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

needs to find a note on a desk with little clutter, his search need not be thorough. He can effectively glance around the desk to find what he wants. If the desk is messy or contains many papers and other objects, his search will need to be more systematic to find what he is looking for to make sure he hasn't missed anything. If he ransacked the desk in a random fashion, it likely would take longer to find the note.

"These exchanges are pretty much equal and opposite, much like the laws of the conservation of momentum and energy," Hong said. "More importantly, it seems that the human organism is fundamentally in tune with patterns of uncertainty, evolved, maybe. It's definitely a question for the future."

The study involved 29 college students. They generated repeated responses to a continuous series of visual stimuli presented on a computer monitor. As soon as a target was detected, they pressed a keypad. The researchers manipulated where and when the targets would appear. The more uncertain the time and place of the stimulus, the more systematic the visual search strategy was. On the other hand, their response times became much more unpredictable. The most interesting finding, said Hong, was that the changes in uncertainty of the eye movements were a virtual mirror image of the changes in uncertainty in the response times.

"The results show that the subjects adapted their visual search behavior to adjust to the different levels of stimulus uncertainty," the authors wrote in their paper.


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Contact: Tracy James
traljame@indiana.edu
812-855-0084
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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