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Feelin' Good...And Then Some: A Functional Evolutionary Approach to Positive Emotions in Sport

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Sport is a widespread phenomenon across human cultures and history. Unfortunately, positive emotions in sport have been long vaguely characterized as happy or pleasant, or ignored altogether. Recent emotion research has taken a differentiated approach, however, suggesting there are distinct

Sport is a widespread phenomenon across human cultures and history. Unfortunately, positive emotions in sport have been long vaguely characterized as happy or pleasant, or ignored altogether. Recent emotion research has taken a differentiated approach, however, suggesting there are distinct positive emotions with diverse implications for behavior. The present study applied this evolutionarily informed approach in the context of sport to examine which positive emotions are associated with play. It was hypothesized that pride, amusement, and enthusiasm, but not contentment or awe, would increase in Ultimate Frisbee players during a practice scrimmage. Further, it was hypothesized that increases in pride and amusement during practice would be differentially associated with sport outcomes, including performance (scores, assists, and defenses), subjective social connectedness, attributions of success, and attitudes toward the importance of practice. It was found that all positive emotions decreased during practice. It was also found that increases in pride were associated with more scores and greater social connectedness, whereas increases in amusement were associated with more assists. The present study was one of the first to examine change in positive emotions during play and to relate them to specific performance outcomes. Future studies should expand to determine which came first: emotion or performance.

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2014-05

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Individual Differences in Simulating Language: Do Good Readers Embody More or Less?

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Do good readers embody more or less? The current investigation examined embodiment effects as a function of individual reading skill in the context of two cognitive theories of reading comprehension. The Construction-Integration model predicts that sensorimotor activity during reading will

Do good readers embody more or less? The current investigation examined embodiment effects as a function of individual reading skill in the context of two cognitive theories of reading comprehension. The Construction-Integration model predicts that sensorimotor activity during reading will correlate negatively with reading skill, because good readers focus on relations among abstract ideas derived from the text. Supposedly those abstract ideas have little or no sensorimotor content, hence any sensorimotor activity while reading is wasted effort. In contrast, the simulation theory predicts that sensorimotor activity will correlate positively with reading skill, because good readers create a simulation of what is happening within the text to comprehend it. The simulation is based in neural and bodily systems of action, perception, and emotion. These opposing predictions were tested using the reading-by-rotation paradigm to measure embodiment effects. Those effects were then correlated with reading skill measured using the Gates-McGinite standardized reading test. Analyses revealed an unexpected interaction between condition and congruency, and a negative relationship between embodiment and reading skill. Several caveats to the results are discussed.

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2013-12

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Learning to Listen: Changes in Brain Activity following a Listening Comprehension Intervention

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Language comprehension is an essential skill in many aspects of life, yet some children still struggle with oral comprehension. This study examined the effectiveness of an intervention to improve the listening skills and comprehension of 4 and 5-year olds. This

Language comprehension is an essential skill in many aspects of life, yet some children still struggle with oral comprehension. This study examined the effectiveness of an intervention to improve the listening skills and comprehension of 4 and 5-year olds. This intervention is based on principles of embodied cognition, namely that language comprehension requires a simulation (or imagination) of what the language is about. Thus, children in the intervention condition moved pictures on an iPad to simulate the stories they were hearing. Children in the control condition saw the pictures, but did not move them. To identify the effectiveness of this simulation training, we analyzed scores on a comprehension test, and changes in motor cortex activity while listening. If the intervention increases simulation, then compared to the control, a) children given the intervention should perform better on the comprehension test, and b) those children should show greater activity in their motor cortices while listening. Furthermore, the change in motor cortex activity should statistically mediate the change in comprehension. Our results showed a significant positive correlation (.79) in the EMBRACE group (but not in the control) between the change in mu suppression before and after the intervention and the change in comprehension questions before and after the intervention. This correlation suggests that children can be taught to use their motor cortices while listening, and supports our hypothesis that embodied language theories, such as simulation are useful for enhancing comprehension.

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2016-12

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Enhancing the affordances of a tangible learning environment through prompts delivered through a teachable robotic agent

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For this master's thesis, a unique set of cognitive prompts, designed to be delivered through a teachable robotic agent, were developed for students using Tangible Activities for Geometry (TAG), a tangible learning environment developed at Arizona State University. The purpose

For this master's thesis, a unique set of cognitive prompts, designed to be delivered through a teachable robotic agent, were developed for students using Tangible Activities for Geometry (TAG), a tangible learning environment developed at Arizona State University. The purpose of these prompts is to enhance the affordances of the tangible learning environment and help researchers to better understand how we can design tangible learning environments to best support student learning. Specifically, the prompts explicitly encourage users to make use of their physical environment by asking students to perform a number of gestures and behaviors while prompting students about domain-specific knowledge. To test the effectiveness of these prompts that combine elements of cognition and physical movements, the performance and behavior of students who encounter these prompts while using TAG will be compared against the performance and behavior of students who encounter a more traditional set of cognitive prompts that would typically be used within a virtual learning environment. Following this study, data was analyzed using a novel modeling and analysis tool that combines enhanced log annotation using video and user model generation functionalities to highlight trends amongst students.

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2014