The present research combines different paradigm in the area of visual perception of letter and words. These experiments aimed to understand the deficit underlying the problem associated with the faulty visual processing of letters and words. The present work summarizes the findings from two different types of population: (1) Dyslexics (reading-disabled children) and (2) Illiterates (adults who cannot read). In order to compare the results, comparisons were made between literate and illiterate group; dyslexics and control group (normal reading children). Differences for Even related potentials (ERP’s) between dyslexics and control children were made using mental rotation task for letters. According to the ERP’s, the effect of the mental rotation task of letter perception resulted as a delayed positive component and the component becomes less positive when the task becomes more difficult (Rotation related Negativity – RRN). The component was absent for dyslexics and present for controls. Dyslexics also showed some late effects in comparison to control children and this could be interpreted as problems at the decision stage where they are confused as to the letter is normal or mirrored. Dyslexics also have problems in responding to the letters having visual or phonological similarities (e.g. b vs d, p vs q). Visually similar letters were used to compare dyslexics and controls on a symmetry generalization task in two different contrast conditions (low and high). Dyslexics showed a similar pattern of response, and were overall slower in responding to the task compared to controls. The results were interpreted within the framework of the Functional Coordination Deficit (Lachmann, 2002). Dyslexics also showed delayed response in responding to the word recognition task during motion. Using red background decreases the Magnocellular pathway (M-pathway) activity, making more difficult to identify letters and this effect was worse for dyslexics because their M-pathway is weaker. In dyslexics, the M-pathway is worse; using a red background decreases the M activity and increases the difficulty in identifying lexical task in motion. This effect generated worse response to red compared to the green background. The reaction times with red were longer than those with green background. Further, Illiterates showed an analytic approach to responding to letters as well as on shapes. The analytic approach does not result from an individual capability to read, but is a primary base of visual organization or perception.
The present work investigated three important constructs in the field of psychology: creativity, intelligence and giftedness. The major objective was to clarify some aspects about each one of these three constructs, as well as some possible correlations between them. Of special interest were: (1) the relationship between creativity and intelligence - particularly the validity of the threshold theory; (2) the development of these constructs within average and above-average intelligent children and throughout grade levels; and (3) the comparison between the development of intelligence and creativity in above-average intelligent primary school children that participated in a special program for children classified as “gifted”, called Entdeckertag (ET), against an age-class- and-IQ matched control group. The ET is a pilot program which was implemented in 2004 by the Ministry for Education, Science, Youth and Culture of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The central goals of this program are the early recognition of gifted children and intervention, based on the areas of German language, general science and mathematics, and also to foster the development of a child’s creativity, social ability, and more. Five hypotheses were proposed and analyzed, and reported separately within five chapters. To analyze these hypotheses, a sample of 217 children recruited from first to fourth grade, and between the ages of six and ten years, was tested for intelligence and creativity. Children performed three tests: Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) for the assessment of classical intelligence, Test of Creative Thinking – Drawing Production (TCT-DP) for the measurement of classical creativity, and Creative Reasoning Task (CRT) for the evaluation of convergent and divergent thinking, both in open problem spaces. Participants were divided according to two general cohorts: Intervention group (N = 43), composed of children participating in the Entdeckertag program, and a non-intervention group (N = 174), composed of children from the regular primary school. For the testing of the hypotheses, children were placed into more specific groups according to the particular hypothesis that was being tested. It could be concluded that creativity and intelligence were not significantly related and the threshold theory was not confirmed. Additionally, intelligence accounted for less than 1% of the variance within creativity; moreover, scores on intelligence were unable to predict later creativity scores. The development of classical intelligence and classical creativity throughout grade levels also presented a different pattern; intelligence grew increasingly and continually, whereas creativity stagnated after the third grade. Finally, the ET program proved to be beneficial for classical intelligence after two years of attendance, but no effect was found for creativity. Overall, results indicate that organizations and institutions such as schools should not look solely to intelligence performance, especially when aiming to identify and foster gifted or creative individuals.
