged controls. The results suggest
that the capacity to use facial expressions to guide approachability judgements is a distinct cognitive
process from the ability to explicitly recognise facial expressions.
Visual scanning strategies and facial identity recognition in autism spectrum disorder
WILSON, CE., BROCK, J., & PALERMO, R. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Atypical visual scanning strategies could underlie impaired face recognition in autism spectrum disorder
(ASD). We recorded eye-movements whilst 13 ASD children and 14 age-matched typically developing
(TD) controls completed a 2 alternative forced-choice recognition memory test for faces. Face recognition
scores were standardised according to age. Consistent with previous studies, ASD children looked at the
eyes less than TD children, although the difference was non-significant and was unrelated to recognition
ability. The ASD children looked significantly less at the core-features than TD children, and looking time
at core-features was associated with recognition ability. Moreover, in both groups recognition ability was
strongly related to the sum of ‗runs‘ on core-features, i.e. the number of times eye-gaze entered and left
core-feature interest areas. Results indicate that distributing attention around core features is crucial for
successful face recognition, and that a failure to do so compromises recognition ability in ASD.
The effect of localising cues on detection performance in a simulated radar-monitoring task
WOLFGANG, BJ., McCALLUM, A., CREEK, R., McANALLY, K., & MARTIN, R. (Defence Science and
Technology Organisation)
[email protected]
Uncertainty about the time and location of an upcoming (low-intensity) visual target reduces detection
sensitivity. We examined the effect of localising cues on observers‘ performance in a simulated radarmonitoring task. The aim of this parametric study was to determine the magnitude of uncertainty reduction
effects over a range of signal-to-noise ratios (SNR). Six observers made phase-discrimination judgements
about Gabor patch targets embedded in Gaussian white noise. Target (0.1, 0.15, 0.2) and noise (0.05,
0.1, 0.15) contrast was systematically varied to span a 15dB range. A radar sweep line was simulated by
radially updating the display at 0.25 Hz. Targets appeared for 4 seconds in a randomised location, 6-12
sec after the onset of each 20 sec trial. In 50% of trials, the target was localised by a cue; in the remaining
trials targets were uncued. Consistent with uncertainty reduction accounts, results indicate that cues
provide the largest benefit at moderate SNRs. At low SNRs, cued performance is reduced by high
background noise levels. At high SNRs, uncued performance is boosted as targets become ―self-cuing‖.
Implications for radar display design will be discussed.
Activity level and water play: Investigating individual differences in immersion injury risk
WOOD, S., FREELING, C., HOOLEY, M., & WILKIE, B. (Deakin University)
[email protected]
Highly active toddlers suffer higher rates of unintentional injury than low-active toddlers; possible reasons
for this difference include exposure and risk taking. The leading cause of death due to unintentional injury
in toddlers is drowning. High activity level may contribute to immersion risk by increasing toddlers'
The Abstracts of the 37th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference
exposure to water and influencing the way they interact with water (e.g. gross- rather than fine-motor
activity). This study investigated the relationship between activity level (measured using Rothbart‘s ECBQ)
and water play in 21 toddlers aged 16-25 months (M=21.4 months; SD=2.9) exposed to water on a
modified visual cliff. Contrary to expectation, the results showed a negative relationship between activity
level and length of water play, and no difference in the proportion of time spent in fine- and gross-motor
water play between high- and low-active toddlers. These results suggest that, once at the water‘s edge,
low-activity toddlers may be at greater risk of immersion injury than highly active toddlers.
The limits of critter detection: Testing the animate monitoring hypothesis
WU, W. (University of Queensland)*, LAPOINTE, M., VOKEY, J. (University of Lethbridge), & TANGEN,
[email protected]
New, Cosmides and Tooby (2007) proposed the "animate monitoring hypothesis", and suggested that the
selective nature of human visual processing consists of a high-level category-specialised system that has
been adapted to detect animals. However, their change-detection measure of object-context consistency
was confounded by only removing the target object from an image. That is, the target object was always
consistent with the context in each photograph. In our previous experiment, we used the same changedetection paradigm, but added various objects into context (in)appropriate scenes. Although we found that
selective processing was context dependent, we were unsure whether the specific placement of the target
objects affected how our participants responded. That is, whether the contrast differences between the
target objects and their backgrounds played a role in how quickly and accurately our participants detected
the target objects. Therefore, in the current experiment, we further examined the effects of context by
inverting and blurring the target objects, but still added them into context (in)appropriate scenes. We found
that, regardless of context, or whether the target objects were inverted or blurred, our participants showed
a preference for the people category, but not for the animal category.
We don‟t look for tones: Auditory-visual perception of Thai tones
XU, N., ATTINA, V., & BURNHAM, D. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Tone languages use changes in pitch such as height and contour to distinguish word meaning in the same
way as do vowels and consonants. Experiments using auditory-visual (AV) mismatched speech
segments, using vowels and consonants, have shown that visual information can significantly influence
speech perception (McGurk & MacDonald, 1976). Here we investigate whether tone perception is similarly
influenced by visual information. Twenty native Thai listeners were presented with three CV syllables /ma/,
/pa/ and /ða/ across five Thai tones in auditory only (AO), visual only (VO) and AV conditions. Tones were
either matched or mismatched (e.g., for AO: A/maTone1/ vs. A/maTone2/; VO: V/paT3/ vs. V/paT4/, AV:
AV/ðaT1/ vs. A/ðaT1/V/ðaT5/ OR A/ðaT2/V/ðaT1/ vs. AV/ðaT1/) and such pairs presented for
same/different judgments with an AX method. Results show that tone listeners make more mistakes for
matched tone judgments only in the VO condition and for mismatched tones in both AV and VO conditions
compared to AO. The results show tone listeners are not using visual information to discriminate among
tones for tone perception which suggest that visual information is not sufficient to disambiguate among
Timing of broken intervals: Implications for an internal clock
YARROW, K. (City University London)
[email protected]
In interval comparison tasks, observers compare two intervals to determine which has the longer duration.
What would happen if instead of comparing one interval to another, they were to compare the combination
of two short intervals (a broken interval) to a third, longer interval? Under the pacemaker-accumulator
internal clock model, which hypothesises a kind of stopwatch in our heads, observers should have little
difficulty with this task. All that is required is one extra start and stop operation for the accumulator. We
can estimate the maximum variance associated with these operations by using the scalar property
(Weber‘s law for time) to estimate variance for a zero ms interval. The increase in variance in broken
interval conditions should not exceed this estimate. I will present preliminary data suggesting that it does.
Alternative models of time perception that provide no simple mechanism for performing the broken interval
task should therefore be considered.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Somatosensory prior entry demonstrated using a simultaneity judgement task
YATES, M., & NICHOLLS, M. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Recent research has demonstrated that spatially attended tactile stimuli are perceived around 24 ms
earlier than unattended tactile stimuli when attention is manipulated exogenously. However, the method
used to derive this - the temporal order judgement (TOJ) task - has increasingly been questioned, with a
growing consensus that an alternative method - the simultaneity judgement (SJ) task – is preferable,
overcoming the lingering response bias confounds associated with TOJs. We investigated whether
spatially attended tactile stimuli are perceived earlier than unattended stimuli using a SJ task. We found
that attended stimuli were perceived 6 ms earlier. To confirm that this effect was genuinely a consequence
of spatial attention, and not merely local sensory interactions between the target stimuli and the cue
stimuli used to orient attention, we conducted another experiment with cues presented in another modality
(visual), eliminating any possibility of local cue-target sensory interactions. Attended tactile stimuli were
still perceived 6 ms earlier.
Body ownership modulates the influence of non-informative vision on touch
ZOPF, R. (Macquarie University)*, HARRIS, JA. (University of Sydney), & WILLIAMS, MA.*
[email protected]
It is well established that tactile perception can be changed by looking at the body even when this view is
non-informative regarding the stimulation itself. Previous research suggests that viewing the body
improves processing of stimuli that are above threshold, but impairs detection of near-threshold stimuli. In
the present study we investigated the influence of body ownership for the seen body part on tactile
perception. The Rubber Hand Illusion was used to manipulate body ownership. This illusion is induced
when a seen artificial hand and the hidden hand of the participant are stroked synchronously.
Discrimination and detection thresholds for the intensity of vibrations were obtained using an adaptive
staircase procedure. Discrimination as well as detection sensitivity was significantly better when
participants experienced ownership for the seen hand. This result implies that the experience of body
ownership for what I see can modulate the influence of vision on touch.
The spacing effect in inductive learning
ZULKIPLY, N., BURT, JS., McLEAN, J., & BATH, DM. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
It is an established fact that spacing repetitions generally facilitates memory for the repeated events,
however the effect of spacing of exemplars on inductive learning is not really known. Two experiments
using different types of material presentations were conducted among psychology undergraduate
students. Using paintings, Experiment 1 replicated findings from Kornell and Bjork (2008) that induction
profited from spacing. Experiment 2 extended the generality of the spacing effect on inductive learning,
when visually presented texts were used. Interestingly, participants in both experiments judged massing to
be more effective than spacing though their performance showed the opposite, and this finding is
consistent with the results from Kornell and Bjork (2008). Possible explanations for the superiority of the
spaced condition over the massed condition include the relationship between discrimination and induction,
the association between memory and induction, the role of forgetting and the deficient processing theory.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Psychology Conferences, pp. 45-72
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS
College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
“From East to West: New Directions in Neuropsychology”
September 30 - October 2, 2010
Notre Dame University,
Fremantle, Western Australia
Abstracts Editor: Sarah E. McRae
Neuropsychiatry Service, Newcastle
The WA CCN Section was excited to host the 16th Annual CCN conference. Our conference theme
“From East to West: New Directions in Neuropsychology” was selected to encourage the
neuropsychology community to “go west” and to focus not only on emerging areas of
neuropsychological research, theories and clinical practice, but to also critically consider the future of
our profession. We were delighted to have four eminent keynote speakers, Professor George
Prigatano, Professor David Loring, Dr Kevin McGrew and Professor John Hodges, accept our
invitation to address different aspects of the future of neuropsychology. The inclusion of such
distinguished keynotes appeared to inspire clinicians and researchers alike to partake in the
conference and we were overwhelmed by high quality and innovative submissions. Our aim was for
“New Directions” to be reflected not only in the scientific content, but in the conference format as
well. To this end we offered substantially more workshops than usual and included other
presentation formats such as grand rounds. The keynote speakers provided not only an address, but
also a workshop. And for the first time, two student travel scholarships were awarded to presenting
CCN student members.
As Conference Chair I have been supported by a very dedicated group of colleagues who have
worked tirelessly to make this a most memorable and successful conference. I have been especially
impressed with the commitment and input from of our student committee members throughout the
process. Thanks go to the CCN National Committee (especially Emma Scamps as Treasurer) and
the Standing Organising Committee (past Chairs) for their advice and direction. I would also like to
acknowledge and thank all of our abstract reviewers whose efforts enabled us to achieve deidentified appraisal of all submissions by two independent evaluators. Particular thanks go to
Associate Professor Stephen Bowden for his guidance as Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee and
invaluable input into the final program. And lastly, I would like to especially thank Dr. Sarah McRae
for overseeing and collating all of the abstract submissions and reviewer comments.
Rachel Zombor
Rachel Zombor (Chair), Stephen Bowden (Co-Chair Scientific Committee), Sarah McRae (Co-Chair
Scientific Committee), Pascalle Bosboom, Simon Davies, Tien Do, Jonson Moyle (Treasurer), Carmela
Pestell, Georgia Phillips, Mandy Vidovich
Karen Brooker, Sigrid Denehey, Tamara De Regt, Catherine Faull, Kia Pfaeffli, Aimee Velnoweth
Vicki Anderson, Peggy Bain, Pascalle Bosboom, Simon Davies, Tien Do, Tim Hannan, Jonson Moyle,
Arthur Shores, Wayne Reid, Mandy Vidovich, Mike Weinborn, Dana Wong
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Behavioural analysis of impulsive disorders after traumatic brain injury
ARCO, L. (Praxis Research)
[email protected]
Impulsive disorders after traumatic brain injury are extremely difficult to treat and usually present a major
barrier to successful neurobehavioural rehabilitation. Impulsivity can be described as predisposed
behaviour for immediate gratification, and is associated with many typical traumatic brain injury problems
such as emotional lability, executive dysfunction, inattentiveness, apathy, and aggressive or antisocial
behaviour. The preferred treatment of impulsivity remains unclear, but analysis of relationships between
language and nonverbal behaviour appears to offer some promise for more effective treatment. Traumatic
brain injury appears to sever this connection between talking and doing. This session presents several
clinical case studies showing how to describe and measure impulsivity, identify environmental and social
conditions for functional analysis, and how to use functional analytic case formulations for designing selfregulatory training programs in areas such as selecting self-instructions, self-monitoring procedures,
practising with supportive feedback on correspondence between saying and doing, and maintaining
behaviour without supportive feedback. The case studies include measurement, analysis, and formulation
of adult antisocial behaviour such as inappropriate touching of others, interrupting and disrupting others,
not following social rules of conduct, abusive language, and inattentiveness; adult compulsive behaviour;
and child oppositional behaviour at dinner time.
Olfactory identification and memory decline in healthy older adults with and without Aβ burden on
D. (CogState Ltd.)
[email protected]
Impaired olfactory identification, believed to reflect semantic decline, and elevated Aβ burden are found in
early Alzheimer‟s disease (AD), and both predict conversion to AD among adults with amnestic mild
cognitive impairment (aMCI). We explored whether differences in olfactory identification are found
between older adults with no cognitive impairment who demonstrate episodic memory decline on
computerised serial testing (decliners), and older adults with no memory decline (non-decliners). We
further explored whether the relationship between olfactory identification and episodic memory decline is
different for individuals with and without Aβ burden. Thirty older participants with no cognitive impairment
were assessed serially on the CogState Brief Battery, and underwent PiB PET and evaluation of olfactory
identification on Sniffin Sticks. Decliners on CogState (n=14, M=10.07, SD=1.14) performed no differently
than non-decliners (n=16, M= 9.75, SD=2.2) on olfactory identification t(28)=0.63, ns. Results were
unchanged when the analysis was repeated separately for participants with (n=6) and without (n=24)
cortical PiB uptake. Among individuals with cortical PiB uptake, all but one showed decline on CogState.
