The Encoding of Spatial Information During Small-Set Enumeration

In S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone (eds.), Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society (2010)
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Using a novel enumeration task, we examined the encoding of spatial information during subitizing. Observers were shown masked presentations of randomly-placed discs on a screen and were required to mark the perceived locations of these discs on a subsequent blank screen. This provided a measure of recall for object locations and an indirect measure of display numerosity. Observers were tested on three stimulus durations and eight numerosities. Enumeration performance was high for displays containing up to six discs—a higher subitizing range than reported in previous studies. Error in the location data was measured as the distance between corresponding stimulus and response discs. Overall, location errors increased in magnitude with larger numerosities and shorter display durations. When errors were computed as disc distance from display centroid, results suggest a compressed representation by observers. Additionally, enumeration and localization accuracy increased with display regularity.
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