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Concept: Just-noticeable difference


The “just noticeable difference” (JND) represents the minimum amount by which a stimulus must change to produce a noticeable variation in one’s perceptual experience (i.e., Weber’s law). Recent work has shown that within-participant standard deviations of grip aperture (i.e., JNDs) increase linearly with increasing object size during the early, but not the late, stages of goal-directed grasping. A visually based explanation for this finding is that the early and late stages of grasping are respectively mediated by relative and absolute visual information and therefore render a time-dependent adherence to Weber’s law. Alternatively, a motor-based explanation contends that the larger aperture shaping impulses required for larger objects gives rise to a stochastic increase in the variability of motor output (i.e., impulse-variability hypothesis). To test the second explanation, we had participants grasp differently sized objects in grasping time criteria of 400 and 800 ms. Thus, the 400 ms condition required larger aperture shaping impulses than the 800 ms condition. In line with previous work, JNDs during early aperture shaping (i.e., at the time of peak aperture acceleration and peak aperture velocity) for both the 400 and 800 ms conditions scaled linearly with object size, whereas JNDs later in the response (i.e., at the time of peak grip aperture) did not. Moreover, the 400 and 800 ms conditions produced comparable slopes relating JNDs to object size. In other words, larger aperture shaping impulses did not give rise to a stochastic increase in aperture variability at each object size. As such, the theoretical tenets of the impulse-variability hypothesis do not provide a viable framework for the time-dependent scaling of JNDs to object size. Instead, we propose that a dynamic interplay between relative and absolute visual information gives rise to grasp trajectories that exhibit an early adherence and late violation to Weber’s law.

Concepts: Scientific method, Perception, Theory, Object, Pitch, Aperture, Psychophysics, Just-noticeable difference


DCT-based just noticeable difference (JND) profiles have widely been applied into human perception based video coding in order to reduce perceptual redundancy, which is one of the main goals of perceptual video coding (PVC). However, there are two problems for this approach: (i) the JND value of each transform coefficient is estimated for a fixed sized DCT kernel (e.g., 88), but flexible coding structures with variable sized transform units have been utilized in standard video coding frameworks such High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC); and (ii) the DCT transform coefficients are suppressed by the amounts of JND values for the removal of perceptual redundancy, but the DCT transform coefficients of residues are not sufficiently suppressed due to many small transform coefficient values in mid- and high-frequency regions below the JND values. In order to solve these problems, we propose a more generalized visibility model in DCT domain, called the DCT-based Local Distortion Detection Probability (LDDP) model that can estimate a degree of distortion visibility for any distribution of the transform coefficients of any sized DCT kernel for residues. Furthermore, we propose an HEVC-compliant LDDP-based PVC scheme where transform coefficients are sufficiently suppressed based on the LDDP model. The proposed PVC scheme is implemented in HEVC Test Model (HM 11.0) reference software to show the effectiveness of the LDDP-based PVC scheme. Objective and subjective tests for encoded test sequences are performed. The experimental results show that the LDDP-based PVC scheme achieves a significant performance improvement of bitrate reduction at the similar visual quality levels compared to the original HM 11.0.

Concepts: Perception, Just-noticeable difference


When we actively interact with the environment, it is crucial that we perceive a precise temporal relationship between our own actions and sensory effects to guide our body movements. Thus, we hypothesized that voluntary movements improve perceptual sensitivity to the temporal disparity between auditory and movement-related somatosensory events compared to when they are delivered passively to sensory receptors. In the voluntary condition, participants voluntarily tapped a button, and a noise burst was presented at various onset asynchronies relative to the button press. The participants made either “sound-first” or “touch-first” responses. We found that the performance of temporal order judgment (TOJ) in the voluntary condition (as indexed by the just noticeable difference (JND)) was significantly better (M = 42.5 ms ± 3.8 SEM) than that when their finger was passively stimulated (passive condition: M = 66.8 ms ± 6.3 SEM). We further examined whether the performance improvement with voluntary action can be attributed to the prediction of the timing of the stimulation from sensory cues (sensory-based prediction), kinesthetic cues contained in voluntary action, and/or to the prediction of stimulation timing from the efference copy of the motor command (motor-based prediction). When three noise bursts were presented before the target burst with regular intervals (predictable condition) and when the participant’s finger was moved passively to press the button (involuntary condition), the TOJ performance was not improved from that in the passive condition. These results suggest that the improvement in sensitivity to temporal disparity between somatosensory and auditory events caused by the voluntary action cannot be attributed to sensory-based prediction and kinesthetic cues. Rather, the prediction from the efference copy of the motor command would be crucial for improving the temporal sensitivity.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Perception, Sensory system, Sense, Somatosensory system, Proprioception, Just-noticeable difference


