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Preview: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance - Vol 35, Iss 6

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance - Vol 43, Iss 3

The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance publishes studies on perception, control of action, and related cognitive processes.

Last Build Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:00:10 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Adding details to the attentional template offsets search difficulty: Evidence from contralateral delay activity.


We investigated how expected search difficultly affects the attentional template by having participants search for a teddy bear target among either other teddy bears (difficult search, high target-distractor similarity) or random nonbear objects (easy search, low target-distractor similarity). Target previews were identical in these 2 blocked conditions, and target-related visual working memory (VWM) load was measured using contralateral delay activity (CDA), an event-related potential indicating VWM load. CDA was assessed after target designation but before search display onset. Shortly after preview offset, the expectation of a difficult search produced a target-related CDA, suggesting the encoding and maintenance of target details in VWM. However, no differences in CDA were found immediately before search onset, suggesting a flexible and efficient weighting of the templates’ features to reflect the expected demands of the search task. Moreover, CDA amplitude correlated with eye movement measures of search guidance in difficult search trials but not easy trials, suggesting that the utility of the attentional template is greater for more difficult searches. These findings are evidence that attentional templates depend on expected task difficulty, and that people may compensate for a more difficult search by adding details to their target representation in VWM, as measured by CDA. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Self-relevance prioritizes access to visual awareness.


As we are cognizant of only a fraction of the available visual inputs at any given time, how is information selected for access to consciousness? In particular, does the personal significance of stimuli influence perceptual selection? Given that self-relevant information is prioritized during various stages of processing, here we hypothesized that self-association may privilege access to awareness under continuous flash suppression (CFS). The results supported this prediction. Compared with geometric shapes referenced to either a friend or stranger, those previously associated with self were prioritized in visual awareness. To establish the basis of this effect, the processes underlying task performance were investigated using a hierarchical drift diffusion model approach. These analyses showed that self-prioritization mapped onto both the decisional (i.e., starting value, z) and nondecisional (i.e., t₀) parameters of the diffusion model. The implications of these findings are considered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Visual search for conjunctions of physical and numerical size shows that they are processed independently.


The size congruity effect refers to the interaction between numerical magnitude and physical digit size in a symbolic comparison task. Though this effect is well established in the typical 2-item scenario, the mechanisms at the root of the interference remain unclear. Two competing explanations have emerged in the literature: an early interaction model and a late interaction model. In the present study, we used visual conjunction search to test competing predictions from these 2 models. Participants searched for targets that were defined by a conjunction of physical and numerical size. Some distractors shared the target’s physical size, and the remaining distractors shared the target’s numerical size. We held the total number of search items fixed and manipulated the ratio of the 2 distractor set sizes. The results from 3 experiments converge on the conclusion that numerical magnitude is not a guiding feature for visual search, and that physical and numerical magnitude are processed independently, which supports a late interaction model of the size congruity effect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Submentalizing or mentalizing in a Level 1 perspective-taking task: A cloak and goggles test.


It has been proposed that humans possess an automatic system to represent mental states (‘implicit mentalizing’). The existence of an implicit mentalizing system has generated considerable debate however, centered on the ability of various experimental paradigms to demonstrate unambiguously such mentalizing. Evidence for implicit mentalizing has previously been provided by the ‘dot perspective task,’ where participants are slower to verify the number of dots they can see when an avatar can see a different number of dots. However, recent evidence challenged a mentalizing interpretation of this effect by showing it was unaltered when the avatar was replaced with an inanimate arrow stimulus. Here we present an extension of the dot perspective task using an invisibility cloaking device to render the dots invisible on certain trials. This paradigm is capable of providing unambiguous evidence of automatic mentalizing, but no such evidence was found. Two further well-powered experiments used opaque and transparent goggles to manipulate visibility but found no evidence of automatic mentalizing, nor of individual differences in empathy or perspective-taking predicting performance, contradicting previous studies using the same design. The results cast doubt on the existence of an implicit mentalizing system, suggesting that previous effects were due to domain-general processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Domain-general mechanisms for speech segmentation: The role of duration information in language learning.


Speech segmentation is supported by multiple sources of information that may either inform language processing specifically, or serve learning more broadly. The Iambic/Trochaic Law (ITL), where increased duration indicates the end of a group and increased emphasis indicates the beginning of a group, has been proposed as a domain-general mechanism that also applies to language. However, language background has been suggested to modulate use of the ITL, meaning that these perceptual grouping preferences may instead be a consequence of language exposure. To distinguish between these accounts, we exposed native-English and native-Japanese listeners to sequences of speech (Experiment 1) and nonspeech stimuli (Experiment 2), and examined segmentation using a 2AFC task. Duration was manipulated over 3 conditions: sequences contained either an initial-item duration increase, or a final-item duration increase, or items of uniform duration. In Experiment 1, language background did not affect the use of duration as a cue for segmenting speech in a structured artificial language. In Experiment 2, the same results were found for grouping structured sequences of visual shapes. The results are consistent with proposals that duration information draws upon a domain-general mechanism that can apply to the special case of language acquisition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Action effects are coded as transitions from current to future stimulation: Evidence from compatibility effects in tracking.


There is ample evidence that motor actions are stored in terms of, and controlled by, the sensory effects that these actions produce. At present it is unclear, though, whether action control is governed by intended sensory changes (e.g., the transition from darkness to brightness when switching on a light) or only by intended sensory end states (e.g., the light being on). The present study explored the role of sensory changes for action control. To address this issue, participants engaged in a spatial tracking task. We show that performance is determined by the compatibility between motor patterns and subsequent changes of a controlled stimulus, while the intended end state of the stimulus remains constant. Spatial compatibility increases performance even when perceptual changes of spatial features are not the primary target of control. These results suggest that intended transitions of stimulation have the potential to bias motor actions. We consider these results as an important step toward integrating closed-loop regulation approaches and ideomotor approaches of action control. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Brain responses to regular and octave-scrambled melodies: A case of predictive-coding?


Melody recognition is an online process of evaluating incoming information and comparing this information to an existing internal corpus, thereby reducing prediction error. The predictive-coding model postulates top-down control on sensory processing accompanying reduction in prediction error. To investigate the relevancy of this model to melody processing, the current study examined early magnetoencephalogram (MEG) auditory responses to familiar and unfamiliar melodies in 25 participants. The familiar melodies followed and primed an octave-scrambled version of the same melody. The retrograde version of theses melodies served as the unfamiliar control condition. Octave-transposed melodies were included to examine the influence of pitch representation (pitch-height/pitch-chroma representation) on brain responses to melody recognition. Results demonstrate a reduction of the M100 auditory response to familiar, as compared with unfamiliar, melodies regardless of their form of presentation (condensed vs. octave-scrambled). This trend appeared to begin after the third tone of the melody. An additional behavioral study with the same melody corpus showed a similar trend—namely, a significant difference between familiarity rating for familiar and unfamiliar melodies, beginning with the third tone of the melody. These results may indicate a top-down inhibition of early auditory responses to melodies that is influenced by pitch representation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Spoken words can make the invisible visible—Testing the involvement of low-level visual representations in spoken word processing.


The notion that processing spoken (object) words involves activation of category-specific representations in visual cortex is a key prediction of modality-specific theories of representation that contrasts with theories assuming dedicated conceptual representational systems abstracted away from sensorimotor systems. In the present study, we investigated whether participants can detect otherwise invisible pictures of objects when they are presented with the corresponding spoken word shortly before the picture appears. Our results showed facilitated detection for congruent (“bottle” → picture of a bottle) versus incongruent (“bottle” → picture of a banana) trials. A second experiment investigated the time-course of the effect by manipulating the timing of picture presentation relative to word onset and revealed that it arises as soon as 200–400 ms after word onset and decays at 600 ms after word onset. Together, these data strongly suggest that spoken words can rapidly activate low-level category-specific visual representations that affect the mere detection of a stimulus, that is, what we see. More generally, our findings fit best with the notion that spoken words activate modality-specific visual representations that are low level enough to provide information related to a given token and at the same time abstract enough to be relevant not only for previously seen tokens but also for generalizing to novel exemplars one has never seen before. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Beyond trial-by-trial adaptation: A quantification of the time scale of cognitive control.


The idea that adaptation to stimulus or response conflict can operate over different time scales takes a prominent position in various theories and models of cognitive control. The mechanisms underlying temporal variations in control are nevertheless poorly understood, which is partly due to a lack of appropriate empirical measures. Inspired by reinforcement learning models, we developed a method to quantify the time scale of control behaviorally, by computing trial-by-trial effects that go beyond the preceding trial. Briefly, we extended the congruency sequence effect from 1 trial to multiple trials into the past and quantified the influence of previous trials on current-trial performance as a function of trial distance. The rate at which this influence changes across trials was taken as a measure of the time scale of control. We applied the method to a flanker task with different conflict frequencies and volatility. Results showed that the time scale of control was smaller in rare-conflict and volatile contexts, compared to frequent-conflict and neutral contexts. This is in agreement with theories differentiating transient from sustained control. The method offers new opportunities to reveal temporal differences in control modes and can easily be applied to various empirical paradigms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Oculomotor and linguistic processing effects in reading dynamic horizontally scrolling text.


Two experiments are reported investigating oculomotor behavior and linguistic processing when reading dynamic horizontally scrolling text (compared to reading normal static text). Three factors known to modulate processing time in normal reading were investigated: Word length and word frequency were examined in Experiment 1, and target word predictability in Experiment 2. An analysis of global oculomotor behavior across the 2 experiments showed that participants made fewer and longer fixations when reading scrolling text, with shorter progressive and regressive saccades between these fixations. Comparisons of the linguistic manipulations showed evidence of a dissociation between word-level and sentence-level processing. Word-level processing (Experiment 1) was preserved for the dynamic scrolling text condition with no difference in length and frequency effects between scrolling and static text formats. However, sentence-level integration (Experiment 2) was reduced for scrolling compared to static text in that we obtained no early facilitation effect for predictable words under scrolling text conditions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The dynamic range of response set activation during action sequencing.


We show that theories of response scheduling for sequential action can be discriminated on the basis of their predictions for the dynamic range of response set activation during sequencing, which refers to the momentary span of activation states for completed and to-be-completed actions in a response set. In particular, theories allow that future actions in a plan are partially activated, but differ with respect to the width of the range, which refers to the number of future actions that are partially activated. Similarly, theories differ on the width of the range for recently completed actions that are assumed to be rapidly deactivated or gradually deactivated in a passive fashion. We validate a new typing task for measuring momentary activation states of actions across a response set during action sequencing. Typists recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk copied a paragraph by responding to a “go” signal that usually cued the next letter but sometimes cued a near-past or future letter (n−3, −2, −1, 0, +2, +3). The activation states for producing letters across go-signal positions can be inferred from RTs and errors. In general, we found evidence of graded parallel activation for future actions and rapid deactivation of more distal past actions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Reaching into response selection: Stimulus and response similarity influence central operations.


To behave adaptively in complex and dynamic environments, one must link perception and action to satisfy internal states, a process known as response selection (RS). A largely unexplored topic in the study of RS is how interstimulus and interresponse similarity affect performance. To examine this issue, we manipulated stimulus similarity by using colors that were either similar or dissimilar and manipulated response similarity by having participants move a mouse cursor to locations that were either close together or far apart. Stimulus and response similarity produced an interaction such that the mouse trajectory showed the greatest curvature when both were similar, a result obtained under task conditions emphasizing speed and conditions emphasizing accuracy. These findings are inconsistent with symbolic look-up accounts of RS but are consistent with central codes incorporating metrical properties of both stimuli and responses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Higher-order cognitive control in dual tasks: Evidence from task-pair switching.


In the present study, we combined the psychological refractory period (PRP) paradigm with a novel task-pair switching logic which enabled us to isolate performance costs occurring at the global level of task-pairs. In Experiment 1, in which we used conceptually overlapping responses for Task 1 (T1) and Task 2 (T2), we generated 3 task-pairs by combining 1 of 3 visual tasks (T1) with an auditory task (T2). In addition to worse performance after a short SOA than a long SOA (i.e., PRP effect), we found impaired performance in n − 1 task-pair switches as compared to n − 1 task-pair repetitions (i.e., n − 1 task-pair switch costs), suggesting that task-pairs were activated during dual-task processing. In Experiment 2, we increased the interference between T1 and T2 by using physically overlapping responses and we again observed n − 1 task-pair switch costs. To investigate whether the activation of task-pairs is adjusted by inhibitory control, we looked at the n − 2 task-pair sequence and found performance to be better in n − 2 task-pair repetitions than in n − 2 task-pair switches in both experiments. This n − 2 task-pair repetition benefit was replicated in Experiment 3 in which no immediate task-pair repetitions were included. Hence, the evidence suggests enhanced activation rather than inhibition as a crucial selection mechanism at the global level of dual-task processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Generalized movement representation in haptic perception.


The extraction of spatial information by touch often involves exploratory movements, with tactile and kinesthetic signals combined to construct a spatial haptic percept. However, the body has many tactile sensory surfaces that can move independently, giving rise to the source binding problem: when there are multiple tactile signals originating from sensory surfaces with multiple movements, are the tactile and kinesthetic signals bound to one another? We studied haptic signal combination by applying the tactile signal to a stationary fingertip while another body part (the other hand or a foot) or a visual target moves, and using a task that can only be done if the tactile and kinesthetic signals are combined. We found that both direction and speed of movement transfer across limbs, but only direction transfers between visual target motion and the tactile signal. In control experiments, we excluded the role of explicit reasoning or knowledge of motion kinematics in this transfer. These results demonstrate the existence of 2 motion representations in the haptic system—one of direction and another of speed or amplitude—that are both source-free or unbound from their sensory surface of origin. These representations may well underlie our flexibility in haptic perception and sensorimotor control. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Can the structure of motor variability predict learning rate?


Recent studies show that motor variability is actively regulated as an exploration tool to promote learning in reward-based tasks. However, its role in learning processes during error-based tasks, when a reduction of the motor variability is required to achieve good performance, is still unclear. In this study, we hypothesized that error-based learning not only depends on exploration but also on the individuals’ ability to measure and predict the motor error. Previous studies identified a less auto-correlated motor variability as a higher ability to perform motion adjustments. Two experiments investigated the relationship between motor learning and variability, analyzing the long-range autocorrelation of the center of pressure fluctuations through the α score of a Detrended Fluctuation Analysis in balance tasks. In Experiment 1, we assessed the relationship between variability and learning rate using a standing balance task. Based on the results of this experiment, and to maximize learning, we performed a second experiment with a more difficult sitting balance task and increased practice. The learning rate of the 2 groups with similar balance performances but different α scores was compared. Individuals with a lower α score showed a higher learning rate. Because the α scores reveal how the motor output changes over time, instead of the magnitude of those changes, the higher learning rate is mainly linked to the higher error sensitivity rather than the exploration strategies. The results of this study highlight the relevance of the structure of output motor variability as a predictor of learning rate in error-based tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The time course of the competition between grouping organizations.


Previous research on the competition between grouping organizations focused mainly on their relative strength as measured by subjective reports of the final percept. Considerably less is known about the underlying representations of the competing organizations. We hypothesized that when more than 1 organization is possible, multiple representations are constructed for the alternative organizations. We tested this hypothesis using the primed-matching paradigm. Our primes depicted either a single grouping principle (grouping into columns or rows by brightness similarity, connectedness, or proximity) or 2 grouping principles (brightness similarity and connectedness, or brightness similarity and proximity) that led to competing organizations (e.g., grouping into columns by brightness similarity and into rows by connectedness, or vice versa). The time course of representation construction was examined by varying prime duration. Significant priming effects of similar magnitude were found for the individual grouping organizations. These effects were modified when 2 competing organizations were present in the prime, indicating that both organizations were represented and competed for dominancy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Aftereffects support opponent coding of expression.


We used aftereffects to investigate the coding mechanisms underlying perception of facial expression. Recent evidence that some dimensions are common to the coding of both expression and identity suggests that the same type of coding system could be used for both attributes. Identity is adaptively opponent coded by pairs of neural populations tuned to opposite extremes of relevant dimensions. Therefore, the authors hypothesized that expression would also be opponent coded. An important line of support for opponent coding is that aftereffects increase with adaptor extremity (distance from an average test face) over the full natural range of possible faces. Previous studies have reported that expression aftereffects increase with adaptor extremity. Critically, however, they did not establish the extent of the natural range and so have not ruled out a decrease within that range that could indicate narrowband, multichannel coding. Here the authors show that expression aftereffects, like identity aftereffects, increase linearly over the full natural range of possible faces and remain high even for impossibly distorted adaptors. These results suggest that facial expression, like face identity, is opponent coded. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Testing the shared spatial representation of magnitude of auditory and visual intensity.


The largely automatic mapping observed between space and sensory magnitudes suggests representation by a single system across domains. Using stimulus response compatibility tasks, the study confirms that a relative, auditory magnitude such as loudness shows a spatial compatibility effect similar to those evidenced for visual sensory domains but only with comparison tasks and for vertically oriented responses. No effect is seen when participants track changes in amplitude or when responses are oriented vertically. In a bimodal context, the study tested whether the spatial mapping of magnitude in 1 sensory modality (loudness) interacts with the spatial representation of magnitude in another sense (luminance). Observed interactions across modalities suggest overlap of magnitude representation across distinct sensory domains, whereas the absence of an effect for dynamic changes in loudness suggests that it is useful for decisions to act on 1 of several objects rather than for tracking magnitude changes in 1 object. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)