Evaluation of olfactory identification may be insensitive for detecting episodic memory decline among
older adults with no cognitive impairment, and detecting the earliest changes of AD pathology as depicted
by PiB PET.
Introduction to clinical neuropsychology supervision
BARDENHAGEN, F. (Launceston General Hospital)
[email protected]
This is a 1-hour free workshop intended for current students and recent graduates. The workshop is
intended to help students get the most out of their experience as supervisees, but also to help prepare
them for their eventual roles as supervisors. Models of supervisee and supervisor development will be
presented to facilitate self-reflection and to help improve the supervisory relationship. Other practical
methods for improving supervision will be discussed, including guidelines for setting up supervision
contracts, methods of supervision, feedback and evaluation, and responsibilities of supervisees and
supervisors. Handouts will be provided.
Challenges in clinical neuropsychology supervision
BARDENHAGEN, F. (Launceston General Hospital), & TUCKER, A. (Independent Practice)
[email protected]
The workshop is intended to provide an opportunity for supervisors at all levels of experience to be able to
meet and discuss issues in clinical neuropsychology supervision. Information about supervision under the
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
new Psychologists Registration Board will be presented, including a consideration of their criteria for
supervisor training and supervision sessions. The focus of the workshop will be on issues in
neuropsychology supervision and neuropsychology training issues, through discussion of selected
individual vignettes or collated supervisory challenges submitted by registrants prior to the conference.
Language abilities in very preterm/very low birth weight children: A meta analysis
BARRE, N., MORGAN, A., DOYLE, LW., & ANDERSON, PJ. (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)
[email protected]
Language impairments in very preterm (VPT, <32 weeks‟ gestational age) and/or very low birth weight
(VLBW, <1500 g) children have previously been identified. However, the severity of impairment has
varied greatly in studies published to date. A meta-analysis was conducted to characterise differences
between VPT/VLBW children and term-born controls in language ability. Electronic databases were
systematically searched, and twelve studies met criteria. Effect sizes were calculated to compare
VPT/VLBW children and controls. The results demonstrated that VPT/VLBW children performed between
0.38 and 0.77 SD below controls in the areas of expressive and receptive language overall, and
expressive and receptive semantics. Results for expressive and receptive grammar were equivocal. A
subgroup analysis of school-aged children revealed similar results. No studies assessing phonological
awareness, discourse, or pragmatics were identified. These results indicate that language ability is
reduced in VPT/VLBW children. When considering only school-aged children, this reduction is still
present, suggesting that their difficulty appears to be ongoing. Rigorous studies examining a range of
language sub-domains must be conducted to fully understand the specific nature of language difficulties in
this population.
Who am I now? The challenge of self identity following traumatic brain injury
BEADLE, OR. (Independent Practice)
[email protected]
Psychological recovery following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex and often lifelong process.
There is no formula for it, as no brain injury or the person it affects are exactly the same. Typical sequelae
such as cognitive impairment, grief, loss, trauma, and emotional dysregulation often occur concurrently
and affect each other in an interactive manner, making the process of adjustment very challenging. A
construct that is critical to the process of adjustment is the development of a new self identity – answering
questions such as who am I, what am I capable of now and who do I want to be? Sense of self is often
shattered by the loss of roles and abilities following brain injury and the re-establishment of a coherent
and meaningful self-identity is needed to successfully re-engage in and maintain family, social and
vocational roles. Drawing on the therapeutic framework and intervention tools described by Ylvisaker
(2008), this paper examines the clinical challenges and potential facilitators of self identity following TBI.
Two case studies are described that highlight both the diversity and severity of issues faced. The unique
clinical skills of neuropsychologists in providing this support and intervention work is also discussed.
Bells Test start point varies by culture, age, education and occupation
BERRY, J., & SHORES, EA. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
The Bells Test is one of the most sensitive paper and pencil measures of unilateral spatial neglect (USN)
(Ferber & Karnath 2001). Start point (a process variable) on the Bells Test is a more sensitive indicator of
USN than number of left minus right omissions (a quantitative variable) (Azouvi et al., 2002). The original
Bells Test article describes a „usual‟ start point on the left side in normal controls. Dawson and TannerCohen (1997) found that only 83% of Chinese students and university employees started the Bells Test on
the left side, challenging the assumption that those from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)
backgrounds necessarily perform the same as westerners on cancellation tasks. The current study
describes data from the Chinese Australian Neuropsychological Normative Study (CANNS) that
particularly challenges this assumption in an elderly CALD population. Only 66% of the n=143 normal
elderly Chinese Australians started the Bells Test on the left side. Modest but significant correlations
between Bells Test start point and age, education, occupation and other cognitive tests suggest this
process variable may be more sensitive than originally appreciated.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
The ABC‟s of neuropsychology within the school setting: From assessment to application
BIANCO, T. & DO, T. (Neurosciences Unit)
[email protected]
The impact of neurocognitive functioning has widespread implications for academic achievement, yet
schools are often unable to access detailed cognitive assessments to guide educational planning.
Although educators acknowledge the impact of cognitive difficulties on learning and achievement, a gap
sometimes exists in the accurate translation of cognitive testing outcomes into useful educational and
classroom management strategies. This lecture will focus on reviewing common referral questions raised
by school psychologists and the broader educational community, and the role of the neuropsychological
evaluation in addressing concerns. Current trends in assessment of cognitive functioning in the school
setting from a neuropsychological perspective will be discussed. Strategies for overcoming the hurdles to
application of educational recommendations and perspectives for bridging the gap between assessment
findings and implementation will be discussed in the context of a collaborative team approach to
educational management.
Quality of Life (QoL) in dementia: Does the level of cognitive impairment contribute to differences
between QoL self and proxy ratings?
BOSBOOM, P., BEER, C., ALFONSO, H., FLICKER, L., & ALMEIDA, OP. (University of Western
[email protected]
We aimed to determine the influence of cognitive impairment (as measured with Mini Mental Status
Examination) on agreement between QoL ratings by self and proxy-report for healthy older adults, people
with dementia living in the community (PWD-C) and those living in Residential Care Facility (PWD-RCF).
Seventy-two Controls, 79 PWD-C, 226 PWD-RCF, and their NoK (proxy) were included. The Quality-ofLife-in-Alzheimer‟s-disease (QOL-AD) scale was administered. Linear regression analyses were
performed. Age, gender, and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI, total score) were included as confounding
variables. For Controls 12.2% (R ) of the variance of difference between self and proxy-ratings was
explained by the MMSE total score; for PWD-C 21%; for PWD-RCF 3.8%. There was a significant linear
association between difference of QoL-ratings and MMSE score: Compared to people with normal MMSE,
those with mild, moderate or severe MMSE score showed significant increase in the discrepancy of QoL
ratings (linear trend -0.43, p=<.001). This trend was not confounded by age, gender or NPI. This finding
contradicts standard approaches in policy systems for this population by showing that patient‟s cognitive
impairment is a determinant factor in the perception of QoL for patients and carers in different ways. By
acknowledging the increasing ratings discrepancy associated with cognitive impairment, more efficacious
interventions can be delivered.
What is the role of a clinical neuropsychologist in a nursing home?
BOSBOOM, P. (University of Western Australia), & BOWYER, C. (Osborne Park Older Adult Mental
[email protected]
In 2008 Pachana reviewed the role on enhancing care in residential-aged-care-facilities (RACFs) in
Australia and stated that the current situation with respect to psychologists working in long-term care is
bleak. Snowden et al. (1995) reported that psychologists had the lowest ratio of service-delivery to older
adults of the mental health disciplines. Unfortunately more recent informal data showed no improvement.
This is in stark contrast to other countries, where psychologists have a large presence in RACFs,
contributed significantly to research and have a strong voice in best-practice directives, and local/national
policy decisions (Pachana, 2008). Prigatano has recently emphasised, that clinical neuropsychologists
need to develop professional and clinical skills that improve patient care if our profession is to advance in
present-day healthcare systems; the field will “rise or fall” based on how clinical neuropsychologists
demonstrate their value in a given clinical setting (Prigatano, 2010). This reflects an opportunity for clinical
neuropsychologists in the sparsely explored RACFs settings. Our assumption is that the role of clinical
neuropsychologist in RACFs setting is still unclear. To generate thoughts we would firstly like to ask the
audience some questions (e.g. what does the work involve; does a role for a clinical neuropsychologist fit
in the current system?). Secondly, with brief presentations we would like to provide insight in experiences
of clinical neuropsychologists who have worked in these settings in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia
(i.e. collaboration with other disciplines, responsibilities, aims). Emphasis will be given to the contribution
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
to diagnostic procedures, psycho-education and managing psychosocial behavioural issues with nonmedical interventions. Thirdly, future directions will be discussed, preferably with a panel discussion. Our
aim is to focus on the way forward, and to raise awareness about what we as clinical neuropsychologists
can contribute to this increasing population in these settings and what challenges lay ahead.
Using likelihood ratios in neuropsychological practice
BOWDEN, SC. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Most psychologists are familiar with concepts of evidence-based practice and the value of quantifying
clinical assessment results in terms of sensitivity, specificity and base rates (i.e., pre-test probability).
Having derived this type of information many clinicians then focus on interpreting positive and negative
predictive power (P&NPP). However, the latter values often lead to erroneous diagnostic inferences, the
most common being that P&NPP are fixed values that generalise to any setting. An alternative approach
to interpreting this information involves calculation of likelihood ratios. Likelihood ratios have several
advantages, including (i) representing all the information in a 2 x 2 validity Table, (ii) forcing more explicit
consideration of pre-test probability, and (iii) providing a more direct method for reporting to consumers
the change in the probability of a diagnosis consequent upon either a positive or negative test result.
Perhaps the greatest value of likelihood ratios stem from their use in conveying information from a wider
range of test scores. Deriving so-called multiple-level likelihood ratios avoids reducing scores on an
interval scale, typical of many quality psychological tests, to a rudimentary dichotomy of test positive or
test negative. Derivation, application and examples of multiple-level likelihood ratios will be covered in
this workshop.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and alcohol related dementia: An update
BOWDEN, SC. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Although one of the best known neuropsychological conditions, there remain many sources of
misunderstanding regarding Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). Prominent amongst these sources of
misunderstanding are the beliefs that (i) WKS is rare, (ii) it is associated with a prototypical
neuropsychological profile and is readily diagnosed clinically, (iii) it can be readily distinguished from
alcohol related dementia, (iv) the Wernicke phase and the Korsakoff phase are different conditions, and
(v) the full Korsakoff phase only occurs amongst alcohol dependent people. Recent evidence will be
reviewed to show that all of these views are inaccurate. In particular, the classic neuropsychological
profile of a marked general intelligence versus anterograde memory distinction has low sensitivity to the
condition. Instead the most common clinical manifestation of WKS may be a potentially reversible
“dementia” of highly variable severity. Because there is no quick, readily available laboratory test to
determine thiamin levels, any patient at risk should be treated as soon as possible. Despite its ubiquity,
much remains to be understood about WKS, including the most appropriate dosage of thiamin to treat the
Decision making capacity: Improving the quality and appropriateness of referrals to clinical
[email protected]
Assessment of decision making capacity is an important area of healthcare. While some capacity
assessments require neuropsychological input, in many cases they do not. Time spent educating medical
and allied health staff and clarifying the need for and appropriateness of capacity referrals can be
onerous. This reduces the efficiency of service delivery and can ultimately increase length of stay. To
decrease the number of inappropriate capacity referrals, decrease time spent in one-to-one education,
and improve the efficiency of service delivery. Phase 1: A file audit was conducted to survey the frequency
and appropriateness of capacity referrals. Phase 2: A Local Clinical Guideline and Referral Checklist were
introduced to help medical and allied health staff determine when it is appropriate to refer a patient for
capacity assessment. Phase 3: The file audit was repeated one year later. There is a steady rate of
capacity referrals to neuropsychology. Introduction of quality measures saw a significant reduction in the
number of unnecessary referrals (50%) and notable improvement in the number of cases “ready to
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
proceed” at the time of referral (35%). It is possible to improve the quality and appropriateness of capacity
referrals to neuropsychology and improve the efficiency of service delivery.
Don‟t get too SMART
BRADSHAW, J., CHEN, L. (Austin Health), & DOWD, A. (Monash University)
[email protected]
A 40-year-old right-handed male presents to the Acute Stoke Unit experiencing severe left posterior
headache, visual disturbance, and language impairment, with an onset three days previously. Nine years
earlier, a right occipital metastatic melanoma had been detected, and treated with a right parieto-occipital
craniotomy and resection, followed by a six-week period of cranial radiation therapy (36 cGy to the right
parieto-occipital region). Post-operative sequelae included a partial left upper quadrantanopia and mild
subjective memory symptoms. Neurologic examination on admission reveals a right homonymous
hemianopia and mild expressive dysphasia. Headache persists and he subsequently develops recurrent
complex partial seizures, the semiology of which consists of dystonic posturing of the right arm, eye-head
deviation to the right, and nystagmus. The immediate post-ictal phase is characterised by disorientation,
dysphasia, visual field loss, and difficulties with visual recognition. An initial EEG (Day 2) reveals left
occipital slowing, but no frank epileptiform activity is seen. Cerebral MRI conducted later that day
demonstrates diffuse cortical FLAIR high signal over the posterior aspect of the left cerebral hemisphere,
involving the occipital, temporal, and parietal lobes, with no convincing diffusion restriction, as well as
gyriform and leptomeningeal enhancement in these regions. No evidence of vascular territorial infarction
or mass lesion is identified. Ictal EEG during a complex partial seizure witnessed on day eight shows
epileptiform discharges arising from the left posterior quadrant. The patient is commenced on antiepileptic
drug therapy. One week later, neurological signs have largely resolved, proceeding to complete
neurological recovery within two weeks of admission. Repeat neuroimaging five months later showed that
the cortical FLAIR high signal and leptomeningeal enhancement had resolved, with no evidence of
regional brain atrophy. What is your diagnosis?
Neuropsychological detection and management of emerging mental illness
BREWER, W. (The University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Cognitive vulnerability is a key predictor and consequence of mental disorder, including schizophrenia.
Furthermore, individual styles of cognitive processing and the impact of emotional experience upon these
styles have often been minimised during the delivery of interventions such as cognitive-behavioural
therapy for example. In this workshop, intellectual ability is framed as being a key buffer between
genetic/physical risk at one end of a neuro-behavioural spectrum, to environmental risk for
psychopathology on the other. Understanding the „psychology‟ of cognitive development involves
understanding how adolescents learn to be motivated to hear and to process new information, and in turn,
how their understanding of their own individual style of learning may impact positively upon their risk for
trajectories into psychopathology. In particular, strengths and weaknesses in genetic, cognitive,
personality or behavioural features of self identity impact upon information processing. When adolescents
fail to develop an organised self account, that inherently facilitates a sense of internal control or regulation
of self consciousness, negative feedback loops may be triggered involving increasing emotional distress
and dysfunctional schema development; these features are implicated in neurodevelopmental arrest of
prefrontal neural processes, and hence, associated increasing the risk for psychopathology. Subsequent
emotion dysregulation then becomes implicated in the emergence of subgroups of young people suffering
neurodevelopmental disorders such as personality disorders, ADHD and psychosis. This workshop will
rely upon practical principles learned from olfactory (emotional) identification research and clinical
management of disengaged, high risk and difficult to treat young people suffering mental illness. A
synthesis of key developmental neurological, cognitive and psychological processes that impact upon
behavioural function will be delivered. Delegates can expect to acquire straight-forward strategies on
engaging difficult adolescents/young adults, familiarity with a short-term (6 session) treatment package,
and formulation of user-friendly management plans. A clear articulation of the role of emotional distress on
cognitive performance will be provided, along with guidelines on how to assess the impact of emotion on
cognitive assessment generally. This package can be modified for use in the public and private settings.
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
The successful implementation of a behaviour management program in Huntington‟s disease: A
single case study
CAMPBELL, J. (Austin Health)
[email protected]
Huntington‟s disease is a neurodegenerative illness known to affect the frontal regions of the brain
responsible for behaviour regulation. As such, behaviour change including increased impulsivity, lability
and aggression is a common aspect of the condition that can create significant clinical and management
difficulties. The current study reflects on a series of environmental strategies developed and implemented
on an in-patient unit that addressed a variety of aggressive behaviours of a 39-year-old woman with
moderately advanced Huntington‟s disease. Prior to these strategies, the behaviour of the woman had
resulted in many verbal altercations, serious injuries to staff and multiple seclusions, all of which had
significantly impacted on the discharge planning. Intervention focussed the implementation of a structured
routine around identified triggers, including meal times, family visits and phone calls. These interventions
were made in consultation with the patient and were effectively communicated to all staff members. The
result of the intervention was a clinically significant decrease in the number of aggressive outbursts and a
successful generalisation of the behaviour management strategies post-discharge to a supported
residential unit. These results demonstrate the utility of a behaviour management approach when
addressing behaviours of concern in neurodegenerative conditions.
Utilising modelling to improve the clinical utility of the Iowa Gambling Task: The example of
alcohol-related brain injury
CAMPBELL, J., & CROWE, SF. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is a commercially available clinical and experimental tool that has been
touted as a “valid measure…used in studies examining decision making capacity in a variety of
populations”. One of the issues limiting the clinical utility of the task however, has been that while it is
sensitive to decision making impairment, it often does not provide a specific indication as to the
mechanisms underpinning performance. In response to this issue, the recently developed expectancyvalence model has provided greater insight into the processes responsible for impaired performance on
the IGT. The current study utilised this model to compare the performance of 17 individuals with long-term
histories of alcohol abuse to an age and education-matched control group with no history of neurological
insult on a battery of neuropsychological tasks, including the IGT and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test
(WCST). Analysis utilising the expectancy-valence model suggested that choice consistency was the key
variable that differentiated between the two groups, and that this variable was significantly related to
performance on the WCST. As a result of this and other findings, it is hypothesised that it may be possible
to identify a characteristic pattern of performance for various populations, thus increasing the clinical utility
of the IGT.
“And we‟re all included”: An evaluation of multi-family groups following ABI
COUCHMAN, G., PONSFORD, J., McMAHON, G., & KELLY, A. (Monash University)
[email protected]
Although the impact of ABI on family functioning is well documented, rehabilitation services and funding
sources often treat the client with ABI and their family as discrete entities. Multi-family group (MFG)
interventions (McFarlane 2002) integrate clients and family members in facilitated groups. The approach
promotes knowledge of a specific illness area, structured problem solving and social networking. The
efficacy of this approach in mental illness is well established, with findings indicating improved client social
and psychological functioning, in addition to improved illness recovery management. Given the similar
family issues to those in mental illness, the Headstart program is trialling the MFG approach with families
affected by ABI using a waitlist control trial that has involved 30 families over 2 years, with further groups
Facilitators bring both clinical psychology and neuropsychological perspectives to all
components of the program. Preliminary quantitative data indicate some promising results including
decreases in client challenging behaviour and distress, and improvements to family problem solving and
client community integration. Qualitative data also indicate a positive impact on family functioning.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Paediatric neuropsychology in Singapore: “Why doesn‟t the Dr drive a sports car?”
COX, C., & HO, Y. (KK Women‟s and Children‟s Hospital, Singapore)
[email protected]
Singapore is an island State off Malaysia that is home to five million people. The field of Clinical
Neuropsychology, and indeed psychology is in its infancy. Recent research is finding that culture can
affect the development of both verbal and nonverbal abilities, which in turn has a significant impact on
neuropsychological assessment (Ruffiex et al., 2010, & Walker et al., 2010). The challenges for
psychologists in Singapore are the cultural changes that have occurred in the past 50 years resulting in a
very diverse population, the impact of the local Asian culture on psychological practice, and the lack of
locally normed assessment tools. This paper explores these issues and their impact on paediatric
neuropsychological assessment, via the authors‟ experience living and working in Singapore and aims to
raise awareness of how complex the cultural issues are in neuropsychological assessment. Addressed
through vignettes and case examples will be: the need to have an adequate understanding of the
education system and cultural background of your patients, socio-cultural issues in adaptation to brain
injury, disability, parenting and behaviour management, testing considerations and test interpretation.
Finally, suggestions for practice and research will be examined.
Child-based intervention for acquired brain injury: Translating evidence into practice
CRICHTON, A., BAKKER, K., DEAN, M. (Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service), WOODS, D.
(University of Melbourne), & ANDERSON, V. (Royal Children‟s Hospital)
[email protected]
Acquired brain injury (ABI) in childhood represents the major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity,
occurring at an annual rate of more than 650:100,000 children. By age 16, 1/3 of 16 year olds will have
suffered some form of ABI. While the vast majority of these injuries are mild and have few persisting
consequences, 10-20% will have some ongoing intervention/ treatment needs. In particular, residual
cognitive and social problems commonly impede the child‟s academic progress and their ability to keep
pace with their peers socially, with a high risk of school failure, social isolation, behavioural disorders and
poor quality of life. To date, there is little agreement on what interventions provide the best outcomes for
children who experience these problems after ABI. In fact, clinical practices often have limited supportive
empirical evidence and research interventions are commonly impractical for translation into clinical
practice, and inappropriate for use with all survivors of child ABI. As child and family needs change with
time since injury, the workshop will be structured to address interventions applicable to these changing
needs. Acutely, accurate assessment and diagnosis of post-traumatic amnesia and serious physical and
cognitive impairment is critical. Based on clinical findings at this time, treatment plans will be devised
based on the joint goals of clinicians, children and families. Once medical problems are stabilised, and
children return home, issues of re-integration into school and social contexts become paramount, and
intervention moves to focus on a combination of consultation and outpatient care. Following this transition,
persisting problems in cognitive, social and behavioural domains will emerge which will require ongoing
review and treatment. Those working with child survivors generally agree that, to minimise the risk of the
consequences of ABI, early intervention, using evidence-based, clinically feasible methods is important.
This aim of this workshop is to describe a „best-practice‟, interdisciplinary model of child-based
rehabilitation relevant to each of the above recovery stages, which incorporates both clinical knowledge
and evidence-based practice and emphasises a holistic, family-centred approach. Both case studies and
research evidence will be discussed, and participant involvement will be encouraged.
The neuropsychological impact of psychotropic medications: How to avoid a false positive
diagnosis of cognitive compromise
CROWE, SF. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
Psychotropic medications are drugs that affect perception, behaviour and mood. Common types of
psychotropic drugs include: antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics and mood stabilisers, but to this
list could also be sensibly added antiparkinsonian and antiepileptic agents. During assessment,
neuropsychologists typically gather information about the prescribed and non-prescribed medications that
the patient may be taking, but generally would not go into specific detail about the implications of these
medications to the neurocognitive assessment. This quantitative and qualitative review and synthesis of
the current research will integrate the available data on a variety of psychotropic agents including the
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
monoamine oxidase inhibitors, the serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors and the tricyclic antidepressants
as well as agents which combine the actions of the latter two categories, the typical and atypical
antipsychotics, the benzodiazepines and the so-called “Z” drugs (i.e. Zaleplon, Zopiclone and Zolpidem),
the antiparkinsonian agents as well as the antiepileptics, both the more traditional ones and those which
have emerged over the last decade. In general the effect of these agents on cognition is considered to be
outweighed by their ability to ameliorate psychiatric and neurological symptoms. The review will conclude
that while in most cases the effect of these agents does not lead to the possibility of false positive
diagnosis, in the case of the benzodiazepines, and the antidepressants, antipsychotics and antiepileptics
with significant anticholinergic properties, the possibility of incorrect attribution of cognitive compromise
may occur. Parameters for clinical concern and decision rules for the impact of these agents upon the
assessment process will be presented. This workshop is designed to help: 1) Characterise the
mechanisms of effect of the various psychotropic medications and distinguish between the psychotropic
effect of these medications on the underlying disease state and their effect on intrinsic neurobiological
processing; 2) Identify the impact of these medications on neuropsychological assessment; 3) Discuss a
set of decision rules for ensuring appropriate differential diagnoses with regard to the effects of
psychotropic medications to avoid false positive diagnosis of neurocognitive impairment.
Cognitive deficits in obstructive sleep apnoea and their relationship to disease severity
WHITWORTH, S., NIENABER, A. (University of Western Australia)*, EASTWOOD, P., HILLMAN, D. (Sir
Charles Gairdner Hospital), & BUCKS, RS.*
[email protected]
Impairments in cognition are frequently observed in untreated patients with obstructive sleep apnoea
(OSA), including deficits in memory, executive functioning, and attention. The precise nature of these
deficits remains controversial. The present study aimed to characterise the cognitive deficits in a clinical
sample of OSA patients and to determine whether there is a dose response relationship between
cognition and disease severity. Ninety moderate/severe OSA patients were recruited for cognitive testing
following diagnosis of OSA and prior to commencing treatment. Cognitive testing included tasks assessing
short and long term verbal and visual memory, visuoconstructional ability, verbal fluency, cognitive set
shifting, verbal and visuospatial working memory, reaction time, vigilance, and nonverbal reasoning.
Participants were aged 32-77 years (M 53.8±11.3), 50% male with mean AHI 44.6±23.7, range 15.5108.7. After controlling for age, severity of OSA (apnoea hypopnea index) was significantly related to
working memory (r = -.35) and attention accuracy (r = -.54), but not to an individual‟s ability to learn new
information or to executive functioning. More severe OSA is associated with poorer ability to hold
information in short term working memory and more errors on attentional tasks, which are likely to impact
on the person's capacity to work efficiently and safely.
Naturalistic prospective memory in mild cognitive impairment
DELPRADO, J., KINSELLA, G., ONG, B., & PIKE, K. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
The importance of investigating everyday memory is evident within the domain of prospective memory
(PM). An “age-PM paradox” reveals older adults show deficits compared to younger adults on laboratorybased PM measures, whereas they outperform younger adults on naturalistic PM measures. This study
investigated performance of naturalistic measures of PM in older adults with mild cognitive impairment
(MCI) compared to healthy older adults (HC). Using Marsh, Hicks and Landau‟s (1998) methodology of
eliciting from participants their own PM tasks for the week, the MCI group self-generated an average of
5.85 (SD=2.85) tasks for the week, which was significantly less than the 10.87 (SD=3.66) tasks the HC
group generated. Participants with MCI successfully completed 85% of their PM tasks while HC
completed 92%. Strategy use and reasons for failing to complete tasks were also investigated. As well as
self-generated PM, participants were asked to make four phone calls to the experimenter at specified
times over the following two weeks (experimenter-introduced naturalistic PM task). The MCI group
performed significantly worse (M=6.90, SD=5.21) than the HC group (M=11.07, SD=3.72) in remembering
to complete phone calls. The implications for everyday functioning of people with MCI and the difficulties
of naturalistic methodologies are discussed.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
What underlies neuropsychological dysfunction in schizophrenia?
DENSON, LA., GALLETLY, CA., BURNS, NR., HISEE, B., & MOYLE, SM. (University of Adelaide)
[email protected]
Independent of psychotic symptoms, neuropsychological impairment is a recognised contributor to
disability in people with schizophrenia and has implications for the success of treatment and rehabilitation
programs. There is an ongoing debate concerning the nature and aetiology of this neuropsychological
impairment, and whether it represents a unitary deficit (e.g. slowed information processing) or is
multifactorial in nature. We report an empirical study testing the unitary hypothesis and interpret our
findings in the light of current literature. Participants were 32 community-living adults with DSM-IV
diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder. In addition to the Brief Assessment of Cognition
in Schizophrenia (BACS) they completed a brief IQ assessment and the Inspection Time task - an
innovative computer-based assessment of processing speed.
Subjective memory in „at risk‟ older adults: Relationships with neuropsychological performance
and mood disturbance
DIAMOND, K., MOWSZOWSKI, L., NORRIE, L., & NAISMITH, SN. (Brain and Mind Research Institute,
[email protected]
Memory complaints are common in older adults. However, the relationship between subjective complaints
and memory impairment is unclear and may be influenced by other factors such as depression. In a
sample of 61 „at risk‟ older adults (mean age = 63.75 years, sd = 8.82), this study sought to determine the
relationship between subjective memory complaints, objective performance on neuropsychological
memory tests and mood disturbance. Eighty-five percent of patients met criteria for mild cognitive
impairment (MCI) while 15/61 met criteria for current major depression. Patients underwent
neuropsychological assessment and completed the Subjective Memory Questionnaire. Patients were
classified as having (n=32) or not having (n=29) prominent subjective memory disturbance according to
the distribution of data. Results showed that the group who rated prominent subjective memory
disturbance did have difficulty acquiring / encoding verbal information and also had deficits in aspects of
executive functioning, processing speed, working memory, and verbal fluency. Moreover, patients with
more severe depressive symptoms reported poorer subjective memory. These results suggest that
subjective memory complaints in „at risk‟ older adults do correlate with objective performance but are also
influenced by depressive symptoms. Older adults presenting with this symptom therefore warrant early
assessment of cognition and mood, with a view to implementing early intervention approaches.
Social cognition after traumatic brain injury: Mechanisms of aggression
DOOLEY, J. (Edith Cowan University)
[email protected]
Few have investigated the nature of aggression after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recent evidence
demonstrated that aggression after TBI is in response to frustration (i.e., reactive aggression). Evidence
from developmental psychopathology suggests that cognitive mechanisms such as hostile intent
attribution (HIA) drive reactive aggression and that identifying these mechanisms can aid intervention.
Eleven boys (Mean age = 15.7 yrs, SD = 1.3yrs) with moderate to severe TBI were compared to a
matched non-injured sample (M = 14.7 yrs, SD = 1.4yrs). Participants were injured 2.2 to 13.2 years prior
to assessment (M = 8.3 yrs, SD = 4.2yrs). All participants completed social cognitive processing and
aggression measures. Results indicate that participants with TBI were more likely to attribute hostile intent
in ambiguous social scenarios than were participants without TBI. HIA was related to the generation of
aggressive and socially inappropriate responses however this effect was only observed in participants
without TBI. Overall, HIA did not explain much of the aggressiveness of responses generated by
participants with TBI when compared to those without TBI. In contrast to non-TBI populations, attributing
hostile intent in ambiguous social interactions did not explain aggressive behaviour after TBI. The
implications for treatment protocols will be discussed.
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
An investigation of the 'good old days bias': Does it influence the report of postconcussion
symptoms in a non-clinical sample?
EDMED, S., & SULLIVAN, K. (Queensland University of Technology)
[email protected]
Postconcussion symptom report may be influenced by the “good old days” bias. This bias suggests that
individuals underestimate the experience of symptoms prior to a negative event because current
symptoms appear more salient than those retrospectively reported. The present study examined whether
the experience of a negative event was necessary to invoke a retrospective reporting bias of PCS
symptoms. The sample consisted of 32 healthy undergraduate students (75% female) with a mean age of
24.16 years (SD = 9.07). Participants completed the British Columbia Post-concussion Symptom
Inventory twice: first, based on their current circumstances, and second, based on their circumstances six
months prior. The results revealed that participants did not differ significantly between their retrospective
and current report of postconcussion like symptoms. This finding is consistent with the “good old days”
bias hypothesis, which predicts that a retrospective reporting bias is only introduced upon experiencing a
negative event. This effect has not been previously demonstrated using the BC-PSI or in an Australian
population. This study highlights the need for clinicians to consider the ways that a recall bias may
influence a patient‟s subjective evaluation of their recovery after experiencing a head injury.
Non-motor changes in Motor Neurone Disease: The challenges of care-giving
FISHER, F. (Calvary Health Care Bethlehem), & PAVLIS, A. (Victoria University)
[email protected]
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) has been recently described as a multi-system disorder with cognitive
impairment and behavioural dysfunction in up to 50% of patients. The psychological impact of caring for
someone with MND who experiences changes in behaviour and cognition is not well documented. The
current research aimed to examine the relationship between cognitive impairment, behaviour change,
social cognition and carer burden, in people with MND (pwMND) and their caregivers. Thirty-nine people
with MND and their caregivers participated.
Participants who were cognitively impaired (36%) were significantly worse in their recognition of emotional
expressions than those with preserved cognitive functioning (p<.001). Cognitively impaired participants
were rated as more adynamic by their caregivers (p<.05). Changes in social cognition and adynamia
occurred independently of physical disability and functional impairment. Cognitive impairment and social
cognition were not associated with increased caregiver burden or depressive and anxious
symptomatology in caregivers. Adynamia in PwMND was associated with higher levels of caregiver
burden. Cognitive impairment or reduced social cognition in PwMND was not associated with caregiver
burden, anxiety or depression. Poor motivation and loss of interest was what carers identified as most
challenging. Further analyses comparing the clinical sample to matched controls will also be presented.
Diagnostic memory assessment in Italian-born Australians
FRATTI, S., & BOWDEN, SC. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Most psychological tests used in Australia are standardised in English, and neuropsychological
assessment is usually performed in English or through an interpreter.
As a consequence,
neuropsychological services are often not well provided to people for whom English is not a first language.
To explore the issue of memory assessment in people who are not native English speakers, we examined
the hypothesis that long-term retrieval (LTR) performance on typical diagnostic memory tests is influenced
by English language competence. In a sample of 75 Italian-born elder Australians from the general
community (48 women and 27 men, aged: 56-90) we administered standardised and normed
psychological tests in both English (WMS-III, WAIS-III, BNT, Schonell Reading Test) and Italian (Milan
Overall Dementia Assessment, MODA). Results showed that the strongest predictor of LTR in English
was LTR in Italian [R²=.252, F(1,72)=30.52, p<.01]. English language competence was a significant but
small predictor [R²=.081, F(1,71)=11.12, p<.01]. In addition normative comparisons produced equivalent
memory performance in English and Italian. Results of this study suggest that in Italian-born elder
Australians poor memory performance may be primarily due to level of memory ability. If we attribute poor
performance solely to language competence, risks of false negative diagnosis are likely to arise.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Infantile amnesia: Scientific and forensic issues
GIBBS, A. (Independent Practice)
[email protected]
Neuropsychologists‟ expertise in the area of memory not just considers the diagnosis and management of
memory disorder but also comment on the nature of memory, including autobiographical memory over the
lifespan. Processes of memory are considered as well as factors associated with the encoding, retention,
organisation and recall of such memory, including matters of organic memory disorder, mental state and
psychopathology. Infantile amnesia is a phenomena poorly understood or considered within the broader
psychological, welfare and legal sectors. However, it has great impact in circumstances where claims are
made where the historical validity, reliability and/ or accuracy of memory is critical. Such phenomena can
have significant impact for both individuals and families. Nowhere more so when claims solely reliant on
memory enter into the legal system, particularly those that extend into the period of “infantile amnesia”.
This presentation considers a number of forensic cases where this has been a critical matter, where
memory, developmental factors, external processes, and processes internal to child or adult
“remembering” into this period are considered. The need to cautiously recognise and consider such
matters with due care and consideration is discussed, alongside scientific knowledge and theoretical
explanations of this phenomenon.
Psychometric test development: A proposal for collaborative development and collection of test
GIBBS, A. (Independent Practice)
[email protected]
This presentation is a proposal for collaborative test development and the collection of psychometric test
normative data. Neuropsychologists frequently lament the availability of psychometric tests that are 1.
Psychometrically sound, 2. Theoretically based, 3. Related to neuropsychological theory and knowledge,
4. Allow for adaptation and consideration of administration for neurologically impaired where specific
physical and/ or cognitive deficit impacts, 5. Are designed for clinical populations to respond to specific
referral questions or everyday needs, and 6. Have materials designed for easy administration and
portability. Revisions and adaptations to tests frequently result in highly theoretical tests where test
administration is cumbersome, or the needs of patients/ clients appear neglected in terms of the impact of
such procedures during practical administration. A proposal is made for practising Clinicians to participate
in a system where they either develop tests or collaboratively gather test norms, in order to improve the
availability and range of available tests. Matters related to the practicality, ethics, logistics and potential
for such a process are discussed, with dialogue and feedback encouraged.
Predicting material-specific memory outcomes in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy
GIUMMARRA, J., BOWDEN, SC. (The University of Melbourne), MURPHY, M., & COOK, M. (St Vincent‟s
Hospital, Melbourne)
[email protected]
Minimising post-operative memory deficits is of key concern when offering surgery to individuals with
mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Current literature suggests much uncertainty regarding the materialspecific amnesia hypothesis, which may arise in part from heterogeneity of memory assessment and
seizure lateralisation practices. This study reports a sample of TLE patients who had unilateral
hippocampal sclerosis identified with volumetric MRI pre-operatively. Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS-III)
indices are reported for 46 patients with left TLE (LTLE) and 44 patients with right TLE (RTLE) before and
after anterior temporal lobectomy. There were no statistically significant presurgical differences in verbal
or visual memory indices between LTLE versus RTLE patient groups (all p‟s > .1). LTLE patients showed
no change in their verbal memory abilities and significant improvement in visual memory abilities. In
contrast, RTLE patients demonstrated the reverse pattern. These effects were highlighted in the
significant interaction between memory type (verbal vs. visual), assessment time (pre- vs. post-operative)
and side of seizure focus (LTLE vs. RTLE) F(1, 88) = 12.29, p < .01. Results of this study show that, when
selected for surgery on the basis of hippocampal volumetrics, mean verbal and visual memory
performance does not deteriorate in these patients.
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
Social functioning in children with focal early brain insult
GREENHAM, M., SPENCER-SMITH, M., ANDERSON, P. (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)*,
COLEMAN, L. (Royal Children‟s Hospital, Melbourne), & ANDERSON, A.*
[email protected]
Social dysfunction is commonly reported by survivors of brain insult, and rated as the most debilitating of
all sequelae, impacting on many areas of daily life and overall quality of life. Within the early brain insult
(EBI) literature, physical and cognitive domains have been of primary interest and social skills have
received scant attention. As a result the incidence of these problems is unclear as are the factors that
contribute to social outcomes. This study compared social outcomes for children sustaining EBI at
different times from gestation to late childhood to determine whether EBI was associated with an
increased risk of problems. Teachers completed questionnaires measuring social function (Strengths and
Difficulties Questionnaire, Walker-McConnell Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment).
Results showed that children with EBI were at increased risk for social impairment compared to normative
expectations. EBI before 2 years was associated with most significant social impairment, while children
with EBI in the preschool years and in late childhood recoded scores closer to normal. Lesion location
and laterality were not predictive of social outcome, and nor was social risk. In contrast, presence of
disability (seizures) and family function were shown to contribute to aspects of social function.
Dietary fatty acids predict cognitive performance in a healthy older sample
GRIMA, NA., & PIPINGAS, A. (Swinburne University of Technology)
[email protected]
Increasing age is associated with a decline in cognitive performance although not all domains of cognition
decline similarly between individuals. Nutritional factors may explain the heterogeneity associated with
age-related cognitive decline. Dietary intake of the Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) Omega-3, found in
fish, and Omega-6, found in meat and grains, predict global measures of cognitive performance however
the specific domains of cognition predicted remain unclear. By implementing a cross-sectional design and
an age-sensitive computerised cognitive battery (Swinburne University Computerised Cognitive Ageing
Battery) with millisecond precision, this study aimed to determine the domains of cognitive performance
predicted by PUFAs in a healthy sample aged 50 to 70 years (n= 80). Results revealed that higher
concentration of Omega-3, measured in red blood cells, predicted faster reaction times on spatial working
memory and stroop incongruent tasks. Higher concentrations of Omega-6 predicted slower reaction times
on choice reaction and recognition memory tasks, as well as poorer accuracy on the latter of the two
tasks. Therefore, Omega-3 predicts superior whilst Omega-6 predicts poorer cognitive outcomes across
domains susceptible to age related cognitive decline. These findings suggest that cognitive performance
may be facilitated by increasing Omega-3 intake in the context of decreasing Omega-6 PUFA intake.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
HANNAN, TJ. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood is a persistent problem that frequently
interferes with a child‟s family, academic and social functioning and predisposes the child to behavioural,
emotional and social problems in adult life. In recent years, ADHD has been conceptualised as involving
deficits in self-regulation and the inhibition of behaviour. Concurrent developments in child
neuropsychology have led to the emergence of new theories of behavioural inhibition and the operation of
the higher cognitive or executive functions. This workshop examines recent work in these areas, and
relates the research findings on the cognitive deficits and behavioural excesses associated with ADHD to
the theoretical model of behavioural inhibition and executive functions. This model has implications for the
clinical assessment and diagnosis of ADHD in childhood, and for the development and implementation of
effective psychological interventions for children with ADHD.
Developmental language disorders
HANNAN, TJ. (University of Western Sydney)
[email protected]
This workshop aims to introduce participants to current approaches to the nature, assessment and
diagnosis of developmental language disorders, also known as specific language impairment, language
learning disability, and a variety of other terms. Children with this condition demonstrate difficulties with
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
the comprehension and production of language relative to their peers, but do not display a hearing
impairment, or generally low cognitive abilities, or obvious neurological damage resulting from illness or
injury. Theoretical and empirical issues in the definition and diagnosis of language disorders will be
discussed, with consideration of differential diagnosis of reading disorders and other common
developmental cognitive disorders. The normal development of the various components of language will
be reviewed. Participants will be introduced to current research and practice in the subtyping of language
disorders. The variety of language tests available will be discussed, with a particular focus on the clinical
use and interpretation of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals - Fourth Edition (CELF-4), a
comprehensive language battery with Australian normative data. The accuracy of psychological
assessment in the identification of language disorders will be explored, with critical evaluation of the
benefits and disadvantages associated with the use of certain instruments. Through the workshop,
participants will examine assessment data for several cases of developmental language disorders.
Using motivational interviewing and cognitive behaviour therapy to treat anxiety and depression
after traumatic brain injury
HSIEH, M-Y., PONSFORD, J., WONG, D., & SCHÖNBERGER, M. (Monash University)
[email protected]
There is a high incidence of psychiatric disorders following TBI, most commonly anxiety and depression.
Consequently, there is a need for effective psychological treatments to enhance psychosocial outcomes
for this group. Using a randomised controlled trial design, this study uses a cognitive behaviour therapy
(CBT)-based treatment program adapted for a community sample with moderate-severe TBI. Motivational
Interviewing (MI) is also being evaluated as a preparatory intervention to increase motivation to change
and engagement in treatment. Adult participants are randomly assigned to one of three treatment
conditions, (1) MI+CBT, (2) CBT only and (3) treatment as usual (control). Assessment includes a semistructured clinical interview to determine psychiatric diagnoses; and measures of anxiety, depression,
psychosocial functioning, coping style and cognitive functioning. The interventions are guided by manuals
adapted for participants with TBI, with an emphasis on flexibility to tailor therapy to individual needs and
cognitive difficulties. Preliminary results from individual cases in this ongoing study suggest potential
benefit from the treatment program. A high comorbidity of depression and anxiety is also evident,
highlighting the challenges in assessing and treating psychiatric disorders following TBI. The study results
will inform clinical practice by providing evidence about relative effectiveness of interventions for
individuals with TBI who suffer from anxiety/depression.
Recognition of famous tunes in semantic dementia
HSIEH, S., PIGUET, O., & HODGES, JR. (Neuroscience Research Australia)
[email protected]
Semantic dementia (SD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterised by progressive loss of semantic
(multi-modal) knowledge clinically, and by bilateral atrophy of the anterior temporal lobes on
neuroimaging. SD patients have difficulty recognising everyday environmental sounds but little is known
about the recognition for well-known tunes. Two prior case studies are available in the literature, which
both describe relative preservation of memory for famous tunes in SD (Hailstone et al, 2009; Omar et al,
2010). Patients with SD (n=13) and age-matched healthy controls (n=15) completed a famous tunes
recognition test and a sound-picture matching task for common everyday sounds. Standardized tests of
semantic knowledge were also administered. SD patients showed profound impairment on standard tests
of semantic memory and impaired comprehension of everyday sounds. In contrast, the recognition of
famous tunes was variable; some patients were significantly impaired while others performed at the level
of controls. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) of brain MRI showed that the recognition of famous tunes
correlated with right-sided temporal lobe atrophy. This study demonstrates that semantic knowledge about
music and sounds is not uniformly affected in SD. Knowledge about famous tunes reflects differential
involvement of neural structures in the temporal lobe.
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
Deficits in episodic autobiographical memory recall in frontotemporal dementia
IRISH, M., HORNBERGER, M. (Neuroscience Research Australia)*, LAH, S. (University of Sydney),
FOXE, D.*, LESLIE, F.*, HSIEH, S.*, SAVAGE, S.*, MILLER, L. (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), HODGES,
JR.*, & PIGUET, O.*
[email protected]
Episodic autobiographical memory (ABM) comprises recollection for events specific in time and place,
accompanied by perceptual and emotional information. The neural substrates mediating ABM retrieval are
those harbouring significant atrophy and pathological changes in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and
Alzheimer‟s disease (AD). Whether these pathologies are associated with different patterns of ABM
deficits remains contentious. Fourteen behavioural variant (bvFTD) and 11 semantic dementia (SD)
patients, were compared with 17 AD patients and 19 age-matched controls using the Autobiographical
Interview, which segments episodic from semantic details and free from probed recall. Controls scored
significantly higher than all patient groups for overall episodic free recall but, unlike previous studies, we
found no dissociation among pathological subgroups. Recent period analysis (within the past 12 months)
revealed that Time, Place and Perceptual details were recalled at similar levels irrespective of group. In
addition, although all groups benefitted significantly from probing in this epoch, improvement was most
marked in SD. Total Recent period episodic recall was related to disease severity, letter fluency, and
emotion processing. As the largest study of ABM in FTD to date, our findings emphasise the importance
of strategic retrieval and emotion processing in the retrieval of episodic ABMs.
Efficacy to effectiveness: Face-name training for older adults
KINSELLA, G., ONG, B., PIKE, K., & PARSONS, S. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
Difficulty recalling names is one of the commonest complaints of older adults. Strategies such as spaced
retrieval and semantic association are successful in improving face name recall for older adults in a
research setting, but how this relates to everyday performance has not been examined. We applied Morris
et al.‟s (2005) method with 72 healthy older adults [age M(SD)= 71.0(7.8)], to examine the relative efficacy
of spaced retrieval training (SR) compared with semantic association training (SA) for face-name recall in
both a research setting and an everyday setting (morning tea). In the research setting, SR was the most
effective technique for face-name recall, whether it was used alone or combined with semantic
association, F(1, 90) = 4.48, p< .05, η =0.06. There was an average improvement of 140% of accurate
face-name recall in participants using the spaced-retrieval technique over those in the control (no
technique) condition, whereas SA did not differ from controls. 24 of the participants also took part in the
morning tea. In that setting, there were no significant effects of either technique evident with this small
sample. Issues with applying training effectively in an everyday setting are discussed.
Differential working memory function in mild cognitive impairment subtypes
KLEKOCIUK, S., & SUMMERS, MJ. (University of Tasmania)
[email protected]
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is an evolving construct thought to characterise a transitional phase
between normal aging and Alzheimer‟s dementia (AD). While memory deficits remain the hallmark feature
of AD, research has indicated the presence of central executive deficits in the early stages, leading to
speculation that such impairments may be evident during MCI. The aim of the present study was to
examine working memory functions within subtypes of MCI. Eighty participants were recruited from an
existing longitudinal study: Control (n=20); non-amnestic MCI (n=33); multi-domain amnestic MCI (n=17);
Recovered (n=10). MANOVA revealed significant group differences on six measures of working memory
function (Pillai‟s Trace=.51, F(18,219)=2.50, p.< .001, power=1.00, ηp =.17). Both MCI groups demonstrated
impaired performance (≤ 10 percentile) on tasks of central executive function. In contrast to predictions,
non-amnestic and multidomain MCI groups also performed within an impaired range on tasks of
phonological and visuospatial processing respectively. These findings suggest that multi-domain amnestic
variants of MCI display a working memory profile that is closer to that displayed in AD than non-amnestic
MCI, however further research with larger sample sizes are required to adequately characterise the profile
and trajectory of non-amnestic MCI.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Neuropsychological decline after joint replacement surgery: Incidence and predictors
KNEEBONE, AC., & KRISHNAN, J. (Flinders University)
[email protected]
Recent literature suggests joint replacement surgery (JRS) can impact upon cognitive function possibly
via cerebral microembolism. However, previous studies have used arbitrary statistical criteria to define
pre- to postoperative cognitive change thereby resulting in uncertainty as to whether and how commonly
cognitive dysfunction occurs following JRS. Using Standardised Regression Based methodology to define
meaningful pre- to postoperative change this study establishes the incidence of cognitive impairment
following JRS and identifies possible risk factors underlying its occurrence. In a sample of 45 consecutive
hip or knee JRS patients examined preoperatively, at discharge from hospital and 6-months
postoperatively cognitive impairment was found in 71% and 31% of patients at discharge and 6-month
follow-up, respectively. Odds ratios ratios revealed that patients aged >65 years were 11-times more
likely to be cognitively impaired 6-months postoperation than younger patients (p < 0.01) and patients
cognitively impaired at discharge were 7-times more likely to be cognitively impaired at 6-months (p <
0.05). Conventional knee replacement was associated with a 6-times greater risk of cognitive impairment
than navigated surgery and approached statistical significance (p = 0.09). Anaesthesia type (general vs.
regional) was unrelated to cognitive outcome. Clinical and theoretical implications of these findings are
Emotion recognition in subtypes of frontotemporal dementia: Effects of salience
KUMFOR, F. (Neuroscience Research Australia)*, MILLER, L. (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), LAH, S.
(University of Sydney), HSIEH, S.*, FOXE, D.*, LESLIE, F.*, SAVAGE, S.*, HODGES, JR.*, & PIGUET,
[email protected]
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder affecting the frontal
and temporal lobes predominantly. Deficits in emotion processing have been reported previously in two of
the three subtypes: behavioural-variant FTD (bvFTD) and semantic dementia (SD). The characteristics of
these deficits and whether changes in salience modulate emotion recognition remains unclear. Thirtythree FTD patients (bvFTD=12; SD=12; progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA)=9) and 37 age-matched
healthy controls underwent a face emotion recognition task in which the intensity of six emotional facial
expressions was manipulated. Overall recognition of negative emotions was impaired in bvFTD and SD.
PNFA, however, did not significantly differ from controls. Within FTD subtypes, SD showed minimal
benefit from increasing salience. In contrast, recognition in bvFTD improved as salience increased, but
only for anger and disgust. Although both bvFTD and SD exhibit emotion recognition impairments, these
results indicate that the underlying cause differs. SD patients experience a primary emotion processing
deficit, whereas in bvFTD, emotion recognition performance is affected by perceptual or attentional
difficulties that can be overcome, in some instances, by increasing salience. These findings suggest that
retraining of emotion detection may be possible in a subset of FTD patients.
Preliminary evidence of emotional processing impairment in HIV infected individuals
LANE, T., BATCHELOR, J. (Macquarie University), BREW, B. (St Vincent‟s Hospital), & CYSIQUE, L.
(University of New South Wales)
[email protected]
Facial emotional processing has never been assessed in HIV-infected (HIV+) individuals, despite
evidence that emotional processing is affected in diseases of striato-frontal circuits. 54 HIV+ adults (45
years old+) and 12 controls were enrolled and screened for any significant neuropsychiatric confounds. All
underwent standard neuropsychological testing. Emotional processing was assessed with the
Pennsylvania computerised emotion battery yielding accuracy and reaction time (RT) scores for facial
memory recognition and emotion recognition. Self-reported dependence in activities of daily living,
cognitive and depressive complaints, as well as apathy, disinhibition and executive complaints were
recorded. HIV+ individuals performed worse than controls on facial memory recognition (p=.04; d=.71);
and overall recognition of facial emotions (p=.07; d=.50). Task speed was similar. Sadness (p<.05; d=.60)
and anger (p<.08; d=.52) were less well recognised by HIV+ patients than controls; while happiness, fear
and no emotion were well recognised in both groups. In the HIV+ group, only older age (p<.02) was
associated with worse emotion recognition of both sadness and anger. Among the cognitive factors, better
verbal generation performance was associated with better recognition of sadness (p<.02). Emotion
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
processing of some negative facial expression is impaired in HIV+ individuals. Future investigation will
address underlying mechanisms.
How patients with Parkinson‟s disease adapt goal-directed movement to rotated visual feedback of
movement trajectory
LEOW L., LOFTUS AM., & HAMMOND GR. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
Parkinson‟s disease (PD) patients have subtle difficulties adapting goal-directed movement to perturbed
visual feedback in visuomotor adaptation. The mechanism through which this occurs is unclear. Purpose:
(1) To investigate if PD patients can achieve visuomotor adaptation to performance levels of controls (2)
Evaluate the mechanisms through which PD patients achieve visuomotor adaptation. (3) Evaluate block to
block transfer of learning of the visuomotor adaptation. PD patients, age-matched controls and young
controls first aimed towards a target until achieving a speed and accuracy criterion during a practice
phase. During the test phase, visual feedback of movement trajectory was rotated 30° counter-clockwise.
Participants adapted by reducing error in movement direction by adapting the movement 30° clockwise.
Four blocks of 25 adaptation trials were completed. Adaptation rate was fastest in young controls,
followed by age-matched controls and PD patients. However when 25 trials with veridical visual feedback
was interleaved between blocks of perturbed visual feedback, PD patients achieved less adaptation than
controls. In conclusion, PD patients can adapt movement to changes in visual feedback, however blockto-block transfer of adaptation is more susceptible to interference in PD.
Neurocognitive outcomes in young adults with early-onset type-1 diabetes
LY, T. (Princess Margaret Hospital, Perth)*, ANDERSON, M., McNAMARA, KA. (University of Western
Australia), DAVIS, EA.*, & JONES, T.*
[email protected]
We previously reported neurocognitive outcomes in 84 children diagnosed with T1DM before 6 years of
age. There was no evidence of cognitive dysfunction or memory difficulties in these subjects, assessed at
the mean age of 10 years. Thirty three participants with T1DM (mean age 19.3±0.5y and mean diabetes
duration of 16.0±0.5y) were invited to take part in this follow-up study and 34 control subjects (mean age
19.5±0.5y) were recruited. There was no difference in full-scale IQ scores in subjects with T1DM
compared to control subjects (100.73±1.99 vs. 102.53±1.43, p=0.463), nor were there any differences on
the four index scores of perceptual reasoning, working memory, verbal comprehension and processing
speed. There was no difference observed between groups with WMS-IV subtests of auditory memory,
immediate memory and delayed memory (p=0.824, p=0.757 and p=0.366, respectively). There was no
difference between groups in emotional and behavioural difficulties, assessed by both YSR and ASR
(p=0.947). There was also no difference in depressive symptoms between groups, assessed by BDI-II
(p=0.762). In contrast to previous reports, preliminary results from this study suggest no difference in
general intellectual ability, memory and emotional difficulties in young adults with early-onset type 1
diabetes compared with healthy control subjects.
Morphological changes in the central nervous system of young adults with early-onset type 1
diabetes mellitus
LY, T., IVES, J. (Princess Margaret Hospital, Perth)*, DAVIS, J. (SKG Radiology), & JONES, T.*
[email protected]
We previously reported a high incidence of CNS abnormalities, in particular mesial temporal sclerosis, in
62 children with early-onset T1DM, suggestive of hippocampal damage. Patients from the original cohort
were invited to take part in a follow-up neurocognitive assessment, 9 years after the initial study. In
addition, age and sex-matched healthy siblings of patients with T1DM were recruited as control subjects.
Forty subjects with early-onset T1DM (mean age 18.9 years) and 30 control subjects underwent MRI
scans (mean age 19.4 years). Abnormalities were found in 30% of subjects with T1DM and 17% of
controls. Comparison of subcortical structural volumes demonstrated reduced volumes in both left and
right thalamus (p=0.001 and p<0.001) and left and right pallidum (p=0.004 and p=0.029). Amongst
subjects with T1DM, those with a history of severe hypoglycaemia had increased volume in the left
putamen (p=0.024) and left accumbens area (p=0.004) compared to subjects with no history of severe
hypoglycaemia. Comparison of cortical volumes demonstrated increased volume in the left paracentral
region (p=0.015) in subjects with T1DM compared to control subjects. Preliminary results from this study
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
suggest that early diagnosis of T1DM in childhood is associated with a high incidence of structural brain
How confident can we be in the reporting of diagnostic validity statistics?
MACLEOD, LK., & BOWDEN, SC. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
This study reviews a recent sample of literature reporting diagnostic validity statistics. The APA Task
Force on Statistical Inference (1999) recommended routine use of confidence intervals (CI) when
reporting results to improve the quality of scientific inference. Notwithstanding the trend towards intervalbased estimation, it is unclear whether these recommendations are being adopted in studies of key
evidence-based criteria for diagnostic validity. The PsycINFO database was searched for the combination
of terms „sensitivity‟ and „specificity‟ in the „Title‟ field between 1 January 2009 and 1 June 2010 inclusive.