From an evolutionary point of view, it can be assumed that visual processing and rapid detection of potentially dangerous stimuli in the environment (e.g., perilous animals) is highly adaptive for all humans. In the present dissertation, I address three research questions; (1) Is information processing of threatening stimuli enhanced in individuals with specific phobias? (2) Are there any differences between the different types of phobia (e.g., spider phobia vs. snake phobia)? (3) Is the frequently reported attentional bias of individuals with specific phobias - which may contribute to an enhancement in information processing – also detectable in a prior entry paradigm? In Experiments 1 to 3 of the present thesis non-anxious control, spider-fearful, snake-fearful, and blood-injection-injury-fearful participants took part in the study. We applied in each experiment a response priming paradigm which has a strong theoretical (cf. rapid-chase theory; Schmidt, Niehaus, & Nagel, 2006; Schmidt, Haberkamp, Veltkamp et al., 2011) as well as empirical background (cf. Schmidt, 2002). We show that information processing in fearful individuals is indeed enhanced for phobic images (i.e., spiders for spider-fearful participants; injuries for blood-injury-injection(BII)-fearful individuals). However, we found marked differences between the different types of phobia. In Experiment 1 and 2 (Chapter 2 and 3), spiders had a strong and specific influence in the group of spider-fearful individuals: Phobic primes entailed the largest priming effects, and phobic targets accelerated responses, both effects indicating speeded response activation by phobic images. In snake-fearful participants (Experiment 1, Chapter 2), this processing enhancement for phobic material was less pronounced and extended to both snake and spider images. In Experiment 3 (Chapter 4), we demonstrated that early information processing for pictures of small injuries is also enhanced in BII-fearful participants, even though BII fear is unique in that BII-fearful individuals show opposite physiological reactions when confronted with the phobic stimulus compared to individuals with animal phobias. These results show that already fast visuomotor responses are further enhanced in spider- and BII-fearful participants. Results give evidence that responses are based on the first feedforward sweep of neuronal activation proceeding through the visuomotor system. I propose that the additional enhancement in spider- and BII-fearful individuals depend on a specific hardwired binding of elementary features belonging to the phobic object in fearful individuals (i.e., effortless recognition of the respective phobic object via hardwired neuronal conjunctions). I suggest that these hardwired conjunctions developed due to long-term perceptual learning processes. We also investigate the frequently reported attentional bias of phobic individuals and showed that this bias is detectable in temporal order judgments using a prior entry paradigm. I assume that perceptual learning processes might also strengthen the attentional bias, for example, by providing a more salient bottom-up signal that draws attention involuntarily. In sum, I conclude that (1) early information processing of threatening stimuli is indeed enhanced in individuals with specific phobias but that (2) differences between divers types of phobia exist (i.e., spider- and BII-fearful participants show enhanced information of the respective phobic object; though, snake-fearful participants show no specific information processing enhancement of snakes); (3) the frequently reported attentional bias of spider-fearful individuals is also detectable in a prior entry paradigm.
When stimulus and response overlap in a choice-reaction task, enhanced performance can be observed. This effect, the so-called Stimulus-Response Compatibility (SRC) has been shown to appear for a variety of different stimulus features such as numerical or physical size, luminance, or pitch height. While many of these SRC effects have been investigated in an isolated manner, only fewer studies focus on possible interferences when more than one stimulus dimension is varied. The present thesis investigated how the SRC effect of pitch heights, the so-called SPARC effect (Spatial Pitch Associations of Response Codes), is influenced by additionally varied stimulus information. In Study 1, the pitch heights of presented tones were varied along with timbre categories under two different task and pitch range conditions and with two different response alignments. Similarly, in Study 2, pitch heights as well as numerical values were varied within sung numbers under two different task conditions. The results showed simultaneous SRC effects appearing independently of each other in both studies: In Study 1, an expected SRC effect of pitch heights with horizontal responses (i.e., a horizontal SPARC effect) was observed. More interestingly, an additional and unexpected SRC effect of timbre with response sides presented itself independently of this SPARC effect. Similar results were obtained in Study 2: Here, an SRC effect for pitch heights (SPARC) and an SRC effect for numbers (i.e., SNARC or Spatial Numerical Associations of Response Codes, respectively) were observed and again the effects did not interfere with each other. Thus, results indicate that SPARC with horizontal responses does not interfere with SRC effects of other, simultaneously varied stimulus dimensions. These findings are discussed within the principle of polarity correspondence and the dimensional overlap model as theoretical accounts for SRC effects. In sum, it appears that the different types of information according to varied stimulus dimensions enter the decision stage of stimulus processing from separate channels.
Perceptual grouping is an integral part of visual object recognition. It organizes elements within our visual field according to a set of heuristics (grouping principles), most of which are not well understood. To identify their temporal processing dynamics (i.e., to identify whether they rely on neuronal feedforward or recurrent activation), we introduce the primed flanker task that is based on a firm empirical and theoretical background. In three sets of experiments, participants responded to visual stimuli that were either grouped by (1) similarity of brightness, shape, or size, (2) symmetry and closure, or (3) Good Gestalt. We investigated whether these grouping cues were effective in rapid visuomotor processing (i.e., in terms of response times, error rates, and priming effects) and whether the results met theory-driven indicators of feedforward processing. (1) In the first set of experiments with similarity cues, we varied subjective grouping strength and found that stronger grouping in the targets enhanced overall response times while stronger grouping in the primes enhanced priming effects in motor responses. We also obtained differences between rapid visuomotor processing and the subjective impression with cues of brightness and shape but not with cues of brightness and size. These results show that the primed flanker task is an objective measure for comparing different feedforward-transmitted groupings. (2) In the second set of experiments, we used the task to study grouping by symmetry and grouping by closure that are more complex than similarity cues. We obtained results that were mostly in accordance with a feedforward model. Some other factors (line of view, orientation of the symmetry axis) were irrelevant for processing of symmetry cues. Thus, these experiments suggest that closure and (possibly) viewpoint-independent symmetry cues are extracted rapidly during the first feedforward wave of neuronal processing. (3) In the third set of experiments, we used the task to study grouping by Good Gestalt (i.e., visual completion in occluded shapes). By varying the amount of occlusion, we found that the processing was in accordance with a feedforward model only when occlusion was very limited. Thus, these experiments suggest that Good Gestalt is not extracted rapidly during the first feedforward wave of neuronal processing but relies on recurrent activation. I conclude (1) that the primed flanker task is an excellent tool to identify and compare the processing characteristics of different grouping cues by behavioral means, (2) that grouping strength and other factors are strongly modulating these processing characteristics, which (3) challenges a dichotomous classification of grouping cues based on feedforward vs. recurrent processing (incremental grouping theory, Roelfsema, 2006), and (4) that a focus on temporal processing dynamics is necessary to understand perceptual grouping.
According to the domain specific models of speech perception, speech is supposed to be processed distinctively compared to non-speech. This assumption is supported by many studies dealing with the processing of speech and non-speech stimuli. However, the complexity of both stimulus classes is not matched in most studies, which might be a confounding factor, according to the cue specific models of speech perception. One solution is spectrally rotated speech, which has already been used in a range of fMRI and PET studies. In order to be able to investigate the role of stimulus complexity, vowels, spectrally rotated vowels and a second non-speech condition with two bands of sinusoidal waves, representing the first two formants of the vowels, were used in the present thesis. A detailed description of the creation and the properties of the whole stimulus set are given in Chapter 2 (Experiment 1) of this work. These stimuli were used to investigate the auditory processing of speech and non-speech sounds in a group of dyslexic adults and age matched controls (Experiment 2). The results support the assumption of a general auditory deficit in dyslexia. In order to compare the sensory processing of speech and non-speech in healthy adults on the electrophysiological level, stimuli were also presented within a multifeature oddball paradigm (Experiment 3). Vowels evoked a larger mismatch negativity (MMN) compared to both non-speech stimulus types. The MMN evoked by tones and spectrally rotated tones were compared in Experiment 4, to investigate the role of harmony. No difference in the area of MMN was found, indicating that the results found in Experiment 3 were not moderated by the harmonic structure of the vowels. All results are discussed in the context of the domain and cue specific models of speech perception.
