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Perceptual Asymmetries

My research in these areas has taken various directions in recent years. One focus has been on verbal and non-verbal perceptual asymmetries in the visual and auditory modality. This line of work has practical implications: specifically, implications for the development of better non-invasive screening methods for pre-surgery patients with brain tumors or epilepsy, when the purpose is to ensure that cognitive functions are spared. With this in mind, there are several questions that are of special interest to me. Here are a few examples:

What about the perceptual asymmetries with emotions?
How can you prime an emotion?
Lateralization of time perception.

 

 

What about the perceptual asymmetries with emotions?

Much of my laterality research has focused on verbal tasks. However, some of my research has examined how emotions are represented in the cerebral hemispheres. This interest started with my study on the reliability of laterality effect in emotion recognition (Voyer, Russell, & McKenna, 2002). More recently, I have demonstrated a shift from a left ear advantage to a right ear advantage in emotion recognition when task difficulty was manipulated by means of simultaneous masking (Voyer, Soraggi, Brake, & Wood, 2006). My most current work in this area has investigated how we can use the form taken by the response procedure (words or drawings) to investigate aspects relevant to the representation and retrieval of information and how it affects perceptual asymmetries (Voyer, Bowes, & Soraggi, 2009). This work thus also has implications for the HERA model. My latest work on this showed that memory has much to do with the observed left ear advantage (Voyer, Dempsey, & Harding, 2014). In fact, people typically report what they hear from the left ear first, then the right ear. If we prevent them from rehearsing the stimuli from the right ear, their performance drops drastically. I still have many projects to do in this line of research. Why not get involved?

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How can you prime an emotion?

My most recent interest has involved the examination of affective priming and how it affects auditory asymmetries. Specifically, my student Jennifer Harding implemented a cross-modal priming paradigm in which facial expressions were used as primes for auditory expressions of emotions carried by English words. She found that incongruent primes reduced the left ear advantage in emotion recognition compared to congruent or neutral primes. I am now conducting a study in which emotional sounds carried by Chinese words are used as prime. I am hoping that the priming effect will be even larger in this unimodal priming context. This is only one of the many empirical questions that I plan to investigate in this area of research.

 

Lateralization of time perception

Time perception and estimation are difficult to study in a lateralized setting and most previous research relied on gap detection tasks that had little to do with actual time perception. Research I conducted in collaboration with Simon Grondin at Universite Laval (Grondin, Voyer, & Bisson, 2011) likely reflected the first research using classic psychophysical techniques (method of constant stimuli) to study time perception with lateralized auditory signals. This approach supported the presence of a right ear advantage in the task. However, more recent work I conducted with emotion sounds in a bisection task suggest a smaller constant error for left than right ear stimuli (Voyer & Reuangrith, 2015). These contradictory results are likely due to the type of task involved as the task with Grondin et al. required judgment on small differences whereas my latest work required a more global judgment of duration. However, spatial effects might have a role to play here as well. Let me know if you want to know more!

 

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