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Giving Responses Dimension: Representational Shifts in Color Space and Event Segmentation Decisions in Physical Space Over Time

  • Author(s): Kelly, Laura Jane
  • Advisor(s): Heit, Evan
  • et al.

Contextualized through the lens of field-wide theoretical debates of representation and embodiment which dictate assumptions about the nature of cognition, this dissertation presents research on two cognitive phenomena, representational shifts and event segmentation. Both phenomena intersect traditional divisions of cognitive processing spanning perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. A fundamental challenge in the behavioral cognitive sciences is designing experiments and contexts that elicit behavior that reflects cognitive processes. The title phrase, “Giving Responses Dimension,” reflects the strategy employed across the empirical chapters to elicit more informative behavior through having responses be dimensional, either by projecting into abstract category relative color space in the case of representational shifts, or by actual movements that are the response extending over physical space with hand/mouse movements.

The representational shift experiments show contextual influence on memory bias. In a rapid study-to-test paradigm, memory for hue is biased away from the basic color category of that hue. At a longer delay, memory is biased toward the color category of the hue. Labeling the category as well as knowing of the upcoming memory test mitigate the size of the bias toward the category. In both situations, the experimental context creates cues indicating what aspects of perceptual information may be most useful in the future and memory is biased to retain those aspects of the perceived items expected to be useful.

The event segmentation experiments examine the decisions that go into responding to the event segmentation task. When asked to segment a video by marking off the end of “natural and meaningful activity units” of different sizes, people have some degree of consistency with themselves and others in terms of response timing. Quantifying this consistency has been the major mode of analyzing results from this task in the literature. By adding continuous response measures on top of or instead of the discrete responses, the decisions underlying those responses can be examined. The changes to the paradigm do not alter the basic patterns of individual trial to group segmentation consistency. When asked to predict the end of an activity unit, segmentation responses are predicted by the responder about half the time. When the segmentation response itself is continuous, sub-response threshold movements toward a segmentation response are exhibited in addition to the full segmentation responses. These novel measures, reflecting decisions or reasoning about decisions, provide new insight into the behavior underlying a task with substantial importance for theories of event cognition.

This dissertation, Giving Responses Dimension: Representational Shifts in Color Space and Event Segmentation Decisions in Physical Space Over Time, is submitted by Laura J. Kelly in 2018 in partial fulfillment of the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Cognitive and Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced, under the guidance of dissertation committee chair Evan Heit.

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