Bachelor thesis

Cognitive Psychology


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BCP1 - The broad transfer hypothesis on gaming experts

Supervisor: rob van der lubbe 

The broad transfer hypothesis on gaming experts (Van der Lubbe, 1 BA student)

The broad transfer hypothesis proposes that expert skills acquired in one domain transfer to better performance in other domains. Experts on action video games may for example perform better on standard measures of visual attention (e.g., see Green & Bavelier, 2003, 2006). Nevertheless, the question may be raised whether these effects are really due to acquired expertise, as they may also be due to self-selection (see Boot et al., 2008; Van Ravenzwaaij et al., 2014). In this research project, psychophysical methods will be employed to provide a more accurate index of visual attention, visual working memory, and visual perception  to further detail their relation with gaming expertise.       

BCP2 - The broad transfer hypothesis on chess experts

The broad transfer hypothesis on chess experts (Van der Lubbe, 1 BA student)

The broad transfer hypothesis proposes that expert skills acquired in one domain transfer to better performance in other domains. For example, chess training has been argued to lead to scholastic improvements, which  may be ascribed to improved functioning of spatial working memory or other more general attentional skill. However, it has been argued that this relation is not that clear (e.g., see Bart, 2014). In this research project, psychophysical methods will be employed to provide a more accurate index of visual working memory, visual attention, and visual perception to further detail their relation with chess expertise.  

BCP3 - A cognitive task analysis of gaming and/or chess

A cognitive task analysis of gaming and/or chess (Van der Lubbe, 1 BA student)

Some researchers argue that people who regularly play games may improve in certain skills that are specific to gaming, like vigilance, increasing working memory load, see above. Goal of the project is to use cognitive task analysis to specify the crucial processes involved when playing games. The project is complementary to the projects on the broad transfer hypothesis on gaming/chess experts.

BCP4 - The role of stimulus location when executing highly practiced movement sequences

Supervisor:  prof. dr. Willem Verwey

An important issue is how people develop motor automaticity. This is the capacity to execute a series of successive movements while little attention is needed for executing them. It is as if the limbs know what to do. Such motor skills can be investigated with a sequential key pressing task. In the proposed study, participants will develop motor automaticity by practicing two fixed 6-element key pressing sequences.  After a practice phase, they will produce the same sequences without key-specific stimuli, but neutral stimuli will be displayed any way. The research question is whether the location of neutral stimuli still matters or not. In the proposed bachelor thesis project, this hypothesis will be tested in a laboratory experiment in BMS lab.

Abrahamse, E. L., Ruitenberg, M. F. L., De Kleine, E., & Verwey, W. B. (2013). Control of automated behaviour: Insights from the Discrete Sequence Production task. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7(82), 1-16.

Van der Lubbe, R. H. J., & Abrahamse, E. L. (2011). The premotor theory of attention and the Simon effect. Acta Psychologica, 136(2), 259-264.

BCP5 - When do robotic cars meet human requirements?

supervisor: willem Verwey 

BSc Graduation assignment Cognitive Psychology

Automation of vehicle transport set high expectations for application of autonomous vehicles. However, depending on infrastructure and road type, traffic situations are highly complex. Reliable automation within such complex situations is therefore difficult to achieve. As a consequence, Human Factors experts argue whether robotic cars in existing infrastructure will meet current standards of safe vehicle operation.

Nonetheless, road authorities show interest in application of driving automation. Some reasons are that automation is expected to raise road efficiency and may reduce labour costs for professional road transport. Besides, car manufacturers and suppliers heavily invest in the new technology and its application.

Considering both observations, i.e. (1) the concerns for automation in complex driving situations and (2) development efforts to roll out driving automation, there is need for rules and regulation how automated vehicles meet human requirements.

With traditional cars, the driver is trained to operate the car – and needs to obtain a driving license.

When travelling with a car that has capabilities for automated driving the role of the driver changes from actively operating the vehicle to supervising the system. The applied configuration of an automated car highly influences these new demands for supervision and intervention. For example: In case the automation reaches its boundary conditions, the driver is required to take over which may cause very stressful situations with high workload. This brings up the question what conditions should apply to the configuration of an automated car in order to make the remaining driver’s role acceptable.

