Areas of specialism

Perceptual training & expertise; Object perception; Gamified and digital cognitive training; Visual processes in reading; Absolute pitch; Multitasking

University roles and responsibilities

  • Fellow of the University of Surrey Institute for Sustainability
  • Fellow of Surrey Institute for People-Centred Artificial Intelligence
  • University Ethics Committee


    Research interests



    Isabel Gauthier, Michael Tarr, Daniel Bub, Chun Nang Wong (2009)The Case for Letter Expertise, In: Perceptual Expertise Oxford University Press, Incorporated
    Alan Wong, I. Gauthier (2010)Font tuning differentiates experts and novices in letter recognition, In: Journal of vision (Charlottesville, Va.)3(9)pp. 809-809
    Wenyue Wang, Xiaoqi Sun, Alan C. -N Wong, Suzanne Ho-wai So (2023)Selective processing in attention and memory in schizophrenia: A meta-analysis of the negative priming effect, In: Journal of psychiatric research161pp. 112-122 Elsevier

    Individuals with schizophrenia show impairments in a variety of selective attention tasks. Research on the negative priming (NP) effect in schizophrenia has yielded mixed evidence. This meta-analysis aimed to examine the NP effect exhibited by patients with schizophrenia and the impact of study methodology on findings. The methods and reporting of this meta-analysis followed the PRISMA guideline. Eligible studies were identified through primary literature search in MEDLINE, PsycInfo, PsycArticles, and Embase and secondary search based on included studies and important reviews. Three-level random effects-models were used to summarize between -group differences in the raw NP score, as well as the NP ratio and baseline reaction time (RT) as secondary outcomes. We identified 1383 studies published between 1966 and 2022 and reviewed 27 studies that consist of 627 patients with schizophrenia and 653 controls in total. Compared to healthy controls, patients with schizo-phrenia showed a mildly reduced raw NP score with marginal significance, Hedges' g =-0.16, 95% confidence interval (CI)-0.35 to 0.02, p = 0.084. However, analysis of a subsample of studies indicated a significant, moderate reduction in the NP ratio among patients, g =-0.52, 95% CI-0.91 to-0.14; p = 0.014. Moderator analyses revealed a longer illness duration as predictive of a more reduced NP effect. This meta-analysis lends tentative evidence to impaired attention or memory process as measured by the NP task in schizophrenia. More research is needed to substantiate our results and clarify the impact of study design and patient characteristics on findings.

    Kelvin F. H. Lui, Alan C. -N Wong (2018)Multiple processing limitations underlie multitasking costs, In: PeerJ preprints PeerJ

    Background. Human multitasking is typically defined as the practice of performing more than one task at the same time (dual-task) or rapidly alternating between multiple tasks (task switching). The majority of research in multitasking has been focusing on individual paradigms, with surprisingly little effort in understanding their relationships. Methods. We adopted an individual-differences approach to reveal the limitations underlying multitasking costs measured in different paradigms. Results. Exploratory factor analyses revealed not a general multitasking factor but instead three different processing limitations associated with response selection, retrieval and maintenance of task information, and task-set reconfiguration. The three factors were only weakly correlated with and thus not reducible to common measures of processing speed, working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. Males and females excelled in different aspects of multitasking, demonstrating the benefit of using a multifaceted view of multitasking competency in group comparison. Discussion. Findings of the current study help resolve conflicting results between studies using different paradigms, and form the basis of more comprehensive measurement tools and training protocols covering different aspects of multitasking limitations. The study will also help future integration of multitasking abilities into the theoretical framework of executive function.

    Paulo Ventura, Joao Delgado, Miguel F Ferreira, António Farinha-Fernandes, Jose C. Guerreiro, Bruno Faustino, Isabel Leite, Alan C.-N. Wong (2019)Hemispheric asymmetry in holistic processing of words, In: Laterality (Hove)24(1)pp. 98-112 Taylor & Francis

    Holistic processing has been regarded as a hallmark of face perception, indicating the automatic and obligatory tendency of the visual system to process all face parts as a perceptual unit rather than in isolation. Studies involving lateralized stimulus presentation suggest that the right hemisphere dominates holistic face processing. Holistic processing can also be shown with other categories such as words and thus it is not specific to faces or face-like expertize. Here, we used divided visual field presentation to investigate the possibly different contributions of the two hemispheres for holistic word processing. Observers performed same/different judgment on the cued parts of two sequentially presented words in the complete composite paradigm. Our data indicate a right hemisphere specialization for holistic word processing. Thus, these markers of expert object recognition are domain general.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, W Wong, Kelvin F. H. Lui, Alan C.-N. Wong (2018)Revisiting facial resemblance in couples, In: PloS one13(1)pp. e0191456-e0191456 Public Library Science

    It is widely believed that couples look alike. Consistently, previous research reported higher facial similarity for couples than non-couples, and that facial similarity predicts marital satisfaction. However, it is unclear if facial similarity in couples shown in previous studies was solely driven by extrinsic features like hairstyle, glasses, etc. Also unclear is what attributes are perceived as similar from the faces of a couple. In three experiments, we showed that faces were considered more similar in couples than non-couples even without extrinsic features. Personality and age perceived from faces were also more similar in couples. Importantly, by matching pairs of faces according to their perceived personality, we found that a higher similarity in the perceived personality of a face pair led to higher facial similarity and couple likelihood ratings. These findings suggest that, instead of a result of pure physical analyses, facial similarity in couples is partly based on active social cognitive judgments on perceived personality, which may reveal the actual personality of the couples and thus inform relationship quality.

    Ming Lui, Kelvin F. H. Lui, Alan C.-N. Wong, J. Peter Rosenfeld (2018)Suppression of 12-Hz SSVEPs when viewing familiar faces: An electrophysiological index to detect recognition, In: International Journal of Psychophysiology133pp. 159-168 Elsevier

    Criminal investigation often involves finding out what a suspect knows about people, such as victims and confederates, who are involved in the crime. This study explored the possibility of determining a person's recognition of other individuals by analyzing the steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP) triggered by visual oscillations of familiar and unfamiliar faces. In our study, 23 adult (10 men) participants gave subjective familiarity ratings (in a 7-point Likert scale) of >300 celebrities' and strangers' faces. For each participant, ten familiar and ten unfamiliar faces were selected based on his/her ratings. The selected faces were presented at 6 Hz while the participants performed a color change detection task orthogonal to the attributes of faces. The task was designed to maintain participants' visual attention towards the faces throughout the stimulus oscillations. Any difference between conditions would indicate modulation of visual attention by face familiarity. Results showed that the 12-Hz event-related spectral perturbations (ERSPs in decibel) at parietal-occipital electrodes were significantly lower when viewing familiar faces compared to unfamiliar faces. In individual level analysis, 18 out of 23 (78%) participants had significantly lower 12-Hz ERSPs at left parietal-occipital ROI in familiar face than unfamiliar face trials. This is the first study to demonstrate that SSVEPs triggered by stimulus oscillations can reveal people's recognition of faces with only 20 trials per condition and 10-s for each trial.

    Kelvin F. H. Lui, Ken H. M. Yip, Alan C.-N. Wong (2021)Gender differences in multitasking experience and performance, In: Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)74(2)pp. 344-362 Sage

    There is a widespread stereotype that women are better at multitasking. Previous studies examining gender difference in multitasking used either a concurrent or sequential multitasking paradigm and offered mixed results. This study examined a possibility that men were better at concurrent multitasking while women were better at task switching. In addition, men and women were also compared in terms of multitasking experience, measured by a computer monitoring software, a self-reported Media Use Questionnaire, a laboratory task-switching paradigm, and a self-reported Multitasking Prevalence Inventory. Results showed a smaller concurrent multitasking (dual-task) cost for men than women and no gender difference in sequential multitasking (task-switching) cost. Men had more experience in multitasking involving video games while women were more experienced in multitasking involving music, instant messaging, and web surfing. The gender difference in dual-task performance, however, was not mediated by the gender differences in multitasking experience but completely explained by difference in the processing speed. The findings suggest that men have an advantage in concurrent multitasking, which may be a result of the individual differences in cognitive abilities.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, Kelvin F. H. Lui, Ken H. M. Yip, Alan C.-N. Wong (2020)Is it impossible to acquire absolute pitch in adulthood?, In: Attention, perception & psychophysics82(3)pp. 1407-1430 Springer US

    Absolute pitch (AP) refers to the rare ability to name the pitch of a tone without external reference. It is widely believed to be only for the selected few with rare genetic makeup and early musical training during the critical period, and therefore acquiring AP in adulthood is impossible. Previous studies have not offered a strong test of the effect of training because of issues like small sample size and insufficient training. In three experiments, adults learned to name pitches in a computerized, gamified and personalized training protocol for 12 to 40 hours, with the number of pitches gradually increased from three to twelve. Across the three experiments, the training covered different octaves, timbre, and training environment (inside or outside laboratory). AP learning showed classic characteristics of perceptual learning, including generalization of learning dependent on the training stimuli, and sustained improvement for at least one to three months. 14% of the participants (6 out of 43) were able to name twelve pitches at 90% or above accuracy, comparable to that of ‘AP possessors’ as defined in the literature. Overall, AP continues to be learnable in adulthood, which challenges the view that AP development requires both rare genetic predisposition and learning within the critical period. The finding calls for reconsideration of the role of learning in the occurrence of AP, and pushes the field to pinpoint and explain the differences, if any, between the aspects of AP more trainable in adulthood and the aspects of AP that are potentially exclusive for the few exceptional AP possessors observed in the real world.

    Vince S. H. Ngan, Leo Y. T. Cheung, Hezul T. Y. Ng, Ken H. M. Yip, Kwai Ling Wong, Alan C.-N. Wong (2022)An early perceptual locus of absolute pitch, In: Psychophysiologye14170 Wiley

    Absolute pitch (AP) refers to the naming of musical tone without external reference. The influential two-component model states that AP is limited by the late-emerging pitch labeling process only and not the earlier perceptual and memory processes. Over the years, however, support for this model at the neural level has been mixed with various methodological limitations. Here, the electroencephalography responses of 27 AP possessors and 27 non-AP possessors were recorded. During both name verification and passive listening, event-related potential analyses showed a difference between AP and non-AP possessors at about 200 ms in their response toward tones compared with noise stimuli. Multivariate pattern analyses suggested that pitch naming was subserved by a series of transient processes for the first 250 ms, followed by a stage-like process for both AP and non-AP possessors with no group differences between them. These findings are inconsistent with the predictions of the two-component model, and instead suggest the existence of an early perceptual locus of AP.

    Kelvin F. H. Lui, Alan C.-N. Wong (2020)Multiple processing limitations underlie multitasking costs, In: Psychological research84(7)pp. 1946-1964

    Human multitasking is typically defined as the practice of performing more than one task at the same time (dual task) or rapidly alternating between multiple tasks (task switching). The majority of research in multitasking has been focusing on individual paradigms, with surprisingly little effort in understanding their relationships. We adopted an individual-difference approach to reveal the limitations underlying multitasking costs measured in different paradigms. Exploratory factor analyses revealed not a general multitasking factor but instead three different processing limitations associated with response selection, retrieval and maintenance of task information, and task-set reconfiguration. The three factors were only weakly correlated with and thus not reducible to common measures of processing speed, working memory capacity and fluid intelligence. Males and females excelled in different aspects of multitasking, demonstrating the benefit of using a multifaceted view of multitasking competency in group comparison. Findings of the current study help resolve conflicting results between studies using different paradigms, and form the basis of more comprehensive measurement tools and training protocols covering different aspects of multitasking limitations. The study will also help future integration of multitasking abilities into the theoretical framework of executive function.

    C Hui, Kelvin F. H. Lui, Wing Yu Lai, Yetta Kwailing Wong, Alan C.-N. Wong (2020)Beauty and the beast: Promotion concerns and the pursuit of physically attractive mates, In: Journal of personality88(5)pp. 892-907 Wiley

    Objective In the mating market, individuals differ in their aspirations to pursue opposite-sex mates who have a relatively higher (vs. similar) level of physical attractiveness. Few studies have explored how motivational concerns outside the mating domain can account for these individual differences in romantic aspiration. Based on regulatory focus theory, this research tested how broad concerns for promotion and prevention influence the aspiration and dating outcome. Method Four studies tested whether promotion concerns increase romantic aspiration and the chance to mate with a more physically attractive partner. The first three studies tested how promotion concerns, either measured (Studies 1a and 2) or manipulated (Study 1b), can influence romantic aspiration. Study 3 further tested how one's chronic promotion concerns are related to the physical attractiveness of the current partner (as rated by observers). Results The first three studies supported the prediction that promotion concerns increase aspiration to pursue more physically attractive mates. The last study also found that, controlling for their own physical attractiveness, individuals with stronger promotion concerns tend to mate with physically attractive partners. Conclusions The results highlight the significant roles of broad motivational concerns in determining both aspiration and chance to date a more physically attractive partner.

    Ken Hoi Ming Yip, Leo Y. T. Cheung, Vince S. H. Ngan, Yetta Kwailing Wong, Alan C.-N. Wong (2022)The effect of task on object processing revealed by EEG decoding, In: European Journal of Neuroscience55(5)pp. 1174-1199 Wiley

    Recent studies showed that task demand affects object representations in higher-level visual areas and beyond but not so much in earlier areas. There are, however, limitations in those studies including the relatively weak manipulation of task due to the use of familiar real-life objects, the low temporal resolution in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the emphasis on the amount and not the source of information carried by brain activations. In the current study, observers categorised images of artificial objects in one of two orthogonal dimensions, shape and texture, while their brain activity was recorded with electroencephalogram (EEG). Results showed that object processing along the texture dimension was affected by task demand starting from a relatively late time (320- to 370-ms time window) after image onset. The findings are consistent with the view that task exerts an effect on the later phases of object processing.

    Paulo Ventura, Tania Fernandes, Alexandre Pereira, Jose C. Guerreiro, António Farinha-Fernandes, Joao Delgado, Miguel F Ferreira, Bruno Faustino, Isabel Raposo, Alan C.-N. Wong (2020)Holistic word processing is correlated with efficiency in visual word recognition, In: Attention, perception & psychophysics82(5)pp. 2739-2750 Springer Nature

    Holistic processing of visual words (i.e., obligatory encoding of/attending to all letters of a word) could be a marker of expert word recognition. In the present study, we thus examined for the first time whether there is a direct relation between the word-composite effect (i.e., all parts of a visual word are fully processed when observers perform a task on a word part) and fast access to the orthographic lexicon by visual word experts (i.e., fluent adult readers). We adopted an individual differences approach and used the word-frequency effect (i.e., faster recognition of high- than low-frequency words) in an independent lexical decision task as a proxy of fast access to lexical orthographic representations. Fluent readers with larger word-composite effect showed smaller word-frequency effect. This correlation was mainly driven by an association between a larger composite effect and faster lexical decision on low-frequency words, probably because these lexical representations are less stable and integrated/unitized, hence allowing differentiating among fluent readers. We thus showed that holistic processing of visual words is indeed related to higher efficiency in visual word recognition by skilled readers.

    Paulo Ventura, Jose C. Guerreiro, Alexandre Pereira, Joao Delgado, Vivienne Rosario, António Farinha-Fernandes, Miguel Domingues, Francisco Cruz, Bruno Faustino, Alan C.-N. Wong (2022)Change detection vs. change localization for own-race and other-race faces, In: Attention, perception & psychophysics84pp. 627-637

    The other-race effect (ORE) is a well-known phenomenon in which people discriminate and recognize faces from their ethnic group more accurately than faces from other ethnic groups. Holistic processing, or the mandatory tendency to process all parts of an object together, has been proposed as an explanation for the ORE. According to the holistic perspective of the ORE, other-race faces might be subject to weaker holistic processing than own-race faces. However, evidence for this hypothesis is inconsistent. Although it is generally assumed that holistic processing helps the individuation of objects, holistic processing may also come at a cost. Specifically, holistic processing may reduce the capacity to localize changes in the constituent parts of an object, but not in detecting changes to an object as a whole. In the present study, we examined change detection and change localization accuracy for Caucasian and African faces, and houses. Performance was better for change detection than change localization for Caucasian faces. While clear costs of holistic processing for Caucasian faces were thus found, the difference between change localization and change detection was not obvious for African faces. However, childhood exposure to other-race people correlated with change detection for African faces, but not with change localization for African faces. Our results thus show that holistic processing of other-race faces may depend on early contact with other-race people.

    Paulo Ventura, Aleksandar Bulajic, Alan C.-N. Wong, Isabel Leite, Frouke Hermens, Alexandre Pereira, Thomas Lachmann (2021)Face and word composite effects are similarly affected by priming of local and global processing, In: Attention, perception & psychophysics83pp. 2189-2204 Springer Nature

    Holistic processing has been shown with both faces and words, but it is unclear how similar their underlying mechanisms are. In this study attention to global and local features was manipulated and the consequences for holistic word and face processing were examined. On each trial participants were presented two Navon figures and told to focus on either the global or the local level. Then they performed a composite task in which they indicated whether the target halves of two sequentially presented faces or words were the same or different, ignoring the irrelevant halves. Similar stronger global priming effects were found for faces and words, indicating that holistic processing for the two types of stimuli were susceptible to attention manipulations to similar degrees, which was confirmed with Bayesian analyses. The findings add to the investigation of the similarity and differences between holistic processing and help reveal those aspects of holistic processing that are domain general and those specific to individual categories.

    Paulo Ventura, Vince Ngan, Alexandre Pereira, Francisco Cruz, Jose C. Guerreiro, Vivienne Rosario, Joao Delgado, Bruno Faustino, Marta Barros, Miguel Domingues, Alan Wong (2022)The relation between holistic processing as measured by three composite tasks and face processing: A latent variable modeling approach, In: Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics84(7)pp. 2319-2334 Springer

    We investigated the relationship between holistic processing and face processing using a latent variables approach. Three versions of the composite paradigm were used to measure holistic processing: Vanderbilt Holistic Face Processing Test, a sequential composite matching task, and a simultaneous composite matching task. Three tasks were used to measure face perception and face memory abilities respectively. We had three pairs of tasks such that within each pair (of memory and perception task), the stimuli involved, the requirement for matching across viewpoints, etc., are the same, such that the only difference is whether perception or memory is taxed. There were no significant correlations between the different versions of the composite task. We discovered no evidence to support a distinction between face perception and face memory, suggesting the existence of a general face processing factor. Finally, there was no evidence that holistic processing (as captured by either of the three composite tasks) is predictive of better face processing per se, casting doubts on the role of holistic processing in differentiating different levels of efficiency in face processing.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, Kelvin F. H. Lui, Alan C.-N. Wong (2021)A reliable and valid tool for measuring visual recognition ability with musical notation, In: Behavior research methods53pp. 836-845 Springer Nature

    Recognizing musical notation is an important skill to a full participation of Western classical music,but remains a largely under-researched topic in the psychology of music. One plausible reason of such omission is that, in the past, the research field has heavily relied on self-report of music reading ability, which was subjective and highly variable. This paper presents a reliable and valid tool for objectively measuring individual abilities in visual recognition of musical notation. The visual fluency task measures how fast one can accurately recognize a sequence of musical notation at a desired accuracy level using the adaptive psychometric method QUEST. We checked the reliability of this task in over 200 participants in terms of Guttman's lambda-2 and Cronbach's alpha. Also, we evaluated the construct validity of this task by considering the convergent validity of this task with multiple external real-world measures of one's musical training background, with numerous experimental measures of visual tendencies of musical notation recognition and with sight-reading performance. Overall, the visual fluency task achieved satisfactory reliability and validity for measuring abilities in recognizing musical notation. This opens the door for characterizing the cognitive mechanisms, development, and individual differences in musical notation recognition, for understanding music learning and music psychology and for understanding of visual perceptual expertise in general.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, Vince S. H. Ngan, Leo Y. T. Cheung, Alan C.-N. Wong (2020)Absolute pitch learning in adults speaking non-tonal languages, In: Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)73(11)pp. 1908-1920 Sage

    Absolute pitch (AP) refers to labelling individual pitches in the absence of external reference. A widely endorsed theory regards AP as a privileged ability enjoyed by selected few with rare genetic makeup and musical training starting in early childhood. However, recent evidence showed that even adults can learn AP, and some can attain a performance level comparable to natural AP possessors. These training studies involved native tonal language speakers, whose acquisition of AP might be facilitated by tonal language exposure during early childhood. In this study, adults speaking non-tonal languages went through AP training that was 20-hr long, computerised and personalised. Performance on average improved, which was accompanied by enhanced working memory for tones, whereas relative pitch judgement and sensitivity to small pitch differences remained unchanged. Notably, two out of 13 learned to label all 12 pitches within an octave, with accuracy and response time comparable to natural AP possessors. Overall, the findings suggest that tonal language exposure is not a prerequisite for AP learning in adulthood. The understanding of the origin of AP would benefit from considering the role of lifelong learning instead of focusing only on early childhood experience.

    Alan C.-N. Wong, Terri Y. K. Ng, Kelvin F. H. Lui, Ken H. M. Yip, Yetta Kwailing Wong (2019)Visual training with musical notes changes late but not early electrophysiological responses in the visual cortex, In: Journal of vision (Charlottesville, Va.)19(7)pp. 1-16 Assoc Research Vision Ophthalmology Inc

    Visual expertise with musical notation is unique. Fluent music readers show selectively higher activity to musical notes than to other visually similar patterns in both the retinotopic and higher-level visual areas and both very early (e.g., C1) and later (e.g., N170) visual event-related potential (ERP) components. This is different from domains such as face and letter perception, of which the neural expertise marker is typically found in the higher-level ventral visual areas and later (e.g., N170) ERP components. An intriguing question concerns whether the visual skills and neural selectivity observed in music-reading experts are a result of the effects of extensive visual experience with musical notation. The current study aimed to investigate the causal relationship between visual experience and its neural changes with musical notation. Novices with no formal musical training experience were trained to visually discriminate between note patterns in the laboratory for 10-26 hr such that their performance was comparable with fluent music readers. The N170 component became more selective for musical notes after training. Training was not, however, followed by changes in the earlier C1 component. The findings show that visual training is enough for causing changes in the responses of the higher-level visual areas to musical notation while the engagement of the early visual areas may involve additional nonvisual factors.

