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Volume 10 Issue 1 (2014)

Effects of targets embedded within words in a visual search task original article

pp. 1-8 | First published on 27 February 2014 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0150-9

Jeremy W. Grabbe


Visual search performance can be negatively affected when both targets and distracters share a dimension relevant to the task. This study examined if visual search performance would be influenced by distracters that affect a dimension irrelevant from the task. In Experiment 1 within the letter string of a letter search task, target letters were embedded within a word. Experiment 2 compared targets embedded in words to targets embedded in nonwords. Experiment 3 compared targets embedded in words to a condition in which a word was present in a letter string, but the target letter, although in the letter string, was not embedded within the word. The results showed that visual search performance was negatively affected when a target appeared within a high frequency word. These results suggest that the interaction and effectiveness of distracters is not merely dependent upon common features of the target and distracters, but can be affected by word frequency (a dimension not related to the task demands).

Keywords: distracters, visual search, holistic bias, word frequency effects

Testing day: The effects of processing bias induced by Navon stimuli on the strength of the Müller-Lyer illusion original article

pp. 9-14 | First published on 27 February 2014 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0151-8

Matthew E. Mundy


Explanations for the cognitive basis of the Müller-Lyer illusion are still frustratingly mixed. To date, Day’s (1989) theory of perceptual compromise has received little empirical attention. In this study, we examine the merit of Day’s hypothesis for the Müller-Lyer illusion by biasing participants toward global or local visual processing through exposure to Navon (1977) stimuli, which are known to alter processing level preference for a short time. Participants (N = 306) were randomly allocated to global, local, or control conditions. Those in global or local conditions were exposed to Navon stimuli for 5 min and participants were required to report on the global or local stimulus features, respectively. Subsequently, participants completed a computerized Müller-Lyer experiment where they adjusted the length of a line to match an illusory-figure. The illusion was significantly stronger for participants with a global bias, and significantly weaker for those with a local bias, compared with the control condition. These findings provide empirical support for Day’s “conflicting cues” theory of perceptual compromise in the Müller-Lyer illusion.

Keywords: Müller-Lyer, processing bias, global, local, Navon stimuli

Absolute and relative pitch: Global versus local processing of chords original article

pp. 15-25 | First published on 27 February 2014 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0152-7

Naomi Ziv, Shulamit Radin


Absolute pitch (AP) is the ability to identify or produce notes without any reference note. An ongoing debate exists regarding the benefits or disadvantages of AP in processing music. One of the main issues in this context is whether the categorical perception of pitch in AP possessors may interfere in processing tasks requiring relative pitch (RP). Previous studies, focusing mainly on melodic and interval perception, have obtained inconsistent results. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of AP and RP separately, using isolated chords. Seventy-three musicians were categorized into four groups of high and low AP and RP, and were tested on two tasks: identifying chord types (Task 1), and identifying a single note within a chord (Task 2). A main effect of RP on Task 1 and an interaction between AP and RP in reaction times were found. On Task 2 main effects of AP and RP, and an interaction were found, with highest performance in participants with both high AP and RP. Results suggest that AP and RP should be regarded as two different abilities, and that AP may slow down reaction times for tasks requiring global processing.

Keywords: absolute pitch, relative pitch, global processing, local processing

Sugar ingestion and dichotic listening: Increased perceptual capacity is more than motivation original article

pp. 26-31 | First published on 27 February 2014 | DOI:10.5709/acp-0153-6

Matthew H. Scheel, Aimee L. Ambrose


Participants ingested a sugar drink or a sugar-free drink and then engaged in a pair of dichotic listening tasks. Tasks presented category labels then played a series of word pairs, one in the left ear and one in the right. Participants attempted to identify pairs containing a target category member. Target category words were homonyms. For example, arms appeared as a target in the “body parts” category. Nontargets that played along with targets were related to a category-appropriate version of the target (e.g., sleeves), a category-inappropriate version (e.g., weapons), or were unrelated to either version of the target (e.g., plant). Hence, an effect of nontarget type on number of targets missed was evidence that participants processed nontargets for meaning. In the divided attention task, participants monitored both ears. In the focused attention task, participants monitored the left ear. Half the participants in each group had the divided attention task before the focused attention task; the other half had the focused attention task before the divided attention task. We set task lengths to about 12 min so working on the first task would give sufficient time for metabolizing sugar from the drink before the start of the second task. Nontarget word type significantly affected targets missed in both tasks. Drink type affected performance in the divided attention task only after sufficient time for converting sugar into blood glucose. The result supports an energy model for the effect of sugar ingestion on perceptual tasks rather than a motivational model.

Keywords: perceptual load, selective attention, glucose, dichotic listening