The effect of features saliency on haptic subitizing

M.A. Plaisier, M. van 't Woud, A.M.L. Kappers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


‘Subitizing’ refers to fast and error-free numerosity judgment for small (<4) sets of items. For larger sets, the slower process of ‘counting’ is used. Counting has a serial character, whereas subitizing is believed to have a parallel character. While subitizing was initially found in vision, it has been shown to exist in touch as well. In vision, it has been demonstrated that adding distractor items to a set of target items influences numerosity judgment of the target items. Subitizing was in this case only possible if the distractor item is highly salient among the targets. In the present study, we investigated the effect of adding a distractor item on haptic judgement of a set of target items. To this end, we asked subjects to judge the number of spheres grasped in their hand. Either a cube or an ellipsoid could be added to the set. A cube among spheres has been shown to be highly salient, while an ellipsoid among spheres is not. Our results show that adding a distractor item led to an increase in the response time slopes regardless of the distractor shape. Subitizing was, however, only possible in the case of a salient distractor. This is in agreement with results from vision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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