Sixteen articles meet these inclusion criteria for a diagnostic validity study. Non-English articles were
excluded, as were those that did not numerically quantify sensitivity and specificity. Articles were reviewed
independently by two blind raters. Two articles (12.5%) report CIs around sensitivity and specificity values.
Consideration of CIs altered interpretation of nine (56%) of the studies reviewed. This brief literature
search revealed that a minority of studies report CI‟s for sensitivity and specificity statistics. Worryingly,
interpretation of diagnostic validity changed in a substantial proportion of studies when CI‟s were
considered. This review highlights the need for more accurate reporting of diagnostic validity statistics
including routine reporting of CIs.
Systematic review of validity of neuropsychological measures for early detection of dementia
MACLEOD, LK., & BOWDEN, SC. (University of Melbourne)
[email protected]
Early, accurate detection of dementia is therapeutically beneficial. Most consensus criteria for diagnosis of
dementias include confirmation with neuropsychological assessment. Numerous cognitive screens are
used in broader practice, reported from research with marked methodological heterogeneity. Validation
studies of comprehensive neuropsychological measures also display marked methodological variations.
This review examines the methodological quality of brief versus comprehensive measures in studies
published between January 2005 and June 2010. MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases were searched for
studies reporting sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of possible or probable Alzheimer‟s type
dementia. Studies were evaluated against the STARD (2003) criteria. Likelihood ratios (LR) were
calculated for study outcomes. 56 papers were identified for inclusion, comprising 29 screens, 10 common
neuropsychological tests, and 13 test batteries. 6 different measures produced diagnostic information of
high clinical utility defined as LR+ >10 and LR- <0.1. The majority of validity studies focus on brief screens
rather than comprehensive measures for early detection of dementia. This review highlights the
methodological heterogeneity in reporting of diagnostic validity studies. As a consequence, high quality
evidence for neuropsychological validity relies on a relatively small number of studies. There is a clear
need for further high-quality studies addressing neuropsychological assessment of dementia.
The relationship between awareness deficits to executive functions and memory
MALOUF, T., LANGDON, R., SHORES, EA., & COLTHEART, M. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Awareness deficits are commonly seen in patients following a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Previous
literature has suggested a role for the frontal lobes in mediating awareness, however to date very few
studies have found a significant relationship between standard neuropsychological measures of executive
functioning, memory and awareness deficits (Bogod et al, 2003; Hart, 2005). The multi-faceted nature of
awareness deficits may account for the inconsistent findings in the previous studies. The present study
investigated the relationship between different domains of awareness and executive functions and
memory. Thirty-six participants who had recently sustained a TBI (of at least moderate severity) were
seen during their inpatient hospital admission. Participants were administered a series of standard
neuropsychological tasks including executive functioning and memory measures. Awareness was
measured using the Insight Interview (a new tool developed in which different domains of awareness are
measured and scored independently). Overall results suggest that participants with awareness deficits
perform significantly worse on tasks of executive functioning and memory than participants without
awareness deficits. Significant differences between aware and unaware participants were also identified
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
within different domains of awareness. Executive functions and memory tasks may be useful in predicting
patients who show awareness deficits in the acute stages following TBI.
Short-interval intracortical inhibition and manual dexterity in healthy aging
MARNEWECK, M., HAMMOND, G., & LOFTUS, A. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
The aim of this research was to measure short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), acting on the first
dorsal interosseus, and correlate it with measures of manual dexterity in samples of young and healthy
older subjects. SICI was measured with paired transcranial magnetic stimuli separated by 2 ms. Manual
dexterity was measured with the Purdue Pegboard test and two isometric forcematching tasks. There was
an age-related decline in all dexterity measures and an age-related decrease in SICI. The level of SICI
was not correlated with any of the dexterity measures, but the appearance of atypical facilitation (rather
than inhibition) with the paired magnetic stimuli in some subjects was associated with impaired pegboard
performance but not force-matching performance. In conclusion, SICI at rest is reduced with healthy aging
but this loss of SICI does not contribute to the loss of dexterity. The presence of atypical facilitation is
associated with poor performance on the Purdue pegboard task. A shift in the balance of facilitatory and
inhibitory processes in motor cortex to facilitation might interfere with sequenced manual movements.
How does social perception relate to executive functioning in mild cognitive impairment?
McCADE, DL., GUASTELLA, A. (Brain & Mind Research Institute)*, SAVAGE, G. (Macquarie University),
[email protected]
There is strong evidence to suggest that the way emotional and contextual information is recognised and
perceived to infer the mental states of others, is impaired in dementia. However it is unclear at what stage
these deficits emerge in the neurodegenerative process, and how they relate to other neuropsychological
features. We explored facial emotional processing in individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), an
„at risk‟ state for dementia. Twenty-one individuals (7 male, 14 female; mean age = 66.5 years) were
assessed using tests of social cognition and a novel eye-tracking paradigm. Of these individuals, sixteen
were diagnosed with non-amnestic MCI and five with amnestic MCI. Analyses of eye movements during
an emotion identification task demonstrate that longer fixations to peripheral regions which are typically
less involved in face perception, correlated significantly with Part B of the Trail Making Test. These
findings are apparent after controlling for potential confounds such as age, processing speed and IQ.
Results suggest that very early changes in facial emotional processing are related to executive functioning
in patients with MCI. Identification of emotional processing deficits in individuals prior to dementia onset
may have implications for early disease detection and for potential treatment.
Naturalistic prospective memory in traumatic brain injury and normal aging
McLEAN, S., KINSELLA, G., & ONG, B. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
The realisation of delayed intentions (prospective memory) has been proposed to comprise of four
phases: intention, retention, re-instantiation and execution (Kliegel, McDaniel, & Einstein, 2000). Existing
laboratory paradigms studying these prospective memory processes do not take into account the
discrepancy often reported between naturalistic and laboratory type tasks in older adult populations. The
aim of this study is to investigate if commonly reported impairments in prospective memory after traumatic
brain injury in older age are related to problems in the formation, re-instantiation, or execution of a
complex naturalistic intention. 25 older adults (≥65 years old) with mild/moderate traumatic brain injury
and 25 healthy older adults completed a naturalistic complex prospective memory task (the picnic task)
that allowed for the separate assessment of the four phases of prospective memory. There were no
differences between groups in intention formation, F(1,56)=1.87, p >.05, and intention retention,  (1, N =
50) = 2.45, p >.05. In contrast, the participants with a traumatic brain injury performed worse than the
healthy control group in re-instantiation, F(1,48)=26.64, p< .05, and execution, F(1,51)=7.73, p< .05.
Individual performances on neuropsychological measures were also investigated in predicting
performance in the phases of prospective remembering and will be discussed.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Neuropsychological testing of compulsive hoarders
McMILLAN, SG., REES, C. (Curtin University of Technology), & PESTELL, C. (Complex Attention &
Hyperactivity Disorders Service)
[email protected]
Compulsive hoarding is estimated to affect 4% of the population. A cognitive-behavioural model proposed
by Frost and Hartl (1996) views hoarding as multi-faceted, involving problems with emotional attachments;
behavioural avoidance; erroneous beliefs about possessions; and deficits in information processing . This
study aimed to provide support for this theory by investigating underlying cognitive abilities, such as
information processing, attention and categorisation. 24 compulsive hoarders were tested on Digit Span,
Spatial Span and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. It was hypothesised that hoarders would score
significantly worse on these measures. The hoarding group had a significantly higher number of
perseveration errors (t = 1.673, p = .005) and significantly lower numbers of categories completed (t = 2.472, p = .001) than test norms. Only „failure to maintain set‟ was significantly correlated with Hoarding
severity (r = .435, p < .05). These findings lend support to the theory that compulsive hoarders have
executive dysfunction, which impacts on their ability to process information. Deficits relate to difficulties in
forming effective strategies, inadequate feedback response, problems in concept formation, and
impulsivity. Difficulties in sustained attention also appeared to be a factor in hoarding severity. These
findings are important in directing more targeted clinical interventions.
Effective group-based memory strategy training for neurological patients
MILLER, L. (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital)*, RADFORD, K., LAH, S. (University of Sydney), SAY, M.
(Macquarie University), & THAYER, Z.*
[email protected]
Although memory complaints are common in neurological outpatients, group-based memory training has
rarely been tried. Factors predictive of outcome are also unknown. We developed a strategy-based
course to run in six, weekly, 2-hour sessions. Patients were assessed on three occasions, before and
after training, using a randomised, wait-list, cross-over design. The Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test
(RAVLT), the Comprehensive Assessment of Prospective Memory (CAPM) and the Royal Prince Alfred
Prospective Memory Test (RPA ProMem) (a new objective measure of short- and long-term prospective
memory) served as outcome measures. Fifty-six patients (primarily with epilepsy or stroke) completed the
course and the evaluations. Significant training-related gains were seen on the RAVLT and the CAPM
and these were preserved over a longer-term (3 month) follow up. There were no training-related gains on
the RPA ProMem. Baseline measures of memory, depression, age and level of education were all
negatively related to outcome (i.e., the lower the score at baseline, the greater the outcome benefit). Time
since onset was not related to outcome, suggesting that “it is never too late” to benefit. These
encouraging findings indicate that a relatively short intervention can make a significant (albeit moderate)
difference to everyday memory for neurological patients.
Rehabilitation in dementia: An aged care facility perspective
D., ANGWIN, A., GALLOIS, C., HEGNEY, D., BYRNE, G., & CHENERY, HJ. (University of Queensland)
[email protected]
In the absence of rehabilitative programs in aged care facilities, and as a result of limited staffing
resources, the development of a dependent relationship between professional caregiver and dementia
patient tends to occur. This type of relationship not only leads to further decrements in cognitive
functioning, but also contributes to problems in behavioural and emotional functioning (Resnick &
Remsburg, 2004). This outcome contributes to a continuing cycle of increased burden on the professional
caregiver, decreased job satisfaction, and increased turnover (Cheek, Ballantyne, Jones, Roder-Allen, &
Kitto, 2003). Ultimately, quality of life for the people with dementia suffers, and dependence on others for
self-care and activities of daily living grows. To help break the aforementioned cycle, the RECAPS
Program (Smith et al., under review) was developed to help counter difficulties in functioning as a result of
memory deficits. The program was designed to optimise memory functioning in persons in residential
aged care facilities by increasing care staff skills in using simple memory retention strategies. The
program has recently undergone pilot tests within a small number of aged care facilities in Southeast
Queensland, with staff indicating keen support for such a program. The core features of the memory
facilitation aspect of RECAPS, as well as staff responses to the program, will be discussed.
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
Mismatch negativity in „at risk‟ older adults: Associations with cognitive performance
MOWSZOWSKI, L. (Macquarie University), HERMENS, DF., DIAMOND, K., & NAISMITH, SN. (University
of Sydney)
[email protected]
Auditory Mismatch Negativity (MMN) is an event-related potential elicited around 200ms following a
deviant stimulus within an ongoing stream. It reflects automatic change detection and attention-switching
processes, generated by the temporal and frontal lobes, respectively. MMN has been used to investigate
the integrity of early sensory processing underlying higher-order functions. MMN is reduced in older and
demented groups and has been associated with verbal memory deficits, poor executive functioning and
reduced social skills in schizophrenia. Reduced visual MMN has been reported in Mild Cognitive
Impairment (MCI), though auditory MMN has not yet been characterised in older adults „at risk‟ for
cognitive decline (i.e. with MCI or late-life depression). This study aims to assess the duration deviant
MMN in this group and then investigate associations with cognitive performance. Twenty-one participants
over 50 years underwent EEG and neuropsychological assessment. Results indicate a significant
reduction in MMN with age (r=-0.614; p=0.002), as expected. Controlling for age, temporal MMN is
significantly associated with RAVLT Total Trials z-score (r=0.587, p=0.007). These results suggest that a
disruption to early sensory processing may be linked to higher-order learning deficits in „at risk‟ older
Challenges faced and lessons learnt in the development of a new measure of social competence
for children and adolescents with acquired brain injury (ABI)
MUSCARA, F., CATROPPA, C., BEAUCHAMP, M., & ANDERSON, V. (Murdoch Childrens Research
[email protected]
Recently, there has been a surge of interest in social functioning throughout childhood and adolescence,
and how social development is affected by acquired brain injury (ABI). Despite ongoing research and
theoretical advances, there remains a lack of specific, robust measurement tools, which draw upon the
clinical and social neurosciences, and which are developmental in nature. The aim of this study was to
develop a questionnaire to measure social competence and the quality of relationships of children and
adolescents. This questionnaire aimed to be sensitive to the specific social problems associated with ABI.
Participants included a pilot group of 40 parents who completed the pilot questionnaire, as well as an
established questionnaire, which assesses social functioning. Parents rated their own children who were
aged between 6 and 14 years, and who were within the non-clinical population. Preliminary analyses
found that the children generally scored highly on this new measure of social competence, and that a
higher score on most scales of this new questionnaire tended to be associated with a higher score on an
established questionnaire measuring social skills. These data are promising, and provide important
information for the following stages of development and evaluation of this new questionnaire.
Antiepileptic drug use in pregnancy: Impact on brain function of exposed Australian children
NADEBAUM, C. (Monash University)*, ANDERSON, VA. (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute), VAJDA,
FJE. (Australian Pregnancy Register for Women with Epilepsy and Allied Disorders), REUTENS, D.
(University of Queensland), BARTON, S.*, & WOOD, AG.*
[email protected]
Despite the risk of major malformation or intellectual impairment due to prenatal antiepileptic drug (AED)
exposure, pharmacotherapy is typically continued throughout pregnancy because of the dangers
associated with recurrent seizures. This research aimed to characterise the impact of prenatal AED
exposure on cognition and language in children of mothers with epilepsy. One hundred and two children
(6-8 years) exposed prenatally to AEDs participated in neuropsychological examination. Drug details were
obtained from prospectively collected records. Children without major malformations were eligible.
