Cognitive and Personality Components Underlying Spoken Idiom Comprehension in Context. An Exploratory Study.
ABSTRACT: In this exploratory study, we investigated whether and to what extent individual differences in cognitive and personality variables are associated with spoken idiom comprehension in context. Language unimpaired participants were enrolled in a cross-modal lexical decision study in which semantically ambiguous Italian idioms (i.e., strings with both a literal and an idiomatic interpretation as, for instance, break the ice), predictable or unpredictable before the string offset, were embedded in idiom-biasing contexts. To explore the contributions of different cognitive and personality components, participants also completed a series of tests respectively assessing general speed, inhibitory control, short-term and working memory, cognitive flexibility, crystallized and fluid intelligence, and personality. Stepwise regression analyses revealed that online idiom comprehension was associated with the participants' working memory, inhibitory control and crystallized verbal intelligence, an association modulated by idiom type. Also personality-related variables (State Anxiety and Openness to Experience) were associated with idiom comprehension, although in marginally significant ways. These results contribute to the renewed interest on how individual variability modulates language comprehension, and for the first time document contributions of individual variability on lexicalized, high frequency multi-word expressions as idioms adding new knowledge to the existing evidence on metaphor and sarcasm.
Project description:We investigate three potential mechanisms underlying the deficit in idiom comprehension seen in aphasia: difficulty inhibiting literal meanings, inability to recognize that a figurative interpretation is required, and difficulty processing abstract words and concepts. Unimpaired adults and PWA read high and moderate familiarity idioms either preceded or followed by a figuratively biasing context sentence. They then completed a string-to-word probe selection task, choosing between a figurative target, a literal lure, and unrelated concrete and abstract lures. PWA chose the figurative target more often for more familiar idioms and after figuratively biasing contexts, suggesting that difficulty accessing figurative meanings may be a key contributor to idiom impairment in aphasia. Importantly, PWA chose abstract lures at the same rate as they chose literal lures, suggesting that abstract lures may be considered equally good matches for weak idiomatic representations in PWA, and therefore that idiomatic figurative meanings may be represented similarly to abstract concepts for PWA. These results have implications for models of idiom comprehension in aphasia, as well as the design of future studies of idiom comprehension in PWA.
Project description:High-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) involves pragmatic impairment of language skills. Among numerous tasks for assessing pragmatic linguistic skills, idioms are important to evaluating high-functioning ASD. Nevertheless, no assessment tool has been developed with specific consideration of Korean culture. Therefore, we designed the Korean Autism Social Language Task (KASLAT) to test idiom comprehension in ASD. The aim of the current study was to introduce this novel psychological tool and evaluate idiom comprehension deficits in high-functioning ASD.The participants included 42 children, ages 6-11 years, who visited our child psychiatric clinic between April 2014 and May 2015. The ASD group comprised 16 children; the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) group consisted of 16 children. An additional 10 normal control children who had not been diagnosed with either disorder participated in this study. Idiom comprehension ability was assessed in these three groups using the KASLAT.Both ASD and ADHD groups had significantly lower scores on the matched and mismatched tasks, compared to the normal control children (matched tasks mean score: ASD 11.56, ADHD 11.56, normal control 14.30; mismatched tasks mean score: ASD 6.50, ADHD 4.31, normal control 11.30). However, no significant differences were found in scores of KASLAT between the ADHD and ASD groups.These findings suggest that children with ASD exhibit greater impairment in idiom comprehension, compared to normal control children. The KASLAT may be useful in evaluating idiom comprehension ability.
Project description:In a self-paced reading study, we investigated how effects of biasing contexts in idiom processing interact with effects of idiom literality. Specifically, we tested if idioms with a high potential for literal interpretation (e.g., break the ice) are processed differently in figuratively and literally biasing contexts than idioms with a low potential (e.g., lose one's cool). Participants read sentences that biased towards a figurative or literal reading of idioms and continued with resolutions that were congruent or incongruent with these biases (e.g., [The new schoolboy/the chilly Eskimo] just wanted to break the ice [with his peers/on the lake]…). While interpretations of high-literality idioms were strengthened by supporting contexts and showed costs for incongruent resolutions, low-literality idioms did not show this effect. Rather, interpreting low-literality idioms in a literal manner showed a cost regardless of context. We conclude that biasing contexts are used in a flexible process of real-time idiom processing and meaning constitution, but this effect is mediated by idiom literality.
