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.


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