Center for Cognitive Science

Wintersemester 2018/2019

October 26, 2018

Semester Welcome Meeting 


November 09, 2018

Speaker: Abdullah Jelelati (TU Kaiserslautern - Cognitive Science)

Topic: Introduction to E-Prime I

Abstract: E-Prime is a comprehensive software available for behavioral research, by which one can build ‎their own experiments as well as collecting and analyzing data. It provides an easy-to-use ‎environment for computerized experiment design with millisecond precision timing to ensure data ‎accuracy. ‎

This two-session course addresses those who have no or little experience about E-Prime. In ‎session one, you will learn about the theoretical background on how to program an experiment ‎and then try it out in a second practice session.‎
We will be using an evaluation copy of E-Prime version 2.0. Get your copy from the link:
Major parts of the course will be practical, so it is vital that all your laptops have a working copy of ‎the program before the first session starts. Therefore, I will be available 30 min earlier (around ‎‎9:30 am) to fix any problems you may have during installation/setup.


November 16, 2018

Speaker: Abdullah Jelelati (TU Kaiserslautern - Cognitive Science)

Topic: Introduction to E-Prime II

Abstract: E-Prime is a comprehensive software available for behavioral research, by which one can build ‎their own experiments as well as collecting and analyzing data. It provides an easy-to-use ‎environment for computerized experiment design with millisecond precision timing to ensure data ‎accuracy. ‎

This two-session course addresses those who have no or little experience about E-Prime. In ‎session one, you will learn about the theoretical background on how to program an experiment ‎and then try it out in a second practice session.‎
We will be using an evaluation copy of E-Prime version 2.0. Get your copy from the link:
Major parts of the course will be practical, so it is vital that all your laptops have a working copy of ‎the program before the first session starts. Therefore, I will be available 30 min earlier (around ‎‎9:30 am) to fix any problems you may have during installation/setup.


November 23, 2018

Speaker: Anna Scheibel (TU Kaiserslautern - Cognitive Science)

Topic: Children’s perception of Emotions in Spoken Language: Selection and validation of emotional German sentences

Abstract: The goal of the study was to select and validate a set of German sentences in order to investigate emotional speech perception with children. Sixty-four German native speakers (aged 18 to 35 years old) rated the emotional semantic contented of the sentences in a 6-point-scale regarding four emotions happy, anger, fear and sadness. The sentences were all balanced according to the number of syllables, word frequency, and phonological neighborhood density. The results will be presented and discussed.


November 30, 2018

Speaker: Omar Jubran (TU Kaiserslautern - Cognitive Science)

Topic: Tracking semantic priming in real time

Abstract: In this study, we explored semantic priming effects in real-time by using three response priming tasks involving natural image categorization. Tasks 1 and 3 were intended to be semantic tasks, where subjects determined differences between either Animal vs. Object pictures, or Domestic vs. Wild animal pictures, while task 2 was Rectangle vs. Circle categorization, where subjects rely mainly on the shapes of the objects. Movement trajectories were recorded for the duration of each trial and were used to observe the influence of primes and SOA on hand movements. We predicted faster reaction times and more accurate responses for trials where primes and targets appeared in the same location (consistent trials) in all tasks, and more errors and slower reaction times otherwise. We also predict that the initial onset of the movement would be only related to the prime, making priming a feedforward process. Even though results from the Animal vs. Object and the Rectangle vs. Circle categorization showed that participant’s movements were indeed influenced by the primes, by either facilitating the responses in the consistent trials, or by inhibiting responses or causing detours in the direction of the prime in inconsistent trials, response times were generally slower in the Domestic vs. Wild task and there was no influence of primes on movement trajectories; however ANOVA did show a significant effect for consistency in this task. This suggests that lower level features could be playing more of a role in priming tasks rather than the semantic content of the pictures. Results from this study also lead us to believe that response priming effects follow a feedforward process, where participants respond to stimuli sequentially, first by moving towards the primes, and later by moving towards the target.


December 07, 2018

Speaker: Dr. Francisca S. Rodriguez (Cognitive and Developmental Psychology - TU Kaiserslautern)

Topic: Observational Studies in Cognitive Aging

Abstract: Some topics in cognitive science cannot be studies using experiments, aging, for instance. We cannot randomize people in  age groups or create an "age" condition in our experiments. Therefore scientists use a different method, observational studies. This presentation will introduce you to the concept of observational studies and the challenges that come with it. We will talk about how observational studies are used to study cognitive changes that come with aging.


December 14, 2018

Speaker: Dr. Leigh Fernandez (Psycholinguistics and language development – TU Kaiserslautern) 

Topic: Parafoveal processing in L2 speakers

Abstract: When the eye fixates on a word during reading, it is primarily ascertaining information about the word itself in the fovea - the center of the retina which has the highest visual acuity, approximately 2 degrees of visual angle from the fixation.  Importantly for our study, however, it is also ascertaining information about words in the parafovea - the area outside the fovea extending to approximately 5 degrees of visual angle (e.g., Schotter, Angele & Rayner, 2012).  The parafoveal area is important as it allows readers to preprocess upcoming information that is not being directly fixated upon, and allows readers to plan upcoming eye movements.  Reading research has shown that readers parafoveally preprocess orthographic, phonological, morphological, and (debatably) semantic information (Schotter et al., 2012).  L2 research investigating parafoveal processing is extremely limited and has primarily focused on sematic preprocessing by L2 speakers (Altarriba, Kroll, Scholl, & Rayner, 1996).  In the current studies we investigate whether native and L2 speakers of English (German L1) are preprocessing sub-lexical orthographic, orthographic, lexical, and/or semantic information in in either English or German.  In our first study we found no evidence for L2 preprocessing of lexical information, and in our second study we found some sensitivity to sub-lexical orthographic information by L1ers (L2 speakers are currently being recruited).

Altarriba, J., Kroll, J. F., Sholl, A., & Rayner, K. (1996). The influence of lexical and conceptual constraints on reading mixed-language sentences: evidence from eye fixations and naming times. Memory & Cognition, 24, 477-492.

Schotter, E. R., Angele, B., & Rayner, K. (2012). Parafoveal processing in reading. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 74, 5–35.


January 25, 2019

Speaker: John Gamboa (Graduate School member - Supervisors: Shanley Allen & Maria Klatte)

Topic: Exploring the Processing of Complex Nominal Compounds

Abstract: The process of compounding together two or more nouns (e.g., physics convention) is frequently used to refer to novel, specialized concepts. The resulting string of nouns is referred to as a nominal compound. Such structures are composed of a head noun (usually the last word; convention in the example above) and one or more modifiers that restrict or expand its meaning. There has been, in the last century, an accentuated increase in the use of this structure, especially in news and academic text. This increase is surprising since existing studies have identified a number of reasons why these compounds are expected to be hard to process, both by native and non-native speakers. However, complex nominal compounds, composed of two or more modifiers, are still not well understood and are the focus of my research. In this talk, I present the existing research on the aforementioned difficulties and how they relate to my current work. In particular, I am currently interested in how a compound's length and the speaker's first language and working memory abilities modulate these perceived difficulties. I will present some preliminary data, and conclude with a discussion of the potential directions in which this research could develop.


February 01, 2019

Speaker: Ann-Kathrin Beck (Graduate School member - Supervisors: Thomas Lachmann & Daniela Czernochowski)

Topic: Presentation of her research stay at the Faculty of Psychology, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Abstract: During my research stay at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Lisbon I investigated a possible malfunctioning feedback loop during ultra-rapid item categorization in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.   Already in 1996, Thorpe showed that healthy individuals are able to categorize items even if the presentations were ultra-rapid (20ms). Furthermore, the enhanced perceptual hypothesis (Plaisted, 2000) assumes that this categorization processes may be impaired in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This difficulty seems to be caused by abnormal categorization of atypical items, whereas semantic processing and the categorization process itself appear unimpaired. In accordance with the coarse-to-fine hypothesis, a typical member of a category can be recognized on a basic level, whereas an atypical item has to be processed on a subordinate level (Martinovic et al., 2008). Carmo et al. (2015) studied the process of categorization with very short presentation times (13 ms) and showed a different pattern of behavioural results for atypical items in longer presentations in individuals with ASD compared to healthy individuals, suggesting a malfunctioning feedback loop. To investigate this in more detail, in the current study we compared reaction times and ERPs of two different categories (food/animals) with short (33 ms) and long (83 ms) presentation rates. Participants were asked to discriminate whether each item belongs to a specific category.   I will invite you to “meet” the University of Lisbon and the EEG lab of the department of psychology. I will give you a brief introduction into autism spectrum disorders, what it means for affected individuals and an interesting network theory of the brain. Last but not least, you will see some preliminary results of my research stay.  