    Paulo Ventura, Tania Fernandes, Isabel Leite, Alexandre Pereira, Alan C.-N. Wong (2019)Is holistic processing of written words modulated by phonology?, In: Acta psychologica201pp. 102944-102944 Elsevier B.V

    •Investigated whether holistic processing of visual words is modulated by phonology.•Compared the word composite effect for phonological consistent versus phonological inconsistent words.•Evaluated whether the potential modulation by phonology of the word composite effect is fast and automatic.•The results showed that phonologically consistent words showed a robust composite effect while no such effect was found for phonologically inconsistent words.•The modulation of the word composite effect by phonology is automatic and happens rapidly.•Holistic processing of written words is affected by fast and automatic access to lexical phonological representations. Holistic processing, a hallmark of face processing, has been shown for written words, signaled by the word composite effect. Fluent readers find it harder to focus on one half of a written word (e.g., the first syllable of a CV.CV word) while ignoring the other half (e.g., the second syllable), especially when the two halves are aligned rather than misaligned. Given the linguistic nature of written words, in the present study, we examined whether the word composite effect is modulated by phonology. In Experiment 1, participants saw two sequentially presented CV.CV words and had to decide if the left half (first syllable) was the same or not, regardless of the right half. The word pairs were either phonologically consistent (univocal orthography to phonology mapping; e.g., TI is always /ti/ in Portuguese) or inconsistent (orthography can map into different phonological representations; e.g., CA can correspond to /ka/ or /kɐ/). The word composite effect was found for phonologically consistent words but not for phonologically inconsistent words. In Experiment 2, timing of trial events was reduced to test whether the influence of phonology was fast and automatic. Similar to what was found in Experiment 1, the word composite effect was found only for phonologically consistent words. The faster trial events in Experiment 2 rendered it less likely that the influence of phonology in word composite effect is merely a result of strategic processing. These findings suggest that holistic processing of visual words is modulated by fast and automatic activation of lexical phonological representations.

    Jennifer J Richler, Andrew J Tomarken, Mackenzie A Sunday, Timothy J Vickery, Kaitlin F Ryan, R Jackie Floyd, David Sheinberg, Alan C.-N. Wong, Isabel Gauthier (2019)Individual differences in object recognition, In: Psychological Review126(2)pp. 226-251 American Psychological Association

    There is substantial evidence for individual differences in personality and cognitive abilities, but we lack clear intuitions about individual differences in visual abilities. Previous work on this topic has typically compared performance with only 2 categories, each measured with only 1 task. This approach is insufficient for demonstration of domain-general effects. Most previous work has used familiar object categories, for which experience may vary between participants and categories, thereby reducing correlations that would stem from a common factor. In Study 1, we adopted a latent variable approach to test for the first time whether there is a domain-general object recognition ability, o. We assessed whether shared variance between latent factors representing performance for each of 5 novel object categories could be accounted for by a single higher-order factor. On average, 89% of the variance of lower-order factors denoting performance on novel object categories could be accounted for by a higher-order factor, providing strong evidence for o. Moreover, o also accounted for a moderate proportion of variance in tests of familiar object recognition. In Study 2, we assessed whether the strong association across categories in object recognition is due to third-variable influences. We find that o has weak to moderate associations with a host of cognitive, perceptual, and personality constructs and that a clear majority of the variance in and covariance between performance on different categories is independent of fluid intelligence. This work provides the first demonstration of a reliable, specific, and domain-general object recognition ability, and suggest a rich framework for future work in this area. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

    Paulo Ventura, Helen W-Y Tse, Jose C. Guerreiro, Joao Delgado, Miguel F Ferreira, António Farinha-Fernandes, Bruno Faustino, Alexandre Banha, Alan C.-N. Wong (2022)The relationships between reading fluency and different measures of holistic word processing, In: Attention, perception & psychophysics : a journal of the psychonomic society84(5)pp. 1734-1756

    Recently, paradigms in the face recognition literature have been adopted to reveal holistic processing in word recognition. It is unknown, however, whether different measures of holistic word processing share similar underlying mechanisms, and whether fluent word reading relies on holistic word processing. We measured holistic processing effects in three paradigms (composite, configural sensitivity, part-whole) as well as in reading fluency (3DM task: reading aloud high- and low-frequency words and pseudowords). Bin scores were used to combine accuracy and response time variables in the quest for a more comprehensive, reliable, and valid measure of holistic processing. Weak correlations were found between the different holistic processing measures, with only a significant correlation between the configural sensitivity effect and part-whole effect (r = .32) and a trend of a positive correlation between the word composite effect and configural sensitivity effect (r = .21). Of the three holistic processing measures, only one (part-whole effect) correlated with a lexical access measure of 3DM (r = .23). We also performed a principal component analysis (PCA) of performance in the three lists of 3DM, with the second most probably reflecting lexical access processes. There was a tendency for a positive correlation between part-whole bin measure and Component 2 of PCA. We also found a positive correlation between composite aligned in accuracy and Component 2 of PCA.Our results show that different measures of holistic word processing reflect predominantly different mechanisms, and that differences among normal readers in word reading do not seem to depend highly on holistic processing.

    P. Fan, A. C.-N. Wong, Y. K. Wong (2022)Visual and Visual Association Abilities Predict Skilled Reading Performance: The Case of Music Sight-Reading, In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General151(11)pp. 2683-2705 American Psychological Association

    The role of visual shape processing in skilled reading is an understudied topic. This study focused on the role of visual and visual association skills in a type of skilled reading, music sight-reading, which refers to the ability to play a piece of music when one reads the score for the first time. One hundred and 43 intermediate-to-advanced musicians were assessed on their sight-reading performance as well as visual fluency for notes, general visual fluency, motor dexterity, visual-auditory association for notes, visual-motor association for numbers, working memory capacity, and executive function. Correlation and regression analyses showed that sight-reading performance can be largely explained by three abilities related to vision, including visual fluency for notes, visual-auditory association for notes, and visual-motor association for numbers (9.99, 10.11, and 4.62% respectively). The findings led to a better understanding of music sight-reading that takes into account the long-overlooked association between visual shape processing ability and sight-reading, which has clear educational implications. The importance of visual shape processing ability may also apply to other domains of skilled reading requiring visual perceptual extraction of visual codes, such as word reading.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, Christine Kong-Yan Tong, Ming Lui, Alan C.-N. Wong (2021)Perceptual expertise with Chinese characters predicts Chinese reading performance among Hong Kong Chinese children with developmental dyslexia, In: PloS one16(1)e0243440 Public Library of Science

    This study explores the theoretical proposal that developmental dyslexia involves a failure to develop perceptual expertise with words despite adequate education. Among a group of Hong Kong Chinese children diagnosed with developmental dyslexia, we investigated the relationship between Chinese word reading and perceptual expertise with Chinese characters. In a perceptual fluency task, the time of visual exposure to Chinese characters was manipulated and limited such that the speed of discrimination of a short sequence of Chinese characters at an accuracy level of 80% was estimated. Pair-wise correlations showed that perceptual fluency for characters predicted speeded and non-speeded word reading performance. Exploratory hierarchical regressions showed that perceptual fluency for characters accounted for 5.3% and 9.6% variance in speeded and non-speeded reading respectively, in addition to age, non-verbal IQ, phonological awareness, morphological awareness, rapid automatized naming (RAN) and perceptual fluency for digits. The findings suggest that perceptual expertise with words plays an important role in Chinese reading performance in developmental dyslexia, and that perceptual training is a potential remediation direction.