Project description:Idioms of distress communicate suffering via reference to shared ethnopsychologies, and better understanding of idioms of distress can contribute to effective clinical and public health communication. This systematic review is a qualitative synthesis of "thinking too much" idioms globally, to determine their applicability and variability across cultures. We searched eight databases and retained publications if they included empirical quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods research regarding a "thinking too much" idiom and were in English. In total, 138 publications from 1979 to 2014 met inclusion criteria. We examined the descriptive epidemiology, phenomenology, etiology, and course of "thinking too much" idioms and compared them to psychiatric constructs. "Thinking too much" idioms typically reference ruminative, intrusive, and anxious thoughts and result in a range of perceived complications, physical and mental illnesses, or even death. These idioms appear to have variable overlap with common psychiatric constructs, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. However, "thinking too much" idioms reflect aspects of experience, distress, and social positioning not captured by psychiatric diagnoses and often show wide within-cultural variation, in addition to between-cultural differences. Taken together, these findings suggest that "thinking too much" should not be interpreted as a gloss for psychiatric disorder nor assumed to be a unitary symptom or syndrome within a culture. We suggest five key ways in which engagement with "thinking too much" idioms can improve global mental health research and interventions: it (1) incorporates a key idiom of distress into measurement and screening to improve validity of efforts at identifying those in need of services and tracking treatment outcomes; (2) facilitates exploration of ethnopsychology in order to bolster cultural appropriateness of interventions; (3) strengthens public health communication to encourage engagement in treatment; (4) reduces stigma by enhancing understanding, promoting treatment-seeking, and avoiding unintentionally contributing to stigmatization; and (5) identifies a key locally salient treatment target.
Project description:A growing body of research supports the notion that cognitive abilities and personality are systematically related. However, this research has focused largely on global personality dimensions and single-often equally global-markers of cognitive ability. The present study offers a more fine-grained perspective. Specifically, it is one of the first studies to comprehensively investigate the associations between both fluid and crystallized intelligence with Big Five personality domains as well as their facets. Based on a heterogeneous sample of the adult population in Germany (N = 365), our study yielded three key findings. First, personality was more strongly related to crystallized intelligence than to fluid intelligence. This applied both to the total variance explained and to the effect sizes of most of the Big Five domains and facets. Second, facets explained a larger share of variance in both crystallized and fluid intelligence than did domains. Third, the associations of different facets of the same domain with cognitive ability differed, often quite markedly. These differential associations may substantially reduce-or even suppress-the domain-level associations. Our findings clearly attest to the added value of a facet-level perspective on the personality-cognitive ability interface. We discuss how such a fine-grained perspective can further theoretical understanding and enhance prediction.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social communication impairments and repetitive behaviors or restricted interests. Impaired pragmatic language comprehension is a universal feature in individuals with ASD. However, the underlying neural basis of pragmatic language is poorly understood. In the present study, we examined neural activation patterns associated with impaired pragmatic language comprehension in ASD, compared to typically developing children (TDC).Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was applied to 15 children with ASD and 18 TDC using the Korean pragmatic language task.Children with ASD were less accurate than TDC at comprehending idioms, particularly when they were required to interpret idioms with mismatched images (mismatched condition). Children with ASD also showed different patterns of neural activity than TDC in all three conditions (neutral, matched, and mismatched). Specifically, children with ASD showed decreased activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) (Brodmann area 47) in the mismatched condition, compared with TDC (IFG; t(31)=3.17, p<0.001).These results suggest that children with ASD face difficulties in comprehending pragmatic expressions and apply different pragmatic language processes at the neural level.
Project description:Idiomatic expressions can be interpreted literally or figuratively. These two meanings are often processed in parallel or very rapidly, as evidenced by online measures of idiomatic processing. Because in many cases the figurative meaning cannot be derived from the component lexical elements and because of the speed with which this meaning is accessed, it is assumed such meanings are stored in semantic memory. In the present study, we examined how literal equivalents and intact idiomatic expressions are stored in memory and whether episodic memory traces interact or interfere with semantic-level representations and vice versa. To examine age-invariance, younger and older adults studied lists of idioms and literal equivalents. On a recognition test, some studied items were presented in the alternative form (e.g., if the idiom was studied, its literal equivalent was tested). False alarms to these critical items suggested that studying literal equivalents activates the idiom from which they are derived, presumably due to spreading activation in lexical/semantic networks, and results in high rates of errors. Importantly, however, the converse (false alarms to literal equivalents after studying the idiom) were significantly lower, suggesting an advantage in storage for idioms. The results are consistent with idiom processing models that suggest obligatory access to figurative meanings and that this access can also occur indirectly, through literal equivalents.