Assessors were blinded to drug status. T-test comparisons indicated that children exposed to valproate or
polytherapy performed significantly below the population mean on standardised tests of intelligence and
language (p≤.05). Outcomes of children exposed to carbamazepine did not significantly differ from the
mean. Regression analyses showed that valproate and polytherapy exposure significantly predicted
outcomes, even when controlling for maternal IQ. Findings indicate that fetal exposure to valproate or
polytherapy impacts negatively on long-term intellectual and language outcomes. Further investigation of
our data is required to determine whether specific drug doses or combinations are associated with poorer
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
outcomes, and to better understand the underlying mechanisms. These findings will have major
implications for clinical management of affected women.
Face perception and face emotion processing in subtypes of frontotemporal dementia
PIGUET, O. (Neuroscience Research Australia)*, MILLER, L. (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), LAH, S.
(University of Sydney), FOXE, D.*, LESLIE, F.*, HSIEH, S.*, SAVAGE, S.*, & HODGES, JR.*
[email protected]
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder. Disturbance of
emotion recognition is commonly reported in two of the clinical phenotypes: behavioural-variant FTD
(bvFTD) and semantic dementia (SD), but not in the third (progressive nonfluent aphasia, PNFA). Which
cognitive processes supporting face/emotion recognition are disrupted in FTD subtypes is not fully
understood. Thirty-three patients with FTD (bvFTD = 12; SD = 12; PNFA = 9) and 37 age-matched healthy
controls were administered four tasks measuring different aspects of emotion recognition: face perception,
identity discrimination, affect discrimination and affect labelling. Compared to controls, bvFTD patients
were impaired on all tasks. In contrast, SD patients were impaired only on affect discrimination and affect
labelling tasks. Performance of PNFA patients was mildly reduced but not significantly different from that
of controls. After controlling for face perception performance, bvFTD patients were no longer impaired on
identity and affect discrimination tasks but remained impaired on the affect labelling task. Performance in
the other groups, however, did not change. These findings indicate that perceptual deficits contribute to
the emotion recognition disturbance in bvFTD, which may potentially be amenable to retraining. In
contrast, SD are impaired on all aspects of emotion processing.
Development of everyday memory tasks for healthy ageing and mild cognitive impairment
PIKE, K., KINSELLA, G., ONG, B. (La Trobe University)*, MULALLY, E., RAND, E. (Caulfield Hospital),
STOREY, E. (Monash University), AMES, D. (National Ageing Research Institute), SALING, M. (University
of Melbourne), CLARE, L. (Bangor University), & PARSONS, S.*
[email protected]
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is often considered a precursor to Alzheimer‟s disease (AD). Associative
episodic memory tasks are particularly sensitive to preclinical AD, however they often lack ecological
validity, which is important when evaluating performance in daily activities. We describe the development
of two everyday associative episodic memory tasks: a face-name test and a car-numberplate task, and
their utility in separating 39 MCI participants from 58 healthy older adults (HO) compared to standard
episodic memory tasks. Participants with MCI performed significantly worse than HO on the standard
episodic memory tasks (η ranging from 0.133 to 0.664). MCI participants performed significantly worse
than HO on the face-name task, F(1, 93) = 41.47, p <.001, η =0.308, and the car-numberplate task, F(1,
93) = 38.87, p <.001, η =0.295, with similar effect sizes to the standard tasks. The everyday tasks
separated MCI from HO participants as effectively as standard episodic memory tasks and were welltolerated. These tasks can provide a valuable addition with enhanced ecological validity for measuring the
effect of interventions and profiling everyday memory performance in HO and MCI.
Corpus callosum morphology and its relationship to cognitive function in neurofibromatosis type
1 (NF1)
PRIDE, N. (Macquarie University)*, PAYNE, JM. (University of Sydney)**, WEBSTER, R. (Children‟s
Hospital Education Research Institute), SHORES, EA.*, RAE, C. (Prince of Wales Medical Research
Institute), & NORTH, KN.**
[email protected]
Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) is associated with cognitive dysfunction and structural abnormalities such
as an enlarged corpus callosum. The association between this brain abnormality and cognitive deficits in
NF1 is unclear. This study examines the relationship between corpus callosum morphology and cognitive
function in children with NF1 using quantitative neuroanatomic imaging techniques. Forty-six children and
adolescents with NF1 are compared to thirty unaffected control subjects on MRI quantitative
measurements of the corpus callosum and neuropsychological results. Children with NF1 demonstrate a
significantly larger corpus callosum and corpus callosum index (CCI- midsagittal corpus callosum surface
area divided by intracranial surface area) compared to control subjects. A larger CCI in children with NF1
is associated with significantly lower IQ, reduced abstract concept formation, reduced verbal memory and
diminished academic ability, specifically reading and mathematical reasoning skills. Our results suggest
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
an enlarged corpus callosum in children with NF1 is associated with cognitive impairment and may
provide an early structural marker for the children at risk of cognitive difficulties. Cognitive deficits
associated with structural brain abnormalities in NF1 are unlikely to be reversible and so may not respond
to proposed pharmacological therapies for NF1 related cognitive impairments.
“I am me”: Understanding the uniqueness of each child – project KIDS in indigenous communities
REID, C. (Murdoch University), & NELSON, J. (Gnibi Indigenous Peoples College).
[email protected]
Indigenous children are over-represented on all indicators of life risk and compromised life outcome.
Attempts to reverse this intergenerational cycle of disadvantage have not stemmed the challenges facing
young parents and their children. One of the priorities facing health and educational professionals must be
developing a relevant evidence-base for working with children at risk of poor developmental outcomes.
Our work with a growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities suggests that
knowing the developmental profiles of children can help us move beyond broad-based cultural arguments
for determining service provision, to a more fine-tuned approach informing individualised plans to meet the
needs of each child. Initial piloting of the Project KIDS child assessment approach has been promising
with tangible service outcomes resulting from whole-of-child profiles incorporating cognitive, social and
emotional development. This process is also contributing to the norming of our assessment tools for
relevance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and will assist our future work in developing
culturally valid neurocognitive diagnostic approaches for developmental challenges such as FASD.
Electrophysiological assessment of cognitive function in type 1 diabetes
RICHARDSON, C., ANDERSON, M. (University of Western Australia)*, LY, YL. (Princess Margaret
Hospital, Perth)**, McNAMARA, KA.*, DAVIS, EA.**, & JONES, TW.**
[email protected]
Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive brain imaging technique that records the electrical
activity of the brain. The excellent temporal resolution of the EEG provides „on-line‟ measurement of
electrical activity associated with specific cognitive functions and brain regions. The study included 33
adolescents and young adults with T1DM, diagnosed prior to the age of 6 years, 20 of whom had at least
one hypoglycaemia-related seizure/coma. An age and gender-matched control group (n = 34) was also
included. Sensory processing was assessed using an auditory novelty oddball paradigm, and executive
performance with a modified flanker task. Analyses focused on between –group differences (T1DM vs.
control) and within-group differences (T1DM no seizure/coma history vs. T1DM ≥ 1 seizure/coma). Few
behavioural and electrophysiological differences were found. These data extend current knowledge of
cognitive and neurological sequelae of diabetes and are discussed in terms of the effects of diabetes on
the developing brain.
Cognitive outcomes in cleft lip and/or palate: A meta-analysis
ROBERTS, RM., MATHIAS, J., & WHEATON, P. (University of Adelaide)
[email protected]
Cleft lip/palate is one of the most common birth defects and yet there remains a lack of clarity regarding
cognitive outcomes. The current study therefore undertook a meta-analysis of research that has examined
the cognitive functioning of infants, children and adults with cleft lip, cleft palate or cleft lip and palate in
order to establish both the nature and severity of cognitive impairments that are associated with nonsyndromal clefts, when compared to their peers. The PubMed and PsycINFO databases were searched
from 1960 to January 2009 for relevant research, with 27 studies meeting the inclusion criteria. The
presence of a cleft was associated with poorer performance, particularly in the areas of processing speed
(dw = -.75), attention/executive (dw = -.71), language (dw = -.59), and memory (immediate recall) (dw = .52*). Small to moderate deficits were also apparent in academic ability (dw = -.47), sensorimotor (dw = .47*) and motor (dw = -.42*) functions, general cognition (dw = -.37), memory (delayed recall) (dw = -.31),
and visuospatial ability (dw = -.10) (* significant difference). These findings indicate that cleft lip and/or
palate is associated with cognitive impairments across a wide range of cognitive functions.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Word, design, gesture and ideational fluency: Is there evidence for frontal specialisation?
ROBINSON, G. (University of Queensland), SHALLICE, T., BOZZALI, M. (University College, London), &
CIPOLOTTI, L. (National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UK)
[email protected]
Fluency tasks, especially word fluency, have been widely used to tap the voluntary generation of
responses, a process thought to be subserved by the frontal region. Debate arises, however, when
considering the selectivity of frontal specialisation and localisation within the frontal lobes. This study
investigates verbal and nonverbal generation in a neuropsychological group with unselected focal frontal
(n = 47) and non-frontal (n = 20) lesions. Patients and healthy controls are assessed on word, design,
gesture and ideational fluency tasks. A fine-grained lesion analysis method is used in addition to
traditional anatomical classifications (i.e., anterior/posterior, left/right frontal). Thus, Frontal patients with
Lateral (Left/Right) lesions are compared to Frontal patients with Medial (Superior/Inferior) lesions. The
results show a selective frontal deficit only for phonemic word fluency and design fluency with some
support for Lateral (Left/Right) deficits along material specific lines (i.e., verbal/visual). Moreover, a Medial
deficit is observed on all fluency tasks regardless of material type. The results are discussed in the context
of previous findings and current theories of processes thought to be supported by the frontal regions such
as energisation.
Social functioning in children and adolescents after brain injury: A systematic review since 1989
ROSEMA, S., CROWE, L., & ANDERSON, V. (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)
[email protected]
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have significant social consequences, with social problems identified by
child and adolescent survivors as their most debilitating problem. Specifically, following early TBI, children
and adolescents may experience social isolation and rejection, with resultant reduced self-esteem, social
anxiety, loneliness and increased risk of depression and anti-social behaviours. From a social
neuroscience perspective, evidence shows that social skills are subsumed by complex neurological and
cognitive networks. A brain injury, in early development, while these networks are becoming established,
can rupture these connections with social dysfunction as result. In order to better understand the
prevalence and nature of social dysfunction after paediatric TBI, studies in social outcomes in children and
adolescents after TBI over the last 20 years have been reviewed. Only 23 articles have met the criteria,
which indicates that more research is needed in this area to get a better picture of the social outcomes
after brain injury. The common findings from these studies will be described and future directions for this
field will be suggested.
Transpersonal art therapy in cases of acquired brain injury: Helping clients find meaning through
creative self-expression
SAINSBURY, SA., & MUDRI, EB. (Brightwater Oats St Rehabilitation Facility)
[email protected]
“Some key contributions that art therapy can make to rehabilitation include: sensory experiences,
symbolic expression, emotional expression, life enhancement, cognitive development and social
connectedness” (Van Lith et al., 2010, p.1). Transpersonal Art Therapy can be useful in cases of Acquired
Brain Injury (ABI) where clients may have lost their ability to communicate their thoughts, fears, triumphs
and frustrations verbally and in a logical, coherent way. The sensitively facilitated tactile exploration of
colour, form, and texture on canvas or through clay can enable the person with ABI to work through losses
and gain a greater sense of self-awareness, self-acceptance and psychological healing through symbolic
communication. As therapists, we can guide our clients through art activities, and support them in their
self-discovery in relation to aesthetic works created in a safe, supported and non-judgmental group
environment. Our poster examines the outcome of a 6 session Transpersonal Art Therapy workshop with
a group of adults with ABI in a slow-stream rehabilitation residential facility. The aim of the sessions is to
increase participants‟ self-awareness and self-esteem by enabling them to explore and unlock their
unconscious. Participants are provided with one on one Transpersonal Counselling as follow-up to enable
them to consciously integrate their self-discoveries into their everyday lives and rehabilitation.
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
How stable is the Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) classification?
SAUNDERS, NLJ., & SUMMERS, MJ. (University of Tasmania)
[email protected]
Studies of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) show elevated rates of conversion to dementia at the group
level. However, examination of individuals with MCI identify great heterogeneity of outcomes. A total of
107 participants; 12 with single-domain amnestic-MCI (a-MCI), 40 with multiple-domain amnestic-MCI (aMCI+), 29 with nonamnestic-MCI (na-MCI), and 26 controls, undertook longitudinal neuropsychological
assessment of visual and verbal memory, attentional processing, executive functions, working memory
capacity, and semantic memory. At 20 months outcome varied considerably between MCI subgroups. Of
the a-MCI+ group 25% progressed to Alzheimer‟s disease (AD), with none of the a-MCI or na-MCI groups
progressing to AD. Among the different MCI sub-classifications 12-42% improved to normal levels of
function, 17-55% remained stable; and 10-24% transitioned to the a-MCI+ subtype. Discriminant function
analysis identified that a combination of measures of attention, working memory, and visual, verbal and
semantic memory at baseline correctly identified 84% of participants by outcome at 20 months. The
results of the present study indicate a high degree of instability in classification over time. In addition, the
results suggest that multi-domain MCI is the most reliable precursor stage to the development of AD.
Word retraining in semantic dementia: Does it work, is it worth it?
SAVAGE, S., MIOSHI, E. (Neuroscience Research Australia)*, BALLARD, KJ. (University of Sydney),
[email protected]
Semantic Dementia (SD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterised by a loss of
vocabulary and general knowledge about the world. This semantic loss is distressing and impacts on
quality of life and social participation. Preserved episodic memory, attention, and visuospatial skills
provide the basis for language remediation, although this has not been tested extensively in SD.
Retraining of words used in daily living was investigated in five SD patients using single subject
experimental designs. All patients were approximately 4-5 years into the disease, but varied in their
degree of semantic impairment. Patients completed daily naming practice over a 6-week period, based on
photographs of objects taken in the family home, and were assessed weekly. All patients showed marked
improvements in confrontational naming for trained items compared to baseline; with some maintenance
demonstrated 1 month post-retraining. Naming of untrained items either remained unchanged or
continued to decline. While all patients demonstrated the ability to learn word-picture associations,
patients with milder disease appeared better able to transfer this learning into everyday life. These data
indicate that, with regular practice, word re-learning is possible even in severe SD patients. Practical and
theoretical considerations of such interventions are discussed.