    Alan C.-N. Wong, Yetta Kwailing Wong, Kelvin F. H. Lui, Terri Y. K. Ng, Vince S. H. Ngan (2019)Sensitivity to Configural Information and Expertise in Visual Word Recognition, In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance45(1)pp. 82-99 American Psychological Association

    Holistic processing has been regarded as a marker of perceptual expertise for many object categories. However, visual word processing, a common form of perceptual expertise in the population, is traditionally considered part-based instead of holistic, and whether it involves holistic processing remains inconclusive. In 4 experiments, we examined a well-known yet less studied indicator of holistic word processing—observers’ sensitivity to changes in configural information of objects. A paradigm was designed with 2 crucial elements: specific requirement to process configural information within a word and an inversion manipulation. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that experienced observers were more sensitive to configural changes when words were presented in the familiar upright than unfamiliar inverted orientation. Of importance, such an inversion effect was correlated with one’s fluency in word recognition in 1 of the conditions (nonnative Chinese readers viewing Chinese characters) where there was a larger variability in word recognition fluency. Experiments 3 and 4 compared sensitivity to configural and component changes in word processing, showing that expert readers were more sensitive to configural changes than component changes (defined as line thickness of parts) in words. The current findings suggest that, similar to face recognition and other domains of perceptual expertise, word recognition involves holistic processing. Instead of being a hallmark of face recognition, holistic processing is a general expertise marker shared by different domains of perceptual expertise.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, Alan C.-N. Wong (2018)The role of line junctions in object recognition: The case of reading musical notation, In: Psychonomic bulletin & review25(4)pp. 1373-1380 Springer Nature

    Previous work has shown that line junctions are informative features for visual perception of objects, letters, and words. However, the sources of such sensitivity and their generalizability to other object categories are largely unclear. We addressed these questions by studying perceptual expertise in reading musical notation, a domain in which individuals with different levels of expertise are readily available. We observed that removing line junctions created by the contact between musical notes and staff lines selectively impaired recognition performance in experts and intermediate readers, but not in novices. The degree of performance impairment was predicted by individual fluency in reading musical notation. Our findings suggest that line junctions provide diagnostic information about object identity across various categories, including musical notation. However, human sensitivity to line junctions does not readily transfer from familiar to unfamiliar object categories, and has to be acquired through perceptual experience with the specific objects.

    Paulo Ventura, Tânia Fernandes, Isabel Leite, Vítor B. Almeida, Inês Casqueiro, Alan C.-N. Wong (2017)The Word Composite Effect Depends on Abstract Lexical Representations But Not Surface Features Like Case and Font, In: Frontiers in psychology8pp. 1036-1036 Frontiers Media S.A

    Prior studies have shown that words show a composite effect: When readers perform a same-different matching task on a target-part of a word, performance is affected by the irrelevant part, whose influence is severely reduced when the two parts are misaligned. However, the locus of this word composite effect is largely unknown. To enlighten it, in two experiments, Portuguese readers performed the composite task on letter strings: in Experiment 1, in written words varying in surface features (between-participants: courier, notera, alternating-cAsE), and in Experiment 2 in pseudowords. The word composite effect, signaled by a significant interaction between alignment of the two word parts and congruence between parts was found in the three conditions of Experiment 1, being unaffected by NoVeLtY of the configuration or by handwritten form. This effect seems to have a lexical locus, given that in Experiment 2 only the main effect of congruence between parts was significant and was not modulated by alignment. Indeed, the cross-experiment analysis showed that words presented stronger congruence effects than pseudowords only in the aligned condition, because when misaligned the whole lexical item configuration was disrupted. Therefore, the word composite effect strongly depends on abstract lexical representations, as it is unaffected by surface features and is specific to lexical items.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, Alan C. -N. Wong (2016)Music-reading training alleviates crowding with musical notation, In: Journal of vision (Charlottesville, Va.)16(8)pp. 15-15 Assoc Research Vision Ophthalmology Inc

    Crowding refers to the disrupted recognition of an object by nearby distractors. Prior work has shown that real-world music-reading experts experience reduced crowding specifically for musical stimuli. However, it is unclear whether music-reading training reduced the magnitude of crowding or whether individuals showing less crowding are more likely to learn and excel in music reading later. To examine the first possibility, we tested whether crowding can be alleviated by music-reading training in the laboratory. Intermediate-level music readers completed 8 hr of music-reading training within 2 weeks. Their threshold duration for reading musical notes dropped by 44.1% after training to a level comparable with that of extant expert music readers. Importantly, crowding was reduced with musical stimuli but not with the nonmusical stimuli Landolt Cs. In sum, the reduced crowding for musical stimuli in expert music readers can be explained by music-reading training.

    Mintao Zhao, Sing-hang Cheung, Alan C.-N. Wong, Gillian Rhodes, Erich K. S. Chan, Winnie W. L. Chan, William G. Hayward (2014)Processing of configural and componential information in face-selective cortical areas, In: Cognitive neuroscience5(3-4)pp. 160-167 Routledge

    We investigated how face-selective cortical areas process configural and componential face information and how race of faces may influence these processes. Participants saw blurred (preserving configural information), scrambled (preserving componential information), and whole faces during fMRI scan, and performed a post-scan face recognition task using blurred or scrambled faces. The fusiform face area (FFA) showed stronger activation to blurred than to scrambled faces, and equivalent responses to blurred and whole faces. The occipital face area (OFA) showed stronger activation to whole than to blurred faces, which elicited similar responses to scrambled faces. Therefore, the FFA may be more tuned to process configural than componential information, whereas the OFA similarly participates in perception of both. Differences in recognizing own- and other-race blurred faces were correlated with differences in FFA activation to those faces, suggesting that configural processing within the FFA may underlie the other-race effect in face recognition.

    Alan C. -N. Wong, Yetta K. Wong (2014)Interaction between perceptual and cognitive processing well acknowledged in perceptual expertise research, In: Frontiers in human neuroscience8(MAY)pp. 308-308 Frontiers Research Foundation
    Lina I Davitt, Filipe Cristino, Alan C.-N. Wong, E Charles Leek (2014)Shape information mediating basic- and subordinate-level object recognition revealed by analyses of eye movements, In: Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance40(2)pp. 451-456

    This study examines the kinds of shape features that mediate basic- and subordinate-level object recognition. Observers were trained to categorize sets of novel objects at either a basic (between-families) or subordinate (within-family) level of classification. We analyzed the spatial distributions of fixations and compared them to model distributions of different curvature polarity (regions of convex or concave bounding contour), as well as internal part boundaries. The results showed a robust preference for fixation at part boundaries and for concave over convex regions of bounding contour, during both basic- and subordinate-level classification. In contrast, mean saccade amplitudes were shorter during basic- than subordinate-level classification. These findings challenge models of recognition that do not posit any special functional status to part boundaries or curvature polarity. We argue that both basic- and subordinate-level classification are mediated by object representations. These representations make explicit internal part boundaries, and distinguish concave and convex regions of bounding contour. The classification task constrains how shape information in these representations is used, consistent with the hypothesis that both parts-based, and image-based, operations support object recognition in human vision.

