Disclaimer: English Kinda Thing

The sole purpose of the "English Kinda Thing" is to document my attempts to correct my own mistakes in standard English usage and to share the resources I find. In no way do I attempt to teach nobody English through these blurbs--just as I intend not to teach nobody to be a neurotic and psychotic handicap in Ratology Reloaded or Down with Meds! :-)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saeki, Baddeley, Hitch, & Saito. (2013). Breaking a habit: A further role of the phonological loop in action control. Memory & Cognition

Before the notes I took on the paper, the following are some notes I took concerning the notions addressed in the paper and their linkage to my dasein.  The transfer might seem a bit too far though... simply an attempt to translate the findings to my living experiences.  So to speak, imperfect translation...

Today's benchmark made... though imperfect note taking and grammatical issues... gotta go nite nite now.


Something unproveable-- what it be like, the practice of the speaking out loud of my thinking process, a manifestation of either the defect or the jamming up of the rehearsal mechanism of the phonological loop?  

Jamming up as a result of the activation of the anti-psychotic task force?   Sort of like... keep the priority straight, the core is the core... all other goals are secondary... though compensating mechanisms can be established to function (at times) as vocal rehearsal.

Interesting way to see it... the phonological loop was already running short of breathe handing the long standing competition between my psychotic and antipsychotic schemata.  Additional processing... find a way to outsource.

Unless, the head is simply jammed up by the side effects of the meds and the vocalization of my thoughts is simply a means my head has to employ in order to get the phonological loop engaged.

One thing I can say for sure is that, part of the vocalization process is to help me figure out which part of the thoughts in my head is "consciously controlled" by me although it ain't no fail-safe measure either.

So, could the speak-out-loud practice makes me appear more komish? The reality is that people don't know 1 percent of how crazy I am and it's far better than my talking to my voices 24/7, I guess.

Thoughts about and beyond the notion of asymmetrical interference of physical and numerical size

It's a very interesting notion... the asymmetrical interfering impacts of judgments on physical-size and numerical size... with the judgment of the physical size to have a stronger interfering effects on the numerical size.  I guess, we do learn to judge physical sizes before learning to differentiate numerical values.  Also, learning results in neurological restructuring--the biological equivalence of encoding knowledge in LTM.  

Transferring the above notions to psychosis...

Think about it, it took much longer than 6 months for my psychotic onset to progress to institutionalizable grade... the full-blown episode... definitely sufficient amount of time for the learned part of the "thinking pattern" to be crafted, encoded, and perfected with extensive practices.  Sure, the dysregulation of neurochemistry is the precursor of it all and sustains it.  But, it's the synergistic effects of both the physical (e.g., neurochemical, structural) and "cognitive" (e.g., thinking habit) levels that sustain our worldview.  

I don't know whether anyone could think themselves out of their psychotic worldview.  The issues at the physiological level will be something harder to charge... at least not at my own will... For instance, when your brain is shrunken, how do you get it to function the same way as them normal size brain of the normal people?  Yet, for the learned thinking habit, there is more than simply hope.  As long as we can get our head to be functional enough to learn, there's a possibility for us to unlearned the learned habit (though might not entirely)... with the learned psychotic thinking habit, the schemata easily triggered by the most irrelevant environmental cues... 

Sure, the physiological part of it sounds almost like doom's day--that's why we have to bet the desregulated shrunken head on the promises of neuroplacitisity-- with learning, the way to have neuroplacitisity siding with us... whatever gain grated is a gain... can only be grateful about it.

Saeki, Erina, Baddeley, AlanD, Hitch, GrahamJ, & Saito, Satoru. (2013). Breaking a habit: A further role of the phonological loop in action control. Memory & Cognition, 1-14.

