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Hemispheric differences in relational reasoning: novel insights based on an old technique.

Vendetti MS, Johnson EL, Lemos CJ, Bunge SA - Front Hum Neurosci (2015)

Bottom Line: Relational reasoning, or the ability to integrate multiple mental relations to arrive at a logical conclusion, is a critical component of higher cognition.To our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal hemispheric differences in relational encoding in the intact brain.We discuss these findings in the context of a rich literature on hemispheric asymmetries in cognition.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California at Berkeley , Berkeley, CA , USA.

ABSTRACT
Relational reasoning, or the ability to integrate multiple mental relations to arrive at a logical conclusion, is a critical component of higher cognition. A bilateral brain network involving lateral prefrontal and parietal cortices has been consistently implicated in relational reasoning. Some data suggest a preferential role for the left hemisphere in this form of reasoning, whereas others suggest that the two hemispheres make important contributions. To test for a hemispheric asymmetry in relational reasoning, we made use of an old technique known as visual half-field stimulus presentation to manipulate whether stimuli were presented briefly to one hemisphere or the other. Across two experiments, 54 neurologically healthy young adults performed a visuospatial transitive inference task. Pairs of colored shapes were presented rapidly in either the left or right visual hemifield as participants maintained central fixation, thereby isolating initial encoding to the contralateral hemisphere. We observed a left-hemisphere advantage for encoding a series of ordered visuospatial relations, but both hemispheres contributed equally to task performance when the relations were presented out of order. To our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal hemispheric differences in relational encoding in the intact brain. We discuss these findings in the context of a rich literature on hemispheric asymmetries in cognition.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Example trial from Study 2 (including the visual mask). Participants were shown three pairs of colored shapes. Following each pair, participants were shown a visual mask overlaying the previous shapes, and then a fixation cross. After the third pair was presented in a given trial, participants had up to 10 s to decide the correct linear order of two shapes based on the spatial relationships observed among the pairs. This is an example of a reordered trial, in which participants would presumably have to manipulate their memory of the pairs in order to deduce that the square goes on top of the pentagon. Study 1 was similar in design except for the absence of the visual mask presentations.
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Figure 1: Example trial from Study 2 (including the visual mask). Participants were shown three pairs of colored shapes. Following each pair, participants were shown a visual mask overlaying the previous shapes, and then a fixation cross. After the third pair was presented in a given trial, participants had up to 10 s to decide the correct linear order of two shapes based on the spatial relationships observed among the pairs. This is an example of a reordered trial, in which participants would presumably have to manipulate their memory of the pairs in order to deduce that the square goes on top of the pentagon. Study 1 was similar in design except for the absence of the visual mask presentations.

Mentions: In the present study, we used a transitive inference task adapted from an fMRI task that we have used previously (Wendelken and Bunge, 2010). When reasoning using transitive inference, the logical conclusion is deduced through transferring relational inferences among terms expressed in the premises (e.g., if A > B and B > C, then A must be greater than C). On this task, shown in Figure 1, participants view a new set of relations on every trial and are expected to integrate them in working memory. There has been a rich literature on this form of reasoning (e.g., Halford, 1984; Cohen et al., 1997; Andrews and Halford, 1998; Greene et al., 2001). Importantly, this form of relational reasoning bears only a passing resemblance to transitive inference paradigms that involve learning paired associations over many trials (e.g., Acuna et al., 2002; Zalesak and Heckers, 2009; Koscik and Tranel, 2012; for discussion, see Wendelken and Bunge, 2010). The major difference between our transitive inference paradigm and those based on learning paired associations is that our task does not rely on remembering associations to be transferred; instead, participants must infer the spatial relationship based on the relations from the most recent trial only. Having to perform this inference anew each trial reduces any tendency to assume an object-order relationship when attempting to solve the task.


Hemispheric differences in relational reasoning: novel insights based on an old technique.

Vendetti MS, Johnson EL, Lemos CJ, Bunge SA - Front Hum Neurosci (2015)

Example trial from Study 2 (including the visual mask). Participants were shown three pairs of colored shapes. Following each pair, participants were shown a visual mask overlaying the previous shapes, and then a fixation cross. After the third pair was presented in a given trial, participants had up to 10 s to decide the correct linear order of two shapes based on the spatial relationships observed among the pairs. This is an example of a reordered trial, in which participants would presumably have to manipulate their memory of the pairs in order to deduce that the square goes on top of the pentagon. Study 1 was similar in design except for the absence of the visual mask presentations.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4321644&req=5

Figure 1: Example trial from Study 2 (including the visual mask). Participants were shown three pairs of colored shapes. Following each pair, participants were shown a visual mask overlaying the previous shapes, and then a fixation cross. After the third pair was presented in a given trial, participants had up to 10 s to decide the correct linear order of two shapes based on the spatial relationships observed among the pairs. This is an example of a reordered trial, in which participants would presumably have to manipulate their memory of the pairs in order to deduce that the square goes on top of the pentagon. Study 1 was similar in design except for the absence of the visual mask presentations.
Mentions: In the present study, we used a transitive inference task adapted from an fMRI task that we have used previously (Wendelken and Bunge, 2010). When reasoning using transitive inference, the logical conclusion is deduced through transferring relational inferences among terms expressed in the premises (e.g., if A > B and B > C, then A must be greater than C). On this task, shown in Figure 1, participants view a new set of relations on every trial and are expected to integrate them in working memory. There has been a rich literature on this form of reasoning (e.g., Halford, 1984; Cohen et al., 1997; Andrews and Halford, 1998; Greene et al., 2001). Importantly, this form of relational reasoning bears only a passing resemblance to transitive inference paradigms that involve learning paired associations over many trials (e.g., Acuna et al., 2002; Zalesak and Heckers, 2009; Koscik and Tranel, 2012; for discussion, see Wendelken and Bunge, 2010). The major difference between our transitive inference paradigm and those based on learning paired associations is that our task does not rely on remembering associations to be transferred; instead, participants must infer the spatial relationship based on the relations from the most recent trial only. Having to perform this inference anew each trial reduces any tendency to assume an object-order relationship when attempting to solve the task.

Bottom Line: Relational reasoning, or the ability to integrate multiple mental relations to arrive at a logical conclusion, is a critical component of higher cognition.To our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal hemispheric differences in relational encoding in the intact brain.We discuss these findings in the context of a rich literature on hemispheric asymmetries in cognition.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California at Berkeley , Berkeley, CA , USA.

ABSTRACT
Relational reasoning, or the ability to integrate multiple mental relations to arrive at a logical conclusion, is a critical component of higher cognition. A bilateral brain network involving lateral prefrontal and parietal cortices has been consistently implicated in relational reasoning. Some data suggest a preferential role for the left hemisphere in this form of reasoning, whereas others suggest that the two hemispheres make important contributions. To test for a hemispheric asymmetry in relational reasoning, we made use of an old technique known as visual half-field stimulus presentation to manipulate whether stimuli were presented briefly to one hemisphere or the other. Across two experiments, 54 neurologically healthy young adults performed a visuospatial transitive inference task. Pairs of colored shapes were presented rapidly in either the left or right visual hemifield as participants maintained central fixation, thereby isolating initial encoding to the contralateral hemisphere. We observed a left-hemisphere advantage for encoding a series of ordered visuospatial relations, but both hemispheres contributed equally to task performance when the relations were presented out of order. To our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal hemispheric differences in relational encoding in the intact brain. We discuss these findings in the context of a rich literature on hemispheric asymmetries in cognition.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus