Visual and auditory inputs vary in complexity. For example, driving in a city versus on a highway, and listening to the radio versus not. How does such complexity impact our ability to detect perceptual changes, both within and across modalities? Complexity might overwhelm our capacity with information, reducing sensitivity. Alternatively, complexity might afford richer and more distinctive representations, increasing sensitivity. To test this, 24 participants watched short movie clips that varied in visual and audio complexity (operationalized as the inverse of lossless compressibility) and were required to detect degradations in the quality of these clips. Observers were better at detecting changes within video or audio movie tracks that had greater complexity. Moreover, audio complexity increased sensitivity to video changes, but not vice versa. Overall this indicates that information theoretic concepts like complexity are relevant to the human perceptual system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)