The speed and accuracy of perceptual decisions in a random-tone pitch task.
ABSTRACT: Research in perceptual decision making is dominated by paradigms that tap the visual system, such as the random-dot motion (RDM) paradigm. In this study, we investigated whether the behavioral signature of perceptual decisions in the auditory domain is similar to those observed in the visual domain. We developed an auditory version of the RDM task, in which tones correspond to dots and pitch corresponds to motion (the random-tone pitch task, RTP). In this task, participants have to decide quickly whether the pitch of a "sound cloud" of tones is moving up or down. Stimulus strength and speed-accuracy trade-off were manipulated. To describe the relationship between stimulus strength and performance, we fitted the proportional-rate diffusion model to the data. The results showed a close coupling between stimulus strength and the speed and accuracy of perceptual decisions in both tasks. Additionally, we fitted the full drift diffusion model (DDM) to the data and showed that three of the four participants had similar speed-accuracy trade-offs in both tasks. However, for the RTP task, drift rates were larger and nondecision times slower, suggesting that some DDM parameters might be dependent on stimulus modality (drift rate and nondecision time), whereas others might not be (decision bound). The results illustrate that the RTP task is suitable for investigating the dynamics of auditory perceptual choices. Future studies using the task might help to investigate modality-specific effects on decision making at both the behavioral and neuronal levels.
Project description:So far, it was unclear if social hierarchy could influence sensory or perceptual cognitive processes. We evaluated the effects of social hierarchy on these processes using a basic visual perceptual decision task. We constructed a social hierarchy where participants performed the perceptual task separately with two covertly simulated players (superior, inferior). Participants were faster (better) when performing the discrimination task with the superior player. We studied the time course when social hierarchy was processed using event-related potentials and observed hierarchical effects even in early stages of sensory-perceptual processing, suggesting early top-down modulation by social hierarchy. Moreover, in a parallel analysis, we fitted a drift-diffusion model (DDM) to the results to evaluate the decision making process of this perceptual task in the context of a social hierarchy. Consistently, the DDM pointed to nondecision time (probably perceptual encoding) as the principal period influenced by social hierarchy.
Project description:The popular random-dot motion (RDM) task has recently been applied to multiple-choice perceptual decision-making. However, changes in the number of alternatives on an RDM display lead to changes in the similarity between the alternatives, complicating the study of multiple-choice effects. To disentangle the effects of similarity and number of alternatives, we analyzed behavior in the RDM task using an optimal-observer model. The model applies Bayesian principles to give an account of how changes in the stimulus influence the decision-making process. A possible neural implementation of the optimal-observer model is discussed, and we provide behavioral data that support the model. We verify the predictions from the optimal-observer model by fitting a descriptive model of choice behavior (the linear ballistic accumulator model) to the behavioral data. The results show that (a) there is a natural interaction in the RDM task between similarity and the number of alternatives; (b) the number of alternatives influences “response caution”, whereas the similarity between the alternatives influences “drift rate”; and (c) decisions in the RDM task are near optimal when participants are presented with multiple alternatives.
Project description:Processing speed is impaired in patients with psychosis, and deteriorates as a function of normal aging. These observations, in combination with other lines of research, suggest that psychosis may be a syndrome of accelerated aging. But do patients with psychosis perform poorly on tasks of processing speed for the same reasons as older adults? Fifty-one patients with psychotic illnesses and 90 controls with similar mean IQ (aged 19-69 years, all African American) completed a computerized processing-speed task, reminiscent of the classic digit-symbol coding task. The data were analyzed using the drift-diffusion model (DDM), and Bayesian inference was used to determine whether psychosis and aging had similar or divergent effects on the DDM parameters. Psychosis and aging were both associated with poor performance, but had divergent effects on the DDM parameters. Patients had lower information-processing efficiency ("drift rate") and longer nondecision time than controls, and psychosis per se did not influence response caution. By contrast, the primary effect of aging was to increase response caution, and had inconsistent effects on drift rate and nondecision time across patients and controls. The results reveal that psychosis and aging influenced performance in different ways, suggesting that the processing-speed impairment in psychosis is more than just accelerated aging. This study also demonstrates the potential utility of computational models and Bayesian inference for finely mapping the contributions of cognitive functions on simple neurocognitive tests.
Project description:A number of accounts of human auditory perception assume that listeners use prior stimulus context to generate predictions about future stimulation. Here, we tested an auditory pitch-motion hypothesis that was developed from this perspective. Listeners judged either the time change (i.e., duration) or pitch change of a comparison frequency glide relative to a standard (referent) glide. Under a constant-velocity assumption, listeners were hypothesized to use the pitch velocity (?f/?t) of the standard glide to generate predictions about the pitch velocity of the comparison glide, leading to perceptual distortions along the to-be-judged dimension when the velocities of the two glides differed. These predictions were borne out in the pattern of relative points of subjective equality by a significant three-way interaction between the velocities of the two glides and task. In general, listeners' judgments along the task-relevant dimension (pitch or time) were affected by expectations generated by the constant-velocity standard, but in an opposite manner for the two stimulus dimensions. When the comparison glide velocity was faster than the standard, listeners overestimated time change, but underestimated pitch change, whereas when the comparison glide velocity was slower than the standard, listeners underestimated time change, but overestimated pitch change. Perceptual distortions were least evident when the velocities of the standard and comparison glides were matched. Fits of an imputed velocity model further revealed increasingly larger distortions at faster velocities. The present findings provide support for the auditory pitch-motion hypothesis and add to a larger body of work revealing a role for active prediction in human auditory perception.
Project description:A major goal in perceptual neuroscience is to understand how signals from different sensory modalities are combined to produce stable and coherent representations. We previously investigated interactions between audition and touch, motivated by the fact that both modalities are sensitive to environmental oscillations. In our earlier study, we characterized the effect of auditory distractors on tactile frequency and intensity perception. Here, we describe the converse experiments examining the effect of tactile distractors on auditory processing. Because the two studies employ the same psychophysical paradigm, we combined their results for a comprehensive view of how auditory and tactile signals interact and how these interactions depend on the perceptual task. Together, our results show that temporal frequency representations are perceptually linked regardless of the attended modality. In contrast, audio-tactile loudness interactions depend on the attended modality: Tactile distractors influence judgments of auditory intensity, but judgments of tactile intensity are impervious to auditory distraction. Lastly, we show that audio-tactile loudness interactions depend critically on stimulus timing, while pitch interactions do not. These results reveal that auditory and tactile inputs are combined differently depending on the perceptual task. That distinct rules govern the integration of auditory and tactile signals in pitch and loudness perception implies that the two are mediated by separate neural mechanisms. These findings underscore the complexity and specificity of multisensory interactions.
Project description:Pitch is one of the most important features of natural sounds, underlying the perception of melody in music and prosody in speech. However, the temporal dynamics of pitch processing are still poorly understood. Previous studies suggest that the auditory system uses a wide range of time scales to integrate pitch-related information and that the effective integration time is both task- and stimulus-dependent. None of the existing models of pitch processing can account for such task- and stimulus-dependent variations in processing time scales. This study presents an idealized neurocomputational model, which provides a unified account of the multiple time scales observed in pitch perception. The model is evaluated using a range of perceptual studies, which have not previously been accounted for by a single model, and new results from a neurophysiological experiment. In contrast to other approaches, the current model contains a hierarchy of integration stages and uses feedback to adapt the effective time scales of processing at each stage in response to changes in the input stimulus. The model has features in common with a hierarchical generative process and suggests a key role for efferent connections from central to sub-cortical areas in controlling the temporal dynamics of pitch processing.
