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Katherine C. Bettencourt, David C. Somers; Effects of target enhancement and distractor suppression on multiple object tracking capacity. Journal of Vision 2009;9(7):9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.7.9.
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Mounting evidence suggests that visual attention may be simultaneously deployed to multiple distinct object locations, but the constraints upon this multi-object attentional system are still debated. Results from multiple object tracking (MOT) experiments have been interpreted as revealing a fixed attentional capacity limit of 4 objects, while other evidence has suggested that attentional capacity may be more fluid. Here, we investigated the influence of target stimulus factors, such as speed and size, and of distractor filtering factors, such as number of distractors and screen density, on MOT performance. Each factor had significant effects on capacity, producing values that ranged from above 6 objects down to one object, depending on the task demands. Although our results support the view that crowding effects modulate the effective capacity of attention, we also find evidence that central processes related to distractor suppression and target enhancement modulate capacity.
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