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Statistical Learning  

Louisa Bogaerts, Noam Siegelman, and Ram Frost

Statistical learning refers to the ability to pick up on the statistical regularities in our sensory environment, typically without intention or conscious awareness. Since the seminal publication on statistical learning in 1996, sensitivity to regularities has become a key concept in our understanding of language acquisition as well as other cognitive functions such as perception and attention. Neuroimaging studies investigating which brain areas underpin statistical learning have mapped a network of domain-general regions in the medial temporal lobe as well as modality-specific regions in early sensory cortices. Research using electroencephalography has further demonstrated how sensitivity to structure impacts the brain’s processing of sensory input. In response to concerns about the large discrepancy between the very simplistic artificial regularities employed in laboratory experiments on statistical learning and the much noisier and more complex regularities humans face in the real world, recent studies have taken more ecological approaches.


Modeling in Sport and Performance  

Barbi Law, Phillip Post, and Penny McCullagh

Modeling and imagery are distinct but related psychological skills. However, despite sharing similar cognitive processes, they have traditionally been investigated separately. While modeling has shown similar psychological and physical performance benefits as imagery, it remains an understudied technique within applied sport psychology. Social cognitive and direct perception approaches remain often-used explanations for the effectiveness of modeling on skill acquisition; however, emergent neuropsychological explanations provide evidence to support these earlier theories and a link to the imagery literature. With advances in technology and the development of applied frameworks, there is renewed interest in exploring modeling effects and how they parallel imagery use in applied settings. Specifically, modeling research has expanded beyond controlled laboratory settings to explore the effect of various theoretical models on motor performance and related cognitions within practice and competitive settings. The emergence of affordable video editing technology makes it easy for coaches and athletes to incorporate modeling into practice. The accessibility of video technology has sparked applied research on how various forms of modeling influence motor performance and cognitions, such as confidence and motivation. These applied investigations demonstrate the complementary nature of modeling and imagery in enhancing sport performance and skill acquisition, while highlighting the challenges in separating modeling and imagery effects. Both literatures offer possibilities for new methodological approaches and directions for studying these psychological skills in tandem as well as independently. Thus, there is much that imagery and modeling researchers can learn from each other in sport and other performance settings.


Test-Enhanced Learning  

David R. Shanks, Hilary J. Don, Shaun Boustani, and Chunliang Yang

Tests following learning serve several important functions, including enabling students to monitor their progress and identify knowledge gaps, but they are also learning events in their own right. Testing is a powerful strategy to consolidate retention of studied information, by comparison with restudying and other elaborative strategies, and facilitates subsequent learning of new information. Moreover, the testing effect generalizes to different test formats, study-test intervals, and material types, and has been robustly demonstrated not only in the laboratory but also in classroom settings. Pretesting can promote subsequent learning of tested information, but its effect on non-pre-questioned information remains unclear. Although the beneficial effects of testing on learning and memory are substantial, learners tend to underappreciate the merits of practice tests, leading to their underemployment. Lack of motivation or insufficient knowledge about how best to exploit testing may be factors that suppress its use. However, some promising interventions have been developed to promote learners’ employment of self-testing. Whether these interventions can be effective in high-stakes classroom or online learning is an important issue for future research. Importantly, research suggests that frequent low-stakes testing may be an effective method of reducing test anxiety. Although the testing effect is very general, testing can also have negative consequences, such as when choosing an incorrect answer in a multiple-choice test stamps that incorrect answer into memory and increases its likelihood of being recalled later. Understanding the conditions in which positive or negative consequences of testing are observed bears considerable importance regarding the theoretical understanding of test-enhanced learning. Characterizing, understanding, and exploiting the multifaceted effects of tests on long-term learning has provided a rich and deep challenge to researchers in psychology, education, cognitive science, neuroscience, and related fields.


