Effects of noise letters upon the identification of a target letter in a nonsearch task

Abstract

During a 1-sec tachistoscopic exposure, Ss responded with a right or left leverpress to a single target letter from the sets H and K or S and C. The target always appeared directly above the fixation cross. Experimentally varied were the types of noise letters (response compatible or incompatible) flanking the target and the spacing between the letters in the display. In all noise conditions, reaction time (RT) decreased as between-letter spacing increased. However, noise letters of the opposite response set were found to impair RT significantly more than same response set noise, while mixed noise letters belonging to neither set but having set-related features produced intermediate impairment. Differences between two target-alone control conditions, one presented intermixed with noise-condition trials and one presented separately in blocks, gave evidence of a preparatory set on the part of Ss to inhibit responses to the noise letters. It was concluded that S cannot prevent processing of noise letters occurring within about 1 deg of the target due to the nature of processing channel capacity and must inhibit his response until he is able to discriminate exactly which letter is in the target position. This discrimination is more difficult and time consuming at closer spacings, and inhibition is more difficult when noise letters indicate the opposite response from the targe

References

  1. Bamber, D. Reaction times and error rates for “same”-“different” judgments of multidimensional stimuli. Perception & Psychophysics, 1969, 6, 169–174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bjork, E. L., & Estes, W. K. Letter identification in relation to linguistic context and masking conditions. Memory & Cognition, 1973, 1, 217–223.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Colegate, R. L., Hoffman, J. E., & Eriksen, C. W. Selective encoding from multielement visual displays. Perception & Psychophysics, 1973, 14, 217–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Eriksen, C. W., & Hoffanan, J. E. Temporal and spatial characteristics of selective encoding from visual displays. Perception & Psychophysics, 1972, 12, 201–204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Eriksen, C. W., & Hoffman, J. E. The extent of processing of noise elements during selective encoding from visual displays. Perception & Psychophysics, 1973, 14, 155–160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Estes, W. K. Interactions of signal and background variables in visual processing. Perception & Psychophysics, 1972, 12, 278–286.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Flom, M. C., Weymouth, F. W., & Kahneman, D. Visual resolution and contour interaction. Journal of the Optical Society of America, 1963, 53, 1026–1032.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Gardner, G. T. Evidence for independent parallel channels in tachistoscopic perception. Cognitive Psychology, 1973, 4, 130–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Gibson, E. J.Principles of perceptual learning and development. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969,

    Google Scholar 

  10. Guttman, N., & Kalish, H. I. Discriminability and stimulus generalization. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1956, 51, 79–88.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Kinchla, R. Detecting target elements in multielement arrays: A confusability model. Perception & Psychophysics, 1974, 15, 149–158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. McIntyre, C., Fox, R., & Neale, J. Effects of noise similarity and redundancy on the information processed from brief visual displays. Perception & Psychophysics, 1970, 7, 328–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Rumelhart, D. E. A multicomponent theory of the perception of briefly exposed visual displays. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 1970, 7, 191–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Shiffrin, R., & Gardner, G. T. Visual processing capacity and attentional control. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1972, 93, 72–82.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Sternberg, S. Two operations in character recognition: Some evidence from reaction time measurements. Perception & Psychophysics, 1967, 2, 45–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Barbara A. Eriksen.

Additional information

This investigation was supported by U.S. Public Health Service Research Grant MH-1206 and U.S. Public Health Service Research Career Program Award K6-MH-22014.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Eriksen, B.A., Eriksen, C.W. Effects of noise letters upon the identification of a target letter in a nonsearch task. Perception & Psychophysics 16, 143–149 (1974). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03203267

Download citation

Keywords

  • Visual Angle
  • Target Letter
  • Noise Condition
  • Close Spacing
  • Opposite Response