Perception Journal Club

Trial-by-trial updating of an internal reference in discrimination tasks: Evidence from effects of stimulus order and trial sequence.

Oliver Dyjas, Karin M. Bausenhart & Rolf Ulrich Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics (2012) 74:1819–1841 In psychophysics, participants are often asked to discriminate between a constant standard and a variable comparison. Previous studies have shown that discrimination performance is better when the comparison follows, rather than precedes, the standard. Prominent difference models of psychophysics and decision making cannot easily explain this order effect. However, a simple extension of this model class involving dynamical updating of an internal reference accounts for this order effect. In addition, this Internal Reference Model (IRM) predicts sequential response effects. We examined the predictions of IRM in two duration discrimination experiments. The obtained results are in agreement with the predictions of IRM, suggesting that participants update their internal reference on every trial. Additional simulations show that IRM also accounts for the negative sequential effects observed in single-stimulus paradigms.