Stimulation pulse rate affects current amplitude discrimination by cochlear implant (CI) users, indicated by the evidence that the JND (just noticeable difference) in current amplitude delivered by a CI electrode becomes larger at higher pulse rates. However, it is not clearly understood whether pulse rate would affect discrimination of speech intensities presented acoustically to CI processors, or what the size of this effect might be. Intensity discrimination depends on two factors: the growth of loudness with increasing sound intensity and the loudness JND (or the just noticeable loudness increment). This study evaluated the hypothesis that stimulation pulse rate affects loudness JND. This was done by measuring current amplitude JNDs in an experiment design based on signal detection theory according to which loudness discrimination is related to internal noise (which is manifested by variability in loudness percept in response to repetitions of the same physical stimulus). Current amplitude JNDs were measured for equally loud pulse trains of 500 and 3000 pps (pulses per second) by increasing the current amplitude of the target pulse train until it was perceived just louder than a same-rate or different-rate reference pulse train. The JND measures were obtained at two presentation levels. At the louder level, the current amplitude JNDs were affected by the rate of the reference pulse train in a way that was consistent with greater noise or variability in loudness perception for the higher pulse rate. The results suggest that increasing pulse rate from 500 to 3000 pps can increase loudness JND by 60 % at the upper portion of the dynamic range. This is equivalent to a 38 % reduction in the number of discriminable steps for acoustic and speech intensities.

Concepts: Affect, Pulse, Perception, Acoustics, Sound pressure, Psychophysics, Loudness, Just-noticeable difference


This paper evaluated the psychophysical properties of subdermal electrical stimulation to investigate its feasibility in providing sensory feedback for limb prostheses. The detection threshold (DT), pain threshold (PT), just noticeable difference (JND), as well as the elicited sensation quality, comfort, intensity, and location were assessed in 16 healthy volunteers during stimulation of the ventral and dorsal forearm with subdermal electrodes. Moreover, the results were compared with those obtained from transcutaneous electrical stimulation. Despite a lower DT and PT, subdermal stimulation attained a greater relative dynamic range (i.e., PT/DT) and significantly smaller JNDs for stimulation amplitude. Muscle twitches and movements were more commonly elicited by surface stimulation, especially at the higher stimulation frequencies, whereas the pinprick sensation was more often reported with subdermal stimulation. Less comfort was perceived in subdermal stimulation of the ventral forearm at the highest tested stimulation frequency of 100 Hz. In summary, subdermal electrical stimulation was demonstrated to be able to produce similar sensation quality as transcutaneous stimulation and outperformed the latter in terms of energy efficiency and sensitivity. These results suggest that stimulation through implantable subdermal electrodes may lead to an efficient and compact sensory feedback system for substituting the lost sense in amputees.

Concepts: Perception, Sense, Hertz, Feedback, Amputation, Sound, Pitch, Just-noticeable difference


When watching videos, our sense of reality is continuously challenged. How much can a fundamental dimension of experience such as visual flow be modified before breaking the perception of real time? Here we found a remarkable indifference to speed manipulations applied to a popular video content, a soccer match. In a condition that mimicked real-life TV watching, none of 100 naïve observers spontaneously noticed speed alterations up/down to 12%, even when asked to report motion anomalies, and showed very low sensitivity to video speed changes (Just Noticeable Difference, JND = 18%). When tested with a constant-stimuli speed discrimination task, JND was still high, though much reduced (9%). The presence of the original voice-over with compensation for pitch did not affect perceptual performance. Thus, our results document a rather broad tolerance to speed manipulations in video viewing, even under attentive scrutiny. This finding may have important implications. For example, it can validate video compression strategies based on sub-threshold temporal squeezing. This way, a soccer match can last only 80 min and still be perceived as natural. More generally, knowing the boundaries of natural speed perception may help to optimize the flow of artificial visual stimuli which increasingly surround us.

Concepts: Psychology, Perception, Sense, Mind, Mimicry, Information, Pitch, Just-noticeable difference


Many previous studies have found that there is a close relationship between attention and temporal precision. As a mechanism that regulates the intensity of attention, alertness has beneficial influences on perceptual processing. However, little is known regarding whether and how phasic alertness affects temporal precision. Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 used visual and auditory warning cues in a visual temporal order judgment (TOJ) task and a simultaneity judgment (SJ) task to investigate the phasic alerting effect on temporal precision. Participants in the TOJ and SJ tasks were required to make judgments of two successive and synchronous stimuli at various stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs). Because of dissension regarding the SJ task, Experiment 3 adopted a dual SJ and TOJ task to create a new indicator of participant performance. Although these tasks may differ in the cognitive mechanism they involve, they all produced consistently decreased just noticeable difference (JND) scores and unaltered point of subjective simultaneity (PSS). This suggests that phasic alertness could significantly improve participants' temporal precision (reduced JNDs) of visual perception, without affecting temporal accuracy (unaltered PSS). We then discuss that the alerting effect on temporal sensitivity might be attributed mainly to transient arousal rather than temporal expectancy. Furthermore, the analysis of response ratios at each SOA could distinguish a heightened temporal precision from a reduction of attentional lapses. According to the previous and present studies, phasic alertness might simultaneously benefited the early perceptual processing and late motor execution of responses.