Language Development  

Carolyn Quam and Teresa Roberts

Language is a complex human capacity. The speed with which young children learn it is a remarkable feat. Across diverse cultures and family structures, children learn thousands of languages. Despite tremendous variation across languages, commonalities hold in structure and learning mechanisms. Children undergo perceptual and expressive development. They learn to organize and process language structure at the levels of semantics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics. Rates of learning of linguistic patterns are shaped by frequency, complexity, concreteness of form-to-meaning mappings, and the number of exceptions to a rule. In languages with written forms, children apply language knowledge to reading and writing.


Training from an Organizational Psychology Perspective  

Kurt Kraiger

Training is the systematic processes initiated by the organization that facilitate relatively permanent changes in the knowledge, skills, or affect/attitudes of organizational members. Cumulative meta-analytic evidence indicates that training is effective, producing, on average, moderate effect sizes. Training is most effective when designed so that trainees are active and encouraged to self-regulate during training, and when it is well-structured and requires effort on the part of trainees. Additional characteristics of effective training are: The purpose, objectives, and intended outcomes of training are clearly communicated to trainees; the training content is meaningful, and training assignments, examples, and exercises are relevant to the job; trainees are provided with instructional aids that can help them organize, learn, and recall training content; opportunities for practice in a safe environment are provided; feedback is provided by trainers, observers, peers, or the task itself; and training enables learners to observe and interact with others. In addition, effective training requires a prior needs assessment to ensure the relevance of training content and provides conditions to optimize trainees’ motivation to learn. After training, care should be taken to provide opportunities for trainees to implement trained skills, and organizational and social support should be in place to optimize transfer. Finally, it is important that all training be evaluated to ensure learning outcomes are met and that training results in increased job performance and/or organizational effectiveness.



Linda Siegel

Dyslexia, or a reading disability, occurs when an individual has great difficulty at the level of word reading and decoding. Comprehension of text, writing, and spelling are also affected. The diagnosis of dyslexia involves the use of reading tests, but the continuum of reading performance means that any cutoff point is arbitrary. The IQ score does not play a role in the diagnosis of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. The cognitive difficulties of dyslexics include problems with recognizing and manipulating the basic sounds in a language, language memory, and learning the sounds of letters. Dyslexia is a neurological condition with a genetic basis. There are abnormalities in the brains of dyslexic individuals. There are also differences in the electrophysiological and structural characteristics of the brains of dyslexics. Hope for dyslexia involves early detection and intervention and evidence-based instruction.


Working Memory  

Tom Hartley and Graham J. Hitch

Working memory is an aspect of human memory that permits the maintenance and manipulation of temporary information in the service of goal-directed behavior. Its apparently inelastic capacity limits impose constraints on a huge range of activities from language learning to planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. A substantial body of empirical research has revealed reliable benchmark effects that extend to a wide range of different tasks and modalities. These effects support the view that working memory comprises distinct components responsible for attention-like control and for short-term storage. However, the nature of these components, their potential subdivision, and their interrelationships with long-term memory and other aspects of cognition, such as perception and action, remain controversial and are still under investigation. Although working memory has so far resisted theoretical consensus and even a clear-cut definition, research findings demonstrate its critical role in both enabling and limiting human cognition and behavior.


Early Cognitive Development: Five Lessons from Infant Learning  

Sabine Hunnius

Young children develop at a breathtaking rate. Within just a few years, they change from helpless newborns into schoolchildren with all the abilities and skills needed to start formal education. To understand how such rapid cognitive development is at all possible, we can turn to five fundamental principles of infant learning: First, infants come into this world equipped to learn. From early on, they are sensitive to statistical information in their environment and readily detect and retain statistical structures they observe. Second, infants use this information to build predictive models of the world. Moreover, they are able to continuously and flexibly update these models in light of new information. Third, infant learning is fast and effective because it is supported by early existing attentional biases. Infants allocate attention to and preferably explore stimuli that are optimally informative. Fourth, adult interaction partners create ideal learning opportunities for infants by skillfully adapting their behavior to infants’ attentional preferences and learning capabilities. Fifth, infants’ learning is impacted by the development of their bodies and brains. These developmental changes modify the way infants engage with their environment and provide them with new learning experiences. In sum, the intricate interaction of infants’ basic learning mechanisms, their attentional and exploration biases, and their social exchanges brings about the astonishing developmental changes of early childhood.


Language Acquisition  

Erica H. Wojcik, Irene de la Cruz-Pavía, and Janet F. Werker

Language is a structured form of communication that is unique to humans. Within the first few years of life, typically developing children can understand and produce full sentences in their native language or languages. For centuries, philosophers, psychologists, and linguists have debated how we acquire language with such ease and speed. Central to this debate has been whether the learning process is driven by innate capacities or information in the environment. In the field of psychology, researchers have moved beyond this dichotomy to examine how perceptual and cognitive biases may guide input-driven learning and how these biases may change with experience. There is evidence that this integration permeates the learning and development of all aspects of language—from sounds (phonology), to the meanings of words (lexical-semantics), to the forms of words and the structure of sentences (morphosyntax). For example, in the area of phonology, newborns’ bias to attend to speech over other signals facilitates early learning of the prosodic and phonemic properties of their native language(s). In the area of lexical-semantics, infants’ bias to attend to novelty aids in mapping new words to their referents. In morphosyntax, infants’ sensitivity to vowels, repetition, and phrase edges guides statistical learning. In each of these areas, too, new biases come into play throughout development, as infants gain more knowledge about their native language(s).


Aging and Cognitive Skill Learning  

Jack Kuhns and Dayna R. Touron

The study of aging and cognitive skill learning is concerned with age-related changes and differences in how we gather, store, and use information and abilities. As life expectancy continues to rise, resulting in greater numbers and proportions of older individuals in the population, understanding the development and retention of skills across the lifespan is increasingly important. Older adults’ task performance in cognitive skill learning is often equal to that of young adults, albeit not as efficient, where older adults often require more time to complete training. Investigations of age differences in fundamental cognitive processes of attention, memory, or executive functioning generally reveal declines in older adults. These are related to a slowing of cognitive processing. Slowing in cognitive processing results in longer time necessary to complete tasks which can interfere with the fidelity of older adults’ cognitive processes in time-limited scenarios. Despite this, older adults maintain comparable rates of learning with young adults, albeit with some reduced efficiency in more complex tasks. The effectiveness of older adults’ learning is also impacted by a lesser tendency to recognize and adopt efficient learning strategies, as well as less flexibility in strategy use relative to younger adults. In learning tasks that involve a transition from using a complex initial strategy to relying on memory retrieval, older adults show a volitional avoidance of memory that is related to lower memory confidence and an impoverished mental model of the task. Declines in learning are not entirely problematic from a functional perspective, however, as older adults can often rely upon their extensive knowledge to compensate for certain deficiencies, particularly in everyday tasks. Indeed, domains where older adults have maintained expertise are somewhat insulated from other age-related declines.


Supervision in Exercise Settings  

Sam Zizzi and Jana L. Fogaca

The process of learning to be a licensed and competent service provider in psychology typically involves supervision by a seasoned professional. Quality supervision is the cornerstone of effective, ethical practice in psychology. This process of supervision can take on many structures and involves a series of informal and formal meetings between the student and the professional. Sometimes, this supervision will involve co-therapy where the supervisor leads a session with the client while the student watches, or vice versa. The supervisor will direct students in how to prepare for and conduct their work and how to document their sessions and give them specific feedback to improve their skills. As students build competence, the supervisor may decide to give them more independence so they can make their own decisions about treatment plans and take a leadership role with clients. In exercise settings, this supervision process is a little different from sport settings. The focus of most exercise consultations with clients will be on changing health behavior instead of improving sport performance. Also, instead of spending time at practice fields or athletic events in a sport consultation, the students would be expected to spend time in fitness and wellness centers around clients with myriad health issues. These experiences are designed to help students feel autonomous in their decision-making, and to reduce their anxiety working with clients. This process may take a few months to a couple of years depending on the skills and training of the student before supervision.


