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The Discrimination Index

#amomentwithmaghie #discussionzone

At this juncture, researchers are challenged to truly understand what is perceived, much less how the process is generated. Interacting with the environment and existing in a perceived reality is the human experience; yet, ambiguity surrounds our foundational knowledge. 

With this note, visual displays are one of the most notable human-centric interfaces. Although modern object perception proposes “that our experience with the environment is a central component of the process of perception (Goldstein, p. 73, 2018),” design is a process of asking “what is, what if, what wows, and what works?” that must start with the basics of bottom-up processing. Perceptual gestalt principles suggest Wertheimer’s “intrinsic laws” (Goldstein, pg. 73, 2018) support Simone Schall’s research that the bodily state affects perceptions. A person’s experience can influence perception, but judgments are subjective based on an internal state, thus generating the idea that perception is a function of the environment (Schall, 2014). One does not always experience what one perceives.

Therefore, in order to create a successful visual, the designer must start from the point of origin rather than the expected perception. Stimuli are multidimensional, as is perception (Guastello, p. 48, 2013). Research shows that the hippocampus’ relation to episodic memory is tied to “place cells (that) can have firing fields that are related to visual cues” which have not been shown to be a result of first-hand experiences or those shared in social settings (Fleisher & Edelman, 2009).

As the concept of “good continuation” is based on the ideas of similarity and proximity (Guastello, p. 60, 2013), visual designs should include the need for the brain to perform or receive closure to ensure effective interaction and conveyance of information. According to the constructivist perspective, perceptions aren’t simply “a view of what is presented, but a mixture of what is presented as it interacts with our past (Guastello, p. 58, 2013).” By using cues such as motion parallax (Guastello, p. 63, 2013) and apparent motion (p. 64) that create depth in images, a perception of movement could be elicited to cause a decision for closure or non-closure of information (p. 60). The discrimination index of an individual essentially “chooses” the information to utilize from the stimuli, but in order to have an effective message, visual designs require clarity, specific locations, and distinguishability (p. 71). Even in employing completeness (p. 71) of the information to be displayed, the need to be human-centric is key to interpretability (p. 71). 

Human-machine interfacing (HMI) improvements are needed beyond the Department of Defense (DOD) regulations regarding matte screen finishing on displays (Guastello, p. 83, 2013). Interfaces and visual designs must be created with a basic approach to human cognition in a bottom-up processing design that focuses on eliciting top-down processing interactions.


Fleischer, J. G., & Edelman, G. M. (2009). Brain-based devices. IEEE Robotics Automation Magazine, 16(3), 33–41. https://doi.org/10.1109/mra.2009.933621

Goldstein, E. B. (2018). Cognitive psychology: connecting mind research and everyday experience (5th ed.). 11-19. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Guastello, S. J. (2013). Human factors engineering and ergonomics: A systems approach, second edition. 40-47, 53-78. Taylor & Francis Group.

Schnall, S. (2014). How your bodily state affects your perception: Simone Schnall at TEDxOxbridge. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGOsNkj3W4A&feature=emb_logo.


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