February 08, 2019

Speaker: René Reinhard (Graduate School member - Supervisors: Thomas Lachmann & Klaus Dressler)

Topic: Demonstration of the RObot based Driving and Operation Simulator (RODOS®) - Fraunhofer ITWM







Wintersemester 2017-2018

November 03, 2017

Semester Welcome Meeting 


November 17, 2017

Speaker: Omar Fahmi Jubran (TU Kaiserslautern - Cognitive Science)

Topic: Method course - Introduction to MATLAB - Session 1

Abstract: MATLAB is a powerful tool in the field of cognitive science; it enables users to do a variety of tasks that range from designing and analyzing experiments to visualizations and simulations. In this first session of the tutorial, the emphasis will be placed on understanding the interface of the software and the basic uses. This will focus on practical knowledge including some examples on how to use MATLAB.

As most of the session will be practical, it is essential that participants have MATLAB installed on their computers when attending the session. It is also possible to work in groups of 2 as well. MATLAB license is available from the University of Kaiserslautern (See


November 24, 2017

Speaker: Omar Fahmi Jubran (TU Kaiserslautern - Cognitive Science)

Topic: Method course - Introduction to MATLAB - Session 2

Abstract: This session will continue to build upon knowledge in MATLAB; by introducing more functions and more examples to demonstrate the power of MATLAB. At the end of this session, participants are expected to have some basic knowledge on how to program a simple experiment using MATLAB. 

Again as most of the session will be practical, it is essential that participants have MATLAB installed on their computers when attending the session. It is also possible to work in groups of 2 as well. MATLAB license is available from the University of Kaiserslautern (See


December 01, 2017

Speaker: René Reinhard (Graduate School member - Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann & Klaus Dressler)

Topic: Demonstration of the RObot based Driving and Operation Simulator (RODOS®) - Fraunhofer ITWM

Abstract: The RODOS is an interactive driving simulator used to study the behaviors and experiences of road users under controlled and safe conditions. In the simulator, you will be able to control a simulated car within a virtual environment. To put you in the virtual scene, the RODOS uses 18 projectors to display the environment around you on a 10 meter in diameter dome. Inside the dome, you will sit inside a real word car cabin which is moved by an industrial robot to simulate the movements experienced during an equivalent real world drive. Additionally, data from the Road & Environmental Data Acquisition Rover (REDAR®) project will be presented. In this project, a measurement vehicle equipped with laser scanner technology is used to acquire a detailed digitalized likeness of real world environments in the form of point clouds. 


December 08, 2017

Speaker: Ann-Kathrin Beck (Graduate School member - Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann & Daniela Czernochowski)

Topic: Same Stimulus – Different Reaction: The Mismatch Negativity investigated with Garner’s patterns

Abstract: Garner and Clement (1963) constructed dot patterns that have identical sensory energies and physical entities. This is ensured by using five dots distributed in an imaginary 3x3 matrix. Each row and each column had to enclose at least one dot. However participants perceived perceptual differences within these dot patterns (Bert, Geissler, Lachmann, and Mecklinger, 2000). The visual Mismatch Negativity (vMMN) is an event related potential (ERP) component that can be elicited by an infrequent deviant, which occurs in a sequence of frequent standards (Kimura et al., 2011). Kimura et al. (2011) coined the underlying process “unintentional temporal-context-based prediction in vision”. The “unintentional temporal-context-based prediction” is considered to be essential in decreasing the demand for processes, to highlight differences between predicted and current stimuli, and to add prediction errors for revision of this prediction model. In this study we used the dot patterns by Garner and Clement to investigate whether the vMMN is elicited by sensory or perceptual modifications. We recorded EEG on 21 participants (average 25.9 years old). Stimuli were presented in a 3-stimulus oddball-paradigm and were shown for 200ms with a break of 300ms. Participants were instructed to count a target pattern, to shift their focus away from the deviant. We compared the same dot pattern across different conditions. First, we found a vMMN between the same dot patterns. Additionally, we investigated the vMMN between with and without attention. In this scenario no difference can be discovered. These results suggest that the vMMN can be elicited even though the deviant has the same sensory input. Thus the underlying system of the vMMN solemnly relies on the perceptual input of the stimuli. Additionally we found out that the underlying system of the vMMN is active either with or without attention. Which contributes to earlier findings of the “unintentional” component of the underlying process. Thus the underlying system of the vMMN can differentiates between perceptual modifications of stimuli, even though their sensory information is the same.


December 15, 2017

Speaker: Maximilian Wolkersdorfer (Graduate School member - Supervisor: Thomas Schmidt & Daniela Czernochowski)

Topic: Method course - Introduction to Statistics


January 12, 2018

Speaker: Dr. Sven Panis (Experimental Psychology - TU Kaiserslautern)

Topic: Method course - Introduction to Bayesian Statistics

Abstract: In this method seminar on Bayesian inference I will discuss 10 benefits of Bayesian inference compared to classic p-value null hypothesis testing, and illustrate a few Bayesian analyses in JASP (


January 19, 2018

Speaker: René Reinhard (Graduate School member - Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann & Klaus Dressler)

Topic: Method course - Introduction to R - I

Abstract: This two-session introductory course focuses on R, a free programming language and environment capable of sophisticated statistical analyses and graphical visualization of results. The presentation seeks to give a general introduction into R, and an overview of the implementations of standard statistical methods commonly used in cognitive science research.
It is advised to install the free and open source R ( and RStudio ( to optimally follow the course work.

During the first meeting, a general introduction is given, focusing on the usage of the console and script files to interface with R. Topics include interface navigation, project management, assignment and calling of variables, and function usage.


January 26, 2018

Speaker: René Reinhard (Graduate School member - Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann & Klaus Dressler)

Topic: Method course - Introduction to R - II

Abstract: This two-session introductory course focuses on R, a free programming language and environment capable of sophisticated statistical analyses and graphical visualization of results. The presentation seeks to give a general introduction into R, and an overview of the implementations of standard statistical methods commonly used in cognitive science research.
It is advised to install the free and open source R and RStudio to optimally follow the course work.  

Session 2 (26.01.2018): The second session focuses on the graphical visualization of data and on the implementation of standard statistical tests in R.


February 02, 2018

This week´s meeting is cancelled.


February 09, 2018

Speaker: Laura Marzen (Graduate School member - Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann & Maria Klatte)

Topic: Effectiveness of the computer-based training program Lautarium: A randomized control study

Abstract: With the entry into the primary school begins the mediation process of reading and writing, which is one of the main tasks of the primary school. These skills are part of the basic prerequisites in our society to be able to take part in further education courses. It isn’t easy for all children to learn these skills. Despite the average level of intelligence and participation in school teaching, the acquisition of reading and writing has created considerable difficulties for these children. This resulting in setbacks and failures that can lead to psychological problems in these children (Klatte et al., 2017).

The phonological processing plays a special role in the literacy of children. This is why this area needs to be promoted in reading-poor children in order to achieve improvements in the literary segment (Klatte et al., 2009). This is where the training program Lautarium provides further instruction. This computer-based training program for primary school children with reading and spelling difficulties assists the parents, teachers and therapists in the aptitude advancement of affected children. This session provides an insight into the methodological background of the randomized control designed study.


February 16, 2018

Speaker: Larissa Leist (Supervisor: Jun. Prof. Dr. Daniela Czernochowski)

Topic: Modulation of performance over time in the Eriksen Flanker task – evidence from ERP and behavioral data

Abstract: The ability to monitor our actions and re-adjust our cognitive system when necessary enables us to continually improve our performance. Although time is a central aspect in optimizing performance, so far little is known about the time course of cognitive adjustments as participants continue to perform a task repeatedly. The temporal resolution of event-related potentials (ERPs) allows to disentangle cognitive processes during response preparation and following response execution. One ERP correlate in particular, the ERN, has been of interest lately as an index of response conflict detection immediately after an incorrect response.

Here, we investigated the extent to which performance and the underlying neuronal activity are modulated over time. Participants performed a modified version of the Eriksen Flanker task in two sessions separated by one week while EEG was recorded. On each of the 320 trials per session, a target arrow was presented in the middle of the screen flanked by a total of eight arrows. In 50 % of all trials, target and flanking arrows pointed in either the same or opposite direction (congruent vs. incongruent condition).

Behavioral performance was largely stable over time, and no differences between sessions were apparent in ERN amplitudes indicating no adjustment in cognitive control over the time course.


Sommersemester 2017

April 28, 2017

Semester Welcome Meeting 



May 12, 2017

Topic: Privacy protection in experimental studies

Speaker: Joachim Stemler (TU Kaiserslautern - Privacy protection officer, invited by Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: For the matter of understanding the data protection topic, principles of data protection regulation will be explained and special instructions for scientific research will be discussed. The participants have the opportunity to discuss their questions regarding data protection.



May 18, 2017 (exceptionally at 9am)

Topic: How to quantify ERPs? Some insights exemplified using the Feedback-Related Negativity

Speaker: Bertram Opitz (Surrey University - UK, invited by Petra Ludowicy)

Abstract:The statistical analysis of event-related potentials (ERP) requires some quantification of these ERP waveforms. There are several ways of such quantification described in the literature. In this workshop I shall introduce three quantification approaches commonly used to assess the FRN. I will focus on the basic assumptions made by each of these approaches, their practical implementation, and their advantages and drawbacks regarding the interpretation of the results.



June 02, 2017

Topic: Demonstration of the RObot based Driving and Operation Simulator (RODOS®) - Fraunhofer ITWM

Speaker: René Reinhard  (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann & Klaus Dressler)

Abstract: The RODOS is an interactive driving simulator used to study the behaviors and experiences of road users under controlled and safe conditions. In the simulator, you will be able to control a simulated car within a virtual environment. To put you in the virtual scene, the RODOS uses 18 projectors to display the environment around you on a 10 meter in diameter dome. Inside the dome, you will sit inside a real word car cabin which is moved by an industrial robot to simulate the movements experienced during an equivalent real world drive. Additionally, data from the Road & Environmental Data Acquisition Rover (REDAR®) project will be presented. In this project, a measurement vehicle equipped with laser scanner technology is used to acquire a detailed digitalized likeness of real world environments in the form of point clouds. 


June 09, 2017

Topic: Processing of emotional information under limited presentation conditions

Speaker: Michaela Rohr (Saarland Universtiy, invited by Patricia Wesseling)

Abstract: In the last decades, converging empirical evidence showed that visual information presented under limited (i.e., short and masked) presentation conditions can be processed, even up to a semantic level. With regard to emotional information, however, several processing aspects are still debated. First, while this information can be processed automatically (i.e., fast, efficient, non-conscious), early research in this field focused on the processing of valence, that is, positive or negative information. This research was guided by the assumption that early, masked processing might be limited to this basic affective dimension related to survival-relevant adaptive responses (i.e., fight and flight), while more detailed processing was assumed to require more time and processing resources. However, this assumption can be questioned. Specifically, processing of emotional information might be governed by the same cognitive, semantic processes as other information. Accordingly, processing of the semantic emotion category should already be possible under masked presentation conditions. Second, it is also debated whether specific affect-related processes are involved in the processing. If this is the case, it can be argued that specific emotion aspects should also be processed early, if they are survival-relevant (e.g. relevance, threat). In the present talk, I will present recent research from our working group regarding these issues. In several studies, we found evidence for relatively specific processing of emotional information under limited (i.e., short, marginally perceptible) presentation conditions. Depending on the exact task parameters employed, specific emotion aspects beyond valence (i.e., arousal, relevance) were differentiated, but not the specific emotion category. These results suggest that several parameters, such as attention or task set, and/or processes (i.e., affect-related and semantic ones) contribute to the effects. I will outline the impact of this evidence for the modeling of early (visual) emotional information processing, and the interaction of affect-related and cognitive, semantic processes.



June 23, 2017

Topic: Integrated Technical Cognition Systems – An Engineering Perspective on Methods, Design, and Applications

Speaker: Andreas König (TU Kaiserslautern - Institute of Integrated Sensor Systems)

Abstract: Mimicking and even surpassing the information processing capability of natural beings has been the ambition of generations of engineers. Remarkable achievements from pattern recognition to artificial intelligence systems, employing cues of nature, as, e.g., hierarchical information processing, learning, and adaptation principles, can be noted in the wake of the technological evolution, which seems to culminate in the current 'hype' of deep-learning neural networks and their hardware implementation  by massively parallel digital processor arrays, e.g., graphics adapters or dedicated chips as IBM's TrueNorth chip & system. These and other powerful computer implementations base on the growth predicted by Moore's law and gave the leverage to realize capable embedded intelligence systems. The ongoing merging of MEMS and micro/nanoelectronics will allow the realization of deeply-embedded/integrated intelligent systems of unprecendented capabilities. However, the main stream of activities in this field seems to have neglected the fact, that Moore's law and related main stream technologies face severe limitations, including degrading device reliability, which render the achieving of dependable and reliable integrated application systems more and more difficult. This encourages the revisiting of natural principles from general Self-X concepts to findings in the lower levels of the information processing, i.e., neural information coding and adaptive spiking neuron models and robust structures for information processing, as commonly also pursued in the context of brain research. In this talk, one particular exemplary approach of our corresponding engineering activities will be presented, that  jointly employs bio-inspiration and neuromorphic approaches on the level of sensory signal acquisition, conditioning, and to-digital-conversion by spiking neuron ensembles and their integrated, semi-automatically designed, electronic implementation, which provides a first stepping stone in our  research towards the realization of future robust integrated technical cognition systems.



June 30, 2017

Topic: Der Zusammenhang zwischen Fluglärmexposition und Lesen: Mediator und Moderatoreffekte

Speaker: Jan Spilski (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann and Maria Klatte)



Wintersemester 2016/2017


October 28, 2016


Speaker: (external guest, invited by)



November 4, 2016


Speaker: (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: )




November 11, 2016

Topic: Neural Underpinnings of Iconic Memory: New evidence supports the idea that neural mechanisms in early visual areas underlie iconic memory

Speaker: Maximilian Wolkersdorfer (Graduate School Member, Supervisors: Thomas Schmidt & Daniela Czernochowski)

Abstract: Visual short-term memory (VSTM) can be subdivided into working memory (WM), fragile memory (FM), and iconic memory (IM). While WM has a limited capacity of three to four items over a prolonged period of time, FM has a higher capacity of up to 15 items for only about four seconds, and IM a high capacity of up to 30 items at the expense of a reduced lifetime (<1 s). The aim of this study was to settle the debate on whether the observed high capacity of IM is actually created by the visual cortex, or if IM is merely an artifact of retinal afterimages, as previous studies suggested. Two variations of a change detection task with partial-report technique were ad-ministered. In a first paradigm 3D stimuli were used, which could only be perceived after binocular fusion in the early visual cortex, thus ruling out the contribution of retinal processes to memory capacities. Nonetheless, we still found the typical high IM capacity (7.0 items), lower FM capacity (6.2 items), and low WM capacity (3.5 items), suggesting that IM is created by neural processing in the visual cortex. In a second paradigm binocular masking was used, in which interfering displays were either presented to the same or the other eye than memory and test display. We found that interfering displays could only overwrite IM when they contained masks that were presented at a location congruent to the later probed location. Further, such interfering displays caused overwriting of IM even when they were presented to the other eye than the one that had seen the memory set. This is additional evidence that IM is created by the visual cortex, as it too suggests that IM makes use of binocular fused stimulus representations. Thus, the two experiments provided converging evidence and we conclude that IM is created in the visual cortex.


November 18, 2016

Topic: What makes a letter a letter?

Speaker: Andreas Schmitt (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: Lesen und Schreiben sind zwei unverzichtbare Bestandteile zur Teilhabe an unserem gesellschaftlichen Leben. Leider ist die Fähigkeit zu Lesen nicht angeboren sondern ein Prozess jahrelangen Trainings. Das Funktionale-Koordinations-Modell nimmt an, das während des Lese-Erwerbs eine Modifikation und Koordination verschiedener Domänen erforderlich ist, um eine so komplexe Leistung wie Lesen zu ermöglichen. Im Laufe der Zeit verlaufen die am Lesen beteiligten Mechanismen zunehmend automatisch. Dabei wird angenommen, dass sich spezielle Lesestrategien herausbilden, die sich von den gewöhnlichen Objekt-Verarbeitungsstrategien unterscheiden. In meiner Arbeit bin ich diesen verschiedenen Strategien nachgegangen um zum Einen Belege für die unterschiedlichen Strategien zu finden, und zum Anderen die Rolle der Automatisierung im Funktionalen-Koordinations-Modell hervorzuheben.  In meinem Vortrag gehe ich dabei genauer auf die Ergebnisse meiner letzten Studie ein. Ziel dieser Studie war es die Ergebnisse zur Buchstabenverarbeitung aus den vorhergehenden Studien auf das Lesen ganzer Wörter zu übertragen. Dazu wurden den Teilnehmern der Studien verschiedene Buchstabenketten präsentiert, und sie mussten entscheiden, ob ein vorgegebener Buchstabe darin enthalten war oder nicht. Diese Buchstabenketten setzten sich dabei zufällig aus fünf Buchstaben des lateinischen, hebräischen und kyrillischen Alphabets zusammen. Die Resultate zeigten, dass die unbekannten hebräischen und kyrillischen Buchstaben am schnellsten in der mittleren Position der Buchstabenkette entdeckt wurden und die Reaktionszeiten symmetrisch zu den Rändern hin anstiegen. Die bekannten lateinischen Buchstaben folgenden dagegen einem linearen Trend mit ansteigender Reaktionszeit von links nach rechts. Diese Ergebnisse legen nahe, dass sich die Strategien zur Verarbeitung von Buchstaben und Nicht-Buchstaben auch bei der Verarbeitung wortähnlicher Buchstabenketten wiederfinden; eine analytische lineare Strategie für Buchstaben und eine mehr holistische Strategie für unbekannte Zeichen.



