Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Input-output trade-offs found in human information processing

Date:
August 20, 2010
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
A new study examines information processing and finds that human behavior is systematic, not random, demonstrating a trade-off between input and out. The study also points to limitations to information processing. These exchanges are pretty much equal and opposite, much like the laws of the conservation of momentum and energy, according to the study.

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.

Related Articles


"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.

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 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.

Hong also is an associate member of IU's Cognitive Science Program and a full member of the Neuroscience Program, both in the College of Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on patterns of change in movement behavior.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Lee Hong, Melissa R. Beck, Ehsan Arabzadeh. Uncertainty Compensation in Human Attention: Evidence from Response Times and Fixation Durations. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (7): e11461 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011461

Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Input-output trade-offs found in human information processing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100816142112.htm>.
Indiana University. (2010, August 20). Input-output trade-offs found in human information processing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100816142112.htm
Indiana University. "Input-output trade-offs found in human information processing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100816142112.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) Facebook on Thursday revealed more details about its Internet-connected drone project. The drone is bigger than a 737, but lighter than a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) The companion robot "Kirobo" returns to earth from the International Space Station and sets two Guinness World Records. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Bracelet Changes Design With the Touch of a Button

Smart Bracelet Changes Design With the Touch of a Button

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) Interactive jewellery that allows users to change designs and doesn&apos;t need charging. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Twitter's Periscope New Rival for Meerkat

Twitter's Periscope New Rival for Meerkat

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) Twitter has unveiled Periscope, its live-streaming app to rival Meerkat and other emerging apps that have captured the attention of the social media industry. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins