Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Size-Brightness Correspondence: Evidence for Crosstalk among Aligned Conceptual Feature Dimensions

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Size-Brightness Correspondence: Evidence for Crosstalk among Aligned Conceptual Feature Dimensions

Article excerpt

Published online: 21 August 2015

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

Abstract The same core set of cross-sensory correspondences connecting stimulus features across different sensory channels are observed, regardless of the modality of the stimulus with which the correspondences are probed. This observation suggests that correspondences involve modality-independent representations of aligned conceptual feature dimensions and predicts a size-brightness correspondence in which smaller is aligned with brighter. This suggestion accommodates cross-sensory congruity effects where contrasting feature values are specified verbally rather than perceptually (e.g., where the words WHITE and BLACK interact with the classification of high- and low-pitch sounds). Experiment 1 brings these two issues together in assessing a conceptual basis for correspondences. The names of bright/white and dark/black substances were presented in a speeded brightness classification task, in which the two alternative response keys differed in size. A size-brightness congruity effect was confirmed, with substance names classified more quickly when the relative size of the response key needing to be pressed was congruent with the brightness of the named substance (e.g., when yoghurt was classified as a bright substance by pressing the smaller of two keys). Experiment 2 assesses the proposed conceptual basis for this congruity effect by requiring the same named substances to be classified according to their edibility (with all of the bright/dark substances having been selected for their edibility/inedibility, respectively). The predicted absence of a size-brightness congruity effect, along with other aspects of the results, supports the proposed conceptual basis for correspondences and speaks against accounts in which modality-specific perceptuomotor representations are entirely responsible for correspondence-induced congruity effects.

Keywords Size-brightness correspondence . Cross-sensory correspondences . Congruity . Speeded classification . Conceptual feature dimensions

Each of our senses is B'blind"' to some features of objects and events. For example, vision does not capture the sounds objects make, olfaction tells us nothing about their weight, and audition cannot discern their color. As objects and events are not always available to all of the senses at once, there is considerable interest in how such 'Bblind spots'" are filled-in, correctly or incorrectly, when the modality best placed to provide the missing information is unable to do so. How is it that in everyday life we readily refer to, for example, the brightness of a sound, the loudness of a shirt, and the thickness and heaviness of a perfume when audition, vision, and olfaction are, respectively, 'Bblind'" to these features? It seems that stimuli encoded in different sensory channels can share some of their perceptual features: Sounds can share their brightness and loudness with visual stimuli, and odors can share their thickness and weight with objects seen and felt.

There appears to exist a core set of systematic associations (cross-sensory correspondences)connectingstimulusfeatures encoded in different sensory modalities (L. Walker, P. Walker, &Francis,2012; P. Walker, 2012a, 2012b; P. Walker & L. Walker, 2012). These cross-sensory correspondences offer a potential basis for the filling-in of information missing from different sensory channels. For example, because auditory pitch and visual brightness enjoy a corresponding relationship, high-pitched sounds normally B'feel"' as though they are emanating from bright objects, even if the source of the auditory information cannot be seen.

Brightness, thickness, sharpness, and weight are all feature dimensions, and evidence indicates that it is the relative positioning of stimuli on such dimensions that is shared by stimuli encoded in different sensory channels (e.g., their relative rather than absolute brightness). …

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