November 25, 2016

Topic: Event history analysis - part 1: theory and examples

Speaker: Sven Panis  (TU Kaiserslautern - Experimental Psychology)

Abstract: During the last decades it has become clear that cognitive processes do not unfold as assumed by the discrete stages model. Instead, they unfold concurrently, interactively, and decisions consume time. Nevertheless, cognitive scientists still treat behavioral latency data using the techniques compatible with the discrete stages model: the analysis of (trimmed) mean correct RT using ANOVA (and the analysis of mean error rate using ANOVA). In this first session I present different experimental data sets that illustrate why cognitive scientists should abandon the analysis of means and switch to the statistical technique for analysing time-to-event data that is standard in many scientific disciplines: event history analysis; also known as survival analysis, hazard analysis, duration analysis, failure-time analysis, and transition analysis. Discrete time event history analysis is a distributional method that takes the passage of time explicitly into account, and allows one to study the within-trial (and across-trial) time course of the effect of an experimental manipulation on the hazard (or conditional probability) distribution of response occurrence in detection paradigms, and also on the conditional accuracy distribution of emitted responses in choice paradigms. Event history analysis can reveal what the mean conceals, and can deal with time-varying predictors and right-censored observations.



December 2, 2016

Topic: Event history analysis - part 2: analyses in R

Speaker: Sven Panis (TU Kaiserslautern - Experimental Psychology)

Abstract: In the second session I will discuss R code to estimate the sample-based hazard, survivor, subprobability, and conditional accuracy distributions, and to fit discrete time hazard models and conditional accuracy models to the data using generalized logistic mixed regression modeling.



December 9, 2016

Topic: Discussion of design options for a longitudinal study aiming to test the effectiveness of a stress management app

Speaker: Alexandra Hoffmann (Graduate School Member, Supervisors: Thomas Lachmann and Didier Stricker)

Abstract: I am planning a long-term study to evaluate the effectiveness of a stress management app that we are currently developing. I will present a quick outline of the important background information and different options for the study design. Afterwards, I would like to discuss these options with you and hear your opinion on different aspects of the designs. I am looking forward to hear your opinions and ideas.




December 16, 2016

Topic: Data protection in experimental studies

Speaker: Joachim Stemler (TU Kaiserslautern - Data Protection Officer - invited by Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: For the matter of understanding the data protection topic, principles of data protection regulation will be explained and special instructions for scientific research will be discussed. The participants have the opportunity to discuss their questions regarding data protection.



January 13, 2017

Topic: Pupillometry: methodological approaches

Speaker: Leigh Fernandez (TU Kaiserslautern - Psycholinguistics and language development)

Abstract: Thinking is biological work, and as such consumes resources; the load that performing a task imposes on an individual is known as cognitive load (Paas & Merriënboer, 1994).  Physiological methods are appropriate non-neural proxies of cognitive load given that behavioral measures are not sensitive enough (given that they do not map onto brain activity), and neurological methods are invasive (Just, Carpenter, & Miyake, 2003). One such method is pupillometry, which, as the name suggests, involves measuring the small opening in the center of the eye (the pupil). The diameter of the pupil is inherently variable and ranges from approximately one to eight millimeters. Smaller changes in the pupil (typically less than .05mm) are believed to reflect cognitive processing and mental activity (Andreassi, 2007) and are the basis of cognitive pupillometry (the study of pupil change as a measure of cognitive processing; Beatty & Lucero-Wagoner, 2000).  While pupillometry is gaining popularity across many fields, there is a lack of standardization when it comes to the preparation and analysis of pupillary data (Lemercier et al., 2014).  In this talk I will be discussing ways to approach pupillary data in terms of pre-processing (blink replacement, baseline, smoothing) and processing (extraction times and statistical tests), particularly in the context of linguistic research.



January 20, 2017

Topic: Syntactic priming in a biased language:  Investigating abstract representations in German-speaking children and adults

Speaker: Alina Kholodova (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Shanley Allen)

Abstract: Research on syntactic priming (i.e. unconscious reproduction of a syntactic structure similar to the one just heard) [1] has deepened our understanding of structural mental representations in humans. Depending on age and experimental conditions, priming studies show symmetries as well as assymetries in representational networks and processing strategies in children compared to adults. Up to date, priming paradigms on the dative alternation (DA) have mainly been conducted in languages like English where both the double object (The girl gives the boy the present - (DO)) and the prepositional object (The girl gives the present to the boy - PO)) structures are relatively equally frequent.  However, little research has been carried out in one structure biased languages like German where the DO structure is strongly preferred (frequency = 80-90%). Consequently, we raised the question:  Can syntactic priming boost the dispreferred PO production in German?

In a video-clip description task, we primed monolingual German-speaking children (age 3-6 years; n=33) and adults (n=37) with PO vs. DO structures (Micky gives the fish to Minnie/Minnie the fish) using either the same (SV) or different verb (DV) in prime and target in order to test whether priming increases when the verb overlaps in prime and target [2], following the methodology outlined in [3]. Additionally, we incorporated a baseline condition containing intransitive (neutral) primes.

The results showed a 16% increase in PO production after a PO prime than after an intransitive prime, in both children (p=0.01) and adults (p=0.03). This indicates that lexically independent abstract structural representations are present in children from early on, speaking in favour of early abstraction accounts of acquisition [4]. Crucially, structural biases do not prevent priming effects; rather, the high priming magnitude for rare structures hints at an implicit learning effect, especially for children. Concerning the same and different verb manipulations, adults showed a greater priming effect in the SV condition than in the DV condition (41%; p < .001), whereas children did not, in line with the literature [3,5]. This implies that children and adults are governed by different mental operations which can either be attributed to children's weak explicit memory traces or the absence of verb-structure linking in contrast to adults. These assumptions will be further discussed in the framework of two competing priming accounts - Implicit Learning [6,7] and Residual Activation [2,8].


 [1]  Bock J.K. (1986). Syntactic persistence in language production. Cognitive Psychology 18: 355–387.

[2]  Pickering M.J. & Branigan H.J. (1998). The representation of verbs: Evidence from syntactic priming in language production. Journal of Memory and Language 39: 633-651.

[3]  Rowland C.F., Chang F., Ambridge B., Pine J.M., & Lieven E.V.M. (2012). The development of abstract syntax: Evidence from structural priming and the lexical boost. Cognition 125: 49-63     

[4]  Pinker S. (1989). Learnability and cognition: The acquisition of argument structure. Cambridge,  MA: MIT Press.

[5]   Peter M., Chang F., Pine J.M., Blything R., & Rowland C.F. (2015). When and how do children develop knowledge of verb argument structure? Evidence from verb bias effects in a structural priming task. Journal of Memory and Language 81: 1-15

[6]  Bock J.K. & Griffin Z.M. (2000). The persistence of structural priming: Transient activation or implicit learning? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 129: 177–192.

[7]  Chang F., Dell G., & Bock J.K. (2006). Becoming syntactic. Psychological Review 113 (2): 34-272.

[8]  Cleland A.A. & Pickering M.J. (2003). The use of lexical and syntactic information in language production: Evidence from the priming of noun-phrase structure. Journal of Memory and Language 49:  214 –230.


January 27, 2017

Topic: Measure physiology anywhere and anytime with BIOPAC

Speaker: Alice Phung

Abstract: About BIOPAC Systems, Inc. BIOPAC systems allows researchers to measure physiology anywhere with innovative, compatible solutions that can be used by anyone for meaningful discovery. We make high-quality scientific tools for physiology measurement and interpretation with superior compatibility and world-class customer service and support.

BIOPAC provides:

Educational solutions that engage, excite, are easily customizable, and streamline the learning process.. Empowering cutting edge tools that inspire endless discovery in ambulatory, MRI, lab, real-world, and virtual environments. World-class support by collaborating with customers to exchange domain specific knowledge, perfect methodology, and achieve physiological understanding.

BIOPAC life science data acquisition and analysis platforms allow greater discoveries in the lab, in the MRI, and in real-world and virtual environments with wired, wearable wireless, and MRI-compatible physiology measurement and interpretation solutions. Cited in over 25,000 peer-reviewed journal articles & scholarly references and in use by over 97% of the world's top 100 universities, BIOPAC systems are trusted by the world's premier laboratories and leading researchers.

BIOPAC's world-class life science research platforms provide the most advanced acquisition and analysis of ECG, EEG, EGG, EMG, EOG and over 300 other signals and physiological measurements. The Biopac Student Lab System's integrated hardware, software, and curriculum compliment physiology, exercise physiology, psychology, pharmacology, biomedical engineering, nursing, and medical school undergraduate and post-graduate programs.



