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Paper #1

In: Other Topics

Submitted By gigigates
Words 2007
Pages 9
Gabriela Casas
Cognitive Psychology 3319
February 19, 2016

Target Article:
Embodied Cognition: Davioli, C. C., Du, F., Montana, J., Garverick, S., & Abrams, R. A. (2010). When meaning matters, look but don’t touch: The effects of posture on reading. Memory & Cognition, 38(5), 555-562.

1. Research Question(s)
Reading is an essential part of life and the with internet, humans have access to unlimited quantities of reading material. Much of the reading that we do occurs near the hands whether we read documents electronically or whether read via hard copies. There are individual functional preferences in consuming reading material, and there may also be advantages and disadvantages associated with these preferences, which may or may not in turn correlate to the perceived affect how much material is actually absorbed. Previous research has revealed that spatial processing is essential for successful reading, and is enhanced near the hands. Another critical aspect pertaining to reading involves semantic processing, which is related with vocabulary, knowledge, understanding of what a word means, and how to use words and meaning in context. Several studies have posed that hand actions affect what we see which may also contribute to language acquisition, comprehension, and communication. Research also reveals a direct manner in which visual processing is affected in relation to the spacing around the hands. The effect that hands have on our locus of visual attention have also shown that visual stimuli near the hands may be processed fundamentally differently from those farther away. There is also evidence that vision of the space around the hands is unique to certain brain mechanisms and neurophysiological data the conclusion that relationship of space immediately surrounding the body is representative to reading.
2. Hypotheses/Predictions and Rationale for Predictions
The processes involved with reading are complex, and choosing how to read text is explained with changes near to (e.g. reading on paper) versus far from (e.g. reading on a monitor) the hands. There are several possibilities regarding the manner in which hand proximity might affect semantic processing, and just as spatial processing is enhanced near the hands, this study explores the effects of posture on reading in relation to semantic processing. Researchers in this experiment anticipated the results and in all experiments, they found evidence for impoverished semantic processing near the hands. The current experimental study was done with-in subjects using undergraduates from Washington University. There were three different experiments which were used to test the relationship of spacing around the hands in relation to semantic processing.
3. Experiment 1: Independent and Dependent Variables/Results
In Experiment 1, the task involved subjects sitting at a desk facing an 18-inch cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor on which all stimuli were presented. Experiment 1, is a 2 (posture: proximal, distal) X 2 (semantic sensibleness: sensible, nonsensical) design. In this experiment, there were two independent variables manipulated within-subjects, one independent variable with two levels, and the second independent variable with two levels. The independent variables were: types of postures and types of semantic sensibleness. The first independent variable (types of postures), has two levels: proximal and distal. The second independent variable (types of semantic sensibleness), has two levels: sensible and nonsensical.
The dependent variable in the experiment tested for response accuracy, and they manipulated the proximity of subjects’ hands to the visual monitor while they performed two tasks that drew on semantic processing. Subjects performed one half with their hands in the proximal posture and the other half with their hands in a distal posture, with posture order counterbalanced across subjects.
The results revealed a mean response accuracy for each posture and sentence type. In the distal posture, subjects were equally good at classifying sensible and nonsensical sentences, however, in the proximal distance, subjects were poorer at classifying the nonsensical sentences correctly. Neither posture nor sensibleness had a main effect on accuracy and response time did not differ across the conditions. The present results suggest that semantic processing is impoverished near the hands, and this occurred despite the spatial-processing enhancements that have been previously reported near the hands. Researchers highlight that the results are consistent with a bias to respond that sentences are more sensible when one’s hands are near the stimuli. They also pose that such bias is related to a reduction in semantic processing. All sentences which were presented to subjects were grammatically correct and because all sentences were grammatically correct, subjects may have been more likely to respond “sensible” when semantic processing was impaired, thus these results were reflected in Experiment 1. In order to examine the extent to which extraction of meaning may be impoverished near the hands, researchers applied a stronger test of semantic processing in next experiment. In Experiment 2, researchers used the Stroop color word interference task in which the meaning of a color word interferes with a response to the color in which it appears when the color is incongruent with its meaning. The effect of Stroop interference is thought to reflect the relative speed with which words are read compared with that with which colors are named, therefore allowing for a strong test of semantic processing. Furthermore, if semantic processing is impoverished near the hands, researchers expect a reduction in the Stroop interference effect when subjects hold their hands near the color words.
4. Experiment 2: Independent and Dependent Variables/Results
In Experiment 2, there were two independent variables, the first variable (type of posture), has two levels (proximal and distal), and second independent variable (color word congruency), has three levels (neutral, congruent, and incongruent) within-subject design. The dependent variable tested for response times along the three levels of color word congruency, and a two-way ANOVA was used to analyze the experiment with the two variables. The three kinds of letter strings presented during the color word task congruent strings spelled out color words that were consistent with the color in which they appeared, incongruent strings spelled out color words that were inconsistent with the color in which they appeared but inconsistent with the alternative response. And lastly, neutral strings consisted of a series of Xs in red or green where, half of the neutral strings were three Xs in length and the other half were five Xs long, matching the red and green lengths of string.
