The interaction between reflective processing and language among bilingual speakers

Poh, Wei Lin (2017) The interaction between reflective processing and language among bilingual speakers. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Internal or Reflective attention can refer to our thoughts/reflections in order to make sense of our external world through our senses and perception. Reflective attention also includes the act of refreshing which is the act of thinking back and shifting internal attention towards previously activated mental representations. Previous research (M.R. Johnson et al., 2013) has shown that refreshing mirrors a striking similarity to that of inhibition of return (IOR) effect which inhibits visual attention to return to a previously cued location (Posner & Cohen, 1984; Posner, Rafal, Choate, & Vaughan, 1985). This IOR-like mechanism helps facilitate our thoughts (similarly to perception) by encouraging internal attention to move towards new information and avoid constant fixation on a single thought (M.R. Johnson et al., 2013) which was coined as reflective IOR (rIOR). The objective of the thesis investigates variables such as time duration and language during the production of rIOR mechanism.

A total of seven experiments were conducted. The first set of experiments (Experiments 1 to 3) aimed to examine the time course of refreshing while the second set and (Experiments 4 to 7) examined the effect of language on reflective attention. In each experiment, participants were shown two stimuli, either in the form of pictures or English/Malay words. They were instructed to refresh by keeping one item (i.e., mental representation) active while ignoring the other. Results showed an attentional shift or bias towards the unrefreshed mental representation, more so in the experiments which used word stimuli rather than picture stimuli. The novelty of the current thesis is that early language processing (i.e., English and Malay words) in bilingual speakers was taken into account while investigating the reflective attention. This pattern was consistent whether the words were presented in English or Malay which are consistent with M. R. Johnson and colleagues’ finding that IOR mechanism shifts internal attention to new information However, if participants were presented with English stimuli, refreshed the English word but were then probed in the equivalent Malay word, a stronger priming effect emerged instead. The behavioural pattern implicated that asymmetrical cost during language switching could be reduced as a result of refreshing.

The data also showed that while refreshing may cause a temporary inaccessibility to recently activated items, refreshed words were more memorable in a later recognition task. This suggested the role of refreshing plays an important role encoding and storing mental representations in later long term retrieval. Mental representations that were ignored or were not give n attention tended to fade away more quickly. The novelty of the thesis is that language processing was explored as a component to this mechanism by manipulating languages of the refreshed words presented. Participants were more likely to make false alarms when they were presented with an English equivalent word in the recognition task, when the original word had in fact been presented (i.e., previously refreshed) in Malay. Language models such as the Revised Hierarchical Model (RHM) ( Kroll and Stewart, 1990, 1994) were applied in examining refreshing in stronger or weaker languages that gave rise to poor memory performance. According to the RHM’s logic, words activated in non-dominant language would subsequently activate words in the dominant language in order to access the meaning of the word. In this language processing route, it is possible that refreshing a word in the weaker language would subsequently activate the similar word in the stronger language which is reflected as a false memory incident.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Price, Jessica Mary
Keywords: bilingual speakers, neurolinguistics, cognitive psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology > QP351 Neurophysiology and neuropsychology
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 39741
Depositing User: POH, WEI LIN
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2017 09:59
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 04:10

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