February 2nd and 3rd, 2017

Topic: Tobii Eyetracking Workshop

Speaker: Carsten Gondorf

Abstract: Below please find the agenda for the upcoming Eye tracking Workshop. Although there are no particular prerequisites for this workshop, don’t forget your curiosity at home.

Day 1 – Thursday 2nd February

10.15h (sharp) – 12.00h General introduction to Eye tracking (mandatory for all attendees)

• Human visual system and attention

• How do eye-trackers work (remote and mobile)?

• General issues when designing an eye tracking study

14.h (sharp) – 15.00h (obligatory):

• Time to discuss your ideas and proposals on applying Eye-tracking as a method in your research on an individual basis as well

Day 2 – Friday 3rd February

9.15h (sharp) – 12.00h Hands-on Session:

• Set-up, designing stimuli and recording eye-tracking data



February 11, 2017

Topic: Verbesserung und Unterstützung der Bio- Psycho- Sozialen Gesundheit der Studierenden der TU Kaiserslautern

Speaker: Max Sprenger (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: Die strukturellen Änderungen im Bildungssystem der Hochschulen, wie beispielsweise die Umstellung auf das Bachelor- und Mastersystem (Bologna - Prozess), verbunden mit einer zunehmenden Ökonomisierung und auf Effizienz orientierten Ausrichtung  des studentischen Alltags bilden aus Sicht  der TU Kaiserslautern Gefahrenpotentiale für die Gesundheit Ihrer Studierenden. Als erste Stufe soll zunächst eine wissenschaftliche Grunderhebung des Gesundheitsstatus der Studierenden durchgeführt werden. Nach der Grunderhebung sollen spezifische Auswertungen zu gesundheitsgefährdenden Faktoren durchgeführt werden, um ein differenziertes Bild dafür zu ermitteln, wo und wie Gesundheitsförderung und- erhalt der Studierenden im Detail ansetzen muss, um einen zielgenauen und nachhaltigen Effekt zu erzielen (dritte Stufe).

Sommersemester 2016

April 22, 2016

Topic: The attitude towards surveys as a predictor of respondent behavior. An empirical study of effects of acquiescence, the question order, and social desirability

Speaker: Christoph Giehl (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Jochen Mayerl)

Abstract: Dual-process models of response behavior distinguish between two groups of respondents: those giving answers based on simple decision heuristics and automatic-spontaneous cognitive processes, which is typically associated with short response latencies, and those giving answers based on deliberative thoughts, which is associated with long response latencies. Which mode a responder uses is mainly predicted by both the motivation and the opportunity to give an elaborated answer. In addition there is evidence for the motivation to be dependent by a responder’s attitude towards surveys. Furthermore, empirical studies show that both groups, the automatic-spontaneous as well as the deliberative-controlled responders are susceptible to different types of response effects such as acquiescence effects for quick responders or contrast effects of question order for slow responders.

Therefore, we propose that there is a general association between specific types of response effects, the response latencies and the respondents’ attitude towards surveys. To examine this assumption, we investigate the link between the general attitude towards surveys, the level of a responders answer elaboration and the occurrence of response effects (in particular the acquiescence effect, the assimilation and contrast effect of question order and effects involving socially desirable response behavior) to explain method effects according to dual-process models. Early findings, tested with multiple group SEM will be presented.


May 6, 2016

Topic: Environmental Justice in Germany: Evidence from Spatial Time-Series Analysis

Speaker: Tobias Rüttenauer (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Henning Best)

Abstract: The analysis of environmental quality and socioeconomic composition on the level of spatial units has become a standard tool of empirical research in the field of environmental justice studies. The majority of prior research relies on cross-sectional spatial data and hence cannot adequately study the causal mechanisms leading to the unequal distribution of environmental quality. Thus, it remains a puzzle whether selective move-in, selective-move out, discrimina-tion by the industry, discrimination by housing agents, or a combination of these factors lead to an uneven distribution of environmental harm across social groups. In addition, most of the research has been conducted in the US context and empirical results from continental Europe and especially Germany are rare.

In this paper we study the spatial distribution of environmental quality and its connection to socio-economic factors in Germany between 2001 and 2012. In addition to cross-sectional studies, we include the dimension of time into the spatial analysis and investigate the causal mechanisms producing the distribution of environmental pollution. The study relies on a com-bination of data from the European Pollutant Emission Register and socio-economic data on the level of German municipalities. Using spatial fixed effects models, we test hypotheses on causal mechanisms while controlling for spatial autocorrelation. However, we need to be aware of potential problems arising due to the use of spatially aggregated data.


May 13, 2016

Topic: Degeneracy and language learning

Speaker: Patraic Monaghan (external guest Lancaster University, invited by Thomas Lachmann and Shanley Allen)

Abstract: A key question in the cognitive sciences is how, despite the enormous variation in linguistic experience, the language learner acquires broadly the same language structure, “within a fairly narrow range” (Chomsky 2005). Traditional answers to this question have involved determining the extent to which language structure is learnable from language exposure, and sometimes concluding that it cannot. However, this perspective on learning ignores the broader environmental context in which language is acquired, where learning can benefit from multiple information sources. In this talk, I describe a series of computational and experimental studies demonstrating how multiple cues, including linguistic, para-linguistic, and extra-linguistic information, can cohere to result in learning that is certainly within a fairly narrow range. This "degeneracy" of the communicative environment, where multiple cues point probabilistically to language structure, enables quick and robust acquisition to be accomplished despite considerable environmental variation.


May 20, 2016

Topic: Perceptual Organization of Badminton Shots in Experts and Novices

Speaker: Thomas Morris (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Tandra Ghose)

Abstract: Expertise leads to perceptual learning that is not present in novices. Here we investigate whether such differences in perceptual organization can be measured by event-segmentation task. To date, there is no published data on event-segmentation of racket sports.

We used videos of three different badminton shots (clear, smash, drop). Participants (5 Experts, 5 Novices) performed a classic button-pressing task (Newtson, 1976) and segmented the video-clips (60 shots, 1.25 seconds/shot, presented in random order).

Overall, novice and experts had high event-segmentation agreement (R²=0.620). Nevertheless, during the initial 0.5 sec period (“movement” phase) there was no agreement between experts and novices (R²=0.045): Experts did not mark foot movements as significant events. Repeated measures ANOVA (expertise*time*shot) revealed a significant shot*time interaction affect (p=.037) but no affect for expertise. Time point analysis revealed that this interaction affect was seen only 0.5–0.75 sec before shuttle contact (p=0.05).

We conclude that (a) each shot type has a differential temporal event segmentation sequence; and (b) experts only segment during the “shot” phase and not during the “movement” phase. These findings help in the understanding of the perceptual processing responsible for anticipation skills in badminton.


May 27, 2016

Topic: Statistics

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Franke




June 3, 2016

Topic: Statistics

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Franke




June 10, 2016

Topic: Statistics

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Franke




June 17, 2016

Topic: The distinctness of language and nationality attitudes as two separable constructs influencing speaker evaluations in multilingual contexts

Speaker: Tessa Lehnert (University of Luxemburg, external guest, invited by Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: In our daily interactions, the language spoken is one of the most salient cue eliciting evaluative outcomes. According to the Social Process Model of Language Attitudes (Cargile, Giles, Ryan & Bradac, 1994), listeners perceive different linguistic cues and form attitudes towards speakers’ language which then influence the evaluation of the speaking person. Moreover, language as most visible cue for speakers’ nationality might even elicit attitudes towards speakers’ nationality as non-linguistic cue (Myers-Scotton, 2006). In a first study (N = 88), we addresses this differentiation for the first time and found moderate correlations between language and nationality attitudes both on implicit and explicit level of processing. These findings of our experimental study provide evidence for the hypothesized factorial separability. However, correlations neither between implicit and explicit language attitudes nor between implicit and explicit nationality attitudes were significant supporting the conclusion that implicit and explicit measures refer to different cognitive processes. Implicit attitudes were measures by using an audio-based Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald et al., 2002) and explicit attitudes were examined with questionnaires on language and nationality attitudes. In a second study, we aimed to replicate the first study’s findings referring to our general model assumptions and to investigate the influence of the four distinguishable attitude types on speaker evaluations. Results of regression analyses contribute to shedding light on the predictive impact of implicit language and nationality attitudes as well as explicit language and nationality attitudes as influencing factors of speaker evaluations.


June 24, 2016

Topic: Statistics

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Franke




July 1, 2016

Topic: Making automatic image captioning more diverse and subjective

Speaker: Philipp Blandfort (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Shanley Allen & Andreas Dengel)

Abstract: Over the last few years image captioning (that is the automatic generation of short textual annotations of images) has emerged as a new challenging problem that brings together computer vision and natural language processing. Still far away from being solved, the area of image captioning has experienced much progress recently. However, existing approaches often only focus on generating neutral factual descriptions of visual contents. If you analyze user-generated datasets like the Yahoo Flickr Creative Commons 100 Million you quickly see that this is not very representative of natural image captioning behavior where you typically have a large diversity of caption types. For instance, the captions often come with different sentiments, humor or some sort of appraisal. We want to account for these other styles as well and in general put more emphasis on the human component of the whole process. To this end, we are currently exploring different possibilities for producing more diverse and subjective captions, e.g. by adding sentiment or using different types of captions. In my talk I will give a brief introduction to the field, describe our work in progress and would like to close with a discussion on our future plans.


