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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance - Vol 43, Iss 5

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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance publishes studies on perception, control of action, and related cognitive processes.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Building a Lego wall: Sequential action selection.
    The present study draws together two distinct lines of enquiry into the selection and control of sequential action: motor sequence production and action selection in everyday tasks. Participants were asked to build 2 different Lego walls. The walls were designed to have hierarchical structures with shared and dissociated colors and spatial components. Participants built 1 wall at a time, under low and high load cognitive states. Selection times for correctly completed trials were measured using 3-dimensional motion tracking. The paradigm enabled precise measurement of the timing of actions, while using real objects to create an end product. The experiment demonstrated that action selection was slowed at decision boundary points, relative to boundaries where no between-wall decision was required. Decision points also affected selection time prior to the actual selection window. Dual-task conditions increased selection errors. Errors mostly occurred at boundaries between chunks and especially when these required decisions. The data support hierarchical control of sequenced behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Not all probabilities are equivalent: Evidence from orientation versus spatial probability learning.
    Frequently targets are detected faster, probable locations searched earlier, and likely orientations estimated more precisely. Are these all consequences of a single, domain-general “attentional” effect? To examine this issue, participants were shown brief instances of spatial gratings, and were tasked to draw their location and orientation. Unknown to participants, either the location or orientation probability of these gratings were manipulated. While orientation probability affected the precision of orientation reports, spatial probability did not. Further, utilising lowered stimulus contrast (via a staircase procedure) and a combination of behavioral precision and confidence self-report, we clustered trials with perceived stimuli from trials where the target was not detected: Spatial probability only modulated the likelihood of stimulus detection, but not did not modulate perceptual precision. Even when no physical attentional cues are present, acquired probabilistic information on space versus orientation leads to separable ‘attention-like’ effects on behaviour. We discuss how this could be linked to distinct underlying neural mechanisms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Weighted integration suggests that visual and tactile signals provide independent estimates about duration.
    Humans might possess either a single (amodal) internal clock or multiple clocks for different sensory modalities. Sensitivity could be improved by the provision of multiple signals. Such improvements can be predicted quantitatively, assuming estimates are combined by summation, a process described as optimal when summation is weighted in accordance with the variance associated with each of the initially independent estimates. This possibility was assessed for visual and tactile information regarding temporal intervals. In Experiment 1, 12 musicians and 12 nonmusicians judged durations of 300 and 600 ms, compared to test values spanning these standards. Bimodal precision increased relative to unimodal conditions, but not to the extent predicted by optimally weighted summation. In Experiment 2, 6 musicians and 6 other participants each judged 6 standards, ranging from 100 ms to 600 ms, with conflicting cues providing a measure of the weight assigned to each sensory modality. A weighted integration model best fitted these data, with musicians more likely to select near-optimal weights than nonmusicians. Overall, data were consistent with the existence of separate visual and tactile clock components at either the counter/integrator or memory stages. Independent estimates are passed to a decisional process, but not always combined in a statistically optimal fashion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The onset and time course of semantic priming during rapid recognition of visual words.
    In 2 experiments, we assessed the effects of response latency and task-induced goals on the onset and time course of semantic priming during rapid processing of visual words as revealed by ocular response tasks. In Experiment 1 (ocular lexical decision task), participants performed a lexical decision task using eye movement responses on a sequence of 4 words. In Experiment 2, the same words were encoded for an episodic recognition memory task that did not require a metalinguistic judgment. For both tasks, survival analyses showed that the earliest observable effect (divergence point [DP]) of semantic priming on target-word reading times occurred at approximately 260 ms, and ex-Gaussian distribution fits revealed that the magnitude of the priming effect increased as a function of response time. Together, these distributional effects of semantic priming suggest that the influence of the prime increases when target processing is more effortful. This effect does not require that the task include a metalinguistic judgment; manipulation of the task goals across experiments affected the overall response speed but not the location of the DP or the overall distributional pattern of the priming effect. These results are more readily explained as the result of a retrospective, rather than a prospective, priming mechanism and are consistent with compound-cue models of semantic priming. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Detecting target changes in multiple object tracking with peripheral vision: More pronounced eccentricity effects for changes in form than in motion.
    In the current study, dual-task performance is examined with multiple-object tracking as a primary task and target-change detection as a secondary task. The to-be-detected target changes in conditions of either change type (form vs. motion; Experiment 1) or change salience (stop vs. slowdown; Experiment 2), with changes occurring at either near (5°–10°) or far (15°–20°) eccentricities (Experiments 1 and 2). The aim of the study was to test whether changes can be detected solely with peripheral vision. By controlling for saccades and computing gaze distances, we could show that participants used peripheral vision to monitor the targets and, additionally, to perceive changes at both near and far eccentricities. Noticeably, gaze behavior was not affected by the actual target change. Detection rates as well as response times generally varied as a function of change condition and eccentricity, with faster detections for motion changes and near changes. However, in contrast to the effects found for motion changes, sharp declines in detection rates and increased response times were observed for form changes as a function of the eccentricities. This result can be ascribed to properties of the visual system, namely to the limited spatial acuity in the periphery and the comparably receptive motion sensitivity of peripheral vision. These findings show that peripheral vision is functional for simultaneous target monitoring and target-change detection as saccadic information suppression can be avoided and covert attention can be optimally distributed to all targets. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Anticipation in manual tracking with multiple delays.
    Two experiments are reported showing that behavior exhibited in manual tracking is consistent with behavior predicted by a dynamical systems phenomenon known as anticipating synchronization (Voss, 2000). They extend a prior investigation of the effect of delay on anticipatory manual tracking (Stepp, 2009) by also manipulating coupling strength. The coupling scheme in Experiment 1 and that in Experiment 2 go beyond the single delayed feedback coupling used in previous research and articulations of anticipating synchronization. These advanced coupling arrangements are addressed using an extended formulation which allows for multiple feedback delays, a continuous range of delay, or even coupling to real future values. The latter case is specifically investigated in Experiment 2, which utilizes a navigation task that provides a natural way to speak about coupling to future values. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Contextual cueing improves attentional guidance, even when guidance is supposedly optimal.
    Visual search through previously encountered contexts typically produces reduced reaction times compared with search through novel contexts. This contextual cueing benefit is well established, but there is debate regarding its underlying mechanisms. Eye-tracking studies have consistently shown reduced number of fixations with repetition, supporting improvements in attentional guidance as the source of contextual cueing. However, contextual cueing benefits have been shown in conditions in which attentional guidance should already be optimal—namely, when attention is captured to the target location by an abrupt onset, or under pop-out conditions. These results have been used to argue for a response-related account of contextual cueing. Here, we combine eye tracking with response time to examine the mechanisms behind contextual cueing in spatially cued and pop-out conditions. Three experiments find consistent response time benefits with repetition, which appear to be driven almost entirely by a reduction in number of fixations, supporting improved attentional guidance as the mechanism behind contextual cueing. No differences were observed in the time between fixating the target and responding—our proxy for response related processes. Furthermore, the correlation between contextual cueing magnitude and the reduction in number of fixations on repeated contexts approaches 1. These results argue strongly that attentional guidance is facilitated by familiar search contexts, even when guidance is near-optimal. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Psychophysiological measurement of backward response activation in the prioritized processing paradigm.
    Response-selection bottleneck (RSB) models provide an important account of dual-task interference. These models are thought to have difficulty, however, explaining the commonly observed backward compatibility effect (BCE), which is the finding that the speed of first-task responses depends on their compatibility with later second-task responses. One explanation of this phenomenon is based on a distinction between an early response activation stage and a subsequent response selection stage (e.g., Hommel, 1998). The former stage is thought to be influenced by both tasks and to be responsible for BCEs, whereas the latter stage implements the RSB suggested to explain many aspects of dual-task interference. The present experiments measured lateralized readiness potentials (LRPs) to test predictions of this early response activation account. The results are generally consistent with a distinction between response selection and response activation, but they suggest that BCEs arise because second-task stimuli influence first-task response selection rather than because these stimuli activate the second-task responses with which they are associated. Thus, the results support an account of BCEs that is even more consistent with RSB models than previous accounts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The necessity of visual attention to scene categorization: Dissociating “task-relevant” and “task-irrelevant” scene distractors.
    The extent to which scenes are categorized and understood in the absence of attention has been the focus of a continuous debate over the last decade. Most studies investigating this question have used experimental paradigms in which participants explicitly searched for a certain scene category, or alternatively, scenes were task-irrelevant yet their identity was explicitly reported by participants. Although the first type of studies may have overestimated unattended scene processing, the latter type of studies may have underestimated scene processing due to the reliance on subjective response criteria and on working memory capacity limits. The present research examined scene processing by using an implicit, online behavioral measure which assessed the influence of both task-relevant (i.e., to-be-detected) and task-irrelevant distractor scenes on behavior. The effect of scene categorization was compared when scenes were fully attended (Experiment 1) versus when they were positioned in an unattended location and served as relevant/irrelevant distractors (Experiments 2 and 3). Our results demonstrated that in contrast to attended scenes, unattended distractor scenes which were not part of one’s task-set were not automatically categorized and did not exert influence on performance. Critically, however, the very same scene distractors affected behavior when they contained a to-be-detected category, suggesting a qualitative dissociation between task-relevant and task-irrelevant distractors. Our study provides a systematic examination of scene distractor processing outside the focus of visual attention and a framework that may reconcile previous conflicting evidence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Temporal binding and internal clocks: No evidence for general pacemaker slowing.
    The perception of time is distorted by many factors (e.g., arousal, temperature, age etc.), but is it possible that causality would affect our perception of time? We investigate timing changes in the temporal binding effect, which refers to a subjective shortening of the interval between actions and their outcomes. Four experiments investigated whether binding may be due to variations in the rate of an internal clock. Specifically, we asked whether binding reflects changes to a general timing system, or a dedicated clock unique to causal sequences. We developed a novel experimental paradigm (embedded interval estimation procedure) in which participants made temporal judgments of either causal or noncausal intervals, or the duration of an event embedded within that interval. Stimuli and modality were combined factorially, with interval markers and embedded events being either visual or auditory. Although we replicated the temporal binding effect, we found no evidence for commensurate changes to time perception of the embedded event, which suggests that temporal binding is effected by changes to a specific and dedicated, rather than a general clock system. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The effect of simultaneous text on the recall of noise-degraded speech.
    Written and spoken language utilize the same processing system, enabling text to modulate speech processing. We investigated how simultaneously presented text affected speech recall in babble noise using a retrospective recall task. Participants were presented with text-speech sentence pairs in multitalker babble noise and then prompted to recall what they heard or what they read. In Experiment 1, sentence pairs were either congruent or incongruent and they were presented in silence or at 1 of 4 noise levels. Audio and Visual control groups were also tested with sentences presented in only 1 modality. Congruent text facilitated accurate recall of degraded speech; incongruent text had no effect. Text and speech were seldom confused for each other. A consideration of the effects of the language background found that monolingual English speakers outperformed early multilinguals at recalling degraded speech; however the effects of text on speech processing were analogous. Experiment 2 considered if the benefit provided by matching text was maintained when the congruency of the text and speech becomes more ambiguous because of the addition of partially mismatching text-speech sentence pairs that differed only on their final keyword and because of the use of low signal-to-noise ratios. The experiment focused on monolingual English speakers; the results showed that even though participants commonly confused text-for-speech during incongruent text-speech pairings, these confusions could not fully account for the benefit provided by matching text. Thus, we uniquely demonstrate that congruent text benefits the recall of noise-degraded speech. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Auditory spectral versus spatial temporal order judgment: Threshold distribution analysis.
    Some researchers suggested that one central mechanism is responsible for temporal order judgments (TOJ), within and across sensory channels. This suggestion is supported by findings of similar TOJ thresholds in same modality and cross-modality TOJ tasks. In the present study, we challenge this idea by analyzing and comparing the threshold distributions of the spectral and spatial TOJ tasks. In spectral TOJ, the tones differ in their frequency (“high” and “low”) and are delivered either binaurally or monaurally. In spatial (or dichotic) TOJ, the two tones are identical but are presented asynchronously to the two ears and thus differ with respect to which ear received the first tone and which ear received the second tone (“left”/“left”). Although both tasks are regarded as measures of auditory temporal processing, a review of data published in the literature suggests that they trigger different patterns of response. The aim of the current study was to systematically examine spectral and spatial TOJ threshold distributions across a large number of studies. Data are based on 388 participants in 13 spectral TOJ experiments, and 222 participants in 9 spatial TOJ experiments. None of the spatial TOJ distributions deviated significantly from the Gaussian; while all of the spectral TOJ threshold distributions were skewed to the right, with more than half of the participants accurately judging temporal order at very short interstimulus intervals (ISI). The data do not support the hypothesis that 1 central mechanism is responsible for all temporal order judgments. We suggest that different perceptual strategies are employed when performing spectral TOJ than when performing spatial TOJ. We posit that the spectral TOJ paradigm may provide the opportunity for two-tone masking or temporal integration, which is sensitive to the order of the tones and thus provides perceptual cues that may be used to judge temporal order. This possibility should be considered when interpreting spectral TOJ data, especially in the context of comparing different populations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Training the face: Strategic practice as a means to regulate affect-induced facial muscle contractions.
    Recently, it has been shown that the activation of affect-induced emotional reactions (i.e., manual approach/avoidance movements) can be modulated by strategic practice. The present study explored whether this modulation would also apply to affect-induced facial muscle contractions, which have been discussed to be relatively inflexibly linked to the processing of affective stimuli. In 2 experiments, participants conducted 2 different categorization tasks on positive and negative pictures of facial expressions (Experiment 1) or emotional scenes (Experiment 2) which were randomly framed in different colors. Black frames signaled to conduct an affective categorization which had to be executed either with a congruent or incongruent stimulus-response (S-R) mapping. Green or blue frames signaled to conduct a color classification (i.e., affective Simon task). Importantly, significant reductions of the affective Simon effect (that is, faster/more accurate positive [negative] responses to positive [negative] stimuli when categorizing a nonvalence stimulus feature) occurring after practice of incongruent (as compared with congruent) S-R mappings were observed for both manual and facial emotional responses. Importantly, the associative strength of long-term links does not limit the controllability of emotional responses through strategic practice. Thus, these results highlight the importance of practice as an effective means to even regulate facial muscle contractions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Individual differences in automatic semantic priming.
    This research investigated whether masked semantic priming in a semantic categorization task that required classification of words as animals or nonanimals was modulated by individual differences in lexical proficiency. A sample of 89 skilled readers, assessed on reading comprehension, vocabulary and spelling ability, classified target words preceded by brief (50 ms) masked primes that were either congruent or incongruent with the category of the target. Congruent primes were also selected to be either high (e.g., hawk EAGLE, pistol RIFLE) or low (e.g., mole EAGLE, boots RIFLE) in semantic feature overlap with the target. “Overall proficiency,” indexed by high performance on both a “semantic composite” measure of reading comprehension and vocabulary and a “spelling composite,” was associated with stronger congruence priming from both high and low feature overlap primes for animal exemplars, but only predicted priming from low overlap primes for nonexemplars. Classification of high frequency nonexemplars was also significantly modulated by an independent “spelling-meaning” factor, indexed by the discrepancy between the semantic and spelling composites, because relatively higher scores on the semantic than the spelling composite were associated with stronger semantic priming. These findings show that higher lexical proficiency is associated with stronger evidence of automatic semantic priming and suggest that individual differences in lexical quality modulate the division of labor between orthographic and semantic processing in early lexical retrieval. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Articulatory information helps encode lexical contrasts in a second language.
    The present study examined whether obtaining additional articulatory information about the sounds of a difficult second-language contrast (English /ε/-/æ/ for German speakers) could help nonnative listeners to encode a lexical distinction between novel words containing these two categories. Novel words (e.g., tenzer-tandek) were trained with different types of input and their recognition was tested in a visual-world eye-tracking task. In Experiment 1, a baseline group was exposed to the words audio-only during training, whereas another group additionally saw videos of the speaker articulating the target words. In Experiment 2, listeners were asked to repeat the target words themselves as part of their training. It was found that both audiovisual input and word repetition during training resulted in asymmetric fixation patterns at test: Words containing /ε/ were recognized more readily than those with /æ/, mirroring the recognition asymmetry reported for real English words. This asymmetry was not present for the audio-only group, in which target words with the two vowels were fixated similarly. The results suggest that articulatory knowledge, acquired through both passive exposure to visual information (Experiment 1) and active production (Experiment 2), can help distinguishing words with difficult foreign sounds. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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