Concepts: Psychology, Effect, Affect, Cognition, Perception, Sense, Psychophysics, Just-noticeable difference


This work proposes a new method of simulating dose reduction in digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), starting from a clinical image acquired with a standard radiation dose. It considers both signal-dependent quantum and signal-independent electronic noise. Furthermore, the method accounts for pixel crosstalk, which causes the noise to be frequency-dependent, thus increasing the simulation accuracy. For an objective assessment, simulated and real images were compared in terms of noise standard deviation, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and normalized noise power spectrum (NNPS). A two-alternative forced-choice (2-AFC) study investigated the similarity between the noise strength of low-dose simulated and real images. Six experienced medical physics specialists participated on the study, with a total of 2,160 readings. Objective assessment showed no relevant trends with the simulated noise. The relative error in the standard deviation of the simulated noise was less than 2% for every projection angle. The relative error of the SNR was less than 1.5%, and the NNPS of the simulated images had errors less than 2.5%. The 2-AFC human observer experiment yielded no statistically significant difference (p=0.84) in the perceived noise strength between simulated and real images. Furthermore, the observer study also allowed the estimation of a dose difference at which the observer perceived a just-noticeable difference (JND) in noise levels. The estimated JND value indicated that a change of 17% in the current-time product was sufficient to cause a noticeable difference in noise levels. The observed high accuracy, along with the flexible calibration, make this method an attractive tool for clinical image-based simulations of dose reduction.

Concepts: Statistics, Statistical significance, Simulation, Operations research, Computer graphics, Deviation, Signal-to-noise ratio, Just-noticeable difference


Surface texture sensation is significant for business success, in particular for solid surfaces for most of the materials; including foods. Mechanisms of roughness perception are still unknown, especially under different conditions such as lubricants with varying viscosities, different temperatures, or under different force loads during the observation of the surface. This work aims to determine the effect of those unknown factors, with applied sensory tests on 62 healthy participants. Roughness sensation of fingertip was tested under different lubricants including water and diluted syrup solutions at room temperature (25C) and body temperature (37C) by using simple pair-wise comparison to observe the just noticeable difference threshold and perception levels. Additionally, in this research applied force load during roughness observation was tested with pair-wise ranking method to illustrate its possible effect on human sensation. Obtained results showed that human’s capability of roughness discrimination reduces with increased viscosity of the lubricant, where the influence of the temperature was not found to be significant. Moreover, the increase in the applied force load showed an increase in the sensitivity of roughness discrimination. Observed effects of the applied factors were also used for estimating the oral sensation of texture during eating. These findings are significant for our fundamental understanding to texture perception, and for the development of new food products with controlled textural features.

Concepts: Scientific method, Temperature, Observation, Perception, Liquid, Friction, Texture, Just-noticeable difference


Virtual reality systems would benefit from a compelling force sensory substitute when workspace or stability limitations prevent the use of kinesthetic force feedback systems. We present a wearable fingertip haptic device with the ability to make and break contact in addition to rendering both shear and normal skin deformation to the fingerpad. A delta mechanism with novel bias spring and tether actuator relocation method enables the use of high-end motors and encoders, allowing precise device control: 10 Hz bandwidth and 0.255 mm RMS tracking error were achieved during testing. In the first of two experiments, participants determined the orientation of a stiff region in a surrounding compliant virtual surface with an average angular error of 7.6, similar to that found in previous studies using traditional force feedback. In the second experiment, we evaluated participants' ability to interpret differences in friction. The Just Noticeable Difference (JND) of surface friction coefficient discrimination using our skin deformation device was 0.20, corresponding with a reference friction coefficient of 0.5. While higher than that found using kinesthetic feedback, this demonstrates that users can perceive differences in surface friction without world-grounded kinesthetic forces. These experiments show that three DoF skin deformation enables both stiffness and friction discrimination capability in the absence of kinesthetic force feedback.

Concepts: Mass, Force, Classical mechanics, Virtual reality, Friction, Normal force, Haptic technology, Just-noticeable difference