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Different Minds Collaborative Virtual Spring Conference

April 14th, 2021 

Social motivation and face recognition in autism and developmental prosopagnosia 

Todd Kamensek, University of British Columbia, CA

Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogenous, multifactorial disorder and meaningful diagnostic subclassifications have remained elusive. Although not a core diagnostic feature, face processing deficits are a commonly observed, but variable feature in ASD. Due to high prevalence estimates of prosopagnosic-like face recognition deficits in ASD, developmental prosopagnosia (DP) has been proposed as a potential endophenotype in ASD (e.g., Minio-Paluello et al. 2020). To examine this hypothesis, we assessed face recognition and social motivation in adults with DP, adults with ASD, and a neurotypical control group. Our results revealed a wide range of face recognition ability within the ASD group, including a substantial subset that was moderately, but significantly impaired. Social motivation scores were also significantly reduced in DP and ASD compared to controls, however relative deficit ratios demonstrated that face impairments outweighed social motivation reductions in DP, while the opposite pattern held for ASD, providing a means of discriminating between the two groups. These results do not support the idea of DP as an endophenotype in autism. Despite phenotypic similarities, these two disorders likely stem from distinct etiologies.


How do we measure sustained attention? A comparison of traditional vigilance tasks and their interaction with trait-level motivation

Tomasso Viola, University of Newcastle, UK

Abstract: Sustained attention is a difficult psychological construct to define. Existing theories attempt to account for different behavioural phenomena such as accuracy decrements, reduced speed and performance fluctuations. This has resulted in a fragmented literature and questions the validity of the tools used to assess sustained attention. Recent research into the effects of motivation on performance over time has highlighted potential dissociable effects, opening the possibility of a multi-faceted conceptualisation of sustained attention. The present study aims to investigate the content validity of the four most widely implemented sustained attention tasks: Sustained Attention to Response Task, Mackworth Clock Task, Test of Variable of Attention and Psychomotor Vigilance Task. Factor analysis will be used to extract the factor structure underlying sustained attention from task variables representing overall speed, accuracy, variability and performance changes over time. These factors could represent task-general latent sub-components, providing a coherent framework for understanding sustained attention. Additionally, through a semi-exploratory regression analysis, trait-level motivation can predict variance of the extracted factors to determine whether motivation can show dissociable interactions with sustained attention.


The relationship between rapid and slow visual processing

Emma Jones & Alice Cronshaw, University of York, UK

Abstract: Visual awareness results from two types of visual processing that differ in speed producing perceptually different outputs. The slower selective processing, afforded by focused attention, facilitates identification and localisation of individual items. The other, rapid non-selective processing, allows feature, ensemble statistics and scene ‘gist’ perception, supported by distributed attention. Here we aim to characterize the relationship between the two processes. Using attentional blink paradigm we assess the relationship by testing two tasks on the same timeline. Performing two tasks requiring non-selective processing resulted in no attentional blink, whereas performing two selective tasks did, even when matched for difficulty. Importantly, performing two different types of tasks (selective and non-selective) induced a deeper attentional blink than performing two tasks of the same type, indicating interactive contribution to visual awareness. The blink was deeper when the first task required selective processing. Evidence converges on a serial interactive relationship between selective and non- selective processing.

Confidence judgments are associated with face-identification accuracy: Findings from a confidence forced-choice task

Géraldine Jeckeln, University of Texas at Dallas, US

Abstract: The confidence associated with a face-identification decision expressed in court can influence the outcome of a legal proceeding. However, it is unclear whether confidence reports provide reliable information regarding identification accuracy. Commonly, confidence judgments are reported using certainty-response scales. These scales are prone to response bias and can confound perceptual information about face identification with decision factors (e.g., cost of misidentification errors in forensics). We addressed the problem of measuring face-identification confidence by implementing a confidence forced-choice task (Mamassian, 2016). Participants completed two face- identification trials in sequence and selected the trial on which they felt “more confident”. Face identification was tested using an odd-one-out task. Accuracy was significantly greater on higher-confidence trials. The difference in difficulty between the sequenced trials, as measured by psychometric modelling, predicted the proportion of higher- confidence judgments assigned to the easier of the two trials. We conclude that participants can evaluate face-identification confidence reliably using a comparative task and that task-difficulty information can be useful in evaluating confidence.

Not quite human, not quite machine: Electrophysiological responses to robot faces

Allie Geiger, University of North Dakota, US

Abstract: Humans, robots, and dolls all have faces, but do all of these engage the same neural mechanisms specific to face processing? We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to measure the P100 and N170 components’ responses to robot faces, human faces, and objects in two experiments. In Experiment 1, participants were shown human, robot, doll, and computer-generated human faces, as well as clocks as a non-face control stimulus. We found that robot faces were not significantly different from either objects or human faces in terms of N170 amplitude, suggesting they were processed in a manner ‘between’ the two. In Experiment 2 we measured P100 and N170 responses to upright and inverted human, robot, and clock faces. We found that face inversion effects were only partially evident for robot faces across our target components. Overall, our results suggest that robot faces only partially engage neural mechanisms of face processing.

Emotional display rules: Gender and individual differences

Charlotte Ashhurst, Australian National University, AU

Abstract: Display rules are our beliefs about how we should express emotions. The present study aimed to re-test key theoretical ideas about gender differences in display rules, which have minimal empirical support. Participants (N = 359) rated how important they thought it was to control expressions of 24 different emotions in public. Exploratory factor analysis found the 24 emotions grouped into three factors, comprising affiliative (e.g., happiness) vulnerable (e.g., sad), and dominant (e.g., anger) emotions. For vulnerable and dominant emotions, men believed they should control their expressions more than women should. In contrast, women believed they should control their expressions more than other people should, irrespective of gender. We also found individual differences accounted for over half of the variance in ratings. Overall, these results shed new light on gender differences in display rules and highlight the potential importance of individual differences in display rules.

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