Cognition 80 (1-2):159-177 (2001)

The notion that visual attention can operate over visual objects in addition to spatial locations has recently received much empirical support, but there has been relatively little empirical consideration of what can count as an `object' in the ®rst place. We have investi- gated this question in the context of the multiple object tracking paradigm, in which subjects must track a number of independently and unpredictably moving identical items in a ®eld of identical distractors. What types of feature clusters can be tracked in this manner? In other words, what counts as an `object' in this task? We investigated this question with a technique we call target merging: we alter tracking displays so that distinct target and distractor loca- tions appear perceptually to be parts of the same object by merging pairs of items (one target with one distractor) in various ways ± for example, by connecting item locations with a simple line segment, by drawing the convex hull of the two items, and so forth. The data show that target merging makes the tracking task far more dif®cult to varying degrees depending on exactly how the items are merged. The effect is perceptually salient, involving in some conditions a total destruction of subjects' capacity to track multiple items. These studies provide strong evidence for the object-based nature of tracking, con®rming that in some contexts attention must be allocated to objects rather than arbitrary collections of features. In addition, the results begin to reveal the types of spatially organized scene components that can be independently attended as a function of properties such as connectedness, part struc- ture, and other types of perceptual grouping. q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/s0010-0277(00)00157-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,826
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Attention and the Detection of Signals.Michael I. Posner, Charles R. Snyder & Brian J. Davidson - 1980 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 109 (2):160-174.
Selective Attention and the Organization of Visual Information.John Duncan - 1984 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113 (4):501-517.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Uneasy Heirs of Acquaintance.Susanna Siegel - 2019 - Philosophical Issues 29 (1):348-365.

View all 37 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Object Perception: Vision and Audition.Casey O’Callaghan - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (4):803-829.


Added to PP index

Total views
149 ( #68,668 of 2,438,848 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #435,061 of 2,438,848 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes