Understanding conceptual processes through identity judgments via behavioral and neurophysiological methods

Çakar, Tuna
This dissertation aims to understand the cognitive and neural underpinnings of conceptual processes during identity judgments. Identity judgments are challenging philosophical problems that are influenced by several factors including spatiotemporal proximity and similarity. Initially, participants were asked to respond to a set of propositions (Conceptual Tendency Test, (CTT)) that were directly related to the core concept of identity, on a 5-point-Likert-scale (from 1 (totally agree”) to 5 (“totally disagree”)), in two versions: one with “same”, one with “different”, e.g., “A piece of paper bent over three times is the same/different”. Subsequently, they were presented with the seemingly paradoxical “Ship of Theseus” narrative about the identity of a ship over time, and had to respond to it. The purpose of the CTT was to predict and model the responses of participants to the narrative. In order to test a central tenet of the Grounded Cognition paradigm in Cognitive Science, the narrative was presented in various modalities: textual, bodily-interactive, visual. Results revealed resilient response patterns for the Ship of Theseus narrative despite varying modality; only visual demonstration had an impact. Responses to the narrative could be modeled successfully by a variety of methods (Discriminant Analysis; Decision Tree; Neural Network). In addition to these behavioral methods, neurophysiological assessments were made based on EEG/ERP and optic neuroimaging (fNIRS), during the CTT. The polarity of identity statements (same/different) revealed behavioural and neurophysiological differences in the responses of participants, indicating relevant brain systems taking part in the neural processing of identity judgments. Implications for the Grounded Cognition paradigm are discussed.


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Citation Formats
T. Çakar, “Understanding conceptual processes through identity judgments via behavioral and neurophysiological methods,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2015.