This study aimed to investigate whether the loop has executive function in a "long-term" task conflict situation when the current task goal competes with established habits.
Supporting studies
1. task switching with concurrent tasks that are assumed to disrupt only the phonological loop or both the loop and the central executive.
2.  It has been suggested that articulatory suppression prevented the retrieving and activation of goals upon task-switching
3. Results of studies using alternating-runs paradigm (i.e., task A, task A, task B, task B...) found that articulatory suppression affected repetition and switch trials equally. Thus, the effect is not confined to the switching process but a global task control process that resolved task conflicts.
4.  "As Monsell (1996) pointed out, without goal-directed executive control, our thought and action would be "a prisoner of habit."
(I am a prisoner of habitual thinking pattern sustained by the dysregulation of my out-of-whack neurochemicals and the (plausible) altered brain structure.)

Components of the study:
  • Alternative form of Stroop effect: Physical and numerical size.  RT time has been found to be longer in incongruent condition than in congruent condition independent of the judgment target.
  • Task switching: Judgments of physical or numerical size: the continuation group performed the same task (e.g., judging physical size only) while the change group switched the task to judging the size of a different feature (e.g., numerical to physical size)
  • Dual task: control, articulatory suppression, nonarticulatory concurrent task (repeated foot tapping)
The authors also intended to test the following
  • Script theory: Instruction
  • Nature of switch: switching from easier to difficult?
  • Source of interference: "articulatory suppression did not interact with stimuli congruity; thus, the phonological loop doesn't not contribute to resolving interference arising from activation driven by the irrelevant dimension."

Experiment 1

Participants in the change group were given instructions pertaining to the "=" sign to cue them to continue with the task and the "-" sign just before the switching from the numerical to physical judgment.
These instructions were not provided to the continuation group.
Phase 1: establish task habit.  Phase 2: the change group change the judging task.

  • Ceiling effect observed 12 participants in the continuation group and 2 participants in the change group.
  • Switching from a difficult task (numerical judgment) to an easier task (physical judgment) resulted in similar findings of Saeki (2007).  Thus, the nature of how tasks are switched has no bearing on the results.
  • Also, as shown in the following figure: RT is longer for the change group than for the continuation group especially in concurent-task situations when stimuli are incongruent with articulatory suppression also having a stronger impact than foot tapping. 

  1. The differential impacts between articulatory suppression and foot tapping suggest the role of the phonological loop in protecting current goal from a competing and irrelevant task goal.
  2. The articulatory suppression did not interact with stimuli congruity.  This seemed to indicate that the control of the phonological loop is different from what is needed to resolve issues of incongruency.

Experiment 2

Both groups were given the same instructions.


Albeit some differences, results of this experiment are pretty much consistent with previous findings such as in experiment 1 and Saeki (2007)... suppression disrupt the performance of the change group, supporting the role of the phonological loop in maintaining task goals in the face of competing goals.  The potential impact of differential instruction is also ruled out.

However, it was found that, for the change group, RTs under articulatory suppression were faster in the second half than in the first half of the experiment during phase 2.

Experiment 3

In this experiment, everything is the same as was in experiment group except participants in the continuation group performed numerical judgment throughout while those in the change group started with physical judgment before switching to the numerical task.


In this experiment, the interfering effects of suppression on the change group seemed as less clear cut.  Also, foot tapping doesn't seem to have significant impact on the change group (like what was found in experiment 2).  Also, no difference between the first and the second half of the experiment during phase 2, meaning the disrupting interference of articulatory suppression persisted.

The results, again provide evidence concerning the role of the phonological loop in goal control.
Yet, after the judging tasks were switched around, the findings on congruity effects seemed to became a bit fuzzy.  The effects of congruity itself were consistent and robust but how it interacts with other factors change:
  • Unlike what was found in exp. 1 and 2, there was no interaction between congruity and group.
  • Albeit the observation of an interaction between congruity and concurrent task, it was due to the effects in the tapping condition, in contrast to the effect of the articulatory suppression observed in experiment 2.