There is growing international concern about the necessity to re-think the university so that it might remain relevant in a modern society. In the traditional task division at universities, knowledge is the main resource. Universities make use of both the cognitive and the informational approach. It was expected that universities use each approach to improve overall university performance. To effectively use the informational approach, universities should apply the tools from knowledge management. To effectively use the cognitive approach, universities must update their teaching-learning strategies to incorporate some of the recent advances in neuroscience and biology of knowledge, specifically from neurobiology and autopoiesis. With this frame, the main contribution of this work is the result of merging pedagogy and biology, towards an ideal future university. This goal was achieved through an exploratory study conducted to identify opportunities and difficulties in improving the teaching-learning process for the future of higher education in Honduras. The Delphi Study was used as a predictive method. Nineteen Honduran experts participated in this study, and two rounds were necessary to achieve consensus.
The multi-disciplinary approach of this research addresses three different fields whose core element is knowledge. First, input from the present field of higher education is used to speak about the future. Second, input is taken from the biology of knowledge, and its contributions from neurobiology and autopoiesis that allow modifying and completing the already existing learning theories with a biological basis. Third, input is taken from the knowledge process, which is traditionally used as an organizational tool and know is translated to the individual level. The exploration shows that experts are concerned about all the missions and responsibilities of universities, but they agree that changes should primarily take place in the teaching dimension. Even though they are not aware of the possible contributions of biology, they suggest new forms of teaching that more favor skills development, promotes values, pertinent knowledge, and personal development over short-term contents. The resulting BRAIN Model encompasses the ideal future of higher education regarding teaching and learning, according to experts’ answers. It provides a useful guide that any reform in teaching should take into account for a holistic, integral, and therefore more efficient learning task.
This Dissertation tried to provide insights into the influences of individual and contextual factors on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) teachers’ learning and professional development in Ethiopia. Specifically, this research focused on identifying and determining the influences of teachers’ self perception as learners and professionals, and investigates the impact of the context, process and content of their learning and experiences on their professional development. The knowledge of these factors and their impacts help in improving the learning and professional development of the TVET teachers and their professionalization. This research tried to provide answers for the following five research questions. (1) How do TVET teachers perceive themselves as active learners and as professionals? And what are the implications of their perceptions on their learning and development? (2) How do TVET teachers engage themselves in learning and professional development activities? (3) What contextual factors facilitated or hindered the TVET Teachers’ learning and professional development? (4) Which competencies are found critical for the TVET teachers’ learning and professional development? (5) What actions need to be considered to enhance and sustain TVET teachers learning and professional development in their context? It is believed that the research results are significant not only to the TVET teachers, but also to schools leaders, TVET Teacher Training Institutions, education experts and policy makers, researchers and others stakeholders in the TVET sector. The theoretical perspectives adopted in this research are based on the systemic constructivist approach to professional development. An integrated approach to professional development requires that the teachers’ learning and development activities to be taken as an adult education based on the principles of constructivism. Professional development is considered as context - specific and long-term process in which teachers are trusted, respected and empowered as professionals. Teachers’ development activities are sought as more of collaborative activities portraying the social nature of learning. Schools that facilitate the learning and development of teachers exhibit characteristics of a learning organisation culture where, professional collaboration, collegiality and shared leadership are practiced. This research has drawn also relevant point of views from studies and reports on vocational education and TVET teacher education programs and practices at international, continental and national levels. The research objectives and the types of research questions in this study implied the use of a qualitative inductive research approach as a research strategy. Primary data were collected from TVET teachers in four schools using a one-on-one qualitative in-depth interview method. These data were analyzed using a Qualitative Content Analysis method based on the inductive category development procedure. ATLAS.ti software was used for supporting the coding and categorization process. The research findings showed that most of the TVET teachers neither perceive themselves as professionals nor as active learners. These perceptions are found to be one of the major barriers to their learning and development. Professional collaborations in the schools are minimal and teaching is sought as an isolated individual activity; a secluded task for the teacher. Self-directed learning initiatives and individual learning projects are not strongly evident. The predominantly teacher-centered approach used in TVET teacher education and professional development programs put emphasis mainly to the development of technical competences and has limited the development of a range of competences essential to teachers’ professional development. Moreover, factors such as the TVET school culture, the society’s perception of the teaching profession, economic conditions, and weak links with industries and business sectors are among the major contextual factors that hindered the TVET teachers’ learning and professional development. A number of recommendations are forwarded to improve the professional development of the TVET teachers. These include change in the TVET schools culture, a paradigm shift in TVET teacher education approach and practice, and development of educational policies that support the professionalization of TVET teachers. Areas for further theoretical research and empirical enquiry are also suggested to support the learning and professional development of the TVET teachers in Ethiopia.