This assignment is part of a larger research project on "licensing drivers who operate an automated car" – called Prautocol. The proposed general approach is:

a. Literature review of performance indicators to measure required drivers’ efforts to safely take back control from automated vehicles.

b. Define hypotheses for boundary conditions (based on a.) that define acceptable levels of required effort and attention (to take back control). Focus is on attuning existing theoretical framework.

c. Pilot-test hypotheses in a driving simulator experiment. A mid-fidelity driving simulator with relevant traffic scenarios will be made available.

d. Based on the result from c, provide directions what performance indicators for driving behaviour seem decisive in defining acceptable boundary conditions in which an automated car can be safely taken over.

The exact scope of the assignment is due to mutual agreement and could be adapted to (personal) interests. Curious? Contact Arie Paul van den Beukel (a.p.vandenbeukel@utwente.nl; Horst Building room West-wing W237)

BCP6 - The role of fingers used when executing practiced movement sequences while listening to tones

Supervisor:  prof. dr. Willem Verwey

An important issue is how people develop motor automaticity. This is the capacity to execute a series of successive movements while you need little attention for executing them. It is as if the limbs know what to do. Such motor skills can be investigated with a sequential key pressing task. In the proposed study, participants will develop motor automaticity by practicing two fixed 6-element key pressing sequences.  After a practice phase, they will produce the same sequences using different fingers and hands. The research question concerns the effect of changing the fingers that are being used, and whether this is affected by a second task. In the proposed bachelor thesis project, this hypothesis will be tested in a laboratory experiment in BMS lab.

Abrahamse, E. L., Ruitenberg, M. F. L., De Kleine, E., & Verwey, W. B. (2013). Control of automated behaviour: Insights from the Discrete Sequence Production task. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7(82), 1-16.

BCP7 - Conceptual Learning

Supervisor: Prof. Frank van der Velde

Abstract

Concepts and their relations play a crucial role in human cognition. In particular, they are the building blocks of our semantic cognition, with which we understanding our environment. Concepts can vary from concrete, as given by the concept "dog", to abstract, such as the concept "honesty". Learning concepts can be based on learning perceptual classifications, such as learning the concept "dog" from classifying individual dogs, or by classifying or recognizing actions as performed by certain agents. But concepts can also be learned by combining other concepts and their relations. So, the concept "animal" could be learned from understanding the similarities between concepts such as "dogs" and "cats" and their differences with other concepts like "chair" or "house". In this way, we also learn relations between concepts, for example that a dog is an animal, but not every animal is a dog. Because concepts (such as actions) are typically learned in (certain) relations to each other, a 'conceptual space' (or knowledge base) can arise, which forms the basis for our semantic cognition.  

How we learn concepts and conceptual spaces, and how they are represented in the brain, is a topic of very active research. Learning of concepts and relations is also an important theme in machine learning. The key issue in this project concerns the way in which concepts and their relations in a given domain are learned and how they are combined to form a conceptual space. The domain can be chosen one, such as the "sport domain" (with concepts like "player" or "game") or the "health domain" (with concepts like "virus" or "medicine"). Or it could be designed for the project to study how humans learn such a new domain. The chosen topic can be studied with experimental techniques such as card sorting or priming studies. Or the conceptual space in a chosen domain could be designed (e.g., for use in machines) and evaluated by humans, for example by using questionnaires. Aspects of concept learning and conceptual spaces can also be modeled with computer modeling, such as Deep Learning or other techniques. 

Literature:

Rouder, Jeffrey; Ratcliff, Roger (2006). "Comparing Exemplar and Rule-Based Theories of Categorization". Current Directions in Psychological Science. 15: 9–13. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2006.00397.x. 

Lambon-Ralph, M. A., Jefferies, E., Patterson, K. and Timothy T. Rogers, T. T. (2017). The neural and computational bases of semantic cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 18, 42–55. doi:10.1038/nrn.2016.150