Center for Cognitive Science

Wintersemester 2019 - 2020

Fridays at 10AM, Building 6

November 08, 2019

Speaker: Cristiane Souza (ISCTE - Lisbon University)

Topic: Declarative memories in ASD: the role of conceptual knowledge in retrieval and the hippocampal connectivity.

Abstract: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) present a distinctive pattern regarding declarative memories [1]. Although their general semantic-memory is preserved [1,2], they present episodic-memory impairments associated with a compromised activity of the left hippocampal region indicating possible shortcomings in categorical processing [1]. Moreover, they have difficulties in processing atypical-items (i.e., items that are less representative of their own category, as “penguin” as a “bird”) [2,3] in comparison with healthy participants, to whom the distinctiveness of atypical items enhances episodic-memory retrieval [4]. Taking together, this possible pattern of impairments in both declarative memories suggests a compromised hippocampus-cortical network. Examining declarative memories interaction in this clinical group might provide relevant cues about the role of the hippocampus in human memory systems. The present study examined the role of conceptual knowledge - encoding-schemas (categorical X perceptive) and typicality (typical X atypical) - on retrieval in ASD in comparison with a typically developed control group. Specifically, we investigated the hypothesis that typicality-related impairment impacts retrieval in this clinical group due to alleged anomalies in hippocampal connectivity. Results are discussed in light of the interdependence hypothesis of semantic-memory and episodic-memory systems, particularly focusing on the role of the hippocampus in semantic memory-formation.



1. Gaigg, S. B., Bowler, D. M., Ecker, C., Calvo-Merino, B., & Murphy, D. G. (2015). Episodic recollection difficulties in ASD result from atypical relational encoding: Behavioral and neural evidence. Autism Research, 8(3), 317-327.

2. Carmo, J. C., Duarte, E., Pinho, S., Filipe, C. N., &, Marques, J. F. (2016). Preserved proactive interference in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(1), 53-63.

3. Gastgeb, H. Z., & Strauss, M. S. (2012). Categorization in ASD: The role of typicality and development. Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, 19(2), 66-74.

4. Alves, M., & Raposo, A. (2015). Is it a bird? Differential effects of concept typicality on semantic memory and episodic recollection. Revista Portuguesa de Psicologia, 44, 65-79.

November 15, 2019 - Exceptionally at 2pm

Speaker: Joerg Beringer (BeriSoft Inc.)

Topic: Cognition Lab

Abstract: Joerg Beringer (Berisoft) will talk about Cognition Lab - a Web-based Cognitive Testing (

November 22, 2019

Speaker: Radha Nila Meghanathan (Graduate School member)

Topic: To look and look again: Memory accumulation across sequential eye movements and related brain activity

Abstract: Co-registration of EEG and eye movements allows us to seek EEG correlates of visual working memory under free viewing conditions. I setup a multiple target visual search task followed by a change detection task to investigate eye movements and EEG during memory accumulation. In a first step, I assessed fixation duration and pupil size as indicators of memory load. Fixation duration during the visual search interval showed an effect of memory accumulation that was modulated by task-relevance of the items fixated. To find an EEG counterpart of memory accumulation during target fixations, the problem of the overlapping effects of eye movements on EEG was addressed first. To solve this problem, two approaches were explored. The first approach involved devising a simple algorithm for matching experimental conditions across eye movements. The second approach involved modeling the effect of eye movements using generalized additive mixed models (GAMM). After matching memory load conditions for eye movements, I could not find an effect of memory load in eye movement related EEG. Reasoning that the absence of an EEG correlate of memory may be due to complex eye movement behavior and memory processes, I analyzed refixations and refixation patterns during the search interval. This analysis revealed the adaption of eye movement behavior to the task and also associated refixations and scanpaths with memorization. Lastly, I investigated the EEG correlates of refixations. This analysis elucidated the dependence of saccade planning on task-relevance and refixation behaviour. Overall, my studies have shown that memory accumulation in free viewing is a complex process that is continually adapted to the demands of the task, not only affecting eye movements but also employing them for memorization.

December 13, 2019

Winter Breakfast

January 17, 2020

Speaker: Felix Hekele (Graduate School member - Supervisor: Thomas Lachmann)

Topic: The Advent of Virtual Learning – An investigation into the visual behaviour from watching educational 2D and 360° videos

Abstract: The present study utilizes a novel approach to the investigation into the effectiveness of different learning modalities. An exempt taken from the vocational education of car mechanics was videotaped using two different cameras: a standard video camera and a 360° camera. Both videos featured a stationary point of reference and were either presented on a stationary tablet (2D) or a VR headset (360°). A total of 50 student participants were recruited and randomly assigned to either the 2D or 360° group. Their task
in both conditions was to watch the educational video before, after a short delay, answering a standardized test on the presented content. First results indicate no differences in learning outcome and stronger immersion effects in the 360° group, which is conform with the study predictions. Eye-tracking analyses are ongoing and focus on area-of-interest analyses and overall gaze patterns. Preliminary questionnaire results and first eye-tracking data will be presented and discussed.

January 24, 2020

Speaker: Alexandra Hoffmann (Graduate School member - Supervisors: Thomas Lachmann & Gabriele Bleser)

Topic: The iterative development and evaluation of the gamified stress management app "Stress-Mentor

Abstract: At the graduate school meeting on Friday I will hold a presentation in preparation for the defense of my dissertation. I would be happy if you would support me by attending my talk and giving me feedback so that everything will be perfect for my defense.

February 07, 2020

Speaker: Larissa Leist (Graduate School member - Supervisors: Maria Klatte & Daniela Czernochowski)

Topic: Differential effects of irrelevant sounds on short-term memory in children and adults

Abstract: Many studies have shown that irrelevant background sounds impair performance in immediate serial recall tasks. According to the duplex-mechanism account, performance disruption due to irrelevant sounds may result from attentional capture or interference-by-process, i.e., an overlap of the resources involved in preattentive, obligatory sound processing and task-related processes. In this study, we compared the effects of irrelevant speech and environmental sounds on performance in German third-graders and German adults. Based on prior evidence, we hypothesized that irrelevant speech evokes interference-by-process, whereas environmental sounds evoke attentional capture. Environmental sounds should cause a stronger disruption in children compared to adults, because of childrens’ limited attentional control. We designed a task that required monosyllabic German nouns presented pictorially to be immediately recalled in serial order. Irrelevant speech evoked comparable impairments in both age groups, but only the children were significantly affected by the environmental sounds. The differential age effect supports the duplex-mechanism account of performance decrements due to irrelevant sounds.

February 14, 2020

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

Topic: This courses target audience has little to no experience with the basics of statistics

Abstract: Picking the correct statistical analyses is paramount in scientific research. Therefore, one must consider the prerequisites for statistical tests while designing an experiment. This course will cover the main steps of hypothesis testing – from defining a research hypothesis to rejecting or failing to reject the null hypothesis. How to design an experiment with respect to the planned statistical analyses. What is a research hypothesis, and how to operationalize it. Which statistical tests are there, and which should you pick? Making a statistical prediction and setting the significance level. What does the p-value tell us? What are normal distribution, homogeneity, and sphericity assumptions, and how do we test for them?


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