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Enumerating by location: A new method for measuring the numerosity of visual object representations.

The fast and accurate enumeration of a small set of objects, called subitizing, is thought to involve a different mechanism from other numerosity judgments, such as those based on estimation. In this report, we examine the subitizing limit using a novel enumeration task that obtained the perceived locations of enumerated objects. Observers were shown brief masked displays (50, 200, and 350 ms) of 2–9 small black discs randomly placed on a gray screen and then asked to place a marker where each disc had been located. The number of these markers provided an estimate of the number of items processed. This “pointing” methodology enabled observers to accurately “enumerate” displays containing up to six items in contrast with the four-item limit typically found when using standard reporting methods (and replicated here in Experiment 2). These results suggest a different account of the limits found in most subitizing and enumeration studies.



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