Mental number representation relies on mapping numerosity based on nonsymbolic stimuli to symbolic magnitudes. It is known that mental number representation builds on a logarithmic scale, and thus numerosity decisions result in underestimation. In the current study, we investigated the temporal dynamics of numerosity perception in four experiments by employing the response-deadline SAT procedure. We presented random number of dots and required participants to make a numerosity judgment by comparing the perceived number of dots to 50. Using temporal dynamics in numerosity perception allowed us to observe a response bias at early decisions and a systematic underestimation at late decisions. In all three experiments, providing feedback diminished the magnitude of underestimation, whereas in Experiment 3 the absence of feedback resulted in greater underestimation errors. These results were in accordance with the findings that suggested feedback is necessary for the calibration of the mental number representation.
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Note that the percentage of removed trials was comparable across deadline conditions (e.g., 60 ms versus 700 ms) when the delay after cue onset was set to 600 ms or less. This might indicate that the participants waited to fully process the screen in early cues, whereas they responded before receiving the cue in the latest deadline condition (3,500 ms). However, when the delay after cue onset was set to 500 ms or less, the percentage of the remaining trials dropped to 83%, 90%, 94%, 94%, 92%, 93%, 90% for each deadline condition, respectively. That said, the asymptotes of the best fitting model did not differ while the speed parameters showed faster processing in general. The results of the additional analysis are presented in the supplementary materials for all experiments.
We would like to thank the reviewers for pointing out these possible explanations.
We would like to thank Reviewer 2 for pointing out this possibility.
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This work has been supported by Middle East Technical University Scientific Research Projects Coordination Unit under grant number BAP-08-11-2017-036.
We would like to thank Sinem Aytaç, Hatice Dedetaş, Zeynep Erbaş and Sema Betül Türk for their assistance in data collection.
Parts of this work were presented in the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in 2018 and the 51st Annual Meeting of the Society for Mathematical Psychology.
Data link (https://osf.io/u3yz5/).
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Kılıç, A., İnan, A.B. Response bias in numerosity perception at early judgments and systematic underestimation. Atten Percept Psychophys (2021). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-021-02365-3
- Numerosity perception
- Mental number line
- Speed–accuracy trade-off
- Response deadline procedure