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Volume 6 Issue 6 (2010)

Perceptual judgement and saccadic behaviour in a spatial distortion with briefy presented stimuli original article

pp. 1-14 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0072-6

Sonja Stork, Jochen Müsseler, A. H. C. van der Heijden


When observers are asked to localize the peripheral position of a small probe with respect to the mid-position of a spatially extended comparison stimulus, they tend to judge the probe as being more peripheral than the mid-position of the comparison stimulus. This relative mislocalization seems to emerge from differences in absolute localization, that is the comparison stimulus is localized more towards the fovea than the probe. The present study compared saccadic behaviour and relative localization judgements in three experiments and determined the quantitative relationship between both measures. The results showed corresponding effects in localization errors and saccadic behaviour. Moreover, it was possible to estimate the amount of the relative mislocalization by means of the saccadic amplitude.

Keywords: eye movement, saccade, localization, position, absolute position judgement, relative position judgement, space perception, visual illusion

Faster decline of pitch memory over time in congenital amusia original article

pp. 15-22 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0073-5

Victoria J. Williamson, Claire McDonald, Diana Deutsch, Timothy D. Griffiths, Lauren Stewart


Congenital amusia (amusia, hereafter) is a developmental disorder that impacts negatively on the perception of music. Psychophysical testing suggests that individuals with amusia have above average thresholds for detection of pitch change and pitch direction discrimination; however, a low-level auditory perceptual problem cannot completely explain the disorder, since discrimination of melodies is also impaired when the constituent intervals are suprathreshold for perception. The aim of the present study was to test pitch memory as a function of (a) time and (b) tonal interference, in order to determine whether pitch traces are inherently weaker in amusic individuals. Memory for the pitch of single tones was compared using two versions of a paradigm developed by Deutsch (1970a). In both tasks, participants compared the pitch of a standard (S) versus a comparison (C) tone. In the time task, the S and C tones were presented, separated in time by 0, 1, 5, 10, and 15 s (blocked presentation). In the interference task, the S and C tones were presented with a fixed time interval (5 s) but with a variable number of irrelevant tones in between: 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 tones (blocked presentation). In the time task, control performance remained high for all time intervals, but amusics showed a performance decrement over time. In the interference task, controls and amusics showed a similar performance decrement with increasing number of irrelevant tones. Overall, the results suggest that the pitch representations of amusic individuals are less stable and more prone to decay than those of matched non-amusic individuals.

Keywords: congenital amusia, short-term memory, delay, tonal interference

Configural and featural processing in humans with congenital prosopagnosia original article

pp. 23-34 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0074-4

Janek S. Lobmaier, Jens Bölte, Fred W. Mast, Christian Dobel


Prosopagnosia describes the failure to recognize faces, a deficiency that can be devastating in social interactions. Cases of acquired prosopagnosia have often been described over the last century. In recent years, more and more cases of congenital prosopagnosia (CP) have been reported. In the present study we tried to determine possible cognitive characteristics of this impairment. We used scrambled and blurred images of faces, houses, and sugar bowls to separate featural processing strategies from configural processing strategies. This served to investigate whether congenital prosopagnosia results from process-specific deficiencies, or whether it is a face-specific impairment. Using a delayed matching paradigm, 6 individuals with CP and 6 matched healthy controls indicated whether an intact test stimulus was the same identity as a previously presented scrambled or blurred cue stimulus. Analyses of d? values indicated that congenital prosopagnosia is a face-specific deficit, but that this shortcoming is particularly pronounced for processing configural facial information.

Keywords: face perception, object perception, visual cognition, prosopagnosia

Erroneous selection of a non-target item improves subsequent target identification in rapid serial visual presentations original article

pp. 35-46 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0075-3

Yuki Yamada, Atsunori Ariga, Kayo Miura, Takahiro Kawabe


The second of two targets (T2) embedded in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) is often missed even though the first (T1) is correctly reported (attentional blink). The rate of correct T2 identification is quite high, however, when T2 comes immediately after T1 (lag-1 sparing). This study investigated whether and how non-target items induce lag-1 sparing. One T1 and two T2s comprising letters were inserted in distractors comprising symbols in each of two synchronised RSVPs. A digit (dummy) was presented with T1 in another stream. Lag-1 sparing occurred even at the location where the dummy was present (Experiment 1). This distractor-induced sparing effect was also obtained even when a Japanese katakana character (Experiment 2) was used as the dummy. The sparing effect was, however, severely weakened when symbols (Experiment 3) and Hebrew letters (Experiment 4) served as the dummy. Our findings suggest a tentative hypothesis that attentional set for item nameability is meta-categorically created and adopted to the dummy only when the dummy is nameable.

Keywords: attentional blink, RSVSVP, category, attentional set, lag-1 sparing

Free will debates: Simple experiments are not so simple original article

pp. 47-65 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0076-2

W. R. Klemm


The notion that free will is an illusion has achieved such wide acceptance among philosophers and neuroscientists that it seems to be acquiring the status of dogma. Nonetheless, research in this area continues, and this review offers a new analysis of the design limitations and data interpretations of free-will experiments. This review presents 12 categories of questionable conclusions that some scholars use to promote the idea that free will is an illusion. The next generation of less ambiguous experiments is proposed.

Keywords: free will, consciousness, libet, compatibilism

Configurational asymmetry in vernier offset detection original article

pp. 47-65 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0077-1

A. K. M. Rezaul Karim, Haruyuki Kojima


Two psychophysical experiments were conducted at the horizontal and vertical orientations respectively, demonstrating substantial main effect of configuration, but no effect of offset direction on vernier acuity. In Experiment 1, a pair of horizontal bars were arranged side by side with a large gap between them. The observers were, on average, significantly better at discriminating a vertical offset if the right-hand bar was below the left-hand bar than vice versa, regardless of which bar they experienced as displaced and which as constant. A similar asymmetry was evident in Experiment 2 where observers judged horizontal offset for a pair of vertically oriented bars, where one was placed above the other. In this case average performance was better if the upper bar was on the right of the lower bar rather than on its left. There were large individual variations in the asymmetrical trend, but the effect could not be explained by subjective response bias. Furthermore, vernier acuity improved significantly and the asymmetry decreased more or less as a function of training. The average asymmetrical trend was consistent across training days and across two orientations, which indicates that the processing of line vernier stimuli is possibly configuration-specific in the cardinal orientation.

Keywords: vernier acuity, offset direction, orientation cue, configuration, training, response bias, asymmetry, neural preference, cortical plasticity

Effects of syntactic context on eye movements during reading original article

pp. 79-87 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0078-0

Lynn Huestegge, Diana Bocianski


Previous research has demonstrated that properties of a currently fixated word and of adjacent words influence eye movement control in reading. In contrast to such local effects, little is known about global effects on eye movement control, for example global adjustments caused by processing difficulty of previous sentences. In the present study, participants read text passages in which voice (active vs. passive) and sentence structure (embedded vs. non-embedded) were manipulated. These passages were followed by identical target sentences. The results revealed effects of previous sentence structure on gaze durations in the target sentence, implying that syntactic properties of previously read sentences may lead to a global adjustment of eye movement control.

Keywords: reading, eye movements, syntax, context, global effects, syntactic priming

General aptitude and the assumption of truth in deductively rational reasoning about probable but false antecedent to consequent relations original article

pp. 89-102 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0079-z

Walter Schroyens, Lieve Fleerackers, Sunile Maes


Two experiments (N1 = 117 and N2 = 245) on reasoning with knowledge-rich conditionals showed a main effect of logical validity, which was due to the negative effect of counter-examples being smaller for valid than for invalid arguments. these findings support the thesis that some people tend to inhibit background inconsistent with the hypothetical truth of the premises, while others tend to abandon the implicit truth-assumption when they have factual evidence to the contrary. Findings show that adhering to the truth-assumption in the face of conflicting evidence to the contrary requires an investment of time and effort which people with a higher general aptitude are more likely to do.

Keywords: rationality, reasoning, conditionals, truth

The what and why of perceptual asymmetries in the visual domain original article

pp. 103-115 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0080-6

A. K. M. Rezaul Karim, Haruyuki Kojima


Perceptual asymmetry is one of the most important characteristics of our visual functioning. we carefully reviewed the scientific literature in order to examine such asymmetries, separating them into two major categories: within-visual field asymmetries and between-visual field asymmetries. we explain these asymmetries in terms of perceptual aspects or tasks, the what of the asymmetries; and in terms of underlying mechanisms, the why of the asymmetries. the within-visual field asymmetries are fundamental to orientation, motion direction, and spatial frequency processing. the between-visual field asymmetries have been reported for a wide range of perceptual phenomena. the foveal dominance over the periphery, in particular, has been prominent for visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and colour discrimination. this also holds true for object or face recognition and reading performance. the upper-lower visual field asymmetries in favour of the lower have been demonstrated for temporal and contrast sensitivities, visual acuity, spatial resolution, orientation, hue and motion processing. in contrast, the upper field advantages have been seen in visual search, apparent size, and object recognition tasks. the left-right visual field asymmetries include the left field dominance in spatial (e.g., orientation) processing and the right field dominance in non-spatial (e.g., temporal) processing. the left field is also better at low spatial frequency or global and coordinate spatial processing, whereas the right field is better at high spatial frequency or local and categorical spatial processing. All these asymmetries have inborn neural/physiological origins, the primary why, but can be also susceptible to visual experience, the critical why (promotes or blocks the asymmetries by altering neural functions).

Keywords: visual perception, asymmetry, within-visual field, between-visual field, primary why, critical why, neural mechanisms, hemispheric specialization, visual experience

Unconscious knowledge: A survey original article

pp. 116-141 | First published on 31 December 2010 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0081-5

Luís M. Augusto


The concept of unconscious knowledge is fundamental for an understanding of human thought processes and mentation in general; however, the psychological community at large is not familiar with it. This paper offers a survey of the main psychological research currently being carried out into cognitive processes, and examines pathways that can be integrated into a discipline of unconscious knowledge. It shows that the field has already a defined history and discusses some of the features that all kinds of unconscious knowledge seem to share at a deeper level. With the aim of promoting further research, we discuss the main challenges which the postulation of unconscious cognition faces within the psychological community.

Keywords: unconscious/implicit knowledge, unconscious mental processes (perception, learning, memory, thinking, decision making), measures of unconscious knowledge