Four-sight in Hindsight: On the Existence of Magical Numbers in Vision
Ronald A. Rensink, University of British Columbia
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24: 141-142. [pdf]
[Commentary on Cowan N (2001) "The Magical Number 4". ]
The capacity of visual attention/STM can be determined by change-detection experiments. Detecting the presence of change leads to an estimate of 4 items, while detecting the absence of change leads to an estimate of 1 item. Thus, there are two magical numbers in vision: 4 and 1. The underlying limits, however, are not necessarily those of central STM.