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Percept Psychophys. 1992 May;51(5):409-22.

Extracting thresholds from noisy psychophysical data.

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  • 1Retina Foundation of the Southwest, Dallas, Texas 75231.

Abstract

Psychophysical studies with infants or with patients often are unable to use pilot data, training, or large numbers of trials. To evaluate threshold estimates under these conditions, computer simulations of experiments with small numbers of trials were performed by using psychometric functions based on a model of two types of noise: stimulus-related noise (affecting slope) and extraneous noise (affecting upper asymptote). Threshold estimates were biased and imprecise when extraneous noise was high, as were the estimates of extraneous noise. Strategies were developed for rejecting data sets as too noisy for unbiased and precise threshold estimation; these strategies were most successful when extraneous noise was low for most of the data sets. An analysis of 1,026 data sets from visual function tests of infants and toddlers showed that extraneous noise is often considerable, that experimental paradigms can be developed that minimize extraneous noise, and that data analysis that does not consider the effects of extraneous noise may underestimate test-retest reliability and overestimate interocular differences.

PMID:
1594431
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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