Effort is required to sustain attention for a long period of time. A continuous performance task is a method for measuring sustained attention that requires participants to respond to frequently presented non-targets but withhold their responses to rare targets. The failure to respond to a target is considered an attentional lapse, and this is correlated with attentional fluctuation, i.e., the variance in response times to non-targets. Although the duration of this task is traditionally about 10 min, a shorter task would reduce participants’ loads and enable more widespread use of the procedure. To this end, we used a briefer continuous performance task to examine whether individual performance in the first 2 min predicted performance on the entire 8-min task. The results demonstrated that attentional fluctuation and lapses in the first 2 min were highly positively correlated with those during the entire 8 min. These findings suggest that the temporal characteristics of individual sustained attention are predictable from a brief measurement requiring only a few minutes.
It has recently been reported that a person’s face is perceived as more attractive when presented in a group than when presented alone. This phenomenon is called the cheerleader effect. To distinguish this effect from classical assimilation and contrast effects, this study examined if it was observable when similarly attractive faces were presented in a group. It also explored whether the cheerleader effect was modulated by the combination of the observer and face gender, considering that there are well-known gender differences in face processing. In each trial of the experiment, participants rated the physical attractiveness of a target face that was presented alone or together with two different faces. In the latter type of trial, the three faces were of the same gender and were of similar attractiveness. The cheerleader effect was successfully replicated in the present experimental setting, and the size of the effect was particularly large when female participants rated male faces. These findings indicate that the cheerleader effect may occur through mechanisms that are different from assimilation and contrast with surrounding faces, and that the effect is subject to modulation by both observer and face gender.
Previous studies have shown that color preferences can be modulated by altering the observer’s mental set about color through environmental change (e.g., seasonal change). This study investigated whether color preferences changed when the mental set on color was manipulated, by providing participants with instructions about different cultural sets without any physical change in the environment. To this end, we compared the color preferences of Japanese participants under three different cultural sets, namely, “colors that are used in America,” “colors of Japanese traditional culture,” or no specified cultural set. We also investigated the degree to which participants matched colors with each cultural set, i.e., American or traditional Japanese. The results demonstrated the modulation of color preferences. Furthermore, the size of the modulation for each color positively correlated with the degree of the match between each color and each cultural set, suggesting that the cultural set affected the color preferences.
In this study, we examined the fidelity of online cognitive–behavioral experiments conducted with Japanese crowd workers. Four cognitive tasks (flanker task, mental rotation task, levels-of-processing task, and mood induction task involving the recall of autobiographical memories) were performed by Japanese crowd workers in a web-based setting and by students in a lab-based setting. We found that all task-specific effects were replicated, except mood induction did not affect perceived social support in both crowd workers and students. The present results validate the fidelity of conducting online experiments with Japanese crowd workers.
Reinforcement learning models, which update the value related to a specific behaviour according to a reward prediction error, have been used to model the choice behaviour in organisms. Recently, the magnitude of the learning rate has been reported to be biased depending on the sign of the reward prediction error. A previous study concluded that these asymmetric learning rates reflect positivity and confirmation biases. However, another study reported that the tendency to repeat the same choice (perseverance) leads to pseudo asymmetric learning rates. Therefore, this study aimed to clarify whether asymmetric learning rates are the result of cognitive bias or perseverance by reanalysing the open data that the previous study obtained from two different types of learning tasks. To accomplish this, we evaluated multiple reinforcement learning models, including asymmetric learning rate models, perseverance models and hybrid models. The results showed that the choice data associated with positivity bias were also explained by the perseverance model with symmetric learning rates. Meanwhile, the data associated with confirmation bias were not explained by the perseverance model. These results suggest the possibility that either cognitive bias or perseverance could explain asymmetric learning rates depending on the contextual information of learning task.
People are innately motivated to exert control over their environment and to feel competent through gaining a sense of control. However, there are individual differences behind this motivation (desire for control). The present study investigated whether individual differences in desire for control could influence their willingness to pay for a customizable product as a result of increased perceived control over it. The results showed that individuals with a high desire for control were willing to pay more for a customizable product as compared to those with a lower desire for control. Furthermore, this effect was caused by increased perceived control over it. From the marketing perspective, the present findings suggest that it may be an effective strategy to target customizable products towards consumers with a high desire for control.
A number of studies on lightness/brightness perception have been done from several different perspectives, including those of physical factors, physiological mechanisms, and perceptual organization. While these studies have revealed various phenomena such as lightness/brightness contrast, assimilation, and constancy, few studies have referred to variabilities of perception, such as perceived changes of configuration when observing a Fuchs’s transparency pattern. This article defines this kind of perception as “event perception” and reviews studies of lightness/brightness perception from this viewpoint. First, we collated and analyzed a wide variety of lightness/brightness studies. Second, we identified several phenomena which could be considered event perception from these studies. Finally, we revisited lightness/brightness perception from the perspective of event perception. In conclusion, event perception is a perspective that allows us to find and explore the variability of perception. Regarding lightness and brightness perception from this perspective is useful because it provides the opportunity to identify changes in lightness/brightness and to explore the variability of perceptual attributes while an object or pattern is being observed.
As the ratio of elderly people increases worldwide, it is becoming more important to understand cognitive aging. Older adults show much greater interindividual differences than young adults. These differences grow with age, making it impossible for some older adults to participate as research volunteers in aging studies. Relatedly, results of cognitive aging studies are affected by sampling and by selection of cross-sectional/longitudinal research methods. These issues are discussed in the context of several behavioral and neuroimaging studies. Factors affecting increased interindividual differences are also reviewed. Researchers should pay attention to these factors and to characteristics of research methods when planning and interpreting the results of studies on cognitive aging.
The up-down method of adaptive psychophysical measurement uses binary response categories, e.g., “stronger” and “weaker.” This study proposes that ratings using three response categories, e.g., “stronger,” “do not know,” and “weaker,” or four response categories, e.g., “stronger,” “probably stronger,” “probably weaker,” and “weaker,” should be used instead. Simulation experiments showed that the proposed methods were superior to the standard up-down method. Comparisons were made with respect to the root mean square error (RMSE). First, in the case of two response categories, the RMSEs of estimates made using a stochastic model were smaller than those derived using the standard arithmetic method based on simple averaging, except in one extreme case. Hence, comparison of two, three, and four response categories was made with respect to estimates made using stochastic models. The RMSEs of estimates of the point of subjective equality using three or four response categories were smaller than those using two response categories. The RMSEs of estimates of model slope parameters, where a just noticeable difference was calculated as a ratio of the parameter, were smaller with three or four response categories than with two response categories, except in two extreme cases.
Initials of first names of men and women were compared across different countries (Japan, USA, Germany, and South Korea) and different periods (Japanese adults in 2006, and college students in 2008 and 2017). Results suggested a trend in which the letters, “J,” “R,” and “T” are more popular in men than in women, and that “A,” “C,” “E,” and “M” are more popular in women than in men, whereas popular first names differ among countries and change across periods even within the same country (Japan). The phonetic sounds of the initials popular for men give a “hard” impression, and those of the initials popular with women are perceived as “soft.”
Visual perception is somehow related to the function of our brain to understand the outer world where we are living. This brain function has biological significance because it successfully reconstructs the outer world in an ecologically meaningful manner: In other words, it reconstructs ‘Umwelt’ by von Uexkull. Essential components of our Umwelt are objects and their surfaces. In this article, I will introduce some of the works done by our group that are related to the neural representation of visual surfaces of objects such as color and Shitsukan, as well as the formation of visual surfaces.
The neural circuits related to somatosensory perception, the flow of information between the circuits, and the neural activity which represents the content of perception still remains elusive. Recently, by using optogenetic methods, we identified top-down circuits essential for tactile perception. Selective suppression of this circuit resulted in inaccurate tactile perception; mice cannot distinguish between smooth and rough floors. Moreover, we found that this circuit is active during sleep. Suppression of this circuit during non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep blocked memory consolidation of tactile perception. This lecture introduces the outline of these findings.
Neuropsychiatric disorders can be understood as a “system failure in the brain.” It is important to clarify the mechanisms underlying these disorders and develop prevention and treatment methods by performing studies on animal models that represent those disorders. These animals, including genetically modified mice, are subjected to advanced analytic methods ranging from molecular to behavioral levels. In this talk, I introduce the concept called intermediate phenotypes or endophenotypes of the disorders by using “immature dentate gyrus” as an example.
Memories are formed through long-term changes in synaptic efficacy and are stored in the brain in specific neuronal ensembles called engram cells. However, neural mechanisms underlying memory association had been unclear. Using optogenetics and behavioral conditioning tests, we found as follows. First, an association of two different memories is caused by increasing overlapping neurons which encode both memories. Second, it is possible for us to artificially connect the link between two different memories through synchronous activation of distinct cell ensembles. Third, synapse-specific plasticity guarantees the identity and storage of individual memories. These results may give insight into therapeutic treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The award ceremony of the 10th Visual and Auditory Illusion Contest was held in the 37th annual meeting of the Japanese Psychonomic Society, Senshu University Ikuta Campus, Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. The first prize was awarded to “Helix Rotation: A New Twist on Pulfrich and Hess” produced by Arthur Shapiro, American University, Washington, D.C., USA. This illusion work was to demonstrate the Pulfrich effect beautifully. The other prize-winning illusion works were also wonderful. This article discusses the current state and prospect of this contest.
Kaolin clay intake is generated in rats by a variety of nausea-inducing treatments, including rotation (motion sickness), irradiation, and administration of emetic chemicals such as lithium chloride, copper sulfate, ritonavir, recreational drugs (e.g., morphine, apomorphine, nicotine, and ethanol), and various anti-cancer drugs (e.g., cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, and 5-fluorouracil). Recent studies conducted in my laboratory have shown that kaolin clay intake is also generated in rats by running in an activity wheel or swimming in a water bucket, suggesting that these activities induce visceral discomfort similar to nausea. This finding is consonant with the fact that, similar to emetic treatments conventionally employed in conditioned taste-aversion studies in rats, running and swimming act as unconditioned stimuli to establish avoidance of a paired taste.
Some studies have found that a neutral stimulus can become associated with caffeine or alcohol through classical conditioning. Further, several studies have shown that the taste, smell, and sight of caffeine or alcohol (e.g., decaffeinated coffee, non-alcoholic drinks) can acquire the properties of a conditioned stimulus. In human classical conditioning, a conditioning procedure (i.e., the pairing of a conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus) and other factors (e.g., verbal information) are the sources of learning. In the present context, verbal information refers to whether participants are told that their drink is decaffeinated or non-alcoholic. The taste, smell, and sight of decaffeinated coffee (caffeine cue) or non-alcoholic beer (alcohol cue) can induce a conditioned response, even when participants know that the drink is decaffeinated or non-alcoholic. Therefore, in everyday life, decaffeinated coffee and non-alcoholic beer may change performance in coffee or alcohol drinkers.
Taste perception is determined by multiple factors. The sensation of taste includes gustation, olfaction, other organ functions and interactions among them, and not only such sensory information but also physiological, social and cultural contexts. Recent findings on the response of taste receptors to high salt stimuli might provide psychological insight on strong salty taste as a multisensory perception. Many studies have shown that subjective taste intensity is enhanced by odors that are congruent. Some reports have suggested that subjective taste is more strongly enhanced by retronasal than by orthonasal odor detection. Differences between the two routes include the direction of airflow accompanying breathing. Thus, the kinetic sensation of breathing might be a determining factor for odor-induced taste enhancement. As well as effects of multisensory perception on taste, preference and palatability on food are not just determined by multisensory perception, but other multiple factors such as physical condition, cultural difference, learning, and the effect of heuristics on risk perception.
PsychoPy is an open-source software for creating experiments in behavior science. It is written in Python for the most part and has been actively developed for years. Resent releases of PsychoPy add support for Python3, creating browser-based experiments and sharing experiments on the web. In addition, a new online service named Pavlovia was launched to support browser-based experiment and experiment sharing. This article introduces current status of these new features. PsychoPy now works with Python3 though some hardware incompatibility and bugs remain. Experiments composed of basic components of PsychoPy Builder can be performed on web browsers. Users can search and share experiments registered on Pavlovia if allowed by the owner.