General discussion

The following table provides a summary of the results of the three-way ANOVA on RTs.
  • Consistent: group and concurrent task interaction (articulatory suppression especially)
  • Congruity effect with longer RTs for incongruent stimuly)
  • Target task as the physical-size judgment (reflecting a larger congruity effect in change group)

The role of the phonological loop in action control

Suppression has no reliable effects on habits (even recently acquired habits) but disrupts performance when switching to a new task where there is a need to overwrite the old habits.

(Therefore, do yourself a favor, make it easier for yourself... accept false positive to save you some of the unnecessary switching around)

Albeit the slowed RTs, the performance on accuracy remained pretty high in the change group. As a result, "although the phonological loop may facilitate speedy access to the task goal, it's not necessary for accurate performance."

Congruity effects and articulatory suppression

Results found that the congruity effect was bigger in the change group when needing to compare physical size (Exps. 1 and 2) but similar between the two groups when comparing numerical size (Exp. 3 and Saeki, 2007).

So the authors averaged data from all 3 experiments to see what was going on in the first 3 blocks (i.e., phase 1).  In order to read the chart, you have to remember that except for the block 1 in the first cycle, all block 1s followed the fourth block (i.e., phase 2).

As you could see, numerical judgment in the fourth bock has a significant interfering effect on physical judgment in the first block though the effects faded away in the 2nd and 3rd blocks.  However, the performance of the continuation and change group didn't differ in the judgement of numerical size.

Some interesting asymmetry effects observed here and are in accordance to findings of existing literature...

  • The impact of numerical size on physical size judgment gradually emerge during child development (Does make sense since kids learn to judgment physical size before learning their numbers.  For more time to practice the judgment of physical size as the brain structure is developing.)
(Therefore, the earlier you start to work on the ABCs of psychosis, the better.)
  • The impact of numerical size on the judgment of physical size is typically smaller than the impact of physical size on the judgment of numerical size.

Thus, the authors suggested that the numerical feature dimension has to be more activated in order to compete with the physical feature dimension in response selection.

"a congruity effect was always observed for each type of judgment, indicating that stimulus presentation on each trial always led to some automatic activation of both the physical-size and numerical-size feature dimensions, which delayed responses on incongruent relative to congruent trials."
Think this is very important... both are activated albeit differential impacts.

(The competition between the intervening process for psychotic symptoms and simple psychotic cognitive process... Sure... like numerical size judgment to physical size judgment, the later developed intervening process might be an under dog to the simple psychotic cognitive processing.  That's fine.  As long as I can be functional, I bite the loss in efficiency.)

What about the inconsistent pattern in the interaction between articulatory suppression and congruity effect?

The issue might reside in the differences between task decision and response selection. While the phonological loop might support conflict resolution during the task decision process, the congruity effect might operate at the level of response selection... thus... the inconsistent pattern.

The phonological loop and two types of control/operation

Norman and Shallice's model of cognitive control (1986)

  • The limited-capacity "supervisory attentional system
  • lower-level "action schemata activated by environmental cues and compete with each other to control action
Love this wording "bias"...
  • In certain circumstances, "input from the higher-level supervisory attentional system is necessary to bias the competition towards the favored schema." 
  • The consistent impact of articulatory suppression indicate the role of subvocal supplementation in the biasing process during the goal/task competition.
  • The lack of consistency in the effect of our concurrent tasks on the size congruity effect: Stroop-like phenomenon "may operate at a lower level of control."
  • "It could be argued that subvocalization is a process whereby explicit and declarative forms of working memory are used to facilitate the implicit procedural system, providing an ongoing set of cues that protected action from disruption by recent habits."
(Can't tell you how many times when my delusional head was trying went on entertaining observations or things heard shared or not with the others... I have to come out and stop the process... with all means possible... starting from the most basic... repeating to myself... "I am delusional"... however effective it might be.)

The authors' conclusion... "the phonological loop can play an important role in the control of action."

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