Some people feel emotions when they look at abstract art. This article presents a ‘simulation’ theory that predicts which emotions they will experience, including those based on their aesthetic reactions. It also explains the mental processes underlying these emotions. This new theory embodies two precursors: an account of how mental models represent perceptions, descriptions, and self-reflections, and an account of the communicative nature of emotions, which distinguishes between basic emotions that can be experienced without knowledge of their objects or causes, and complex emotions that are founded on basic ones, but that include propositional contents. The resulting simulation theory predicts that abstract paintings can evoke the basic emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, and anxiety, and that they do so in several ways. In mimesis, models simulate the actions and gestures of people in emotional states, elicited from cues in the surface of paintings, and that in turn evoke basic emotions. Other basic emotions depend on synaesthesia, and both association and projection can yield complex emotions. Underlying viewers’ awareness of looking at a painting is a mental model of themselves in that relation with the painting. This self-reflective model has access to knowledge, enabling people to evaluate the work, and to experience an aesthetic emotion, such as awe or revulsion. The comments of artists and critics, and experimental results support the theory.
Successful interaction with our environment requires accurate tactile localization. Although we seem to localize tactile stimuli effortlessly, the processes underlying this ability are complex. This is evidenced by the crossed-hands deficit, in which tactile localization performance suffers when the hands are crossed. The deficit results from the conflict between an internal reference frame, based in somatotopic coordinates, and an external reference frame, based in external spatial coordinates. Previous evidence in favour of the integration model employed manipulations to the external reference frame (e.g., blindfolding participants), which reduced the deficit by reducing conflict between the two reference frames. The present study extends this finding by asking blindfolded participants to visually imagine their crossed arms as uncrossed. This imagery manipulation further decreased the magnitude of the crossed-hands deficit by bringing information in the two reference frames into alignment. This imagery manipulation differentially affected males and females, which was consistent with the previously observed sex difference in this effect: females tend to show a larger crossed-hands deficit than males and females were more impacted by the imagery manipulation. Results are discussed in terms of the integration model of the crossed-hands deficit.
Reliable duration perception is an integral aspect of daily life that impacts everyday perception, motor coordination, and subjective passage of time. The Scalar Expectancy Theory (SET) is a common model that explains how an internal pacemaker, gated by an external stimulus-driven switch, accumulates pulses during sensory events and compares these accumulated pulses to a reference memory duration for subsequent duration estimation. Second-order mechanisms, such as multisensory integration (MSI) and attention, can influence this model and affect duration perception. For instance, diverting attention away from temporal features could delay the switch closure or temporarily open the accumulator, altering pulse accumulation and distorting duration perception. In crossmodal duration perception, auditory signals of unequal duration can induce perceptual compression and expansion of durations of visual stimuli, presumably via auditory influence on the visual clock. The current project aimed to investigate the role of temporal (stimulus alignment) and nontemporal (stimulus complexity) features on crossmodal, specifically auditory over visual, duration perception. While temporal alignment revealed a larger impact on the strength of crossmodal duration percepts compared to stimulus complexity, both features showcase auditory dominance in processing visual duration.
How we perceive the world is not solely determined by what we sense at a given moment in time, but also by what we processed recently. Here we investigated whether such serial dependencies for emotional stimuli transfer from one modality to another. Participants were presented a random sequence of emotional sounds and images and instructed to rate the valence and arousal of each stimulus (Experiment 1). For both ratings, we conducted an intertrial analysis, based on whether the rating on the previous trial was low or high. We found a positive serial dependence for valence and arousal regardless of the stimulus modality on two consecutive trials. In Experiment 2, we examined whether passively perceiving a stimulus is sufficient to induce a serial dependence. In Experiment 2, participants were instructed to rate the stimuli only on active trials and not on passive trials. The participants were informed that the active and passive trials were presented in alternating order, so that they were able to prepare for the task. We conducted an intertrial analysis on active trials, based on whether the rating on the previous passive trial (determined in Experiment 1) was low or high. For both ratings, we again observed positive serial dependencies regardless of the stimulus modality. We conclude that the emotional experience triggered by one stimulus affects the emotional experience for a subsequent stimulus regardless of their sensory modalities, that this occurs in a bottom-up fashion, and that this can be explained by residual activation in the emotional network in the brain.