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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance - Vol 40, Iss 4

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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 2014 American Psychological Association
  • Item and category-based attentional control during search for real-world objects: Can you find the pants among the pans?
    To compare the speed and efficiency of item-based and category-based attentional control during visual search for real-world objects, we measured N2pc components as electrophysiological markers of attentional target selection. In different blocks, participants searched for 1 or 2 specific target objects or for any object in a target category (items of clothing or kitchen objects). Search displays contained 6 line drawings of different objects, and targets always appeared together with 5 distractors from the other object category. The presence of N2pc components to categorically defined targets demonstrated that category-based search can operate at visuoperceptual processing stages. In contrast to previous findings for letter/digit search (Nako, Wu, & Eimer, 2014), target N2pc components were delayed by 40 ms during category-guided search relative to single-target search. This suggests that for objects and object categories that are less familiar than alphanumerical stimuli, category-guided target selection operates less efficiently than selection that is based on a physical match with an attentional template. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Real-world interattribute distances lead to inefficient face gender categorization.
    The processing of interattribute distances is believed to be critical for upright face categorization. A recent study by Taschereau-Dumouchel, Rossion, Schyns, and Gosselin (2010) challenged this idea by showing that participants were nearly at chance when asked to identify faces on the sole basis of real-world interattribute distances, while they were nearly perfect when all other facial cues were shown. However, it remains possible that humans are highly tuned to interattribute distances but that the information conveyed by these cues is scarce. We tested this hypothesis by contrasting the efficiencies—a measure of performance that factors out task difficulty—of 60 observers in 6 face gender categorization tasks. Our main finding is that efficiencies for faces that varied only in terms of their interattribute distances were an order of magnitude lower than efficiencies for faces that varied in all respects, except their interattribute distances, or in all respects. These results provide a definitive blow to the idea that real-world interattribute distances are critical for upright face processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Proactive and reactive stopping when distracted: An attentional account.
    Performance in response inhibition paradigms is typically attributed to inhibitory control. Here we examined the idea that stopping may largely depend on the outcome of a sensory detection process. Subjects performed a speeded go task, but they were instructed to withhold their response when a visual stop signal was presented. The stop signal could occur in the center of the screen or in the periphery. On half of the trials, perceptual distractors were presented throughout the trial. We found that these perceptual distractors impaired stopping, especially when stop signals could occur in the periphery. Furthermore, the effect of the distractors on going was smallest in the central stop-signal condition, medium in a condition in which no signals could occur, and largest in the condition in which stop signals could occur in the periphery. The results show that an important component of stopping is finding a balance between ignoring irrelevant information in the environment and monitoring for the occurrence of occasional stop signals. These findings highlight the importance of sensory detection processes when stopping and could shed new light on a range of phenomena and findings in the response inhibition literature. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Role of attentional tags in working memory-driven attentional capture.
    Recent studies have demonstrated that the contents of working memory capture attention when performing a visual search task. However, it remains an intriguing and unresolved question whether all kinds of items stored in working memory capture attention. The present study investigated this issue by manipulating the attentional tags (target or distractor) associated with information maintained in working memory. The results showed that working memory-driven attentional capture is a flexible process, and that attentional tags associated with items stored in working memory do modulate attentional capture. When items were tagged as a target, they automatically captured attention; however, when items were tagged as a distractor, attentional capture was reduced. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Auditory-perceptual learning improves speech motor adaptation in children.
    Auditory feedback plays an important role in children’s speech development by providing the child with information about speech outcomes that is used to learn and fine-tune speech motor plans. The use of auditory feedback in speech motor learning has been extensively studied in adults by examining oral motor responses to manipulations of auditory feedback during speech production. Children are also capable of adapting speech motor patterns to perceived changes in auditory feedback; however, it is not known whether their capacity for motor learning is limited by immature auditory-perceptual abilities. Here, the link between speech perceptual ability and the capacity for motor learning was explored in two groups of 5- to 7-year-old children who underwent a period of auditory perceptual training followed by tests of speech motor adaptation to altered auditory feedback. One group received perceptual training on a speech acoustic property relevant to the motor task while a control group received perceptual training on an irrelevant speech contrast. Learned perceptual improvements led to an enhancement in speech motor adaptation (proportional to the perceptual change) only for the experimental group. The results indicate that children’s ability to perceive relevant speech acoustic properties has a direct influence on their capacity for sensory-based speech motor adaptation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Return to Oz: Voice pitch facilitates assessments of men’s body size.
    Listeners associate low voice pitch (fundamental frequency and/or harmonics) and formants (vocal-tract resonances) with large body size. Although formants reliably predict size within sexes, pitch does not reliably predict size in groups of same-sex adults. Voice pitch has therefore long been hypothesized to confound within-sex size assessment. Here we performed a knockout test of this hypothesis using whispered and 3-formant sine-wave speech devoid of pitch. Listeners estimated the relative size of men with above-chance accuracy from voiced, whispered, and sine-wave speech. Critically, although men’s pitch and physical height were unrelated, the accuracy of listeners’ size assessments increased in the presence rather than absence of pitch. Size assessments based on relatively low pitch yielded particularly high accuracy (70%–80%). Results of Experiment 2 revealed that amplitude, noise, and signal degradation of unvoiced speech could not explain this effect; listeners readily perceived formant shifts in manipulated whispered speech. Rather, in Experiment 3, we show that the denser harmonic spectrum provided by low pitch allowed for better resolution of formants, aiding formant-based size assessment. These findings demonstrate that pitch does not confuse body size assessment as has been previously suggested, but instead facilitates accurate size assessment by providing a carrier signal for vocal-tract resonances. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Holding biological motion information in working memory.
    Working memory (WM) mechanisms for verbal, spatial, and object information have been extensively examined, yet those for kinetic information are less known. The current study explored the WM capacity and architecture of kinetic information by examining the maintenance of biological motion (BM) stimuli in WM. Human BM is the most salient and biologically significant kinetic information encountered in everyday life. We isolated motion signals of human BM from non-BM sources by using point-light displays as to-be-memorized BM. During a change detection task, we found that, at most, 3 to 4 BM stimuli could be retained in WM (Experiment 1). Next, we found that extra colors, spatial locations, or shapes remembered concurrently with BM stimuli (Experiments 2, 3, and 4, respectively), did not affect BM memory considerably. However, BM memory was affected by a concurrent memory task of non-BM movements (Experiment 5). These results support the hypothesis that an independent storage buffer of WM exists for kinetic information, which can hold up to 3 to 4 motion units. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Spatial reference frame of attention in a large outdoor environment.
    A central question about spatial attention is whether it is referenced relative to the external environment or to the viewer. This question has received great interest in recent psychological and neuroscience research, with many but not all, finding evidence for a viewer-centered representation. However, these previous findings were confined to computer-based tasks that involved stationary viewers. Because natural search behaviors differ from computer-based tasks in viewer mobility and spatial scale, it is important to understand how spatial attention is coded in the natural environment. To this end, we created an outdoor visual search task in which participants searched a large (690 square ft), concrete, outdoor space to report which side of a coin on the ground faced up. They began search in the middle of the space and were free to move around. Attentional cuing by statistical learning was examined by placing the coin in 1 quadrant of the search space on 50% of the trials. As in computer-based tasks, participants learned and used these regularities to guide search. However, cuing could be referenced to either the environment or the viewer. The spatial reference frame of attention shows greater flexibility in the natural environment than previously found in the lab. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Perception and identification of random events.
    The cognition of randomness consists of perceptual and conceptual components. One might be able to discriminate random from nonrandom stimuli, yet be unable to identify which is which. In a series of experiments, we compare the ability to distinguish random from nonrandom stimuli to the accuracy with which given stimuli are identified as “random.” In a further experiment, we also evaluate the encoding hypothesis according to which the tendency of a stimulus to be labeled random varies with the cognitive difficulty of encoding it (Falk & Konold, 1997). In our experiments, the ability to distinguish random from nonrandom stimuli is superior to the ability to correctly label them. Moreover, for at least 1 class of stimuli, difficulty of encoding fails to predict the probability of being labeled random, providing evidence against the encoding hypothesis. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The role of prediction in perception: Evidence from interrupted visual search.
    Recent studies of rapid resumption—an observer’s ability to quickly resume a visual search after an interruption—suggest that predictions underlie visual perception. Previous studies showed that when the search display changes unpredictably after the interruption, rapid resumption disappears. This conclusion is at odds with our everyday experience, where the visual system seems to be quite efficient despite continuous changes of the visual scene; however, in the real world, changes can typically be anticipated based on previous knowledge. The present study aimed to evaluate whether changes to the visual display can be incorporated into the perceptual hypotheses, if observers are allowed to anticipate such changes. Results strongly suggest that an interrupted visual search can be rapidly resumed even when information in the display has changed after the interruption, so long as participants not only can anticipate them, but also are aware that such changes might occur. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Stable individual differences in saccadic eye movements during reading, pseudoreading, scene viewing, and scene search.
    Mean fixation duration and mean saccade amplitude during active viewing tasks differ from person to person. Previous studies have shown that these individual differences tend to be stable across at least some tasks, suggesting that they may reflect underlying traits associated with individuals. However, whether these individual differences are also stable over time has not been established. The present study established stable individual differences in mean fixation duration and mean saccade amplitude across 4 viewing tasks, showed that the observed individual differences are stable over several days, and extended these results to standard deviations of fixation duration and saccade amplitude. The results have implications for theories of eye movement control and for using eye movement characteristics as individual difference measures. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • There is more than “more is up”: Hand and foot responses reverse the vertical association of number magnitudes.
    [Correction Notice: An Erratum for this article was reported in Vol 40(4) of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance (see record 2014-31086-001). In the first paragraph of the Data Analysis section, the sentence beginning “A negative regression slope indicates slower responses to small numbers” should read: “A negative regression slope indicates faster responses to small numbers with the left hand and faster responses to large numbers with the right hand.” In addition, under the Results and Discussion section for Experiment 4, the first sentence in the 3rd paragraph should read: “In Experiment 4, we were able to replicate the association between small numbers and upper responses, and between large numbers and lower responses found in Experiments 2 and 3.”] Recent research in cognitive sciences shows a growing interest in spatial–numerical associations. The horizontal SNARC (spatial–numerical association of response codes) effect is defined by faster left-sided responses to small numbers and faster right-sided responses to large numbers in a parity judgment task. In this study we investigated whether there is also a SNARC effect for upper and lower responses. The grounded cognition approach suggests that the universal experience of “more is up” serves as a robust frame of reference for vertical number representation. In line with this view, lower hand responses to small numbers were faster than to large numbers (Experiment 1). Interestingly, the vertical SNARC effect reversed when the lower responses were given by foot instead of the hand (Experiments 2, 3, and 4). We found faster upper (hand) responses to small numbers and faster lower (foot) responses to large numbers. Additional experiments showed that spatial factors cannot account for the reversal of the vertical SNARC effect (Experiments 4 and 5). Our results question the view of “more is up” as a robust frame of reference for spatial–numerical associations. We discuss our results within a hierarchical framework of numerical cognition and point to a possible link between effectors and number representation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Correction to Hartmann et al. (2014).
    Reports an error in "There is more than “more is up”: Hand and foot responses reverse the vertical association of number magnitudes" by Matthias Hartmann, Venera Gashaj, Antje Stahnke and Fred W. Mast (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Advanced Online Publication, Apr 21, 2014, np). In the first paragraph of the Data Analysis section, the sentence beginning “A negative regression slope indicates slower responses to small numbers” should read: “A negative regression slope indicates faster responses to small numbers with the left hand and faster responses to large numbers with the right hand.” In addition, under the Results and Discussion section for Experiment 4, the first sentence in the 3rd paragraph should read: “In Experiment 4, we were able to replicate the association between small numbers and upper responses, and between large numbers and lower responses found in Experiments 2 and 3.” (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2014-14394-001.) Recent research in cognitive sciences shows a growing interest in spatial–numerical associations. The horizontal SNARC (spatial–numerical association of response codes) effect is defined by faster left-sided responses to small numbers and faster right-sided responses to large numbers in a parity judgment task. In this study we investigated whether there is also a SNARC effect for upper and lower responses. The grounded cognition approach suggests that the universal experience of “more is up” serves as a robust frame of reference for vertical number representation. In line with this view, lower hand responses to small numbers were faster than to large numbers (Experiment 1). Interestingly, the vertical SNARC effect reversed when the lower responses were given by foot instead of the hand (Experiments 2, 3, and 4). We found faster upper (hand) responses to small numbers and faster lower (foot) responses to large numbers. Additional experiments showed that spatial factors cannot account for the reversal of the vertical SNARC effect (Experiments 4 and 5). Our results question the view of “more is up” as a robust frame of reference for spatial–numerical associations. We discuss our results within a hierarchical framework of numerical cognition and point to a possible link between effectors and number representation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Short-term perceptual learning in visual conjunction search.
    Although some studies showed that training can improve the ability of cross-dimension conjunction search, less is known about the underlying mechanism. Specifically, it remains unclear whether training of visual conjunction search can successfully bind different features of separated dimensions into a new function unit at early stages of visual processing. In the present study, we utilized stimulus specificity and generalization to provide a new approach to investigate the mechanisms underlying perceptual learning (PL) in visual conjunction search. Five experiments consistently showed that after 40 to 50 min of training of color-shape/orientation conjunction search, the ability to search for a certain conjunction target improved significantly and the learning effects did not transfer to a new target that differed from the trained target in both color and shape/orientation features. However, the learning effects were not strictly specific. In color-shape conjunction search, although the learning effect could not transfer to a same-shape different-color target, it almost completely transferred to a same-color different-shape target. In color-orientation conjunction search, the learning effect partly transferred to a new target that shared same color or same orientation with the trained target. Moreover, the sum of transfer effects for the same color target and the same orientation target in color-orientation conjunction search was algebraically equivalent to the learning effect for trained target, showing an additive transfer effect. The different transfer patterns in color-shape and color-orientation conjunction search learning might reflect the different complexity and discriminability between feature dimensions. These results suggested a feature-based attention enhancement mechanism rather than a unitization mechanism underlying the short-term PL of color-shape/orientation conjunction search. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Dual-route model of the effect of head orientation on perceived gaze direction.