Psychological Considerations for Physical Activity Participants With Intellectual Disabilities  

Yeshayahu Hutzler and Joelle Almosni

Persons with intellectual disability (ID) exhibit reduced levels of participation in recreational and habitual physical activity, which leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and resulting medical and psychosocial burdens. In spite of their cognitive limitations, persons with ID are able to benefit from utilization of learner-centered approaches to physical activity participation. Several theoretical models, including social cognitive theory (SCT), self-determination theory (SDT), and constructivism, are helpful for explaining the benefits of internalizing learning within the framework of physical activity in persons with ID. Peer modeling, decision-making for leisure (DML), divergent production style (DPS), and the cycle of internalization (CIL) are practical teaching models focusing on internalizing learning experiences and developing an intrinsic motivation for action in the physical domain. These models have been successfully practiced in persons with ID, and their feasibility and effectiveness was established particularly for developing autonomy and social relatedness. In this article the theoretical constructs and the research literature pertaining to SCT, DML, DPS and CIL is reviewed, enabling to synthesize perspectives on how to integrate these models within residential, vocational or community based physical activity programs for persons with ID. Utilizing such models and practices may facilitate persons with ID developing an internalized motivational approach to participation in physical activity and therefore be beneficial for reducing risk factors, keeping fit and enhance quality of life. Staff members in community residences and homes for persons with ID as well as in day-care and vocational centers, should be encouraged to utilize such models as an alternative to the widely used directive teaching model following the behaviorist approach.


Neural Plasticity in Amblyopia  

Benjamin Thompson

Early in life, the brain has a substantial capacity for change, often referred to as neuroplasticity. Disrupted visual input to the brain during an early “critical” or “sensitive period” of heightened neuroplasticity induces structural and functional changes within neural systems and causes amblyopia, a sensory disorder associated with abnormal development of the brain areas involved in perception. Amblyopia impairs a broad range of visual, multisensory, and motor functions, and recovery from amblyopia requires a substantial change in visual information processing within the brain. Therefore, not only is amblyopia caused by an interaction between visual experience and heightened neuroplasticity, recovery from amblyopia also requires significant neuroplastic change within the brain. A number of evidence-based treatments are available for young children with amblyopia whose brains are still rapidly developing and have a correspondingly high level of neuroplasticity. However, adults with amblyopia are often left untreated because of the idea that the adult brain no longer has sufficient neuroplasticity to relearn how to process visual information. In the early 21st century, it became clear that this idea was not correct. A number of interventions that can enhance neuroplasticity in the mature visual cortex have been identified using animal models of amblyopia and are now being translated into human studies. Other promising techniques for enhancing visual cortex neuroplasticity have emerged from studies of adult humans with amblyopia. Examples of interventions that may improve vision in adult amblyopia include refractive correction, patching of the amblyopic eye (reverse patching), monocular and binocular perceptual learning, noninvasive brain stimulation, systemic drugs, and exercise. The next important stage of research within this field will be to conduct fully controlled randomized clinical trials to assess which, if any, of these interventions can be translated into a mainstream treatment for amblyopia in adulthood.


