Public Release:  How the use of smartphones can revolutionize research in cognitive science

PLOS

Smartphones may be the new hot tool in cognitive psychology research, according to a paper in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Cognitive psychology, which explores how people perceive, think, remember, and more, often relies on testing volunteers that come to a research facility to participate in behavioral experiments. This data collection method generally results in relatively small, homogeneous group of test subjects, which can bias the results and limit the extent to which researchers can interpret their data.

Collecting data via smartphones, on the other hand, may be the answer to this long-standing issue by helping scientists reach larger and more varied populations, the researchers suggest. To illustrate, the authors have begun a large-scale iPhone/iPad-based language study investigating people's ability to distinguish words from similar non-words, for example, "table" versus "tible." They began the project in December 2010 and have already collected data from 4,157 subjects. For comparison, a study on a similar topic that used traditional data-collection methods took more than three years to collect approximately the same amount of data.

Moreover, the project is being conducted in seven different languages (English, French, Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Dutch, and Malay) across the world. According to the authors, "this innovative research involving volunteer smartphone users from all over the world not only allows us to better understand how the brain recognizes words, but indeed opens up vast possibilities for future large-scale research on aspects of human cognition such as memory and aging, cultural differences in perception of facial emotional expression, or reading development in children."

###

Citation: Dufau S, Dunabeitia JA, Moret-Tatay C, McGonigal A, Peeters D, et al. (2011) Smart Phone, Smart Science: How the Use of Smartphones Can Revolutionize Research in Cognitive Science. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24974. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024974

Financial Disclosure: This work was supported by a grant from the European Research Council (ERC#230313) awarded to JG. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLEASE LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT (URL goes live after the embargo ends): http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024974

Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLoS ONE. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.

About PLoS ONE

PLoS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLoS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.

All works published in PLoS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLoS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.plos.org/media.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.