    Previous studies on gaze perception have identified 2 opposing effects of head orientation on perceived gaze direction—1 repulsive and the other attractive. However, the relationship between these 2 effects has remained unclear. By using a gaze categorization task, the current study examined the effect of head orientation on the perceived direction of gaze in a whole-head condition and an eye-region condition. We found that the perceived direction of gaze was generally biased in the opposite direction to head orientation (a repulsive effect). Importantly, the magnitude of the repulsive effect was more pronounced in the eye-region condition than in the whole-head condition. Based on these findings, we developed a dual-route model, which proposes that the 2 opposing effects of head orientation occur through 2 distinct routes. In the framework of this dual-route model, we explain and reconcile the findings from previous studies, and provide a functional account of attractive and repulsive effects and their interaction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Summary statistics of size: Fixed processing capacity for multiple ensembles but unlimited processing capacity for single ensembles.
    We assessed the processing capacity of establishing statistical summary representations (SSRs) of mean size in visual displays using the simultaneous-sequential method. Four clusters of stimuli, each composed of several circles with various diameters, were presented around fixation. Observers searched for the cluster with the largest or smallest mean size. In the simultaneous condition, all four clusters were presented concurrently; in the sequential condition, the clusters appeared two at a time. We found that the processing capacity of SSRs for multiple ensembles was as extreme as a fixed-rate bottleneck process (Experiment 1). A control experiment confirmed that this was not caused by having to compare the results of multiple averaging processes (Experiment 2). In contrast to computing SSRs across ensembles, computing SSRs for a single ensemble using the same stimuli was consistent with unlimited-capacity processing (Experiment 3). Contrary to existing claims, summary representations appear to be extracted independently for items within single ensembles but not multiple ensembles. A developing understanding of capacity limitations in perceptual processing is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • In competition for the attentional template: Can multiple items within visual working memory guide attention?
    Recent studies have revealed that the deployment of attention can be biased by the content of visual working memory (VWM), but that stored memories do not always interact with attention. This has led to a model which proposes a division within VWM between a single active template that interacts with perception and multiple accessory representations that do not. The present study was designed to study whether multiple memory representations are able to bias attention. Participants performed a visual search task while maintaining a variable number of colors in VWM. Consistent with earlier findings, we observed increased attentional capture by memory related distractors when VWM was filled with a single item. However, memory related capture was no longer present for memory loads beyond a single item. The absence of memory related capture at higher VWM loads was independent of individual VWM capacity, nor was it attributable to weaker encoding, forgetting, or reduced precision of memory representations. When analyses were limited to those trials in which participants had a relatively precise memory, there was still no sign of attentional guidance at higher loads. However, when observers were cued toward a specific memory item after encoding, interference with search returned. These results are consistent with a distinction within VWM between representations that interact with perception and those that do not, and show that only a single VWM representation at a time can interact with visual attention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The same-location cost is unrelated to attentional settings: An object-updating account.
    What mechanisms allow us to ignore salient yet irrelevant visual information has been a matter of intense debate. According to the contingent-capture hypothesis, such information is filtered out, whereas according to the salience-based account, it captures attention automatically. Several recent studies have reported a same-location cost that appears to fit neither of these accounts. These showed that responses may actually be slower when the target appears at the location just occupied by an irrelevant singleton distractor. Here, we investigated the mechanisms underlying this same-location cost. Our findings show that the same-location cost is unrelated to automatic attentional capture or strategic setting of attentional priorities, and therefore invalidate the feature-based inhibition and fast attentional disengagement accounts of this effect. In addition, we show that the cost is wiped out when the cue and target are not perceived as parts of the same object. We interpret these findings as indicating that the same-location cost has been previously misinterpreted by both bottom-up and top-down theories of attentional capture. We propose that it is better understood as a consequence of object updating, namely, as the cost of updating the information stored about an object when this object changes across time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Visual speech acts differently than lexical context in supporting speech perception.
    The speech signal is often badly articulated, and heard under difficult listening conditions. To deal with these problems, listeners make use of various types of context. In the current study, we examine a type of context that in previous work has been shown to affect how listeners report what they hear: visual speech (i.e., the visible movements of the speaker’s articulators). Despite the clear utility of this type of context under certain conditions, prior studies have shown that visually driven phonetic percepts (via the “McGurk” effect) are not “real” enough to affect perception of later-occurring speech; such percepts have not produced selective adaptation effects. This failure contrasts with successful adaptation by sounds that are generated by lexical context—the word that a sound occurs within. We demonstrate here that this dissociation is robust, leading to the conclusion that visual and lexical contexts operate differently. We suggest that the dissociation reflects the dual nature of speech as both a perceptual object and a linguistic object. Visual speech seems to contribute directly to the computations of the perceptual object but not the linguistic one, while lexical context is used in both types of computations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • When speech sounds like music.
    Repetition can boost memory and perception. However, repeating the same stimulus several times in immediate succession also induces intriguing perceptual transformations and illusions. Here, we investigate the Speech to Song Transformation (S2ST), a massed repetition effect in the auditory modality, which crosses the boundaries between language and music. In the S2ST, a phrase repeated several times shifts to being heard as sung. To better understand this unique cross-domain transformation, we examined the perceptual determinants of the S2ST, in particular the role of acoustics. In 2 Experiments, the effects of 2 pitch properties and 3 rhythmic properties on the probability and speed of occurrence of the transformation were examined. Results showed that both pitch and rhythmic properties are key features fostering the transformation. However, some properties proved to be more conducive to the S2ST than others. Stable tonal targets that allowed for the perception of a musical melody led more often and quickly to the S2ST than scalar intervals. Recurring durational contrasts arising from segmental grouping favoring a metrical interpretation of the stimulus also facilitated the S2ST. This was, however, not the case for a regular beat structure within and across repetitions. In addition, individual perceptual abilities allowed to predict the likelihood of the S2ST. Overall, the study demonstrated that repetition enables listeners to reinterpret specific prosodic features of spoken utterances in terms of musical structures. The findings underline a tight link between language and music, but they also reveal important differences in communicative functions of prosodic structure in the 2 domains. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Formant-frequency variation and informational masking of speech by extraneous formants: Evidence against dynamic and speech-specific acoustical constraints.
    How speech is separated perceptually from other speech remains poorly understood. Recent research indicates that the ability of an extraneous formant to impair intelligibility depends on the variation of its frequency contour. This study explored the effects of manipulating the depth and pattern of that variation. Three formants (F1+F2+F3) constituting synthetic analogues of natural sentences were distributed across the 2 ears, together with a competitor for F2 (F2C) that listeners must reject to optimize recognition (left = F1+F2C; right = F2+F3). The frequency contours of F1 − F3 were each scaled to 50% of their natural depth, with little effect on intelligibility. Competitors were created either by inverting the frequency contour of F2 about its geometric mean (a plausibly speech-like pattern) or using a regular and arbitrary frequency contour (triangle wave, not plausibly speech-like) matched to the average rate and depth of variation for the inverted F2C. Adding a competitor typically reduced intelligibility; this reduction depended on the depth of F2C variation, being greatest for 100%-depth, intermediate for 50%-depth, and least for 0%-depth (constant) F2Cs. This suggests that competitor impact depends on overall depth of frequency variation, not depth relative to that for the target formants. The absence of tuning (i.e., no minimum in intelligibility for the 50% case) suggests that the ability to reject an extraneous formant does not depend on similarity in the depth of formant-frequency variation. Furthermore, triangle-wave competitors were as effective as their more speech-like counterparts, suggesting that the selection of formants from the ensemble also does not depend on speech-specific constraints. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The facial width-to-height ratio shares stronger links with judgments of aggression than with judgments of trustworthiness.
    Variation in the facial width-to-height ratio (face ratio) is associated with judgments of aggression and of trustworthiness made by observers when viewing men’s faces. Although judgments of aggression and of trustworthiness are correlated, they represent distinct constructs. We thus investigated the hypothesis that judgments of aggression share stronger associations with the face ratio than judgments of trustworthiness, and that judgments of aggression mediate the link between the face ratio and trustworthiness. Across 4 separate studies, involving 129 observers rating subsets of 141 photographs (original photographs of individuals who provided consent for their use) of clean-shaven (65 faces), unshaved (22 faces), or digitized male faces (54 faces; digitized faces were creating using facial modeling software), this hypothesis was supported. The correlations between the face ratio and judgments of aggression were moderate to strong in all 4 studies (rs = .45 to .70). Reaction time was measured in Study 4: Participants judged aggression faster than trustworthiness; thus, temporal precedence also supports the hypothesis that aggression mediates the link between the face ratio and trustworthiness. Sensitivity to the face ratio may therefore be part of a perceptual mechanism specialized to assess aggressiveness rather than trustworthiness in others, likely because of the greater necessity for rapid judgments of aggressive potential than trustworthiness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • A geometric and dynamic affordance model of reaches-to-grasp: Men take greater risks than women.
    Mon-Williams and Bingham (2011) developed an affordance model of the spatial structure of reaches-to-grasp. With a single free parameter (P), the model predicted the safety margins (SMs) exhibited in maximum grasp apertures (MGAs), during the approach of a hand to a target object, as a function of an affordance measure of object size and a functional measure of hand size. An affordance analysis revealed that object size is determined by a diagonal through the object, called the maximum object extent. Mon-Williams and Bingham provided no theoretical account for the empirically determined values of P. We now address this question. Snapp-Childs and Bingham (2009) augmented Warren’s (1984) geometric affordance scaling model with a dynamical component determined by the stability of the motor performance. Because P was found to vary with the speeds of reaches, we incorporated a measure of the variability of performance into the model to yield predictions of P. We also found that P varied with gender. In respect to the size of safety margins, women were more conservative in taking risks then men. Finally, following Warren (1984), the classic paradigm for testing affordance models is to test the scaling relations with both small and large participants. We tested small- and large-handed men and small- and large-handed women and found that the new parameter free model successfully accounted for the spatial structure of reaches-to-grasp. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Scaling up perception–action links: Evidence from synchronization with individual and joint action.
    How do we map joint actions we participate in onto joint actions we observe others performing, such as when a couple dancing tango observes another couple dancing tango? We investigated this question using a task in which participants were instructed to perform individual or joint movements in synchrony with individual or joint movements observed on a computer screen. The observed movements started slowly and then continuously increased in tempo (from 1.75 Hz to 3 Hz). The results showed that, with regard to spatial parameters, joint performance was more accurate when observing joint action than when observing individual action (Experiments 1, 1a, and 1b). Individual performance was more accurate when observing individual action than when observing joint action (Experiments 3 and 4). There were no systematic differences with regard to timing parameters. These results suggest that mechanisms of temporal coordination may be less susceptible to differences between individual and joint action than mechanisms of spatial matching. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Do different types of dynamic extrapolation rely on the same mechanism?
    Observers can estimate the position of occluded moving objects, and this ability could be mediated by the oculomotor control system. However, other forms of motion cannot be tracked with pursuit eye movements. In Experiment 1, 2 kinds of motion extrapolation tasks were interleaved. In the Position extrapolation trials, participants observed a moving target that became occluded. They attempted to press a button when it arrived at the end of the occluder. In novel Accumulation extrapolation trials, they observed a matrix of Gabors with new elements appearing over time. The participants pressed when Gabors would have filled the entire matrix, had they continued accumulating at the same rate. In both tasks completion time estimates were related to presentation parameters in the same way. Moreover, there were robust intertask correlations: Participants who responded earlier in the position task also responded earlier in the accumulation task. Experiment 2 replicated these results with a third form of extrapolation. Although performance was not identical in all tasks, there were enough similarities to suggest that overlapping systems guide all forms of extrapolation. We propose that a common rate control mechanism guides extrapolation, like the velocity store in oculomotor control, but with a broader function than previously envisaged. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Attentional inertia and delayed orienting of spatial attention in task-switching.
    Among the potential, but neglected, sources of task-switch costs is the need to reallocate attention to different attributes or objects. Even theorists who recognize the importance of attentional resetting in task-switching sometimes think it too efficient to result in significant behavioral costs. We examined the dynamics of spatial attention in a task-cuing paradigm using eye-tracking. Digits appeared simultaneously at 3 locations. A cue preceded this display by a variable interval, instructing the performance of 1 of 3 classification tasks (odd-even, low-high, inner-outer) each consistently associated with a location, so that task preparation could be tracked via fixation of the task-relevant location. Task-switching led to a delay in selecting the relevant location and a tendency to misallocate attention; the previously relevant location attracted attention much more than the other irrelevant location on switch trials, indicating “inertia” in attentional parameters rather than mere distractibility. These effects predicted reaction time switch costs within and over participants. The switch-induced delay was not confined to trials with slow/late orienting, but characteristic of most switch trials. The attentional pull of the previously relevant location was substantially reduced, but not eliminated, by extending the preparation interval to more than 1 sec, suggesting that attentional inertia contributes to the “residual” switch cost. A control condition, using identical displays but only 1 task, showed that these effects could not be attributed to the (small and transient) delays or inertia observed when the required orientation changed between trials in the absence of a task change. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Returning to “inhibition of return” by dissociating long-term oculomotor IOR from short-term sensory adaptation and other nonoculomotor “inhibitory” cueing effects.
    We explored the nature and time course of effects generated by spatially uninformative peripheral cues by measuring these effects with localization responses to peripheral onsets or central arrow targets. In Experiment 1, participants made saccadic eye movements to equiprobable peripheral and central targets. At short cue-target onset asynchronies (CTOAs), responses to cued peripheral stimuli suffered from slowed responding attributable to sensory adaptation while responses to central targets were transiently facilitated, presumably due to cue-elicited oculomotor activation. At the longest CTOA, saccadic responses to central and peripheral targets were indistinguishably delayed, suggesting a common, output/decision effect (inhibition of return; IOR). In Experiment 2, we tested the hypothesis that the generation of this output effect is dependent on the activation state of the oculomotor system by forbidding eye movements and requiring keypress responses to frequent peripheral targets, while probing oculomotor behavior with saccades to infrequent central arrow targets. As predicted, saccades to central arrow targets showed neither the early facilitation nor later inhibitory effects that were robust in Experiment 1. At the long CTOA, manual responses to cued peripheral targets showed the typical delayed responses usually attributed to IOR. We recommend that this late “inhibitory” cueing effect (ICE) be distinguished from IOR because it lacks the cause (oculomotor activation) and effect (response bias) attributed to IOR when it was named by Posner, Rafal, Choate, and Vaughan (1985). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Semantic preview benefit in reading English: The effect of initial letter capitalization.
    A major controversy in reading research is whether semantic information is obtained from the word to the right of the currently fixated word (word n + 1). Although most evidence has been negative in English, semantic preview benefit has been observed for readers of Chinese and German. In the present experiment, we investigated whether the discrepancy between English and German may be attributable to a difference in visual properties of the orthography: the first letter of a noun is always capitalized in German, but is only occasionally capitalized in English. This visually salient property may draw greater attention to the word during parafoveal preview and thus increase preview benefit generally (and lead to a greater opportunity for semantic preview benefit). We used English target nouns that can either be capitalized (e.g., We went to the critically acclaimed Ballet of Paris while on vacation.) or not (e.g., We went to the critically acclaimed ballet that was showing in Paris.) and manipulated the capitalization of the preview accordingly, to determine whether capitalization modulates preview benefit in English. The gaze-contingent boundary paradigm was used with identical, semantically related, and unrelated previews. Consistent with our hypothesis, we found numerically larger preview benefits when the preview/target was capitalized than when it was lowercase. Crucially, semantic preview benefit was not observed when the preview/target word was not capitalized, but was observed when the preview/target word was capitalized. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Differential time scales of change to learning frequency structures of isometric force tracking.
    Multiple processes support the persistent (learning) and transient (adaptive) change in behavior over time. We investigated whether practice and rest influence similarly the learning and adaptation of slow and fast frequency structures in isometric force tracking of pathways that varied in their regularity. Participants practiced 25 trials on each of 5 days in either a constant force target or 1 with the 1/f distributional properties of brown or pink noise. There was a reduction in root mean squared error (RMSE) as well as an increasing positive correlation between force output and the target pathway for all noise conditions over days. The spectral frequency analysis of force output and RMSE revealed task dependent outcomes of learning and adaptation as a function of the relatively slow (0–4 Hz) and fast (8–12 Hz) oscillatory time scales. These contrasting findings show that the persistent and transient properties of learning occur across different timescales and dimensions of behavior (force output and outcome-RMSE). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Top-down attentional processes modulate the coding of atypical biological motion kinematics in the absence of motor signals.
    The acquisition of sensorimotor parameters that control goal-directed motor behaviors occurs by observing another person in the absence of efferent and afferent motor signals. This is observational practice. During such observation, biological motion properties associated with the observed person are coded into a representation that controls motor learning. Understanding the underlying processes, specifically associated with coding biological motion, has theoretical and practical significance. Here, we examined the following questions. Experiment 1: Are the underlying velocity characteristics associated with observed biological motion kinematics imitated? Experiment 2: Is attention involved in imitating biological motion kinematics? Experiment 3: Can selective attention modulate how biological motion kinematics are imitated/represented? To this end, participants practiced by observing a model performing a movement sequence that contained typical or atypical biological motion kinematics. The differences in kinematics were designed to dissociate the movement constraints of the task and the anatomical constraints of the observer. This way, we examined whether novel motor behaviors are acquired by adopting prototypical movements or coding biological motion. The kinematic analyses indicated the timing and spatial position of peak velocity were represented. Using a dual-task protocol, we attenuated the coding of biological motion kinematics (Experiment 2) and augmented coding using a selective attention protocol (Experiment 3). Findings indicated that velocity characteristics of biological motion kinematics are coded during observational practice, most likely through bottom-up sensorimotor processes. By modulating motion coding using 2 attentional protocols, we showed that bottom-up processes are influenced by input modulation, which is consistent with top-down control during observational practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The role of reward prediction in the control of attention.
    Previously rewarded stimuli involuntarily capture attention. The learning mechanisms underlying this value-driven attentional capture remain less understood. We tested whether theories of prediction-based associative reward learning explain the conditions under which reward feedback leads to value-based modulations of attentional priority. Across 4 experiments, we manipulated whether stimulus features served as unique predictors of reward outcomes. Participants received monetary rewards for correctly identifying a color-defined target in an initial search task (training phase) and then immediately completed a second, unrewarded visual search task in which color was irrelevant (test phase). In Experiments 1–3, monetary reward followed correct target selection during training, but critically, no target-defining features carried uniquely predictive information about reward outcomes. Under these conditions, we found no evidence of attentional capture by the previous target colors in the subsequent test phase. Conversely, when target colors in the training phase of Experiment 4 carried uniquely predictive information about reward magnitude, we observed significant attentional capture by the previously rewarded color. Our findings show that value-based attentional priority only develops for stimulus features that carry uniquely predictive information about reward, ruling out a purely motivational account and suggesting that mechanisms of reward prediction play an important role in shaping attentional priorities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Executive and perceptual attention play different roles in visual working memory: Evidence from suffix and strategy effects.
    Four experiments studied the interfering effects of a to-be-ignored “stimulus suffix” on cued recall of feature bindings for a series of objects. When each object was given equal weight (Experiment 1) or rewards favored recent items (Experiments 2 and 4), a recency effect emerged that was selectively reduced by a suffix. The reduction was greater for a “plausible” suffix with features drawn from the same set as the memory items, in which case a feature of the suffix was frequently recalled as an intrusion error. Changing payoffs to reward recall of early items led to a primacy effect alongside recency (Experiments 3 and 4). Primacy, like recency, was reduced by a suffix and the reduction was greater for a suffix with plausible features, such features often being recalled as intrusion errors. Experiment 4 revealed a tradeoff such that increased primacy came at the cost of a reduction in recency. These observations show that priority instructions and recency combine to determine a limited number of items that are the most accessible for immediate recall and yet at the same time the most vulnerable to interference. We interpret this outcome in terms of a labile, limited capacity “privileged state” controlled by both central executive processes and perceptual attention. We suggest further that this privileged state can be usefully interpreted as the focus of attention in the episodic buffer. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Spontaneous sensorimotor coupling with multipart music.
    Music often evokes spontaneous movements in listeners that are synchronized with the music, a phenomenon that has been characterized as being in “the groove.” However, the musical factors that contribute to listeners’ initiation of stimulus-coupled action remain unclear. Evidence suggests that newly appearing objects in auditory scenes orient listeners’ attention, and that in multipart music, newly appearing instrument or voice parts can engage listeners’ attention and elicit arousal. We posit that attentional engagement with music can influence listeners’ spontaneous stimulus-coupled movement. Here, 2 experiments—involving participants with and without musical training—tested the effect of staggering instrument entrances across time and varying the number of concurrent instrument parts within novel multipart music on listeners’ engagement with the music, as assessed by spontaneous sensorimotor behavior and self-reports. Experiment 1 assessed listeners’ moment-to-moment ratings of perceived groove, and Experiment 2 examined their spontaneous tapping and head movements. We found that, for both musically trained and untrained participants, music with more instruments led to higher ratings of perceived groove, and that music with staggered instrument entrances elicited both increased sensorimotor coupling and increased reports of perceived groove. Although untrained participants were more likely to rate music as higher in groove, trained participants showed greater propensity for tapping along, and they did so more accurately. The quality of synchronization of head movements with the music, however, did not differ as a function of training. Our results shed new light on the relationship between complex musical scenes, attention, and spontaneous sensorimotor behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The problem of serial order in skilled typing.
    We address the problem of serial order in skilled typing, asking whether typists represent the identity and order of the keystrokes they type jointly by linking successive keystrokes into a chained sequence, or separately by associating keystrokes with position codes. In 4 experiments, typists prepared to type a prime word and were probed to type a target word. We varied the overlap between the identity and order of keystrokes in the prime and the target. Experiment 1 tested whether the identity of keystrokes can be primed separately from their order. Experiments 2 and 3 tested whether keystroke positions can be primed out of sequence. Experiment 4 tested whether keystrokes are primed equally across serial positions. The results were consistent with chaining theories: Keystroke identities were not primed separately from their order, keystroke positions were not primed out of sequence, and priming was graded across the keystroke sequence and depended on the number of keystrokes that were primed in sequence. We conclude by discussing the possibility that the problem of serial order may be solved differently for different sequential tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Late development of metric part-relational processing in object recognition.
    Four experiments with unfamiliar objects examined the remarkably late consolidation of part-relational relative to part-based object recognition (Jüttner, Wakui, Petters, Kaur, & Davidoff, 2013). Our results indicate a particularly protracted developmental trajectory for the processing of metric part relations. Schoolchildren aged 7 to 14 years and adults were tested in 3-Alternative-Forced-Choice tasks to judge the correct appearance of upright and inverted newly learned multipart objects that had been manipulated in terms of individual parts or part relations. Experiment 1 showed that even the youngest tested children were close to adult levels of performance for recognizing categorical changes of individual parts and relative part position. By contrast, Experiment 2 demonstrated that performance for detecting metric changes of relative part position was distinctly reduced in young children compared with recognizing metric changes of individual parts, and did not approach the latter until 11 to 12 years. A similar developmental dissociation was observed in Experiment 3, which contrasted the detection of metric relative-size changes and metric part changes. Experiment 4 showed that manipulations of metric size that were perceived as part (rather than part-relational) changes eliminated this dissociation. Implications for theories of object recognition and similarities to the development of face perception are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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