Neuropsychological Rehabilitation for People with Non-Progressive Brain Damage  

Barbara A. Wilson

Neuropsychological rehabilitation (NR) is concerned with the amelioration of deficits caused by insult to the brain. It adopts a goal-planning approach and addresses real-life difficulties. Neuropsychology studies how the brain affects behavior, emotion, and cognition. Rehabilitation is a process whereby people who are disabled work together with professional staff, relatives, and others to achieve optimum physical, psychological, and vocational well-being. Rehabilitation is not synonymous with recovery, nor is it treatment. It is a two-way interactive process with professional staff and others who aim to remediate or alleviate difficulties, adopting a holistic approach in which cognition, emotion, and psychosocial problems are treated together, aided by an increasing use of technological aids. NR enables people with disabilities to achieve their optimum level of well-being, reduce problems in everyday life, and help them return to the most appropriate environments. There may also be some partial or limited recovery of function and certainly some substitution of function. Accepting that return of normal functioning is highly unlikely, rehabilitation finds ways to help people learn more efficiently, compensate for their difficulties, and, when necessary, modify the environment. While theoretical models have proved helpful, indeed essential, in identifying cognitive strengths and weaknesses, in explaining phenomena, and in making predictions about behavior, they are insufficient, on their own, to seriously influence rehabilitation aimed at making lives more adaptable to problems encountered in everyday living. NR should focus on goals relevant to a person’s individual everyday life, it should be implemented in the environment where the person lives, and have personally meaningful themes, activities, settings, and interactions. We know from numerous studies that NR can be clinically effective. Although rehabilitation can be expensive in the short term, there is evidence that it is cost-effective in the long term.


Perceptual Learning: Perception and Experience  

Barbara Anne Dosher and Zhong-Lin Lu

Perceptual learning is the training-induced improvement in the accuracy or speed of relevant perceptual decisions about what is seen, heard, or felt. It occurs in all sensory modalities and in most tasks. The magnitude and generalizability of this learning may, however, depend on the stimulus modality, the level of sensory representation most aligned to the task, and the methods of training, including attention, feedback, reward, and the training protocol. What is known about perceptual learning in multiple modalities has been advanced based on behavioral studies and consideration of physiology and brain imaging, and the theoretical and computational models that systematize and promote understanding of the complex patterns of perceptual learning. Perceptual training might be used in translational applications, such as education, remediation of perceptual deficits, or maintenance of performance.


Pavlovian and Instrumental Conditioning  

Federico Sanabria

Conditioning is the change in the response to a stimulus either because of the relation of that stimulus to other stimuli (Pavlovian conditioning), or because of the relation between the response and other stimuli (instrumental conditioning). These relations are formulated in terms of differences in conditional probability known as contingencies. Pavlovian contingencies refer to the difference in the conditional probability of one stimulus (the outcome, or O) given the presence vs. the absence of another stimulus (the conditioned stimulus, or CS). A conditioned response (CR) may be strengthened by a positive Pavlovian contingency (excitatory conditioning) or it may be weakened by a negative Pavlovian contingency (inhibitory conditioning). CRs are anticipatory or modified responses to the O, so their topography depends on the nature of the O (appetitive vs. aversive); the proximity between and congruency of O and CS; prior experience with the CS, O, and their contingency; the magnitude of their contingency; and the characteristics of other stimuli in the environment. Instrumental contingencies refer to the relation between one stimulus (the discriminative stimulus, or SD), a response (or operant, R), and the outcome of that response (O). The nature of the O and of its contingency with the R determines whether the O strengthens or weakens the R: Os that introduce an appetitive stimulus (positive reinforcement) or remove an aversive stimulus (negative reinforcement) strengthen the R. Positive reinforcement is typically arranged on a subset of one or more Rs following a set of rules known as a schedule of reinforcement. The probability that an R is reinforced may depend on the number of Rs (ratio schedules) or the amount of time (interval schedules) since the last reinforcer. The topography and strength of instrumental Rs depend on variables that are analogous to those that affect Pavlovian CRs: the amount and nature of prior experience with the O; the proximity, congruency, and contingency of R and O; and characteristics of other stimuli in past and present environments. Contemporary quantitative models of Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning recognize the importance of contextual stimuli that compete for cognitive and behavioral resources, constraining and shaping the expression of target responses. These models have guided the bulk of recent empirical research and conceptual developments, leading to a progressively unified view of learning and motivation processes. Along the way, Pavlovian and instrumental research have demonstrated their utility in addressing a broad range of consequential societal problems.


Bilingualism: A Cognitive and Neural View of Dual Language Experience  

Judith F. Kroll and Guadalupe A. Mendoza

There has been an upsurge of research on the bilingual mind and brain. In an increasingly multilingual world, cognitive and language scientists have come to see that the use of two or more languages provides a unique lens to examine the neural plasticity engaged by language experience. But how? It is now uncontroversial to claim that the bilingual’s two languages are continually active, creating a dynamic interplay across the two languages. But there continues to be controversy about the consequences of that cross-language exchange for how cognitive and neural resources are recruited when a second language is learned and used actively and whether native speakers of a language retain privilege in their first acquired language. In the earliest months of life, minds and brains are tuned differently when exposed to more than one language from birth. That tuning has been hypothesized to open the speech system to new learning. But when initial exposure is to a home language that is not the majority language of the community—the experience common to heritage speakers—the value of bilingualism has been challenged, in part because there is not an adequate account of the variation in language experience. Research on the minds and brains of bilinguals reveals inherently complex and social accommodations to the use of multiple languages. The variation in the contexts in which the two languages are learned and used come to shape the dynamics of cross-language exchange across the lifespan.


Positive Leadership in Organizations  

Lucas Monzani and Rolf Van Dick

Positive leadership is a major domain of positive organizational scholarship. The adjective “positive” applies to any leader behavioral pattern (style) that creates the conditions by which organizational members can self-actualize, grow, and flourish at work. Some examples of style are authentic, transformational, servant, ethical, leader–member exchange, identity leadership, and the leader character model. Despite the myriad constructive outcomes that relate to said positive leadership styles, positive leadership it is not without its critics. The three main criticisms are that (a) the field is fragmented and might suffer from conceptual redundancy, (b) extant research focuses on the individual level of analysis and neglects reciprocal and cross-level effects, and (c) positive leadership is naïve and not useful for managing organizations. Our multilevel model of positive leadership in organizations proposes that leaders rely on internalization and integration to incorporate meaningful life experiences and functional social norms into their core self. Further, through self-awareness and introspection, leaders discover and exercise their latent character strengths. In turn, positive leaders influence followers through exemplary role modeling and in turn followers validate leaders by adopting their attributes and self-determined behaviors. At the team level of analysis, positive team leaders elevate workgroups into teams by four mechanisms that shape a shared “sense of we,” and workgroup members legitimize positive leaders by granting them a leader role identity and assuming follower role identities. Finally, at the organizational level, organizational leaders can shape a virtuous culture by anchoring it on universal virtues and through corporate social responsibility actions improve their context. Alternatively, organizations can shape a virtuous culture through organizational learning.


Animal Cognition  

Sarah Krichbaum, Adam Davila, Lucia Lazarowski, and Jeffrey S. Katz

The contemporary field of animal cognition began over 150 years ago when Charles Darwin posed questions regarding the abilities of the animal mind. Animal cognition is a science dedicated to understanding the processes and mechanisms that allow nonhumans to think and behave. The techniques that are used and the species that are studied are diverse. The historical questions originally proposed by ethologist Nikolas Tinbergen as a framework for studying animal behavior remain at the core of the field. These questions are reviewed along with the domains and methods of animal cognition with a focus on concept learning, memory, and canine cognition. Finally, ideas on how a field rich in tradition and methodological strength should proceed in the future are presented.


Conscious and Unconscious Mental States  

Zoltan Dienes and Anil K. Seth

The major theories of consciousness that distinguish conscious from unconscious states can be grouped into two main classes, either higher-order or integration theories. There is evidence that different types of mental states can be unconscious, though that conclusion depends on the theory of consciousness assumed. Unconscious memory (in the sense of the influence of a prior event not recollected) can shape perception and liking and control our behavior. Subliminal perception can produce semantic priming and guide attention and decision making; and optical variables that a person describes incorrectly can guide action. Implicit learning can shape judgments and choices in complex environments. Unconscious intentions can allow people to respond appropriately in goal-directed ways while the person experiences the actions as involuntary. Unconscious attitudes are no more or less plausible than any other mental state being unconscious, but it has been hard to obtain evidence for unconscious attitudes as distinct from gut reactions one does not agree with.