July 8, 2016

Topic: Visiting Fraunhofer ITWM

Speaker: (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: )



July 15, 2016

Topic: Multimodal MRI converging evidence underlying the role of the thalamus in developmental dyslexia

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Kepa Paz-Alonso (external guest, invited by Prof. Czernochowski)

Abstract: Neuroimaging research with typical and atypical readers has underscored functional and structural differences within regions supporting cortico-subcortical interactions during reading processes (Preston et al., 2010). Specifically, compared to typical readers, individuals with dyslexia exhibit left thalamic hypoactivation associated with phonological deficits in reading tasks (Diaz et al., 2012). Moreover, postmortem studies have evinced the presence of alterations in the medial and lateral geniculate nuclei of the thalamus of dyslexic individuals (Galaburda et al., 1994; Livingstone et al., 1991). This evidence highlights the critical role of this region in language (Johnson & Ojemann, 2000) and is consistent with theoretical accounts indicating that the thalamus is a central hub tuned by cortical areas to the relevant properties of visual and auditory inputs (Suga & Ma, 2003). Nevertheless, to date, no studies have specifically examined the relation between thalamic function and structure in dyslexic readers using a multimodal MRI approach. In this talk I will present two MRI studies aimed at investigating evidence from functional and anatomical neuroimaging indexes to examine thalamic regional and connectivity differences in typical and dyslexic readers in relation to their performance on reading tasks that typically discriminates between these groups. We collected MRI data from 51 children and adults, typical and dyslexic readers matched on age, gender and IQ. BOLD parameter estimates extracted from a left thalamus functional ROI, identified across participants revealed that normal readers engaged this region more strongly than readers with dyslexia. Pairwise and whole-brain functional connectivity analyses using the left thalamic ROI as a seed showed different profiles of coactivation between this region and other cortical areas, including visual and parietal cortex, for dyslexic versus control readers. Structural analyses revealed that that left thalamic volume was positively associated with reading accuracy and negatively with reading speed. Similar associations with behavior were found between structural properties of the visual cortex and the white-matter tracts connecting the thalamus with primary visual cortex (optic radiations). These results highlight the crucial role of the thalamus in dyslexia, constituting the strongest evidence linking its function and structure, at the regional level and via its connections with the visual cortex, to this reading disorder.

Wintersemester 2015/2016

November 6, 2015

Topic: Numbers and size: matters of magnitude

Speaker: Steffen Theobald (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: Numbers are an omnipresent tool of modern society to communicate information of magnitude. However, while the carried information is precise in terms of mathematics, human interpretation of numbers is not. A commonly known effect, representing the interaction of numbers and space is the Spatial Numerical Association of Response Codes (SNARC), which is characterized by the fact that smaller numbers are answered faster with the left hand and larger numbers are answered faster with the right hand. In our study, we investigated the SNARC as well as the distance effect and their respective interactions with the numerical and visual magnitude format (stimulus size). By using two overlapping number lines: 2-6 with reference 4 and 5-9 with reference 7, it was possible to change the numerical interpretation of the stimuli (5 and 6), without changing the visually perceived information. Depending on the task condition, participants were asked to answer via button presses, whether the stimulus presented on the screen is numerically larger or smaller than the respective reference (4 or 7), irrespectively of the actual stimulus size. ERP analysis of N1 and P300 components as well as behavioral data show an interaction between the two magnitude formats (stimulus size and numerical magnitude). While the distance effect as well as its interaction with both magnitude formats occurs in the behavioral data, the SNARC effect proved to be elusive, despite being described under similar conditions. Our results suggest that while both effects are based on magnitude the integration of different magnitude formats is processed in different ways.


November, 20 2015

Topic: Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques

Speaker: Nora Schaal (external speaker, invited by Daniela Czernochowski)

Abstract: Differences in non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (transcranial direct current stimulation, transcranial alternating current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation). Practical demonstration of tDCS


November 27, 2015

Topic: Getting Ready to Read: Promoting Children´s Emergent Literacy Through Shared Book Reading in a German Context

Speaker: Patricia de Brito Castilho Wesseling (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: The present study investigated the effects of two methods of shared book reading on children´s emergent literacy skills, such as expressive vocabulary, semantic skills and grapheme awareness, i.e. before the alphabetic phase of reading acquisition (Lachmann & van Leeuwen, 2014) in home and in kindergarten contexts. The two following shared book reading methods were investigated: Method I - literacy enrichment: 200 extra children's books were distributed in kindergartens and children were encouraged every week to borrow a book to take home and read with their parents. Further, a written letter was sent to the parents encouraging them to frequently read the books with their children at home. Method II - teacher training: kindergarten teachers participated in structured training which included formal instruction on how to promote child language development through shared book reading. The training was conducted by the Heidelberger Interaktionstraining für pädagogisches Fachpersonal zur Förderung ein- und mehrsprachiger Kinder - HIT . In addition, the effects of the two methods in combination were investigated. Accordingly, 69 children, ranged in age from 3;0 to 4;8 years, were recruited from four kindergartens in the city of Kaiserslautern, Germany. The kindergartens were divided into: kindergarten 1 – Method I; kindergarten 2 - Method II; kindergarten 3 - Combination of both methods; kindergarten 4 - Control group. Half of the participants (reported having a migration background. All groups were similar in regards to socioeconomic status and literacy activities at home. The intervention period had duration of six months. Regarding language skills, Method I showed no significant effects on children expressive vocabulary and semantic skills. Method II showed significant effects for children expressive vocabulary. In addition, the children with migration background took more advantage of the method. Regarding semantic skills, no significant effects were found. No significant effects of the combination of both methods in children's language skills were found. For grapheme awareness, however, results showed positive effects for Method I, and Method II, as well as for the combination of both methods. The combination group, as reported by a large effect size, showed to be more effective than Method I and Method II alone. Overall, it can be conclude with the results of the present study, that by providing access to good books, Method I may help parents involve themselves in the active process of their child's literacy skills development. However, in order to improve language skills, access to books alone showed to be not enough. Therefore, it is suggested that access combined with additional support to parents in how to improve their language interactions with their children is highly recommended. In respect to Method II, the present study suggests that shared book reading through professional training is an important tool that should be broadcasted in kindergartens, especially for children with migration background. For grapheme awareness it is concluded that with the combination of the two performed methods, high exposure to shared book reading helps children to informally learn about the surface characteristics of print, acquire some familiarity with the visual characteristics of the letters and learn to differentiate them from other patterns in the book


December 18, 2015

Topic: Comparison of neural correlates after positive, negative and neutral feedback during speech – non-speech discrimination

Speaker: Petra Ludowicy (Graduate School Member, Supersivor: Thomas Lachmann & Daniela Czernochowski)

Abstract: The adaptation of behavior as a consequence of feedback processing is a key requirement for learning. Previous research has shown that positive compared to negative feedback is processed differently in the brain. In particular, the feedback related negativity (FRN) occurs about 270 ms after negative feedback. So far, this ERP component was investigated mostly in gambling experiments or trial-and-error learning tasks. These tasks are considerably complex and may employ a multitude of cognitive processes. Therefore, we used a simple discrimination task (speech vs. non-speech) to examine the neural correlates of positive, negative and neutral feedback. The German vowels /a/ and /a:/ were used as speech sounds and their spectrally rotated versions were used as non-speech sounds. Each vowel and their spectrally rotated counterpart were morphed into each other in 10 % steps. Participants were asked to indicate via button presses, whether the stimulus contained more speech or more non-speech sound. Afterwards, participants received feedback: a green smiley for correct answers and a red smiley for incorrect answers. In 20 % of the trials, an uninformative neutral, yellow smiley was presented, which was not informative with respect to correctness. We compared ERP averages after positive, negative and neutral feedback. In accordance with the existing literature, we found an FRN with larger negativity for negative compared to positive feedback. Nevertheless, the FRN was observed after positive as well as after negative feedback and thus, may reflect surprise rather than negative feedback. The neutral feedback resulted in a larger negativity compared to the positive feedback, but did not differ significantly from the negative feedback. However, we found a difference between negative and neutral feedback 400 ms after feedback onset. These results suggest that in addition to positive and negative feedback, neutral feedback can also elicit a distinct neural signature.


