Enumeration by pattern recognition requires attention: Evidence against immediate holistic processing of canonical patterns

AbstractEnumeration of canonical patterns (e.g., faces of six-sided dice) has generally been characterized by researchers as a holistic process, in which all items are perceived collectively. In previous work, based on a holistic processing view of enumeration by pattern recognition, we predicted that enumeration of canonical forms would not be significantly affected by attentional load. In this paper, we present the results from two experiments designed to test this prediction using a divided-attention paradigm. In contrast to our predictions, enumeration of canonical patterns was disrupted by attentional load. Furthermore, enumeration of patterns under high attentional load showed evidence of conflation between patterns with similar contours, providing evidence against a holistic processing account of canonical pattern recognition.

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