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Trends Cogn Sci. 2011 Mar;15(3):122-31. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Representing multiple objects as an ensemble enhances visual cognition.

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Vision Sciences Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, William James Hall, Room 760, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


The visual system can only accurately represent a handful of objects at once. How do we cope with this severe capacity limitation? One possibility is to use selective attention to process only the most relevant incoming information. A complementary strategy is to represent sets of objects as a group or ensemble (e.g. represent the average size of items). Recent studies have established that the visual system computes accurate ensemble representations across a variety of feature domains and current research aims to determine how these representations are computed, why they are computed and where they are coded in the brain. Ensemble representations enhance visual cognition in many ways, making ensemble coding a crucial mechanism for coping with the limitations on visual processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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