The effect of mood state on visual search times for detecting a target in noise:An application of smartphone technology


The study of visual perception has largely been completed without regard to the influence that an individual’s emotional status may have on their performance in visual tasks. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that mood may affect not only creative abilities and interpersonal skills but also the capacity to perform low-level cognitive tasks. Here, we sought to determine whether rudimentary visual search processes are similarly affected by emotion. Specifically, we examined whether an individual’s perceived happiness level affects their ability to detect a target in noise. To do so, we employed pop-out and serial visual search paradigms, implemented using a novel smartphone application that allowed search times and self-rated levels of happiness to be recorded throughout each twenty-four-hour period for two weeks. This experience sampling protocol circumvented the need to alter mood artificially with laboratory-based induction methods. Using our smartphone application, we were able to replicate the classic visual search findings, whereby pop-out search times remained largely unaffected by the number of distractors whereas serial search times increased with increasing number of distractors. While pop-out search times were unaffected by happiness level, serial search times with the maximum numbers of distractors (n = 30) were significantly faster for high happiness levels than low happiness levels (p = 0.02). Our results demonstrate the utility of smartphone applications in assessing ecologically valid measures of human visual performance. We discuss the significance of our findings for the assessment of basic visual functions using search time measures, and for our ability to search effectively for targets in real world settings.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Optometry
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Centre for Vision and Hearing Research
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Vision, Hearing and Language
Additional Information: © 2018 Maekawa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
Publication ISSN: 1932-6203
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 07:20
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2018 09:46
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://journals ... al.pone.0195865 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018-04-17
Accepted Date: 2018-03-30
Authors: Maekawa, Toru
Anderson, Stephen J. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-5719-2846)
De Brecht, Matthew
Yamagishi, Noriko



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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