1/f noise in human cognition: Is it ubiquitous, and what does it mean?

SA Farrell, EJ Wagenmakers, R Ratcliff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Researchers in psychology are paying increasing attention to temporal correlations in performance on cognitive tasks. Recently, Thornton and Gilden (2005) introduced a spectral method for analyzing psychological time series; in particular, this method is tailored to distinguish transient serial correlations from the persistent correlations characterized by 1/f noise. Thornton and Gilden applied their method to word-naming data to support the claimed ubiquity of 1/f noise in psychological time series. We argue that a previously presented method for distinguishing transient and persistent correlations (e.g., Wagenmakers, Farrell, & Ratcliff, 2004) compares favorably with the new method presented by Thornton and Gilden. We apply Thornton and Gilden's method to time series from a range of cognitive tasks and show that 1/f noise is not a ubiquitous property of psychological time series. Finally, we assess the theoretical developments in this area and argue that the development of well-specified models of the principles or mechanisms of human cognition giving rise to 1/f noise is long overdue.
Translated title of the contribution1/f noise in human cognition: Is it ubiquitous, and what does it mean?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737 - 741
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Psychonomic Society

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