Attention problems in extremely preterm/extremely low birth weight children
SCRATCH, SE., DE LUCA, CR. (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)*, HUTCHINSON, E. (The Royal
Women‟s Hospital), SPENCER-SMITH, MM.*, ROBERTS, G.*, DOYLE, LW.*, & ANDERSON, PJ.*
[email protected]
Extremely preterm/extremely low birth weight (EP/ELBW) children are thought to be at risk of specific
attentional impairments. Using a dominant framework of attention, we examined attentional skills in a
large, representative, contemporary cohort of children born EP/ELBW at 8 years of age. Participants were
189 EP/ELBW children and 173 full-term and normal birth weight (FT/NBW) children born in 1997 in
Victoria, Australia. Neuropsychological assessment included subtests of the Test of Everyday Attention
for Children including measures of selective attention, sustained attention, and executive attention
(inhibition, shifting attention, and divided attention). The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function
(BRIEF) and the Conners‟ ADHD/DSM-IV Scale (CADS-P) were completed by the primary caregiver to
assess behavioural elements of attention. The EP/ELBW group had significantly elevated rates of
impairment in selective, sustained, shifting, and divided attention as compared to the FT/NBW group. On
parental report questionnaires, the EP/ELBW group were reported to have significantly higher rates on all
subscales of the BRIEF and indices of the CADS-P. No significant gender effects were identified. Our
comprehensive assessment of attention provides strong evidence that children born EP/ELBW are at
increased risk for global attentional impairments, and as such, should be monitored closely during early
and middle childhood.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
Validation of the Abbreviated−Westmead PTA Scale
SHORES, EA., MEARES, S., TAYLOR, A., LAMMEL, A., & BATCHELOR, J. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
Recent research has shown that the Revised−Westmead PTA Scale (R−WPTAS) is a better measure of
cognitive change in individuals following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) than the Glasgow Coma Scale
(GCS) (Shores et al., 2008). The aim of the present study was to demonstrate that the AbbreviatedWestmead PTA Scale (A−WPTAS), is a valid short form of the R-WPTAS. Participants were adults, aged
18 to 61 years, who presented for treatment to John Hunter Hospital. Participants were eligible for the
study if they had sustained an mTBI or a non-brain physical injury. The final sample comprised 170
patients (mTBI: 82; control: 88). Results showed that (a) the proportion of failures on the R-WPTAS and
the A-WPTAS was not different; (b) there were a similar number of mTBI participants classified on the RWPTAS and A-WPTAS and c) the relationship between the independent memory test (Westmead
Selective Reminding Test; WSRT) and both PTA scales was consistent for mTBI patients. The results
provide validation of the A-WPTAS as a brief bedside measure to identify cognitive impairment in mTBI
Assessment of financial ability in younger onset dementia
SMITH, LA. (La Trobe University)
[email protected]
This research examined changes to financial ability in younger onset dementia, an age group in which the
outcomes of functional change can precipitate significant consequences in everyday life. Participants
included a group of people with mild to moderate younger onset dementia (n = 30) and an age/education
matched group of healthy controls (n = 30). Comparisons were also made between subgroups within the
younger onset dementia sample; namely, between participants with diagnosed Alzheimer‟s disease (n =
13) and participants with diagnosed frontotemporal dementia (n = 12). Each participant was administered
the Test of Everyday Financial Ability (TEFA), which is a new instrument that attempts to assess everyday
financial ability in an ecologically valid way. Selected TEFA subtests were also carried out in a divided
attention condition to explore how different attentional demands impact upon financial ability. Analyses of
group performances revealed significantly poorer scores by the younger onset dementia group when
compared to controls on the majority of financial tasks in both single-task and dual-task conditions.
Differences were also found between the Alzheimer‟s disease and frontotemporal dementia subgroups on
some TEFA subtests. Findings are considered with reference to our understanding of younger onset
Memory abilities in very preterm/very low birth weight children: A meta-analysis
Childrens Research Institute)
[email protected]
Children born very preterm/very low birth weight (VPT/VLBW) have been reported to experience memory
impairments in infancy that persist throughout the school years. However, the profile and severity of
memory impairments has not yet been established. Given the central role of memory in the development
of other cognitive domains, memory problems are likely to affect children‟s learning, educational and
social progress and are therefore a major concern for parents and teachers. Using a conceptual
framework, a meta-analysis was conducted to characterise the profile and severity of memory
impairments in VPT/VLBW children compared with full-term/normal birth weight children. Electronic
databases were systematically searched and we are currently identifying studies that meet criteria.
Theoretically informed research is essential for understanding the profile and severity of memory
impairments in VPT/VLBW survivors. Findings will assist in the development of targeted interventions to
support the ongoing development and progress of these vulnerable children.
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
Two year outcomes of a preventative care program for very preterm infants
SUETIN, AS., SPITTLE, AJ., LEE, KJ., FERRETTI, C., EELES, A. (Murdoch Childrens Research
Institute)*, ORTON, J. (The Royal Women‟s Hospital), BOYD, RN. (University of Queensland), INDER, T.
(Washington University), DOYLE, L.*, & ANDERSON, PJ.*
[email protected]
The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a home-based preventive care program
for infants born very preterm. A total of 120 infants born before 30 weeks‟ of gestation were assigned
randomly to intervention (n = 61) or control (n = 59) groups. The intervention group received a preventive
care program that comprised 9 visits by a team of therapists (psychologist and physiotherapist) over the
first year of life. The program focused on the parent-infant relationship, parental mental health and infant
development. The control group received standard medical care. At two years of age corrected for
prematurity, child development was assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development
III and the Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment, and caregivers completed the Hospital
Anxiety and Depression Scale. No statistically significant differences were observed for cognitive,
language or motor development between the intervention and control groups. However, children in the
intervention group exhibited less externalising and dysregulation behaviours, and increased competence.
Primary caregivers in the intervention group reported significantly less anxiety and depression. It is
concluded that this preventive care program for very preterm infants improves behavioural outcomes at
age two and reduces anxiety and depression for primary caregivers.
An investigation of the validity of the MMPI-2 Response Bias Scale using a simulation design
SULLIVAN, K., & ELLIOTT, C. (Queensland University of Technology)
[email protected]
Measures of feigned cognitive impairment embedded in standardised tests commonly used by
neuropsychologists are highly desirable as they increase the overall accuracy of assessments of
malingering without increasing assessment duration. This study aimed to investigate the validity of a new
embedded measure of feigned cognitive impairment, the MMPI-2 Response Bias Scale (RBS). Ninety
participants were randomly allocated to a malingering simulation or control condition. All participants
completed the MMPI-2, RMT-W and TOMM. As predicted, of the MMPI-2 validity scales analysed, the
magnitude of the significant difference in scores between simulating malingerers and genuine responders
was largest for the RBS. Furthermore, relative to other MMPI-2 validity indicators, the results of several
hierarchical logistic regression analyses confirm the RBS has adequate divergent validity. The results of
clinical outcomes analyses indicate that the RBS may have higher specificity and lower sensitivity at a
range of cutoffs than previously reported. This is the first RBS validation study to use a rigorously
controlled simulation design. The findings suggest that if used in conjunction with other highly sensitive,
standardised measures of malingering, the RBS may prove useful for clinicians.
Clock drawing in a healthy Chinese Australian community sample
WALLACE, KL., & SHORES, EA. (Macquarie University)
[email protected]
The Clock Drawing Test (CDT) has demonstrated clinical utility in detecting cognitive impairment,
particularly in the elderly suspected of having dementia. Sensitivity of the CDT has been shown to be as
high as, if not higher than, common dementia screening tools (e.g., MMSE; Brodaty & Moore, 1997). To
date, appropriate norms for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) populations have been lacking.
The current study presents findings from one of the largest and fastest growing CALD communities in
Australia for the CDT using the Shulman (2000) method. This was undertaken as a component of the
Chinese Australian Neuropsychological Normative Study (CANNS). The sample comprised n=150
overseas born ethnic Chinese with Australian permanent residency status. Mean age was 71.48 years
(SD=7.4; range 55-87) and gender ratio was 57 males: 93 females. Preliminary analysis reveals
significant correlations between CDT performance and age, education, gender, occupational attainment
and other tests of cognitive functioning (e.g., WAIS-III Matrix Reasoning & Digit Symbol Coding). The
current study fills an important gap in the availability of culturally appropriate normative data in an
increasingly culturally heterogeneous population.
Combined Abstracts of 2010 Australian Psychology Conferences
The role of sleep quality in cognition: An overview
WATERS, F. (University of Western Australia)
[email protected]
The importance of sleep has long been recognised but its role in cognition has only been intensively
studied in the last 20 years or so. Recent advances in the fields of neuropsychology and neuroscience
show that sleep is critical for cognitive performance. In this presentation, I present evidence that sleep
loss has severe and negative consequences on cognition and functioning, and I also review evidence
regarding the benefits of adequate sleep particularly for learning and aspects of executive functioning. I
conclude by saying that sleep has considerable explanatory power for explaining cognitive performance.
This raises a number of issues for neuropsychologists, namely whether sleep assessment should be
incorporated into every neuropsychological test battery, and whether sleep quality is a variable that should
be considered in cognitive rehabilitation.
Demographic, injury-related and cultural predictors of cognitive response bias
WEBB, JW., BATCHELOR, J., MEARES, S., TAYLOR, A., SHORES, EA. (Macquarie University), &
MARSH, NV. (James Cook University)
[email protected]
The objective of this study was to investigate predictors of cognitive response bias. An archival cohort of
595 consecutively referred traumatically brain injured (TBI) adults were studied. Logistic regression
models were used to examine whether injury-related, demographic and cultural factors predicted cognitive
response bias. Cognitive response bias was significantly associated with clinical depression (OR = 6.86,
95% CI [3.96, 11.91]), overt abnormal illness behaviour (OR: 7.38, 95% CI [3.05,17.86]), being foreignborn (OR: 4.45, 95% CI [2.44, 8.09]), having sustained a workplace accident (OR: 4.74, 95% CI [2.55,
8.81]) and lower socioeconomic status (OR: .97, 95% CI [.95, .99]. Those with mild TBI were more likely to
display cognitive response bias while those with severe TBI (OR: .32, 95% CI [.12, .81] and very severe
TBI (OR: .30, 95% CI [.114, .77]) were significantly less likely to demonstrate cognitive response bias. In
conclusion, cognitive response bias was associated with a broader range of predictors than has previously
been identified. It is proposed that cognitive response bias may be a form of abnormal illness behaviour
that is under internal and external contingencies of reinforcement. Malingering may be present in a
subset of the group displaying illness behaviour.
Higher order cognition in children after mild traumatic brain injury: Changes over one year
YACOUB, JM., TUCKER, A. (Victoria University), & SMITS, D., (Northern Hospital)
[email protected]
This study investigated higher order cognitive abilities following mild TBI (m-TBI) in 6-12 year-old children
at one week, three months and 12 months post-injury. Children with clinically significant pre-existing
problems were excluded. Nineteen children (mean age 9.8 years, SD 2.2 years) with m-TBI were
assessed on measures of working memory, executive functioning (EF) and a newly developed test of
prospective memory. One week post-injury, compared to norms, the m-TBI group‟s scores on measures
of overall cognition (FSIQ) and EF (Controlled Animal Fluency Test; CAFT) were significantly lower.
Although the m-TBI group‟s mean score on the CAFT was within the average range, almost half of the
participants (47.3%) were more than one standard deviation below the mean. The m-TBI group
demonstrated significant improvement from one week to three months post-injury on a simple test of EF
(Trails A), but not on a more complex EF task (Trails B). This suggests that cognitive abilities in the
process of rapid development may be more vulnerable to the effects of m-TBI. A subgroup of participants
continued to display cognitive deficits in executive tasks at three months post-injury. Future studies need
to follow such children longitudinally to determine whether these deficits resolve over time.
Benefits and challenges of conducting clinical research in an acquired brain injury setting
YEE, Y., APPLETON, S., BROWNE, A. (Royal Perth Hospital)*, CICCONE, N., (Edith Cowan University),
[email protected]
Individuals who have suffered an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) often fail to achieve optimal rehabilitation
outcomes post discharge due to poor pragmatic and social skills. Additionally, these individuals are at
increased risk of experiencing poor psychological outcomes. Recent research suggests a relationship
between high level communication impairments, associated cognitive impairments in attention and
The Abstracts of the 16th Annual Conference of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists
executive function, and psychological distress. Evidence supports the implementation of early intervention
programmes for communication and psychological impairment following ABI. This pilot study aims to
evaluate the effectiveness of an early multidisciplinary ABI social communication and coping skills group
intervention. To date, seven eligible inpatients at the ABI/Neurological Rehabilitation Units at Royal Perth
Hospital, have participated in a four-week group programme (3 x 1 hour sessions per week) facilitated by
a Speech Pathologist and Clinical Psychologist. Patients are assessed pre-/post-intervention and at three
months, on communication, psychological functioning and quality of life. This presentation will discuss the
process of integrating the clinical aims and processes of the two professions. A summary of the results to
date will be described including a clinical case study. The benefits and challenges of conducting this type
of ABI research will be discussed together with implications for further research and service development.
Decision making capacity: The multiple roles of neuropsychologists
ZOMBOR, R. (Royal Perth Hospital), MULLALY, E. (Caulfield Hospital), & MORRISS, E. (Acquired Brain
Injury Outreach Service)
[email protected]
The role of the Neuropsychologist in relation to decision making capacity (DMC) extends well beyond
assessment and report writing. We frequently find ourselves taking on the role of an expert in relation to
the relevant legislation; needing to educate colleagues and referrers; being required to inform patients for
the first time that their DMC is in question; and providing feedback. The workshop will draw on deidentified case examples to discuss and explore the following roles: 1) Expert: our role in helping others
understand the legislation and principles and the difference between providing an opinion and a
determination; 2) Educator: to patients, referrers and multidisciplinary teams, guardianship and
administration agencies; 3) Gaining informed consent: explaining why the assessment is being
undertaken; 4) Feedback: giving feedback to patients, families and referrers. The final part of the
workshop will be presented by Ms Elissa Morriss, both a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Tribunal Member
of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This section will focus on the application of the
legislation in regard to determination and assessment of capacity, and the role of neuropsychological
assessment. Discussion of clinical issues from workshop participants will be encouraged and you may
wish to bring some cases to discuss, especially those involving complex ethical issues. Relevant
references will be provided, though participants are expected to be familiar with their own State‟s
applicable legislation. The overall aim of the workshop is to develop and enhance skills in each of the
identified roles.
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF