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Input-output trade-offs found in human information processing
Date:8/16/2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The most beautiful thing about humans, says Indiana University researcher S. Lee Hong, is that they are both ever-changing and sometimes prone to error. Yet humans are still extremely flexible and adaptable, managing the transition from one context to another almost seamlessly. His new study demonstrates how this adaptability boils down to a zero-sum game.

"There's a famous Einstein quote: 'God does not play dice.' Unfortunately, we all have to do so every day," said Hong, assistant professor in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "Humans are unpredictably variable organisms living in fundamentally unpredictable and uncertain environments. Humans are capable of adapting to different levels of uncertainty, which is quite well documented, but 'how' has been unknown up to this time."

Hong's study, published in PLoS One, involves information processing and found that human behavior is systematic, not random, demonstrating a trade-off between input and out. The study also points to limitations to information processing, Hong said.

The paper can be found at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0011461

Hong and his co-author, Melissa R. Beck, cognitive psychology professor at Louisiana State University, studied eye movement and response times to stimuli sequences that included varying levels of uncertainty or unpredictability. When the researchers increased the uncertainty in the environment by having images on a computer monitor appear in different locations in irregular intervals, the uncertainty of study participants' scanning patterns decreased. When the "input," or the objects' appearances became more regular or predictable, the level of uncertainty of the study participants' "output," or scanning behavior increased.

Hong uses a desk as an example. If someone
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Contact: Tracy James
traljame@indiana.edu
812-855-0084
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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