January 15, 2016

Topic: Evaluation des computergestützten phonologischen Trainingsprogramms "Lautarium" zur Förderung des Schriftspracherwerbs

Speaker: Alexander Prölss (external PhD student, Supersivor: Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: /Lautarium/ ist ein computergestütztes phonologisches Trainingsprogramm zur alltagsintegrierten Schulung der Phonemwahrnehmung, der Phonologischen Bewusstheit im engeren Sinn, der Graphem-Phonem-Korrespondenz und zum alphabetischen Lesen und Schreiben. Während die Wirksamkeit des Programms in einer klinischen Studie mit legasthenen Drittklässlern bereits nachgewiesen wurde (Klatte et al., 2014), steht die Beurteilung des potentiellen Beitrags, den /Lautarium/ im Rahmen des Schriftspracherwerbs in der Schuleingangsphase leisten kann, noch aus. Die vorliegende Arbeit prüft daher, inwieweit Erstklässler die inhaltlichen und formalen Anforderungen des Programms bewältigen und bis zu welchem Grad schriftsprachliche Fertigkeiten gefördert werden können. Die Studie ist im Prätest-Posttest-Follow-up-Design mit einer Experimental- und einer den konventionellen Grundunterricht absolvierenden Kontrollgruppe konzipiert.

Die Ergebnisse zeigen signifikante Verbesserungen in beiden Untertests zur Phonemwahrnehmung, in 2 von 4 Untertests zur phonologischen Bewusstheit in allen Untertests zu Lesegeschwindigkeit und Leseverständnis sowie im lautgetreuen Schreiben. In allen Bereichen, mit Ausnahme der Lesegeschwindigkeit, hielten Trainingseffekte bis 3 Monate nach Trainingsende an. In der Nachbefragung beurteilten 37 von 41 Kinder /Lautarium/ mit der bestmöglichen Bewertung. Die technischen Herausforderungen des Programms wurden nach Aussagen der Lehrer von den Kindern gut bewältigt. Somit kann geschlussfolgert werden, dass /Lautarium/ für den Einsatz in der Schuleingangsphase im Zuge des Förderunterrichts oder zur Binnendifferenzierung uneingeschränkt empfohlen werden kann.


January 22, 2016

Topic: Acceptability judgements of null and over subject pronouns in Basque

Speaker: Maialen Iroala Azpiroz (PostDoc Shanley Allen)

Abstract: In this talk, I will present adults’ and younger (aged 6–7) and older (aged 8–10) children’s comprehension data on the acceptability of null and overt anaphoric forms in contexts of topic continuity and topic shift in Basque, a language without true third-person pronouns. In an acceptability judgement task, adults preferred null pronouns in topic-continuity contexts. On the other hand, both overt anaphoric forms (the demonstrative hura “that” and the quasipronoun bera “(s)he (him-/herself)”) were selected more often in topic-shift contexts (the preference being greater in the former case). The data from 6–7-year-olds, who had a preference for the null pronoun in both contexts, confirm previous studies showing that overt pronouns are still not specified as [+topic shift] at that age. Whereas a developmental change occurs in age groups (from 6–7 to 8–10) in the resolution of hura with 8–10-year-olds resembling adults’ topic shift interpretation, no such change takes place in the case of bera where older children still preferred null pronouns regardless of context. In contrast to the paradox between the linguistic default option (the null pronoun) and the learner default option (the overt pronoun) observed in other null-subject languages, the null pronoun functions as both in Basque.


January 29, 2016

Topic: Stress app analyses in regards to gamification,behavior change techniques and stress management techniques

Speaker: Alexandra Hoffmann (Graduate School Member, Supersivor: Tina Weis & Corinna Christmann)

Abstract: Chronical stress has been shown to be associated with a number of mental and physical disorders. The use of stress management apps has been suggested as an effective way to handle stress. However, the quality of stress management apps in respect to the inclusion of aspects from behavior theory and gamification remains unclear. Thus, an investigation of apps aimed at stress management was conducted among 63 free apps found in the Google Play Store in July 2015. Twenty-six behavior change, fifteen relaxation, and sixteen gamification aspects were investigated by two independent raters. The apps included an average of 5.2 behavior change techniques (range 0-24), 2.8 relaxation techniques (range 0-11) and 0.3 gamification techniques (range 0-2). While a correlation was found between the use of behavior change and relaxation techniques, no correlation could be observed between these behavior theory-based constructs and gamification. It can, therefore, be concluded that the apps show a lack of integration for important elements of behavior change theory and gamification. Recommendations for the development of future stress management apps are made.


February 12, 2016

Topic: Investigating word order processing using pupillometry and event-related potentials

Speaker: Leigh Fernandez (PhD Student, Allen)

Abstract: This study investigated the processing of canonical and non-canonical sentence word order in German by measuring peoples’ pupil diameter change. By this, a new child-friendly method to investigate the processing costs associated with word order variation was tested. The relative order of the sentence subject and the sentence object is relatively free in German with both orders being possible. However, compared to the SVO order, OVS orders evoke more processing costs in adults and are hard to understand for German children up to an age of 7 years. This is one of the first studies that used pupillometry to investigate whether the difficulties associated with object first constructions in German are measurable with pupil diameter change. Pupil diameter and comprehension during aurally presented SVO and OVS constructions was measured; we manipulated word order and case marking ambiguity. Comprehension results showed high accuracy for all sentences types. At the first NP we found no differences between conditions suggesting early difficulties with OVS constructions are the result of a violation of canonicity expectation. At the disambiguating 2nd noun phrase, early disambiguating SVO constructions revealed a smaller pupil diameter compared to late SVO, early OVS, and late OVS suggesting difficulties are most likely due to revision from the preferred unambiguous SVO order. Additionally, across the whole sentence there was larger pupil change for OVS constructions compared to SVO, with the late conditions evoking a larger peak pupil size than the early. Overall this study shows that pupillometry is sensitive to the processing required in the comprehension of different word orders, and provides us insight into the difficulties associated with these different word orders.


February 19, 2016

Topic: How are categories organized in semantic memory? Gaining insights from a new method and warmer climate

Speaker: Mayara Machado (Master student)

Abstract:Every day we encounter information about the world that we store and relate to previous knowledge. This conceptual knowledge is organized and stored in semantic memory, but so far there are still unanswered questions about this important mechanism: “How is semantic memory organized?” and “how are concepts structured in our brain?”.

In order to address these questions, Fairhall & Caramazza (2013) developed an fMRI study in which participants should make a typicality judgment on objects from several categories (mammals, birds, tools, fruits, clothes). In an fMRI scanner the stimuli were presented as pictures and words. Comparing similar categories, similar patterns of activation were reported in the posterior middle/inferior temporal gyrus (pMTG/ITG) and the posterior cingulate/precuneus (PC). Taken together, this finding suggests that concept representation is strongly related to activity in these two brain areas.

However, these results were exploratory and hence needed cross-validation. In this sense, during my internship period in the Center for Brain/Mind Sciences in Rovereto, Italy; together with Dr. Fairhall, we adapted the above mentioned study to another neuroscientific method, the magnetoencephalography (MEG). Furthermore, we added a pilot study in which participants were asked to organize the same set of objects used in the fMRI study into categories. As it turned out, the participants organized the same categories for each individual object as the researchers in the fMRI study. In the MEG study, participants judged the typicality of the items of each category. The results are still under analysis, but just as in the fMRI study, we expect activity in the pMTG/ITG and PC to reflect conceptual organization.

Sommersemester 2015

24. April 2015

Topic: Event cognition at the workplace: perceiving, understanding, and practicing industrial assembly tasks

Speaker: Katharina Mura (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Tandra Ghose)

Abstract: Event segmentation theory (EST) explains the perceptual organization of an ongoing activity into meaningful events. Classical event segmentation task involves watching an online video and indicating with key press the event boundaries, i.e., when one event ends and the next one begins. The resulting hierarchical organization of object-based coarse events and action-based fine events gives insight into various cognitive processes.

I am interested in using EST to develop assistance and training systems for assembly workers in industrial settings at various levels - experts, new hires, and intellectually disabled persons. We investigated open scientific questions in EST that have practical implications for improving their quality of life and work.

Based on three empirical studies we add to the claim that EST offers a framework for assessment and training of important attentional, perceptual, and memory processes related to assembly tasks.


15. Mai 2015

Topic: Elicited production of RSs and ORs in languages with the opposite head-complement directionality: Basque and Spanish

Speaker: M.J. Ezeizabarrena (University of the Basque Country, Guest of Prof. Allen)

Abstract: Adults’ and children’s production, comprehension and processing studies of relative clauses widely report higher rates of target-like performance in the use of subject relatives (SRs) than of object relatives (ORs) in many languages, most of them SVO languages with postnominal RCs like English, Spanish, and many other languages. However, such “SR advantage”, explained in terms of linear and structural head-gap distance, and/or feature mismatch, has been challenged by the “OR advantage” attested in a few languages like Chinese (Gibson & Wu 2013; Su et al. 2007) or Basque (Carreiras et al. 2010, Gutiérrez-Mangado 2011, Munarriz 2015), which have prenominal RCs.

