New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

Practice Does Not Make Perfect: No Causal Effect of Music Practice on Music Ability

Miriam A. Mosing, Guy Madison, Nancy L. Pedersen, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, and Fredrik Ullén

How essential is practice to achieving an expert level of performance? To answer this question, the authors asked monozygotic and dizygotic twins who play an instrument or sing how often they had practiced during four different age intervals (0-5 years, 6-11 years, 12-17 years, and 18 years till the time of measurement). The twins’ music ability was assessed using a test of pitch, melody, and rhythm discrimination. Although the researchers initially found an association between practice and music ability, this association disappeared when they controlled for genetic and shared environmental factors — indicating that music practice may not causally influence music ability.

Perceptual Expertise: Can Sensorimotor Experience Change Holistic Processing and Left-Side Bias?

Ricky Van-yip Tso, Terry Kit-fong Au, and Janet Hui-wen Hsiao

In this study, the authors examined the influence of sensorimotor experience on level of holistic processing (i.e., the tendency to process separate features of an object as a single unit) and left-side bias (i.e., the tendency to perceive an object composed of two left halves as being more similar to the original than an object composed of two right halves). Novice Chinese readers and expert Chinese readers with limited or expert writing experience completed assessments of holistic processing and left-side bias. Holistic processing was found to be influenced by writing experience, whereas left-side bias was not, indicating that holistic processing — but not left-side bias — is influenced by sensorimotor experiences such as writing.

“Utilizing” Signal Detection Theory

Spencer K. Lynn and Lisa Feldman Barrett

Signal detection theory (SDT) is used as a framework in perception, memory, and categorization tasks to reveal how people separate out target information from nontarget information in their environment. Lynn and Feldman Barrett describe how SDT, when combined with concepts of utility (the net benefits and costs expected from a series of decisions), can be used to understand and predict the type of decision-making behavior that is optimal in a variety of different situations. The authors describe how this combined theory can be used to clarify the influences of perceptual uncertainty and behavioral risk on decision making and to better understand the difference between optimal and accurate decision-making performance.


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