Project description:Perceptual decisions arise after considering the available sensory evidence . When sensory information is unreliable, a good strategy is to rely on previous experience in similar situations to guide decisions [2-6]. It is well known that patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) are impaired at value-based decision-making [7-11]. How patients combine past experience and sensory information to make perceptual decisions is unknown. We developed a novel, perceptual decision-making task and manipulated the statistics of the sensory stimuli presented to patients with PD and healthy participants to determine the influence of past experience on decision-making. We show that patients with PD are impaired at combining previously learned information with current sensory information to guide decisions. We modeled the results using the drift-diffusion model (DDM) and found that the impairment corresponds to a failure in adjusting the amount of sensory evidence needed to make a decision. Our modeling results also show that two complementary mechanisms operate to implement a bias when two sets of priors are learned concurrently. Asymmetric decision threshold adjustments, as reflected by changes in the starting point of evidence accumulation, are responsible for a general choice bias, whereas the adjustment of a dynamic bias that develops over the course of a trial, as reflected by a drift-rate offset, provides the stimulus-specific component of the prior. A proper interplay between these two processes is required to implement a bias based on concurrent, stimulus-specific priors in decision-making. We show here that patients with PD are impaired in these across-trial decision threshold adjustments.
Project description:Acoustically, pitch is related to the temporal regularity or periodicity of a sound. Perceptual and electrophysiologic studies have revealed that pitch salience grows systematically with increasing stimulus periodicity. The aim of this study is to show that information relevant to pitch salience is already encoded in the phase-locked neural activity of brainstem neurons in order to demonstrate that the neural manifestation of pitch salience emerges well before cortical involvement. Brainstem frequency following responses (FFRs) were recorded from participants in response to linguistic tones, which varied only in their degree of pitch salience. Neural pitch strength was computed from FFRs using autocorrelation algorithms. In addition, behavioral frequency difference limens (F0 DLs) were measured from each participant to obtain a perceptual estimate related to pitch salience. Brainstem neural pitch strength increased systematically with increasing temporal regularity in stimulus periodicity, indicating more robust encoding for salient pitch. F0 DLs decreased with increasing stimulus periodicity revealing better pitch change detection for more salient stimuli. FFR neural pitch strength and behavioral F0 DLs were negatively correlated suggesting that subcortical processing can, in part, predict an individual's behavioral judgments of pitch salience. These data imply that changes to the acoustic periodicity of a stimulus directly influence brainstem encoding and the corresponding behavioral responses to pitch. We infer that information related to pitch salience may emerge early along the auditory pathway and is likely rooted in pre-attentive, sensory-level processing.
Project description:Crossmodal correspondences are intuitively held relationships between non-redundant features of a stimulus, such as auditory pitch and visual illumination. While a number of correspondences have been identified in humans to date (e.g. high pitch is intuitively felt to be luminant, angular and elevated in space), their evolutionary and developmental origins remain unclear. Here, we investigated the existence of audio-visual crossmodal correspondences in domestic dogs, and specifically, the known human correspondence in which high auditory pitch is associated with elevated spatial position. In an audio-visual attention task, we found that dogs engaged more with audio-visual stimuli that were congruent with human intuitions (high auditory pitch paired with a spatially elevated visual stimulus) compared to incongruent (low pitch paired with elevated visual stimulus). This result suggests that crossmodal correspondences are not a uniquely human or primate phenomenon and they cannot easily be dismissed as merely lexical conventions (i.e. matching 'high' pitch with 'high' elevation).
Project description:Two sounds with the same pitch may vary from each other based on saliency of their pitch sensation. This perceptual attribute is called "pitch strength." The study of voice pitch strength may be important in quantifying of normal and pathological qualities. The present study investigated how pitch strength varies across normal and dysphonic voices. A set of voices (vowel /a/) selected from the Kay Elemetrics Disordered Voice Database served as the stimuli. These stimuli demonstrated a wide range of voice quality. Ten listeners judged the pitch strength of these stimuli in an anchored magnitude estimation task. On a given trial, listeners heard three different stimuli. The first stimulus represented very low pitch strength (wide-band noise), the second stimulus consisted of the target voice and the third stimulus represented very high pitch strength (pure tone). Listeners estimated pitch strength of the target voice by positioning a continuous slider labeled with values between 0 and 1, reflecting the two anchor stimuli. Results revealed that listeners can judge pitch strength reliably in dysphonic voices. Moderate to high correlations with perceptual judgments of voice quality suggest that pitch strength may contribute to voice quality judgments.