The results of Experiment 2 revealed a reduced Stroop interference effect, in which the to-be-ignored meaning of the color words influenced the speed with which participants could name the colors. The main effect of the incongruent condition reflected a slower response with an average of 19.7 (msec) compared to that of the congruent conditions, however the data also reflected no main effect of posture on response times, therefore error rates did not pose a trade-off between that of speed and accuracy. Additionally, reduced interference was strong when participants held their hands near stimuli, this could be a result of either impoverished semantic processing or due to enhanced color processing. Nonetheless, if reduced interference was attributed by the color processing task, then there would have been faster response times to neutral stimuli in the proximal distance compared to the distal distance, but results showed no difference amongst the two neutral distances. Participants who displayed the largest reduction in Stroop interference when in proximal conditions also displayed the largest advantage in response time on neutral trials in the proximal condition resulting in a positive correlation, therefore reflecting some evidence of enhanced color processing in some participants. Furthermore, the study mentions limitations in interpreting the results, arguing that the proximal and distal postures may have an impact on the level of comfort for the reader while assuming such positions in the given conditions. Researchers argue if difficulty was caused by the sitting position of participants, then results would instead relate this limitation to a dual-task interference between maintenance of an awkward position (proximal posture) and performance of semantic tasks. To rule out this possibility and to further explore color task processing enhancement reflected by participants in the proximal posture, a third experiment was conducted to answer this possibility.
5. Experiment 3: Independent and Dependent Variables/Results
In Experiment 3, participants performed the same Stroop task as in Experiment 2 with a similar manipulation of hand proximity. With the new experiment however, a distal posture was selected fo`r participants, creating an awkward and unusual position as was done in the prior experiment using proximal postures. Another focus in Experiment 3 is examining the correlational relationship found in the previous experiment between the Stroop-effect difference and neutral-trial difference across postures. Researchers argue that although the overall pattern of results did not suggest the effect was caused by enhanced color processing near the hands, they pose the possibility remained open to this task and its possible role in color processing. For Experiment 3, there were two independent variables, the first variable (type of posture), has two levels (proximal, distal), and second independent variable (color word congruency), has two levels (congruent, incongruent) within-subject design. This experiment intentionally left out the neutral trials. The dependent variable tested for response times along the three levels of color word congruency, and a two-way ANOVA was used to analyze the experiment with the two variables. The mean results for the present experiment replicated the same results as in Experiment 2, finding a dramatic reduction of interference in the proximal posture compared with the newly presented distal posture. Noticeable reduced response times were shown in the incongruent condition than in the congruent condition. An interference occurred among the to-be-ignored meaning of the color words and the speed with which participants could name their colors, resulting in a similar Stroop interference effect amongst the two conditions as seen in the prior experiment. Participants displayed slower response times in the incongruent condition compared to that of the congruent condition, this had an average of 20.7 (msec). In the proximal posture, there was a reduced interference from stimuli with incongruent conditions compared to the distal posture, therefore there were no main effects of postures on response time. Again, error rates did not indicate the presence of a trade-off between speed and accuracy. Lastly, in Experiment 2, participants showed a pattern of results suggesting that the reduced Stroop interference effect was due to enhancements stemming from color processing instead of impoverished semantic processing. Experiment 3 showed no correlation between Stroop-effect difference and neutral trial difference across postures. Although such correlations were reflected, researchers continued to see reductions in the Stroop interference effect while participants were in proximal postures. It is still unclear, given the data, how to account for the difference between experiments, although it is clear that the effects of posture on Stroop interference did not require enhancements in the processing of colorful information.
6. Implications
In conclusion, the purpose of this study was to examine the advantages and disadvantages that come with reading near or far from the hands. Depending on the type of text that is being read and the reader’s ultimate goal, one type of processing may be more beneficial than the latter. The results reflected in this study are consistent with a presence of trade-off between semantic processing and spatial processing that may be altered by hand proximity. Previous studies show that the enhancement of spatial processing near the hands may be achieved at the expense of semantic processing as was shown in this study. Researcher imply that it is possible that objects near the hands may be critical to us because they may be objects that need to be grasped or avoided, therefore reflecting a bias coming from visual processing towards spatial properties of objects and away from semantic ones.
The practice that some people have with reading in a certain medium may outweigh the potential effects of hand proximity and proving whether reading via hard copy or electronically is beneficial in reading remains unanswered, therefore researchers pose that further research is needed in this area of interest.

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