Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Representational Pseudoneglect in Line Bisection

Academic journal article Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

Representational Pseudoneglect in Line Bisection

Article excerpt

Published online: 13 June 2012

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012

Abstract "Representational pseudoneglect" refers to a bias toward the leftside of space that occurs when visual information is remembered. Recently a number of demonstrations of such representational pseudoneglect have appeared. In the present article, we report an experiment in which we adopted the classic line bisection paradigm to study representational pseudoneglect. Participants bisected horizontal lines that were shown in extrapersonal space. When the lines were visible on the screen, there was no evidence of any leftward bias. However, when lines were bisected from memory, the participants demonstrated a clear bias to the left. This is the first demonstration of a leftward bias in the bisection of remembered visually presented lines.

Keywords Memory * Neglect * Pseudoneglect

When participants attempt to identify the middle point of horizontal lines, small average errors to the leftare typically reported (for a comprehensive meta-analytic review, see Jewell & McCourt, 2000), a phenomenon that has been termed "pseudoneglect" (Bowers & Heilman, 1980). A similar lateral bias has also been observed for visuospatial representations held in long-term memory: McGeorge, Beschin, Colnaghi, Rusconi, and Della Sala (2007) presented materials modeled on Bisiach and Luzzatti's (1978) study of representational bias in neglect patients to nonneurologically impaired participants, and they observed that the volunteers remembered more items from the left-hand side of remembered space. McGeorge et al. used the term "representational pseudoneglect" to describe this specific asymmetry of visuospatial representation in memory. Cocchini, Watling, Della Sala, and Jansari (2007) used a virtual reality task to assess the representation of space behind observers ("back space") and found that back space to the right was perceived as being smaller than back space to the left. Recently, it has become clear that lateral distortions of visuospatial representation also occur in short-term memory for novel materials. Della Sala, Darling, and Logie (2010) showed that participants remembered bindings between the color, location, and identity of objects from the leftof visual displays more readily than those on the right. Dickinson and Intraub (2009) demonstrated that more visual items are recalled from the leftthan from the right of unfamiliar naturalistic visual scenes. Brooks, Della Sala, and Logie (2011) reported a leftward memory bias in bisecting a wooden rod when the stimuli were presented only via touch, with no visual input. Related to these findings of bias in visuospatial representation are reports of leftward biases in representations of mental number lines:When participants are presented with a two numbers spanning an interval and are asked to identify the midpoint (without explicitly calculating it), their responses typically err in a leftward direction (Göbel, Calabria, Farnè,&Rossetti, 2006; Longo &Lourenco, 2007b; Loftus, Nicholls, Mattingley, Chapman, & Bradshaw, 2009; Longo & Lourenco, 2010).

One clear issue in interpreting any lateral-bias phenomena in short-term memory as representational in nature is to clarify whether they are indeed signs of a distortion within memory, rather than the consequence of a distortion of perception that is then exaggerated by decay in memory. Disentangling these possibilities is difficult, given that many tasks evoke perceptual pseudoneglect, including line bisection in both visual (e.g., Dellatolas, Vanluchene, & Coutin, 1996) and tactile (e.g., Bowers & Heilman, 1980; Brooks et al., 2011) modalities and forced choice comparison tasks (e.g., Nicholls, Bradshaw, & Mattingley, 1999). The present study was therefore designed to investigate biases in the bisection of remembered lines and, further, to probe whether perceptual pseudoneglect and pseudoneglect of representations in visuospatial memory are both manifestations of a simple perceptual attentional bias. …

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