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Carolin Hübner, Alexander C. Schütz; Numerosity estimation benefits from transsaccadic information integration. Journal of Vision 2017;17(13):12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.13.12.
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Humans achieve a stable and homogeneous representation of their visual environment, although visual processing varies across the visual field. Here we investigated the circumstances under which peripheral and foveal information is integrated for numerosity estimation across saccades. We asked our participants to judge the number of black and white dots on a screen. Information was presented either in the periphery before a saccade, in the fovea after a saccade, or in both areas consecutively to measure transsaccadic integration. In contrast to previous findings, we found an underestimation of numerosity for foveal presentation and an overestimation for peripheral presentation. We used a maximum-likelihood model to predict accuracy and reliability in the transsaccadic condition based on peripheral and foveal values. We found near-optimal integration of peripheral and foveal information, consistently with previous findings about orientation integration. In three consecutive experiments, we disrupted object continuity between the peripheral and foveal presentations to probe the limits of transsaccadic integration. Even for global changes on our numerosity stimuli, no influence of object discontinuity was observed. Overall, our results suggest that transsaccadic integration is a robust mechanism that also works for complex visual features such as numerosity and is operative despite internal or external mismatches between foveal and peripheral information. Transsaccadic integration facilitates an accurate and reliable perception of our environment.
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