    Yetta Kwailing Wong, Alan C. -N. Wong (2014)Absolute pitch memory: Its prevalence among musicians and dependence on the testing context, In: Psychonomic bulletin & review21(2)pp. 534-542 Springer Nature

    Absolute pitch (AP) is widely believed to be a rare ability possessed by only a small group of gifted and special individuals (AP possessors). While AP has fascinated psychologists, neuroscientists, and musicians for more than a century, no theory can satisfactorily explain why this ability is so rare and difficult to learn. Here, we show that AP ability appears rare because of the methodological issues of the standard pitch-naming test. Specifically, the standard test unnecessarily poses a high decisional demand on AP judgments and uses a testing context that is highly inconsistent with one's musical training. These extra cognitive challenges are not central to AP memory per se and have thus led to consistent underestimation of AP ability in the population. Using the standard test, we replicated the typical findings that the accuracy for general violinists was low (12.38 %; chance level = 0 %). With identical stimuli, scoring criteria, and participants, violinists attained 25 % accuracy in a pitch verification test in which the decisional demand of AP judgment was reduced. When the testing context was increasingly similar to their musical experience, verification accuracy improved further and reached 39 %, three times higher than that for the standard test. Results were replicated with a separate group of pianists. Our findings challenge current theories about AP and suggest that the prevalence of AP among musicians has been highly underestimated in prior work. A multimodal framework is proposed to better explain AP memory.

    Hui Chen, Cindy M. Bukach, Alan C-N Wong (2013)Early Electrophysiological Basis of Experience-Associated Holistic Processing of Chinese Characters, In: PloS one8(4)pp. e61221-e61221 Public Library Science

    Recent studies have found holistic processing to be a marker of expertise for perception of words in alphabetic (e.g., English) and non-alphabetic (e.g., Chinese) writing systems, consistent with what has been found for faces and other objects of face-like expertise. It is unknown, however, whether holistic processing of words occurs in an early, perceptual stage as it does for faces. We examined how early holistic processing of Chinese characters emerges by recording the event-related potentials (ERPs) in an adaptation paradigm. Participants judged if the top parts of two sequentially presented characters were the same or different while ignoring the bottom part. An early potential (P1) at the posterior channels was smaller when the attended top parts were the same compared with when they are different, indicating an adaptation effect. Critically, for trials with identical top parts, P1 was larger when the irrelevant bottom parts were different, indicating a release of adaptation. This effect was present only when the two character parts were aligned but not misaligned, and only for characters but not for pseudocharacters. The finding of early sensitivity to all parts of a Chinese character suggests that Chinese characters are represented holistically at a perceptual level.

    Alan C. -N. Wong, Cindy M. Bukach, Janet Hsiao, Emma Greenspon, Emily Ahern, Yiran Duan, Kelvin F. H. Lui (2012)Holistic processing as a hallmark of perceptual expertise for nonface categories including Chinese characters, In: Journal of vision (Charlottesville, Va.)12(13)pp. 7-7 Assoc Research Vision Ophthalmology Inc

    Holistic processing has been associated with perceptual expertise in different domains involving faces, cars, fingerprints, musical notes, English words, etc. Curiously Chinese characters are regarded as an exception, as indicated by reduced holistic processing found for experts with the Chinese writing system as compared with novices. We revisit the issue and examine one type of holistic processing, the obligatory attention to all parts of an object, using the composite paradigm from face perception literature. Chinese readers (experts) and non-Chinese readers (novices) matched the target halves of two characters while ignoring the irrelevant halves. We introduced differential response deadlines for experts and novices in order to match their performance level and to avoid ceiling performance for experts. Both experts and novices showed holistic processing, irrespective of the character structure (left-right or top-bottom) or presentation sequence (sequential or simultaneous matching). Experts' holistic processing also showed some sensitivity to the amount of experience with the characters, as it was larger for characters than noncharacters in some situations. Novices, however, did not show a systematic difference, suggesting that their effects were more related to their inefficient decomposition of a novel, complex pattern into parts. The current results, together with other recent findings of holistic processing for English words and musical notes, indicate that the development of holistic processing is not restricted to faces and objects. Instead it may be a general marker of expertise across a wider domain of visual discrimination than previously thought, including alphabetic and nonalphabetic writing systems.

    Kelvin F. H. Lui, Alan C-N. Wong (2012)Does media multitasking always hurt? A positive correlation between multitasking and multisensory integration, In: Psychonomic bulletin & review19(4)pp. 647-653 Springer Nature

    Heavy media multitaskers have been found to perform poorly in certain cognitive tasks involving task switching, selective attention, and working memory. An account for this is that with a breadth-biased style of cognitive control, multitaskers tend to pay attention to various information available in the environment, without sufficient focus on the information most relevant to the task at hand. This cognitive style, however, may not cause a general deficit in all kinds of tasks. We tested the hypothesis that heavy media multitaskers would perform better in a multisensory integration task than would others, due to their extensive experience in integrating information from different modalities. Sixty-three participants filled out a questionnaire about their media usage and completed a visual search task with and without synchronous tones (pip-and-pop paradigm). It was found that a higher degree of media multitasking was correlated with better multisensory integration. The fact that heavy media multitaskers are not deficient in all kinds of cognitive tasks suggests that media multitasking does not always hurt.

    Guomei Zhou, Zhijie Cheng, Xudong Zhang, Alan C. -N. Wong (2012)Smaller holistic processing of faces associated with face drawing experience, In: Psychonomic bulletin & review19(2)pp. 157-162 Springer Nature

    The type of experience involved with an object category has been regarded as one important factor in shaping of the human object recognition system. Laboratory training studies have shown that different kinds of learning experience with the same set of novel objects resulted in different perceptual and neural changes. Whether this applies to natural real-world objects remains to be seen. We compared two groups of observers who had different learning experiences with faces, using holistic processing as a dependent measure. We found that, while ordinary observers had extensive individuation experience with faces and displayed typical holistic face processing, art students who had acquired additional experience in drawing faces, and thus in attending to parts of a face, showed less holistic processing than did ordinary observers. These results converge with laboratory training studies on the role of type of experience in the development of different perceptual markers for different object categories. It is thus insufficient to categorize expertise simply in terms of object domains (e. g., expertise with faces). Instead, perceptual expertise should be classified in terms of the underlying process or task demand.

    John S.Y. Chan, Alan C.-N. Wong, Yu Liu, Jie Yu, Jin H. Yan (2011)Fencing expertise and physical fitness enhance action inhibition, In: Psychology of sport and exercise12(5)pp. 509-514 Elsevier Ltd

    This study investigated the effects of fencing expertise and physical fitness on the inhibitory control of fencers and non-fencers. This study used a 2 × 2 factorial design. Fencers and non-fencers both in low-fit and averagely-fit subgroups were compared in reaction times (RT) and accuracy in simple reaction time (SRT) and go/no-go reaction time (go/no-go RT) tasks. The participants were 30 fencers (aged 18–26) and 30 non-fencers (aged 19–25), each having a different fitness level. With a standard computer keyboard, each participant performed an SRT task by responding to all stimuli. In the go/no-go RT task, each participant responded only to the go signals while withholding their response to the no-go signals. There were no significant differences between the participants with different levels of fitness or fencing expertise in SRT, go/no-go RT, omission error and commission error. However, an interaction of fitness and fencing expertise on commission error was found ( p< .05). Averagely-fit fencers committed a similar number of errors to the averagely-fit non-fencers, but the high-fit fencers committed significantly fewer errors compared to the high-fit non-fencers ( p< .05). Fencing experience and physical fitness facilitate a person’s ability to withhold action when necessary. The interactive nature of aerobic fitness and sport expertise on action inhibition suggests that cognitive control benefits most from the combination of physical and mental training compared to when each is administered singly. ► No differences between subjects of different fitness or fencing expertise in action inhibition. ► Averagely-fit fencers committed similar number of errors to averagely-fit non-fencers. ► High-fit fencers committed significantly fewer errors than high-fit non-fencers. ► Fencing experience and physical fitness improved the ability to withhold action when necessary. ► Cognitive control benefits the most from the combination of physical and mental training.