Subject of this book is an epistemological consideration - a consideration which could be characterised as a main theme - maybe the main theme - of that part of philosophy we all know as epistemology: the nature of knowledge. But other than the most essays on the subject of knowledge, here I am going to deal with a largely overlooked account to try to find an answer to the epistemological question of knowledge. This is the mental state account of knowledge (Price in his 'Belief' the formulation ``mental acts'' and Williamson talks about a ``state of mind''). Or to put it into the question I chose as title: is knowledge a mental state? We have to concede first that there is only a small group of philosophers who used to explain knowledge in terms of a mental state, particularly the `Oxford Realists'. And secondly, the acceptance of the MS thesis is low and negative. There is an interesting detail here: unlike the poor interest in an epistemic theory such as the MS thesis, philosophers like Prichard or Austin (and their philosophical thinking) are not really living in the shadows of philosophical consideration. Indeed their philosophical impact is high level, if we consider for instance Prichard's moral writings or Austin's theory of speech acts. I think we can conclude from this fact that the reason of the `negative' ignorance in respect of their epistemological point of view was not caused by a negative quality of their philosophy. Now, the question we are faced with (and that should be answered here) is: what is wrong with the MS thesis even though it is held by high class philosophers? Why is the epistemic thinking of Cook Wilson, Prichard and Austin afflicted with such ignorance? I will try to explain this later on with the notion of an unreflected Platonian heritage during 2000 years of epistemic thinking - a notion which is similar to a point Hetherington has called ``epistemic absolutism''. So, there are three main purposes which I am pursuing in this consideration: 1.To explain the reasons why there is such an ignorance towards an assertion of the MS thesis. I am going to pursue this through an analysis of knowledge which will demonstrate the inappropriateness of the JTB thesis as an adequate analysis of knowledge. 2.To describe that it is a mistake to ignore or at least underestimate the MS thesis in the discussion of an appropriate definition of knowledge and to maintain that the MS thesis is the key to a general theory of knowledge. 3.Conclusion: If the first two steps are correct, the JTB thesis is insufficient in order to give an account of the nature of knowledge in general. A consequence from this is: all the epistemic theories which are dealing with the JTB thesis are based on deficient assumptions. Hence their results - notably the well-known externalism/internalism debate - are insufficient, too. So, there is a need for a new theory of knowledge based on the MS thesis. In the course of my consideration I am going to justify the following three theses: i) The JTB thesis as a definition of knowledge in general is deficient, as the JTB thesis describes the propositional aspect of knowledge only. But the propositional knowledge - the so-called `knowledge that' - is merely one element among others that has to be recognized in search of a theory of knowledge. ii) The status of the `knowledge that' is derivative and not ultimate. It is derived from the non- propositional knowledge in order to make the non-propositional knowledge communicable to others. The mode of the `knowledge that' is indirect and thus can be stated in the third person point of view only. This ultimate kind of knowledge - the knowledge which the `knowledge that' is derived from - is the non-propositional knowledge. Its mode is direct and hence it is restricted to the first person point of view. Therefore the basis towards a theory of knowledge in general has to be this non-propositional aspect of knowledge. iii) Hence, taking the first two theses for granted, an appropriate theory of knowledge needs an account of the non-propositional knowledge. The MS thesis will accomplish this task.