From Hate to Love: How Learning Can Change Affective Responses to Touched Materials

Müge Cavdan, Alexander Freund, Anna-Klara Trieschmann,
Katja Doerschner, and Knut Drewing

Justus Liebig University, 3539 Giessen, Germany
Bilkent University, 06800 Ankara, Turkey

Abstract. People display systematic affective reactions to specific properties of touched materials. For example, granular materials such as fine sand feel
pleasant, while rough materials feel unpleasant. We wondered how far such relationships between sensory material properties and affective responses can be changed by learning. Manipulations in the present experiment aimed at unlearning the previously observed negative relationship between roughness and valence and the positive one between granularity and valence. In the learning phase, participants haptically explored materials that are either very rough or very fine-grained while they simultaneously watched positive or negative stimuli, respectively, from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). A control group did not interact with granular or rough materials during the learning phase. In the experimental phase, participants rated a representative diverse set of 28 materials according to twelve affective adjectives. We found a significantly weaker relationship between granularity and valence in the experimental group compared to the control group, whereas roughness-valence correlations did not differ between groups. That is, the valence of granular materials was unlearned (i.e., to modify the existing valence of granular materials) but not that of rough materials. These points to differences in the strength of perceptuo-affective relations, which we discuss in terms of hard-wired versus learned connections.

To conitnue reading, please click here.

ISBCS 2020 – Effect of expectations on perception of dynamic material properties

Authors – Amna Malik, Katja Doerschner, Hüseyin Boyaci

The current global situation that we are all facing has forced us to look to the virtual world in order to continue within academia and research. Amna Malik, hosted by the University of Bilkent, has done just, virtually narrating her video for ISBCS presentation.

In the abstract Amna says:

“Visual information plays a vital role in object and material recognition. Based on our daily life interaction with objects, our brain learns to make associations between how an object looks like, what material it is made of and its physical and functional properties. Hence, before even we touch an object, simply by looking at it, we have expectations about how it will behave under different forces. For example, we expect a wine glass to shatter if it falls and hits the ground. Upon viewing an object, incoming visual information is combined with prior knowledge to help us recognizing objects, accessing their properties and making efficient decisions regarding actions involving interaction with objects. In this study we aimed to investigate the role of expectations in perception of material properties in dynamic scenes and how they affect perceptual decisions. We used novel computer animations of objects falling on ground, which are manipulated to behave in an expected or unexpected manner. Observers were asked to answer whether the object broke or not upon hitting the ground. We measured reaction times and percent correct responses for each condition. We found out that observers take longer to respond in the surprising condition. Hence, we concluded that expectations influence perception of dynamic material properties and perceptual decision making is delayed when these expectations are violated, which implies that additional processing is required when incoming sensory information does not match the expectations.”

We would like to congratulate Amna on a terrific presentation and encourage everyone to watch the video!

Working from home

An overnight change in worklife

Within the space of a week the routine I have honed for many years was brought to a grinding halt. With hundreds of thousands of people affected, it was not a matter of “should I isolate” but “I am going to isolate, how should I do it productively”. Being productive during this difficult time means not just looking after the emails, but oneself. The mental burden isolation can carry is immense and it should not be underestimated. So here is my battle plan for the next few weeks (and if need be, months).

Separation without the anxiety

One of the biggest issues I grappled with was the separation between work and home. I have always worked outside of my home. Sure, there have been “working from home days” but those were few and far between. Most importantly, there was an end date. I have to admit, I was anxious about bringing my work home. “Will be as productive at home as I am in the office?” I asked. “When does work end and home begin?” I wondered. “If I empty the laundry during the day, am I doing this on my or the company’s time?”. Obviously, I was just working myself up into a frenzy for nothing. In fact, it is highly recommended that you get up from your desk often during the day. Load the washing machine, take the rubbish out, make a cup of tea. 5-10-minute breaks every so often are encouraged. I also found that creating a specific work station was essential to separate my work/home life.

Work station at home

Not having an office, I did take over some of the dining table but it is now my work area. It is not a “one size fits all” situation, individuality is key. It is important for each individual to think about the conditions under which they can be most productive, taking into account workflow and emotional response.

Reading more than just emails

There is no escaping the stark realisation that the emails will not stop. I am, however, going to expand my literary horizons (and indulge in old favourites for comfort). Here is my panacea for the monotony of emails: books.

A collection of books

Since I am not able to travel to France, I will follow Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan on their adventures through Paris. I will people watch through the anthropological writings of Kate Fox and I will “evolve” with Daniel Dennett’s work on consciousness.

Keeping to a schedule

Isolation can be, for a lack of a better word, isolating. On average, we spend more time at work than at home. We have a schedule to follow, meetings and coffee breaks. This is an important pattern to follow. I have always woken up at 6.30am to get to work for 8am. I will still do that, whether it means indulging in a more imaginative breakfast than muesli or fitting in a longer morning jog, I will not stray far from my morning rituals. Speaking of exercise, I am fortunate to live in a remote location so my daily jog involves seeing only the sheep in the fields. I stick to the remoteness of the moors. I am also trying to utilise video-conferencing as much as possible, whether it is in my personal life with friends and family locked down across the world as well as in my worklife.

A sneak peak into TU Delft

Largest and oldest Dutch public technological university

Our very own Ellen De Korte, from Bradford University, has been based at the University of Delft for her academic secondment.

Delft, Netherlands

Ellen De Korte has been fortunate to work with Sylvia Pont and her team. University of Delft has a strong history of cutting edge research, with a reputation of being on the forefront of academic and technological advances.

Part of Ellen De Korte’s research

Ellen has been working at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, in the light and vision labs which are part of the Perceptual Intelligence Lab.

We will hear more from Ellen about her secondment and life in Delft once she has completed her work.

Delft, Netherlands

Exciting start to 2020

DyViTo would like to wish everyone a great start to 2020. We have several exciting events happening in the first 3 months of 2020.

Ellen De Korte has started her split secondment at the beginning of January. She has started at the University of Delft and she will be traveling to the University of Giessenduring the second half of her secondment. We wish her the best of luck!

Muge Cavdan and Jacob Cheeseman, from the University of Giessen, together with Baran Usta, from University of Delft, will be coming to Bradford at the beginning of February. They will be doing their secondment at the National Museum of Science and Media during their Yorkshire Gaming Festival. The festival is held from 5th until 9th February, with 5 days dedicated to celebrating games culture with workshops, masterclasses and special guests. Muge, Jacob and Baran will be helping with our partners during one of the biggest events in Yorkshire!

If that was not exciting enough, University of Cambridge will be hosting the whole DyViTo project for our Network Meeting and Workshops. As well as exciting talks and lectures from leading scientists int he fields of neuroscience and visual perception, the team in Cambridge is planning team building activities and round table sit-down with members of Downing College.