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A texture-processing model of the 'visual sense of number'

Morgan, MJ; Raphael, S; Tibber, MS; Dakin, SC; (2014) A texture-processing model of the 'visual sense of number'. Proc Biol Sci , 281 (1790) 10.1098/rspb.2014.1137. Green open access

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Abstract

It has been suggested that numerosity is an elementary quality of perception, similar to colour. If so (and despite considerable investigation), its mechanism remains unknown. Here, we show that observers require on average a massive difference of approximately 40% to detect a change in the number of objects that vary irrelevantly in blur, contrast and spatial separation, and that some naive observers require even more than this. We suggest that relative numerosity is a type of texture discrimination and that a simple model computing the contrast energy at fine spatial scales in the image can perform at least as well as human observers. Like some human observers, this mechanism finds it harder to discriminate relative numerosity in two patterns with different degrees of blur, but it still outpaces the human. We propose energy discrimination as a benchmark model against which more complex models and new data can be tested.

Type: Article
Title: A texture-processing model of the 'visual sense of number'
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1137
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1137
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: numerosity, psychophysics, texture perception
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469459
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