    Alan C. -N. Wong, Cindy M. Bukach, Crystal Yuen, Lizhuang Yang, Shirley Leung, Emma Greenspon (2011)Holistic Processing of Words Modulated by Reading Experience, In: PloS one6(6)pp. e20753-e20753 Public Library Science

    Perceptual expertise has been studied intensively with faces and object categories involving detailed individuation. A common finding is that experience in fulfilling the task demand of fine, subordinate-level discrimination between highly similar instances is associated with the development of holistic processing. This study examines whether holistic processing is also engaged by expert word recognition, which is thought to involve coarser, basic-level processing that is more part-based. We adopted a paradigm widely used for faces - the composite task, and found clear evidence of holistic processing for English words. A second experiment further showed that holistic processing for words was sensitive to the amount of experience with the language concerned (native vs. second-language readers) and with the specific stimuli (words vs. pseudowords). The adoption of a paradigm from the face perception literature to the study of expert word perception is important for further comparison between perceptual expertise with words and face-like expertise.

    Alan C. -N. Wong, Zhiyi Qu, Rankin W. McGugin, Isabel Gauthier (2011)Interference in character processing reflects common perceptual expertise across writing systems, In: Journal of vision (Charlottesville, Va.)11(1)pp. 15-15 Assoc Research Vision Ophthalmology Inc

    Perceptual expertise, even within the visual domain, can take many forms, depending on the goals of the practiced task and the visual information available to support performance. Given the same goals, expertise for different categories can recruit common perceptual resources, which could lead to interference during concurrent processing. We measured whether irrelevant characters of one writing system produce interference during visual search for characters of another writing system, as a function of expertise. Chinese-English bilinguals and English readers searched for target Roman letters among other distractors in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) sequence. Chinese character distractors interfered with Roman letter search more than pseudoletter distractors, only for bilingual readers, suggesting a common perceptual bottleneck for Roman and Chinese processing in experts with both domains. We ruled out an explanation at the level of phonetic codes, by showing that concurrent verbal rehearsal has no effect on the magnitude of such interference. These findings converge with results showing competition between faces and cars in car experts to suggest that different domains of expertise that overlap in their cortical representations also possess a common perceptual bottleneck.

    Isabel Gauthier, Alan C-N. Wong, Thomas J. Palmeri (2010)Manipulating visual experience: Comment on Op de Beeck and Baker, In: Trends in cognitive sciences14(6)pp. 235-236 Elsevier
    Alan C. -N. Wong, Thomas J. Palmeri, Baxter P. Rogers, John C. Gore, Isabel Gauthier (2009)Beyond Shape: How You Learn about Objects Affects How They Are Represented in Visual Cortex, In: PloS one4(12)pp. e8405-e8405 Public Library Science

    Background: Experience can alter how objects are represented in the visual cortex. But experience can take different forms. It is unknown whether the kind of visual experience systematically alters the nature of visual cortical object representations. Methodology/Principal Findings: We take advantage of different training regimens found to produce qualitatively different types of perceptual expertise behaviorally in order to contrast the neural changes that follow different kinds of visual experience with the same objects. Two groups of participants went through training regimens that required either subordinate-level individuation or basic-level categorization of a set of novel, artificial objects, called "Ziggerins''. fMRI activity of a region in the right fusiform gyrus increased after individuation training and was correlated with the magnitude of configural processing of the Ziggerins observed behaviorally. In contrast, categorization training caused distributed changes, with increased activity in the medial portion of the ventral occipito-temporal cortex relative to more lateral areas. Conclusions/Significance: Our results demonstrate that the kind of experience with a category of objects can systematically influence how those objects are represented in visual cortex. The demands of prior learning experience therefore appear to be one factor determining the organization of activity patterns in visual cortex.

    Alan C. -N. Wong, Gael Jobard, Karin H. James, Thomas W. James, Isabel Gauthier (2009)Expertise with characters in alphabetic and nonalphabetic writing systems engage overlapping occipito-temporal areas, In: Cognitive neuropsychology26(1)pp. 111-127 Taylor & Francis

    Parts of the left ventral visual pathway are engaged selectively during the perception of words, letter strings, and even single letters. While studies have shown overlap between activations for letters and characters across writing systems, they adopted group analyses with very limited spatial resolution, or used words and letter strings that have been shown to activate different regions from those activated by single characters. The current study compared activity within individual participants for the perception of single characters from different writing systems. Roman letters, Chinese characters, objects, and faces were presented to Chinese-English bilinguals and English readers with no Chinese reading experience. Individual subject analyses revealed a large overlap between Roman- and Chinese-selective areas in the bilinguals. In general, the activity in the Roman-selective area of the left hemisphere is associated with experience with the script, as non-Chinese readers showed lower activations to Chinese characters than to Roman letters. Further analyses found considerable variation within non-Chinese readers in the activation for Chinese characters: While the majority had no selectivity for Chinese characters at all, some showed activations for Chinese characters at locations similar to those selective for Roman letters. The results suggest that both stimulus properties and experience are important factors in determining the response to single characters across writing systems.

    Alan C. -N. Wong, Thomas J. Palmeri, Isabel Gauthier (2009)Conditions for Facelike Expertise With Objects: Becoming a Ziggerin Expert-but Which Type?, In: Psychological science20(9)pp. 1108-1117 Wiley

    Compared with other objects, faces are processed more holistically and with a larger reliance on configural information. Such hallmarks of face processing can also be found for nonface objects as people develop expertise with them. Is this specifically a result of expertise individuating objects, or would any type of prolonged intensive experience with objects be sufficient? Two groups of participants were trained with artificial objects (Ziggerins). One group learned to rapidly individuate Ziggerins (i.e., subordinate-level training). The other group learned rapid, sequential categorizations at the basic level. Individuation experts showed a selective improvement at the subordinate level and an increase in holistic processing. Categorization experts improved only at the basic level, showing no changes in holistic processing. Attentive exposure to objects in a difficult training regimen is not sufficient to produce facelike expertise. Rather, qualitatively different types of expertise with objects of a given geometry can arise depending on the type of training.

    Michael L. Mack, Alan C. -N. Wong, Isabel Gauthier, James W. Tanaka, Thomas J. Palmeri (2009)Time course of visual object categorization: Fastest does not necessarily mean first, In: Vision research (Oxford)49(15)pp. 1961-1968 Elsevier

    Perceptual categorization at the basic level is generally faster than categorization at more superordinate or subordinate level [Rosch, E., Mervis, C. B., Gray, W. D., Johnson, D. M., & Boyes-Braem, P. (1976). Basic objects in natural categories. Cognitive Psychology, 8(3), 382-439]. But, what does it mean to be fastest? One possibility is that levels of abstraction that are categorized fastest are processed first. In this vein, the basic level is often considered the "entry level" into our knowledge about categories in the world [Jolicoeur, P., Gluck, M. A., & Kosslyn, S. M. (1984). Pictures and names: Making the connection. Cognitive Psychology, 16(2), 243-275]. We tested this "fastest means first" hypothesis by contrasting the time course of basic- and subordinate-level categorization of objects in a signal-to-respond experiment. This method probes subjects to respond at systematically varying points in time after the onset of the object. The time course function relating performance to time is characterized by its onset, growth rate, and asymptote. While basic and subordinate categorization differed significantly in growth rate and asymptote, they did not differ significantly in onset. If a basic-level stage preceded a subordinate-level stage, we should have observed a difference in onset. We conclude that fastest does not necessarily mean first in perceptual categorization. (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Jennifer J. Richler, Olivia S. Cheung, Alan C. -N. Wong, Isabel Gauthier (2009)Does response interference contribute to face composite effects?, In: Psychonomic bulletin & review16(2)pp. 258-263 Springer Nature

