Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Is semantics activated automatically? Evidence from the PRP paradigm
Three experiments examined whether semantics is activated automatically by testing whether Arabic digits (e.g., 4), number words (e.g., four), and non-number words (e.g., rat) activate semantics in the absence of central attention within the Psychological Refractory Period (PRP) paradigm. In all three experiments, subjects performed colour discriminations as Task 1. In Task 2, subjects performed magnitude comparisons on digits (Experiment 1) and number words (Experiment 2) and size comparisons on animal words (Experiment 3). Task overlap was controlled by varying stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). A distance effect arose in Task 2 and yielded underadditive effects with decreasing SOA for both digits and number words, consistent with these notations activating semantics in the absence of central attention, or automatically. A distance effect also arose for animal words, but it was additive with SOA, inconsistent with non-number words activating semantics automatically. Author Keywords: Automaticity, Central attention, Dual-task, Numerical cognition, Semantics, Word recognition
Problem-Solving and Cognitive Flexibility in Older Adolescents and Young Adults
Ill-structured problems have changing components that solvers need to adapt their solutions to. Well-structured problems have strict, well-defined procedures, and solvers must know which procedures to apply and when. Research has suggested that these two types of problems utilize different problem-solving skills. The current study focused on the relation between ill-structured interpersonal problem solving, novel well-structured problem-solving, and cognitive flexibility in young adults and older adolescents. It was predicted that because of the changing components of ill-structured problems, cognitive flexibility would more strongly predict these compared to well-structured problems. The current study sample consisted of 73 undergraduates with an average age of 20.43 years. The results showed that cognitive flexibility is equally associated with ill-structured problem-solving and well-structured problem-solving. This suggests that cognitive flexibility may support the perspective coordination involved in solving ill-structured problems and that cognitive flexibility may support switching between search strategies when solving a novel well-structured problem. Author Keywords: adolescent, adult, cognitive flexibility, ill-structured problem-solving, novel problems, well-structured problem-solving
Cognitive Inefficiencies in Adolescents with Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders (ED) are notoriously difficult to treat due, in part, to commonly observed inefficiencies in cognitive flexibility and central coherence, which are believed to maintain disordered cognitions and behaviours and negatively impact prognosis. Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) has recently been used effectively with adults with ED; however, evidence among adolescents is limited. The present study explored change in flexibility and central coherence in a group of 23 adolescent ED inpatients (M = 16 years, SD = 0.95). All participants received a comparable dose of ED treatment. Participants were split into two groups for comparison: the CRT group (n = 15) received CRT in addition to TAU; and a TAU group for control (TAU; n = 8). Improvements in flexibility and central coherence were superior in the CRT group, suggesting that CRT is a potentially useful treatment for adolescents with AN as part of an overall psychosocial rehabilitation program. Author Keywords: anorexia nervosa, central coherence, cognitive flexibility, cognitive remediation, eating disorders, set shifting

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