Poster C132, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Ocular measures provide mechanistic insights into the malleability of reasoning skills
Belen Guerra-Carrillo1, Maria Eckstein1, Pooya Ganjali1, Silvia A. Bunge1; 1University of California at Berkeley
What are the cognitive mechanisms underlying plasticity in reasoning skills? Our lab has previously shown that intensive preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) led to improved performance and reduced prefrontal activation during performance of an unpracticed transitive inference test, as well as changes in brain structure and functional connectivity (Mackey et al., 2012-2015). This research leaves open the question of whether practicing reasoning led students to adopt a new problem-solving strategy, or makes them more efficient at identifying and/or integrating relevant information. To gain mechanistic insights, we collected eye gaze and pupillometry data on reasoning tasks before and after students (current N=36) prepared for one of two sections of the LSAT: the Logic Games section, which heavily taxes relational reasoning, and Reading Comprehension, which taxes the ability to quickly identify and answer questions about relevant information in texts. Participants in both groups improved similarly on transitive inference and test of inductive reasoning, but exhibited different underlying mechanisms of change. Reading Comprehension participants exhibited a shorter latency to the first fixation on the relevant relations, interpreted as more efficient identification of relevant relations. By contrast, Logic Games participants exhibited fewer saccades between relational terms during the transitive inference task and had patterns of pupillary response that reflect temporal changes in participants’ rule induction, which we interpret as more efficient integration across relations and rules. These preliminary results highlight the utility of eyetracking for gaining insights into the cognitive processes supporting learning.
Topic Area: THINKING: Reasoning