Data of bilinguals using/acquiring languages with different head-complement directionality may add relevant evidence to the debate on the universality of the SR/OR advantage and to the issue of interlinguistic influence in bilinguals’ performance.

The aim of this talk is to present production data of SRs and ORs by different groups of unimpaired Basque-Spanish bilingual adults (L1B-L2Sp and L1Sp-L2B) and children (simultaneous (2L1) vs. successive L1B-L2Sp) (Ezeizabarrena et al. In prep.), as well as data of an impaired bilingual with chronic aphasia (Munarriz 2015), in their two languages. The consistency of the pattern found across groups and languages points towards a generalized SR advantage in production, regardless of a) language specificities (Spanish: SVO, postnominal RCs, nominative-accusative case system and Basque: SOV, prenominal RCs, absolutive-ergative case system) and b) participants’ L1, linguistic profile and/or age. We will discuss on the potential effects of cross-linguistic influence in the results obtained.


22. Mai 2015

Topic: How can episodic memory be assessed
 by using electroencephalography (EEG)? Applying the event-related potential technique to data of young adults and children

Speaker: André Haese (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Daniela Czernochowski)

Abstract: In my talk, I will give a brief introduction about EEG and the event-related potential technique so people with a less EEG-centered research background may find it easier to participate in discussions. Then I will show and discuss the findings of our study, in which we investigated two processes that are assumed to contribute to episodic memory retrieval. By comparing ERPs, familiarity — related to an early frontal positivity underlying an intuitive old-new decision — can be dissociated from recollection – a later parietal positivity associated with confident judgments based on the retrieval of contextual information. Behavioral studies suggest children rely on familiarity, but no corresponding ERP effects were observed (unless children are urged to respond fast); instead a parietal positivity suggests recollection is used predominantly. Here, children and young adults decided if items were more commonly found indoors or outdoors. During retrieval, participants categorized items as perceptually “identical”, perceptually “changed” or “new”. Afterwards, participants repeated the task, this time memorizing the items. Across groups, performance was better after intentional encoding and for identical exemplars. ERP analyses revealed that in younger children, only parietal old/new effects were observed, whereas adults employed familiarity and recollection. In older children, we observed early old/new effects after intentional encoding, whereas the later effect was broadly distributed, resembling adults’ distribution. Thus our data suggest that children and adults differentially use the two retrieval processes: Despite comparable behavioral performance, only young adults seem to use familiarity, whereas recollection was observed across all age groups.


29. Mai 2015

Topic: The contribution of spectral and temporal information to vowel length perception in German in children and adults

Speaker: Bogdana Ulytska (University of Frankfurt, Supervisor: Christian Fiebach & Thomas Lachmann)

Abstract: Defence Practice (Talk will be in German)


12. June 2015

Topic: Structural MRI – Technology, evaluation, and example

Speaker: Dr. Christoph Krick (Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes)

Abstract: Previous advances in MR technology allow to rapidly picturing human brain tissue with high precision but without radiation exposure. Since the brain defines individual behaviour, searching neural correlates between skills and cerebral structure has become an intense field of research. In particular longitudinal observation of training or therapy provided insights into human learning strategies by correlation between training success and structural reorganization. Despite this new knowledge that was acquired over the last decade, many other questions still remained unanswered: How fast is the brain reorganization by learning and does it actually focus on specific areas needed for the task in question? – During this lecture these questions will be discussed by introducing a recent MRI study on tinnitus treatment using music therapy.


26. June 2015

Topic: “As fast and accurately as possible” - About the nature of response priming in different research areas.

Speaker: Melanie Schröder (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Schmidt)

Abstract: In my talk I would like to give you an overview about our main research area. A particular point is the response-priming paradigm, which is our typically used research design for data collection and a short schematic introduction about the rapid-chase theory, which was developed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmidt and constitutes the research basis of our working group. Moreover I will talk about some results in the area of spider phobia, a work that has been performed by Dr. Anke Haberkamp (former PhD student in our group). This represents a fundamental aspect for my further studies on response priming with persons who suffer from anorexia nervosa (German: “Magersucht”). In this regard, I also plan to give you a very brief insight into my new experiment design, especially for concerning the cooperation project with the “Institutsambulanz” of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.


3. July 2015

International Symposium: New Stages in Information Processing Research


10. July 2015

Topic: Sleep disorder and auditory processing in children with ADHD

Speaker: Rosana Tristao (University of Oxford, Guest of Prof. Lachmann)

Abstract: Objective: We aimed to investigate the prevalence of OSAS in a group of children with ADHD and poor school performance and compare amplitude and latency of the P300 potential between children with and without associated OSAS.

Methods: Sixty-one children with ADHD diagnosis underwent three series auditory oddball attention task for detection of P300 event-related potentials (ERPs) alterations. After this an all night polysomnography was performed in all children who were subsequently allocated into two groups, according to the polysomnographic results: children with OSAS (n=26, mean age: 10.7 ±2.2) and children without OSAS (n=35, mean age: 10.7 ±2.2). OSAS and P300 latencies and amplitudes were analysed.

Results: A significant amplitude decay at P300 waves was observed in children with OSAS along three series amplitude measurements [F(1,3)=297.5, p=.000], while in children without OSAS the amplitude values retained the same parameters. Age and gender had no effect on repeated measurements, although boys showed increased variability along the series of the test. Increased values of apnoea and hypoapnoea index (AHI) resulted in progressive amplitude decay along the three tests while an inverse performance, with progressive increase in value was observed in the latency tests.

Conclusion: The study showed that the sleep fragmentation caused by OSAS might exacerbate the attention disorder that characterises ADHD, and highlight the importance of assessing sleep disorders in the differential diagnosis of children with attention deficits.


17. July 2015

Topic: The possibility of continuous retrospective presence measurement for head-mounted display based virtual reality applications

Speaker: René Reinhard (Graduate School Member, Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann & Klaus Dressler)

Abstract: The possibility of continuous retrospective presence measurement for head-mounted display based virtual reality applications Abstract One of the central constructs in the multidisciplinary investigation into human reactions to virtual reality is the idea of presence, often defined as the “feeling of being there” (IJsselstein & Riva, 2003, p. 3) while experiencing a mediated environment. During a quarter century of inquiry into its workings, a great number of varied measurement approaches have been proposed but to this day questionnaire usage dominates the field. However, the retrospective nature of questionnaires has long been criticized and their lack of temporal and spatial resolution make their usage for purposes such as virtual environment optimization dubious. At the same time proposed continuous measures of presence, which could rectify these criticisms, are usually limited to special VR applications, e.g. when little interaction is required or when clear expectations of the user’s responses can be formulated, and can be intrusive and detrimental to the VR experience.

In this talk the possibility of a synthesis of the retrospective and continuous measurement approaches is proposed through a presence measure relying on recordings of all actions and movements in the virtual environment and their later examination by the VR user. First results show an acceptable fit of concurrent and retrospective continuous presence ratings even when only a bare bone basis of recorded data are used as a basis for the retrospective account. The proposed measures (dis)advantages, possible applications, and role in measurement strategies is then considered.



Wintersemester 2014/2015

16. January 2015



23. January 2015

Topic: Speaker separation and foreground-background selection in ambiguous listening situations

Speaker: Katharina Gandras

Abstract: Disentangling two or more speakers in a complex auditory scene (e.g., in a busy cafeteria) poses a challenge to every listener. According to recent theories, the auditory system accomplishes this task by switching back and forth between different interpretations of the auditory input (perceptual multistability). Empirical evidence for this view has mainly been obtained with pure tone sequences. We aim to extend this work towards more natural stimulus material by developing a set of syllables that can be combined to create ambiguous listening conditions. In this talk, I will present behavioural results showing that our new stimulation is able to evoke multistable perception, i.e. perception changing over time without actual stimulus changes. Furthermore, I will show preliminary results of a combined behavioural-EEG experiment in which we applied the recently generated set of multistable speech stimuli to investigate electrophysiological indicators of the current speaker in the attentional foreground.


6. February 2015

Topic: Journal editorship and the publishing process

Speaker: Ludovica Serratrice

Abstract: Talk about her work as Associate Editor for “Language Acquisition and Bilingualism”, “First Language” and “Bilingualism: Language and Cognition” (


13. February 2015

Topic: Smooth pursuit eye movements and the perception of visual motion

Speaker: Doris I. Braun

Abstract: To visually track a moving target, primates use slow, continuous eye rotations. Smooth pursuit keeps the targets in the fovea. Continuous foveation of a dynamic target depends not only on precise direction, speed estimates, and good predictions of the movement trajectory, but also on a fast oculomotor response and appropriate adjustments. How are pursuit eye movements and perceptual experience of visual motion related? We show that motion perception and pursuit have a lot in common, but they also have separate noise sources that can lead to dissociations between them. We emphasize the point that pursuit actively modulates visual perception and that it can provide valuable information for motion perception.


Zum Seitenanfang