Project description:Idioms are used in conventional language twice as frequently as metaphors, but most research, particularly recent work on embodiment has focused on the latter. However, idioms have the potential to significantly deepen our understanding of embodiment because their meanings cannot be derived from their component words. To determine whether sensorimotor states could activate idiomatic meaning, participants were instructed to engage in postures/actions reflecting various idioms (e.g., sticking your neck out) relative to non-idiomatic control postures/actions while reading and responding to statements designed to assess idiomatic meaning. The results showed that statements were generally more strongly endorsed after idiom embodiment than control conditions, indicating that the meaning of idiomatic expressions may not be as disconnected from perceptual and motor experiences than previously thought. These findings are discussed in terms of the mirror neuron system and the necessity of pluralistic contributions from both sensorimotor and amodal linguistic systems to fully account for the representation and processing of idioms and other figurative expressions.
Project description:Studies of the neural basis of intelligence have focused on comparing brain imaging variables with global scales instead of the cognitive domains integrating these scales or quotients. Here, the relation between mean tract-based fractional anisotropy (mTBFA) and intelligence indices was explored. Deterministic tractography was performed using a regions of interest approach for 10 white-matter fascicles along which the mTBFA was calculated. The study sample included 83 healthy individuals from the second wave of the Cuban Human Brain Mapping Project, whose WAIS-III intelligence quotients and indices were obtained. Inspired by the "Watershed model" of intelligence, we employed a regularized hierarchical Multiple Indicator, Multiple Causes model (MIMIC), to assess the association of mTBFA with intelligence scores, as mediated by latent variables summarizing the indices. Regularized MIMIC, used due to the limited sample size, selected relevant mTBFA by means of an elastic net penalty and achieved good fits to the data. Two latent variables were necessary to describe the indices: Fluid intelligence (Perceptual Organization and Processing Speed indices) and Crystallized Intelligence (Verbal Comprehension and Working Memory indices). Regularized MIMIC revealed effects of the forceps minor tract on crystallized intelligence and of the superior longitudinal fasciculus on fluid intelligence. The model also detected the significant effect of age on both latent variables.
Project description:The meta-analytic finding that faking does not affect the criterion validity of self-report measures in applicant selection suggests cognitive abilities are crucial to fake personality to an expected optimal profile in self-report measures. Previous studies in this field typically focus on how the extent of faking changes self-report measurement. However, the effect of faking ability is rarely considered. In Study 1 (n = 151), we link two questionnaires, the WSQ and the NEO-PI-R, to use them for later faking ability tasks. With O?NET expert ratings and the linked questionnaires, we establish veridical responses of optimal personality profiles for both questionnaires. Based on this, in Study 2, we develop six faking ability task employing both questionnaires and three common jobs to fake for. To score the tasks, we introduce profile similarity metrics that compare faked response vectors to optimal profile vectors. The faking ability tasks were administered to a community sample (n = 210) who additionally completed measures of cognitive abilities, namely general mental ability, crystallized intelligence, and interpersonal abilities. For all, based on previous research, it can be argued that they should predict individual differences in faking ability. We establish a measurement model of faking ability and its relation to the other cognitive abilities. Using structural equations modeling, we find the strongest effect for crystallized intelligence and weaker effects for general mental ability and interpersonal abilities, all positively predicting faking ability. We show for the first time that we can measure faking ability with psychometrically sound techniques, establish a confirmatory factor model of faking ability and that it is largely explained by other cognitive abilities. We conclude that research supporting a positive link between self-reported personality and job performance is presumably confounded by cognitive abilities, because they are predictive of both faking self-reported personality and job performance. We recommend researchers to broaden their measurements with assessments of faking ability or other cognitive abilities (besides general mental ability) in research regarding applicant selection.