Optimal methods for calculating classification images: Weighted sums
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In signal detection theory, an observer's responses are often modeled as being based on a decision variable obtained by cross-correlating the stimulus with a template, possibly after corruption by external and internal noise. The response classification method estimates an observer's template by measuring the influence of each pixel of external noise on the observer's responses. A map that shows the influence of each pixel is called a classification image. Other authors have shown how to calculate classification images from external noise fields, but the optimal calculation has never been determined, and the quality of the resulting classification images has never been evaluated. Here we derive the optimal weighted sum of noise fields for calculating classification images in several experimental designs, and we derive the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the resulting classification images. Using the expressions for the SNR, we show how to choose experimental parameters, such as the observer's performance level and the external noise power, to obtain classification images with a high SNR. We discuss two-alternative identification experiments in which the stimulus is presented at one or more contrast levels, in which each stimulus is presented twice so that we can estimate the power of the internal noise from the consistency of the observer's responses, and in which the observer rates the confidence of his responses. We illustrate these methods in a series of contrast increment detection experiments.
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