Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Identifying the Information for the Visual Perception of Relative Phase

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Identifying the Information for the Visual Perception of Relative Phase

Article excerpt

The production and perception of coordinated rhythmic movement are very specifically structured. For production and perception, 0° mean relative phase is stable, 180° is less stable, and no other state is stable without training. It has been hypothesized that perceptual stability characteristics underpin the movement stability characteristics, which has led to the development of a phase-driven oscillator model (e.g., Bingham, 2004a, 2004b). In the present study, a novel perturbation method was used to explore the identity of the perceptual information being used in rhythmic movement tasks. In the three conditions, relative position, relative speed, and frequency (variables motivated by the model) were selectively perturbed. Ten participants performed a judgment task to identify 0° or 180° under these perturbation conditions, and 8 participants who had been trained to visually discriminate 90° performed the task with perturbed 90° displays. Discrimination of 0° and 180° was unperturbed in 7 out of the 10 participants, but discrimination of 90° was completely disrupted by the position perturbation and was made noisy by the frequency perturbation. We concluded that (1) the information used by most observers to perceive relative phase at 0° and 180° was relative direction and (2) becoming an expert perceiver of 90° entails learning a new variable composed of position and speed.

Coordinated rhythmic movement is organized in a highly characteristic fashion (described by Haken, Kelso, & Bunz, 1985, with the so-called HKB model); 0° mean relative phase (two oscillators doing the same thing at the same time) and 180° (two oscillators doing the opposite thing at the same time) are the only two stable modes, with 0° more stable than 180° (as frequency is increased, there is a tendency to transition from 180° to 0°, but never the other way). A mean relative phase of 90° (halfway between 0° and 180°) is maximally unstable, although it can be learned (e.g., Zanone & Kelso, 1992a). The issue at hand is why this class of movement should be organized the way that it is; the hypothesis is that this organization is rooted in the perceptual information used to perform the task. This hypothesis is based on observations that the phenomena persist when the coupling is between people (Schmidt, Carello, & Turvey, 1990; Temprado, Swinnen, Carson, Tourment, & Laurent, 2003) or between a person and a display (Buekers, Bogaerts, Swinnen, & Helsen, 2000; Wilson, Collins, & Bingham, 2005b; Wimmers, Beek, & van Wieringen, 1992). This and orner research, inspired a perception-action model (Bingham, 2001,2004a, 2004b), which describes a task dynamic for the production of coordinated rhythmic movement that comprises both action and information components. The model makes predictions about the identity of the informational component that causes the movement pattern, and the present study is a detailed psychophysical test of these predictions.

There have been two streams of research in which the hypothesis that the coordinated rhythmic movement pattern has a perceptual basis has been investigated. The first stream has entailed participants' making judgments about coordinated rhythmic movements, presented either visually (Bingham, 2004a; Bingham, Schmidt, & Zaal, 1999; Bingham, Zaal, Shull, & Collins, 2001; Zaal, Bingham, & Schmidt, 2000) or proprioceptively (Wilson, Bingham, & Craig, 2003). The judgment data have mirrored the movement pattern: Judgments of 90° were highly variable, those of 180° less so, and those of 0° hardly at all. This suggested that the pattern emerges in movement as a result of how well information about the conditions is detected. In the second stream, this has been tested by manipulating the perceptual feedback used to control a coordinated movement and measuring how movement stability changes in response (Bogaerts, Buekers, Zaal, & Swinnen, 2003; Mechsner, Kerzel, Knoblich, & Prinz, 2001; Wilson et al. …

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