Issues

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Volume 5 Issue 5 (2009)

Global and local perceptual style, field-independence, and central coherence: An attempt at concept validation. original article

pp. 1-26 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0062-8

Elisabeth Milne, Marcin Szczerbinski

Abstract

Historically, the concepts of field-independence, closure flexibility, and weak central coherence have been used to denote a locally, rather globally, dominated perceptual style. To date, there has been little attempt to clarify the relationship between these constructs, or to examine the convergent validity of the various tasks purported to measure them. To address this, we administered 14 tasks that have been used to study visual perceptual styles to a group of 90 neuro-typical adults. The data were subjected to exploratory factor analysis. We found evidence for the existence of a narrowly defined weak central coherence (field-independence) factor that received loadings from only a few of the tasks used to operationalise this concept. This factor can most aptly be described as representing the ability to dis-embed a simple stimulus from a more complex array. The results suggest that future studies of perceptual styles should include tasks whose theoretical validity is empirically verified, as such validity cannot be established merely on the basis of a priori task analysis. Moreover, the use of multiple indices is required to capture the latent dimensions of perceptual styles reliably.

Keywords: central coherence, perceptual style, global/local perception, field-independence, closure flexibility, visual perception, factor analysis

Flexibility of temporal expectations for triple subdivision of a beat original article

pp. 27-41 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0063-7

Bruno H. Repp, Haitham Jendoubi

Abstract

When tapping in synchrony with an isochronous sequence of beats, participants respond automatically to an unexpectedly early or late beat by shifting their next tap; this is termed the phase correction response (PCR). A PCR has also been observed in response to unexpected perturbations of metrical subdivisions of a beat, which suggests that participants have temporal expectancies for subdivisions to occur at particular time points. It has been demonstrated that a latent temporal expectancy at 1/2 of the inter-beat interval (IBI) exists even in the absence of explicit duple subdivision in previous IBIs of a sequence. The present study asked whether latent expectancies at 1/3 and 2/3 of the IBI can be induced by a global experimental context of triple subdivision, and whether a local context of consistently phase-shifted triple subdivisions can induce different expectancies. Using the PCR as the dependent variable, we find weak evidence for latent expectancies but strong evidence for context-induced shifts in expectancies. These results suggest that temporal referents between beats, which typically are linked to simple ratios of time spans, are flexible and context-dependent. In addition, we show that the PCR, a response to expectancy violation, is independent of and sometimes contrary to the simultaneous phase adaptation required by a change in subdivision timing.

Keywords: synchronization, subdivision, timing, expectation, phase correction

Face or building superiority in peripheral vision reversed by task requirements original article

pp. 42-53 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0065-5

Najate Jebara, Delphine Pins, Pascal Despretz, Muriel Boucart

Abstract

Peripheral vision has been the topic of few studies compared with central vision. Nevertheless, given that visual information covers all the visual field and that relevant information can originate from highly eccentric positions, the understanding of peripheral vision abilities for object perception seems essential. The poorer resolution of peripheral vision would first suggest that objects requiring large-scale feature integration such as buildings would be better processed than objects requiring finer analysis such as faces. Nevertheless, task requirements also determine the information (coarse or fine) necessary for a given object to be processed. We therefore investigated how task and eccentricity modulate object processing in peripheral vision. Three experiments were carried out requiring finer or coarser information processing of faces and buildings presented in central and peripheral vision. Our results showed that buildings were better judged as identical or familiar in periphery whilst faces were better categorised. We conclude that this superiority for a given stimulus in peripheral vision results (a) from the available information, which depends on the decrease of resolution with eccentricity, and (b) from the useful information, which depends on both the task and the semantic category.

Keywords: peripheral vision, faces, buildings, low spatial resolution, task requirements

A timely issue original article

pp. 54-55 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0066-4

Marek Binder

Abstract

Psychology of Time: Book Review

Keywords: time perception, psychology of time, time estimation, psychophysics, experimental psychology, cognitive psychology

Specifying attentional top-down influences on subsequent unconscious semantic processing original article

pp. 56-58 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0067-3

Ulla Martens, Markus Kiefer

Abstract

Classical theories assume that unconscious automatic processes are autonomous and independent of higher-level cognitive influences. In contrast, we propose that automatic processing depends on a specific configuration of the cognitive system by top-down control. In 2 experiments, we tested the influence of available attentional resources and previously activated task sets on masked semantic priming in a lexical decision task. In Experiment 1, before masked prime presentation, participants were engaged in an easy or hard primary task that differentially afforded attentional resources. Semantic priming was attenuated when the primary task was hard, that is, when only little attentional resources were available. In Experiment 2, a semantic or perceptual induction task differentially modulated subsequent masked semantic priming. Hence, unconscious automatic processing depends on the availability of attentional resources and is susceptible to top-down control.

Keywords: automatic processes, unconscious cognition, attentional control, semantic priming, subliminal perception

Acquired and congenital disorders of sung performance: A review original article

pp. 69-83 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0068-2

Magdalena Berkowska, Simone Dalla Bella

Abstract

Many believe that the majority of people are unable to carry a tune. Yet, this widespread idea underestimates the singing abilities of the layman. Most occasional singers can sing in tune and in time, provided that they perform at a slow tempo. Here we characterize proficient singing in the general population and identify its neuronal underpinnings by reviewing behavioral and neuroimaging studies. In addition, poor singing resulting from a brain injury or neurogenetic disorder (i.e., tone deafness or congenital amusia) is examined. Different lines of evidence converge in indicating that poor singing is not a monolithic deficit. A variety of poor-singing “phenotypes” are described, with or without concurrent perceptual deficits. In addition, particular attention is paid to the dissociations between specific abilities in poor singers (e.g., production of absolute vs. relative pitch, pitch vs. time accuracy). Such diversity of impairments in poor singers can be traced to different faulty mechanisms within the vocal sensorimotor loop, such as pitch perception and sensorimotor integration.

Keywords: singing profciency, musical disorders, tone deafness, congenital amusia, song system, neurosciences of music

Designing informative warning signals: Efects of indicator type, modality, and task demand on recognition speed and accuracy original article

pp. 84-90 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0064-6

Catherine J. Stevens, David Brennan, Agnes Petocz, Clare Howell

Abstract

An experiment investigated the assumption that natural indicators which exploit existing learned associations between a signal and an event make more effective warnings than previously unlearned symbolic indicators. Signal modality (visual, auditory) and task demand (low, high) were also manipulated. Warning effectiveness was indexed by accuracy and reaction time (RT) recorded during training and dual task test phases. Thirty-six participants were trained to recognize 4 natural and 4 symbolic indicators, either visual or auditory, paired with critical incidents from an aviation context. As hypothesized, accuracy was greater and RT was faster in response to natural indicators during the training phase. This pattern of responding was upheld in test phase conditions with respect to accuracy but observed in RT only in test phase conditions involving high demand and the auditory modality. Using the experiment as a specific example, we argue for the importance of considering the cognitive contribution of the user (viz., prior learned associations) in the warning design process. Drawing on semiotics and cognitive psychology, we highlight the indexical nature of so-called auditory icons or natural indicators and argue that the cogniser is an indispensable element in the tripartite nature of signification.

Keywords: auditory warnings, workload, modality, icons, semiotics

Nomen est omen: Investigating the dominance of nouns in word comprehension with eye movement analyses original article

pp. 91-104 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0069-1

Marco R. Furtner, John F. Rauthmann, Pierre Sachse

Abstract

Although nouns are easily learned in early stages of lexical development, their role in adult word and text comprehension remains unexplored thus far. To investigate the role of different word classes (open-class words: nouns, adjectives, verbs; closed-class words: pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, etc.), 141 participants read a transposed German text while recording eye movements. Subsequently, participants indicated words they found difficult and reproduced the story. Then, participants were presented an untransposed text version while also tracking eye movements. Word difficulty, subjectively assessed by an interview and objectively by eye movement criteria (general fixation rate, number of fixations on specific words), text comprehension scores, and regressive fixations from one word class to another in the transposed text indicated that the noun was the most influential word class in enhancing the comprehension of other words. Developmental, intercultural, and neurophysiological aspects of noun dominance are discussed.

Keywords: word class, noun verb debate, word comprehension, transposed word reading, eye movements

Differential effects of prolonged work on performance measures in self-paced speed tests original article

pp. 105-113 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0070-8

Michael B. Steinborn, Hagen C. Flehmig, Karl Westhoff, Robert Langner

Abstract

Time-related changes in the speeded performance of complex cognitive tasks are considered to arise from the combined effects of practice and mental fatigue. Here we explored the differential contributions of practice and fatigue to performance changes in a self-paced speeded mental addition and comparison task of about 50 min duration, administered twice within one week’s time. Performance measures included average response speed, accuracy, and response speed variability. The results revealed differential effects of prolonged work on different performance indices: Practice effects, being more pronounced in the first session, were reflected in an improvement of average response speed, whereas mental fatigue, occurring in both sessions, was reflected in an increase of response speed variability. This demonstrates that effects of mental fatigue on average speed of performance may be masked by practice effects but still be detectable in the variability of performance. Therefore, besides experimental factors such as the length and complexity of tasks, indices of response speed variability should be taken into consideration when interpreting different aspects of performance in self-paced speed tests.

Keywords: reaction time, mental fatigue, sustained performance, time on task, practice efects
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A filled duration illusion in music: Effects of metrical subdivision on the perception and production of beat tempo original article

pp. 114-134 | First published on 31 December 2009 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0071-7

Bruno H. Repp, Meijin Bruttomesso

Abstract

This study replicates and extends previous findings suggesting that metrical subdivision slows the perceived beat tempo (Repp, 2008). Here, musically trained participants produced the subdivisions themselves and were found to speed up, thus compensating for the perceived slowing. This was shown in a synchronization-continuation paradigm (Experiment 1) and in a reproduction task (Experiment 2a). Participants also judged the tempo of a subdivided sequence as being slower than that of a preceding simple beat sequence (Experiment 2b). Experiment 2 also included nonmusician participants, with similar results. Tempo measurements of famous pianists’ recordings of two variation movements from Beethoven sonatas revealed a strong tendency to play the first variation (subdivided beats) faster than the theme (mostly simple beats). A similar tendency was found in musicians’ laboratory performances of a simple theme and variations, despite instructions to keep the tempo constant (Experiment 3a). When playing melodic sequences in which only one of three beats per measure was subdivided, musicians tended to play these beats faster and to perceive them as longer than adjacent beats, and they played the whole sequence faster than a sequence without any subdivisions (Experiments 3b and 3c). The results amply demonstrate a filled duration illusion in rhythm perception and music performance: Intervals containing events seem longer than empty intervals and thus must be shortened to be perceived as equal in duration.

Keywords: timing, tempo perception, interval subdivision, flled duration illusion, music performance