Does report modality modulate psychophysical sensitivity? The jury remains out

Oliver J Hulme, Barrie Roulston, Morten Overgaard

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Scientific studies of perception use motoric reports as the principal means of communicating subjective experience. In such experiments, a widely held and implicit assumption is that the motor action conveys but does not tamper with perceptual experience. We tested nine observers on a luminance detection task in a cross-over repeated measures design. In separate conditions, observers reported their detection via movements of either their hands or eyes. We found only anecdotal evidence for any modality-dependent effect on psychophysical sensitivity. We also reanalyzed an existing dataset from which deployed a similar detection paradigm involving hand and eye reports. In the four paradigm variants tested, we again only found anecdotal evidence for the effect of report modality on psychophysical sensitivity. Both studies reported here provide only anecdotal evidence; thus, whether we can replicate report-dependent perceptual effects still needs to be resolved. We argue why this remains an important question for consciousness research and why it deserves more rigorous and high-powered replication attempts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1226588
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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