    Holistic processing of faces can be measured as a failure of selective attention to one face-half under instructions to ignore the other face-half in a naming or same/different matching task. But is interference from the irrelevant half due to response interference rather than to holistic processing? Here, participants learned to name two faces "Fred" and two "Bob," At test, composites were created from top and bottom halves of different learned faces or of a novel face, and composites were either aligned or misaligned. Naming was slower when the irrelevant half was from a different face as opposed to the same face, regardless of whether it was associated with the same name, a different name, or no name, suggesting holistic processing. Interference was eliminated when composite halves were misaligned. These results suggest that, unlike Stroop effects, composite effects are not due to response interference.

    Alan C.-N. Wong, Isabel Gauthier (2007)An analysis of letter expertise in a levels-of-categorization framework, In: Visual cognition15(7)pp. 854-879 Taylor & Francis Group

    While there has been increasing effort in dissociating the neural substrates recruited by perception of different objects, the theoretical and behavioural work needed to understand such dissociation lags behind. In an attempt to compare expertise in letter and face perception, we outline a theoretical framework that characterizes different types of object expertise based on the task demand (level of abstraction) required in object categorization. Face perception requires categorization at a subordinate level, whereas letter perception involves mainly basic-level categorization. Accordingly face and letter perception should represent two different types of expertise and display different neural and behavioural markers. Results from three behavioural experiments supported the predictions of the framework in that letter expertise is characterized by an enhancement of the basic-level advantage, instead of its attenuation as typically found for face perception. We compare this framework with Farah's taxonomy of visual abilities based on cooccurrence of deficits in visual agnosias.

    Karin H James, Thomas W James, Gael Jobard, Alan C.-N. Wong, Isabel Gauthier (2005)Letter processing in the visual system : Different activation patterns for single letters and strings, In: Cognitive, affective, & behavioral neuroscience5(4)pp. 452-466 Psychonomic Society
    Alan C.-N. Wong, William G Hayward (2005)Constraints on View Combination, In: Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance31(1)pp. 110-121 American Psychological Association

    The use of multiple familiar views of objects to facilitate recognition of novel views has been addressed in a number of behavioral studies, but the results have not been conclusive. The present study was a comprehensive examination of view combination for different types of novel views (internal or external to the studied views) and different objects (amoeboid objects and objects composed of geons; objects with and without self-occlusion across rotation). The authors found that the advantage gained from the study of 2 views was more than the generalization from each of the studied views presented alone. This facilitation occurred only for internal views but not external views. In addition, the benefits from the study of 2 views diminished when (a) the studied views did not share the same visible features and when (b) the studied views were separated by a small angular difference.

    Alan C.-N. Wong, Isabel Gauthier, Brion Woroch, Casey Debuse, Tim Curran (2005)An early electrophysiological response associated with expertise in letter perception, In: Cognitive, affective, & behavioral neuroscience5(3)pp. 306-318 Psychonomic Society
    William G Hayward, Alan C.-N. Wong, Branka Spehar (2005)When are viewpoint costs greater for silhouettes than for shaded images?, In: Psychonomic bulletin & review12(2)pp. 321-327 Psychonomic Society
    Thomas J Palmeri, Alan Wong, Isabel Gauthier (2004)Computational approaches to the development of perceptual expertise, In: Trends in cognitive sciences8(8)pp. 378-386 Elsevier
    Isabel Gauthier, Alan Wong, William G Hayward, Olivia S Cheung (2006)Font Tuning Associated with Expertise in Letter Perception, In: Perception (London)35(4)pp. 541-559

    Font tuning (FT) occurs when observers recognize a sequence of letters presented in the same font faster than in different fonts (Sanocki 1987, 1988 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance13 267–278; 14 472–480). Here, we test the hypothesis that FT is associated with expertise with a specific writing system. We developed a systematic search task allowing the measurement of FT over a large number of letters and generalized the finding of FT from English readers viewing Roman letters to Chinese readers viewing Chinese characters. Non-Chinese readers did not show evidence of FT for Chinese characters in this search task. We also used a simpler 3-letter identification task to directly compare novice and expert readers, and to explore FT for different aspects of font such as fill, slant, and aspect ratio. We found that experts tune to aspect ratio but not to the other font changes. These findings reveal that letters are not processed visually in the same manner as shapes, and suggest an explanation for the cortical specialization obtained in the visual system for letters.

    Kelvin Fh Lui, Pu Fan, Ken Hm Yip, Yetta Kwailing Wong, Alan C-N Wong (2023)Are there associations between daily multitasking experience and multitasking performance?, In: Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)76(1)pp. 133-146

    Research showed mixed findings regarding the relationships between daily multitasking experience and laboratory multitasking performance. One measurement issue was the low reliability and validity of using a single measurement for daily multitasking experience. Another measurement issue was the popular use of simple laboratory paradigms that may or may not capture well cognitive processes underlying real-life multitasking. The current study revisited the relationship between daily multitasking experience and multitasking performance with a better design. Multiple measurements were used to ensure good reliability and validity. This included a mobile phone task switching measurement-an arguably better proxy for daily multitasking experience and three realistic multitasking paradigms that mimic real life multitasking situations. The results showed that (1) phone switching was not significantly associated with the media multitasking index, suggesting that they were measuring different aspects of multitasking experience; (2) indicators of the multitasking performance were moderately correlated among themselves, suggesting that different realistic multitasking paradigms were measuring overlapping multitasking abilities; and, intriguingly, (3) no significant association between multitasking experience and performance indicators was found. One possibility is that people can only benefit from daily multitasking practice when they engaged in daily multitasking activities with an intention to improve the performance. Other possibilities and implications were also discussed.

    Gillian Rhodes, Emma Jaquet, Linda Jeffery, Emma Evangelista, Jill Keane, Andrew J. Calder, Chun Nang Wong (2011)Sex-specific norms code face identity, In: Journal of vision (Charlottesville, Va.)11(1)pp. 1-11 Assoc Research Vision Ophthalmology Inc

    Face identity aftereffects suggest that an average face, which is continuously updated by experience, functions as a norm for coding identity. Sex-contingent figural face aftereffects indicate that different norms are maintained for male and female faces but do not directly implicate them in coding identity. Here, we investigated whether sex-specific norms are used to code the identities of male and female faces or whether a generic, androgynous norm is used for all faces. We measured identity aftereffects for adapt-test pairs that were opposite relative to a sex-specific average and pairs that were opposite relative to an androgynous average. Identity aftereffects are generally larger for adapt-test pairs that lie opposite an average face, which functions as a norm for coding identity, than those that do not. Therefore, we reasoned that whichever average gives the larger aftereffect would be closer to the true psychological norm. Aftereffects were substantially and significantly larger for pairs that lie opposite a sex-specific than an androgynous average. This difference remained significant after correcting for differences in test trajectory length. These results indicate that, despite the common structure shared by all faces, identity is coded using sex-specific norms. We suggest that the use of category-specific norms may increase coding efficiency and help us discriminate thousands of faces despite their similarity as patterns.

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