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Psychophysics 4 Research Methods Fall 2010 Tamás Bőhm

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Psychophysical functions How the threshold changes with some stimulus dimension? Run several threshold measurements over a range of values along that dimension Each point corresponds to a threshold value More complete account of sensory characteristics 200 Hz

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Psychophysical functions Newby 1972

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Psychophysical functions contrast spatial frequency Highest sensitivity at ~3 cycles/degree

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Psychophysical functions Why are we the most sensitive to contrast at 3 cycles/degree? Is it because of reading? (The spatial frequency of typical letters is ~3 cycles/deg) No: several primates has the peak at a similar spatial frequency. Uhlrich et al. BBR 1981

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Psychophysical functions

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1 month 2 months 3 months 6 months Adult

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Psychophysical methods Threshold measurements: detection of small intensities (absolute thr.) and discrimination of small intensity differences (difference thr.) Is it intense enough to see? How small a difference can you see? –Fechners 3 methods Method of constant stimuli Method of limits Method of adjustment –Modifications of Fechners methods Staircase method Modifications of the method of constant stimuli (adaptive, no standard) –Forced choice, objective methods –Sensory decision theory (SDT) –Psychophysical functions from psychometric data Direct scaling: growth of sensation with intensity How bright do you see a light? –Magnitude estimation and the power law Multidimensional scaling: degree to which stimuli are comparable along some dimensions Along which dimensions do you judge the similarity of two stimuli?

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Direct scaling Measuring the growth of sensation with intensity Scaling: observers are asked to judge the sensation magnitude on a scale Direct: judgments directly reflect sensation magnitude Subjective but quantitative it can reveal regularities in judgments Subject A Subject B

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Magnitude estimation (S.S. Stevens) 1.Stimuli with various intensities are presented several times, in randomized order 2.Observer assigns numbers to each stimulus 3.First stimulus is assigned an arbitrary number 4.Further stimuli are assigned numbers representing the subjective impression No limit on the scale! IntensityResponse 230 335 438 128 440 545 232 652 336 650 126 547

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Magnitude estimation Actual numbers vary a lot from observer to observer But the relationship among the numbers are similar across observers Quick and easy Observers ABC 195427 2100530 3110635 4120740 5140947 61651155

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Variants of magnitude estimation Presenting a standard stimulus and an assigned number (modulus) Play a 60 dB tone and tell the observer that this corresponds to 100. Further stimuli are judged relative to the standard. Cross-modality matching: equate sensation strengths from different sense modalities Adjust the loudness of a sound until it matches the brightness of a light. http://psych.hanover.edu/JavaTest/Media/Chapter2/MedFig.MagEst1.html

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Power law (S.S. Stevens) The perceived strength of a stimulus increases in proportion to its physical intensity raised to some power: E.g. for loudness: S = kI 0.67

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Power law a<1: large increases in intensity produce small increases in sensation a>1: small increases in intensity produce large increases in sensation a=1: linear relationship; change in intensity corresponds to sensation change

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Power law Power law: S = kI a Take the logarithm of both sides: log(S) = a log(I) + log(k) K=log(k) is constant: log(S) = a log(I) + K This is the equation of a line (in the form of y = ax + b) a: slope; K: x-intercept

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Power law slope=1 slope=3.5 slope=0.33

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Power law ContinuumExponent (a)Stimulus condition Loudness 0.67 Sound pressure of 3000 Hz tone Vibration 0.95 Amplitude of 60 Hz on finger Brightness 0.33 5° target in dark Lightness 1.2 Reflectance of gray papers Visual length 1 Projected line Visual area 0.7 Projected square Taste 1.4 Salt Smell 0.6 Heptane Cold 1 Metal contact on arm Tactual roughness 1.5 Rubbing emery cloths Tactual hardness 0.8 Squeezing rubber Heaviness 1.45 Lifted weights Viscosity 0.42 Stirring silicone fluids Electric shock 3.5 Current through fingers Vocal effort 1.1 Vocal sound pressure Duration 1.1 White noise stimuli

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