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2018/06/08: Psychology and Brain 2018 in Gießen and new ideas

Psychology and Brain

Last weekend, I went to Psychology and Brain conference, which was really interesting and an inspiration for a couple of new projects.

First of all, I was really pleased that there was a symposium on VR in biological psychology. On that symposium, Johannes Fuß among others presented work attempting to bridge the gap between animal and human research, which inspired me to think about a human version of the task used in Tse et al. (2007) using immersive VR. During the conference, I also saw the need to organise a community and foster exchange among cognitive neuroscientist and psychologists who use VR technology. I feel like especially those of us who program the experiments themselves could benefit from a platform. I will therefore think about creating a mailing list and inviting people as a starting point. Expect to hear something about this as soon as I finish my first year report and so on.

Another interesting symposium was on stress research, where Lisa Klün presented her work on the effect of stress on schema-based learning. This is highly relevant for my work because it is also based on the SLIMM model. She reported that stress impaired the usage of existing schemas, which was linked to reduced activity in areas important for schema-processing. If I can use my paradigm to show solid evidence for an U-shaped function, this could be another interesting option. If stress affects only one type memory in one condition, it would provide strong evidence that there are two different processes behind the memory enhancing effect of schemata.

Current status of project 1 and other ideas

I am about to finish the data collection next week. If everything goes well I will conclude with having collected 24 participants with complete data sets. Dependent on whether I find evidence for U-shape or not, I will decide how I continue. The problem with the current design might be that all participants see the same objects at the same locations. This was done because I wanted to add a 3AFC task, which added many constraints so it was easier to only create on set. The reason for using both a recall and a 3AFC task was to show that the effect of schema-congruency depends on the task that is used to assess memory performance and especially to reduce a schema congruency guessing bias. If the analysis of the data shows that the results are similar in both tasks, I will just drop the 3AFC.

This will enable me to present a different set to each participant in the next experiment. The next experiment therefore depends on the results of the current experiments. I am also considering creating a second room (a bath) to counterbalance objects. During testing, I thought bit more about the way I am currently calculating recall accuracy. At the moment, a location is correctly recall if the closest location where an object (i.e. a spawn point) actually was is the same location where the objects was. This can be a bit too lenient because of instance if a participant places an object on to one of the shelves of the racks but not the actual shelf where the object was located during encoding then it is likely that this is still regarded as a correct recall of the location. Alternatives to this procedure could be to specify a maximum distance for correct recall or to manually rate recall accuracy.

As a side project, I thought about adapting Constantinescu et al. (2016) paradigm, which provided evidence that acquired conceptual knowledge is organised in grid like code, to test whether already existing knowledge (e.g. using objects which differ along certain dimensions) shows grid like organisation.


Tse, D., Langston, R. R. F., Kakeyama, M., Bethus, I., Spooner, P. a, Wood, E. R., … Morris, R. G. M. (2007). Schemas and memory consolidation. Science, 316(5821), 76–82.

Constantinescu, A. O., OReilly, J. X., & Behrens, T. E. J. (2016). Organizing conceptual knowledge in humans with a gridlike code. Science, 352(6292), 1464–1468.

Published in open lab diary project 1 research design schemaVR1 schemaVR2


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