, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 172-184

Tracking unique objects

Abstract

Is content addressable in the representation that subserves performance in multiple-object-tracking (MOT) experiments? We devised an MOT variant that featured unique, nameable objects (cartoon animals) as stimuli. There were two possible response modes: standard, in which observers were asked to report the locations of all target items, and specific, in which observers had to report the location of a particular object (e.g., “Where is the zebra?”). A measure of capacity derived from accuracy allowed for comparisons of the results between conditions. We found that capacity in the specific condition (1.4 to 2.6 items across several experiments) was always reliably lower than capacity in the standard condition (2.3 to 3.4 items). Observers could locate specific objects, indicating a content-addressable representation. However, capacity differences between conditions, as well as differing responses to the experimental manipulations, suggest that there may be two separate systems involved in tracking, one carrying only positional information, and one carrying identity information as well.

This research was supported by NIMH Grant R01 65576 to T.S.H.