Enhancement of visual perception under conditions of short-term exposure to sensory isolation: a comparison of procedures for altering vigilance

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Atkinson, R. P.
Sewell, M. M.

Perceptual and motor skills. 1988 Aug; 67(1): 243-52.


An experiment was conducted to determine the pre- and posttest performance of subjects on a signal-detection task for the following three experimental conditions: sensory isolation, sensory alertness, and sensory relaxation. All subjects were assessed on 36 pretest and 36 posttest trials. Each block of 36 trials consisted of 12 "strong signals," 12 "weak signals," and 12 "no signals." Exposure durations for each experimental condition lasted for one hour. Analyses showed significant improvements in hits from the pretest trials to the posttest trials on the "strong" and "weak signals" for the sensory isolation condition. Moreover, on the posttest "weak signal" trials, subjects in the sensory isolation condition scored a significantly greater number of hits than did those in the sensory alertness or sensory relaxation conditions. It was concluded that sensory isolation produces perceptual enhancement, as measured by a signal-detection task.

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