I have been fairly productive in the last weeks, despite a lot of administrative things that needed to be sorted out and uncertainties regarding my partner’s future employment that made it hard to plan for the future.
Specifically, we finished up a manuscript (“Exploration of the Rate of Forgetting as a Domain-Specific Individual Differences Measure“) that is based on chapter 4 of my PhD thesis and submitted the work in early May. This was together with my PhD promotors Rob R. Meijer and Hedderik van Rijn. We’re now waiting for reviews.
Additionally, Hedderik and I wrote up our exploration of an implementation of the serial reaction time task in a very simple virtual reality environment that came out of a collaboration with the local company STARK Learning. We were able to show that the expected speed-up of reaction times emerged in the VR implementation of the task, which is a nice proof of concept that we hope other researchers can use to deploy the task in novel conditions. I got the “notification of formal acceptance” last night and we hope the paper goes through production swiftly and will be available in PLoS ONE soon.
The most exciting new development, however, is that a new PhD student joined the lab: Maarten van der Velde started his PhD in May and I am excited to co-supervise him, together with Jelmer Borst and Hedderik van Rijn. Hedderik and I submitted an abstract to ICCM 2018 and Maarten is going to help processing the data and preparing it for the poster presentation in Madison. It’s going to be very interesting for me to work with someone that has a formal computer science education – I’ll have a lot to learn from him!
Wow, it has been way too long since I updated this site. I will try to do better in the future and provide more frequent updates about what I am doing.
As stated in the last post, I took some time off in 2017. Specifically, I went to the US and hiked about 2,500 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. I kept a blog which you can check out if you’re interested.
I got back to work after I got back and have been fairly productive since then. It took me a while to get my head back into “the game” after living in a tent for a couple of months but I was able to ease back into it. Since I’ve been back, Hedderik and I have been working hard on finishing up manuscripts for projects that were mostly completed before I left: we submitted a paper about our explorations of a serial reaction time task in a virtual reality environment. We also submitted a shared first authorship manuscript that was long overdue. Together with Sarah and our collaborators at the AFRL, we submitted a conference paper about our CPR related work to CogSci, which will be held in Madison, WI in the end of July. Last week, Hedderik and I also submitted an abstract to ICCM, which will be held together with MathPsych just before CogSci. We’re hoping that both submissions get accepted, of course, and I am looking forward to a trip to Madison in July.
I am currently working on preparing two more manuscripts of projects that are completed but not written up, yet. I hope to have those off my desk by the end of June so I can focus on setting up new projects then. More detailed updates about those projects will follow as those papers see the light of day, hopefully in the near future!
Back in March, I slowly formed the idea for an experiment investigating the effects of motivation on fact learning. I got my good friend Berry van den Berg involved – he knows a lot about rewards, attention, and motivation. We decided to manipulate motivation by means of monetary rewards. To this end, we split the items in two groups: half are associated with a high reward and the other half are associated with a low reward. During the learning, the color in which the items appeared indicated whether they’d yield a high or a low reward.
Crucially, the amount is paid out based on how many items are correctly recalled on a test 15 minutes after the learning session. What we are interested in, however, is how this affects behavior during learning. Participants are studying the facts with our adaptive fact learning system so they don’t have any control over the order in which new items are introduced and old items are repeated – the system handles all that. In a way, the learning and the system have different priorities here: the learner will (or, I guess: should) try to focus on the high reward items to maximize their pay-off. The system, on the other hand, treats all items equally and will try to make sure that items are repeated before they are forgotten, which, in turn, will probably be more urgent for low-reward-prospect items.
We are very curious how the learner’s intentions and the system’s mechanisms will interact and how this will be reflected in both the behavioral outcome measures and the estimated model parameter. You can find more details as well as the sampling plan and the planned analyses in the Open Science Framework repository for the project.
This is the first time I pre-register an experiment and also the first time I use optional stopping in the data collection. I am also very glad to have Don van Ravenzwaaij on board for this project – he helped me with all that stuff a lot. Now I am very curious for the data to pour in. The first data collection session is scheduled for today…
After the paper was rejected, we made some modifications. Today, I submitted it again to a journal that we hope is more fitting: Behavior Research Methods. We debated whether a traditional analysis of variance should be added to the paper but decided that it is not suitable to test any relevant or meaningful hypothesis we might have about the data.
I am looking forward to the reviewers’ comments and that our findings are available to the rest of the community as soon as possible!
I just submitted an abstract to TeaP. TeaP is the German equivalent of Psychonomics and will be held in Heidelberg in late March next year.
I submitted an abstract and hope that I can give a presentation about my current work. The data collection is still on-going but the trends visible in the data so far are very promising. I should have a lot more data by the end of the month and actually hope that I can have the paper about this project written up by the time I’ll go to TeaP.
In the last couple of weeks, I was involved in writing a short grant application for internal funding. The idea was spearheaded by Berry van den Berg. Monicque Lorist and myself are involved along with people from the Woldorff lab at Duke University.
We got the confirmation that we get the money to conduct the proposed research. Here is an excerpt from the grant application:
We propose to use crowd-sourcing to answer questions related to the interaction between motivation and cognition. […] To examine the relationship between conflict processing and motivation and under what circumstances reward reduces conflict (e.g. Padmala & Pessoa, 2010, but see also the discussion of van den Berg et al., 2014 and Marini, van den Berg & Woldorff, in press) we would like to expand current lab-research with online experiments to explore the interaction between motivation and attention on working memory capacity. […] It is of practical relevance and theoretical interest whether different reward schemes yield the same or different effects on motivation and attention.
The core idea is to use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to run an experiment in which we have people do a visual change detection task (to measure their working memory capacity) and manipulate the type of reward. We’re interested in how different rewards influence performance on the task.
We are now working through the administrative side of things and hope to get the study started as soon as possible. This will be a very interesting project and I am curious to learn more about MTurk.