Fractal 1/f dynamics suggest entanglement of measurement and human performance

John G. Holden, Inhyun Choi, Polemnia Amazeen, Guy Van Orden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Variability of repeated measurements in human performances exhibits fractal 1/f{hook} noise. Yet the relative strength of this fractal pattern varies widely across conditions, tasks, and individuals. Four experiments illustrate how subtle details of the conditions of measurement change the fractal patterns observed across task conditions. The results call into question whether measurement noise and measured signal can be distinguished in human performance, suggesting that human performance is inextricably entangled with measurement context. Perhaps, though, a hypothesis of soft assembly of human performance can circumvent the conundrum (e.g., Turvey, 2007).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-948
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • 1/f scaling
  • Cognitive dynamics
  • Interaction dominant dynamics
  • Pink noise
  • Self-organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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