Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Surprising connection between two types of perception

Date:
June 22, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
The brain is constantly changing as it perceives the outside world, processing and learning about everything it encounters. In a new study, scientists find a surprising connection between two types of perception: If you're looking at a group of objects and getting a general sense of them, it's difficult for your brain to learn relationships between the objects.

The brain is constantly changing as it perceives the outside world, processing and learning about everything it encounters. In a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, scientists find a surprising connection between two types of perception: If you're looking at a group of objects and getting a general sense of them, it's difficult for your brain to learn relationships between the objects.

Related Articles


It's not known how these two ways of perceiving are related, says Nicholas Turk-Browne, an Assistant Professor at Princeton University. He co-wrote the new article with Princeton graduate student, Jiaying Zhao, along with research assistants Nhi Ngo and Ryan McKendrick. But both have to do with statistics. In "statistical summary perception," your brain calculates general properties from a brief glance. "If I'm looking at a roomful of faces, how happy are people on average?" Or, by looking out a window, someone could sense what season it is based on the general color and presence of leaves on trees.

The other is called "statistical learning" -- finding patterns in the world over time. "After seeing the front of the psychology building at Princeton, you're much more likely to see my face than the face of your favorite actor," Turk-Browne says. Patterns are everywhere, and learning about them, helps in acquiring language, predicting the trajectory of a tennis ball, or discovering the layout of a building. "Even though these two cognitive processes are different, they're both inherently statistical," Turk-Browne says.

Turk-Browne and his colleagues devised a study to figure out how these two ways of seeing were entangled. They showed people grids that contained lines slanted to varying degrees. Some people were asked to do summary perception -- to decide whether the lines were generally leaning to the left or right. Others were asked to answer a different question or to just look at the lines. At the end of the experiment, people who did summary perception displayed no statistical learning -- they were unable to recognize pairs of lines that had been hidden repeatedly in the grids.

This shows that when you're extracting the general properties of a set of objects, you're not able to learn about their relationships, Turk-Browne says. Other experiments found that the reverse was also true -- when there are relationships to be learned, you're worse at perceiving general properties.

The overall goal for Turk-Browne and his colleagues is figuring out how your brain changes as you interact with the world. "Every moment your eyes are open, your brain is changing in sophisticated ways," he says. "What's cool about this study is that it demonstrates that your mind is a great statistician, and you don't even realize it." Experiments like these help psychological scientists understand how the brain perceives the world and give hints to the unconscious calculations the brain is making all of the time.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Surprising connection between two types of perception." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614115638.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, June 22). Surprising connection between two types of perception. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614115638.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Surprising connection between two types of perception." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614115638.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) Ruby Holt spent most of her 100 years on a farm in rural Tennessee, picking cotton and raising four children. She saw the ocean for the first time thanks to her assisted living center and a group that grants wishes to the elderly. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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