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Representing multiple objects as an ensemble enhances visual cognition

Summary: Representing multiple objects as an
ensemble enhances visual cognition
George A. Alvarez
Vision Sciences Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, William James Hall, Room 760,
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
The visual system can only accurately represent a hand-
ful of objects at once. How do we cope with this severe
capacity limitation? One possibility is to use selective
attention to process only the most relevant incoming
information. A complementary strategy is to represent
sets of objects as a group or ensemble (e.g. represent the
average size of items). Recent studies have established
that the visual system computes accurate ensemble
representations across a variety of feature domains
and current research aims to determine how these repre-
sentations are computed, why they are computed and
where they are coded in the brain. Ensemble representa-
tions enhance visual cognition in many ways, making
ensemble coding a crucial mechanism for coping with
the limitations on visual processing.


Source: Alvarez, George A. - Department of Psychology, Harvard University


Collections: Biology and Medicine