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PLoS One. 2013 Oct 16;8(10):e77556. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077556. eCollection 2013.

Effects of awareness on numerosity adaptation.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.


Numerosity perception is a process involving several stages of visual processing. This study investigated whether distinct mechanisms exist in numerosity adaptation under different awareness conditions to characterize how numerosity perception occurs at each stage. The status of awareness was controlled by masking conditions, in which monoptic and dichoptic masking were proposed to influence different levels of processing. Numerosity adaptation showed significant aftereffects when the participants were aware (monoptic masking) and unaware (dichoptic masking) of adaptors. The interocular transfer for numerosity adaptation was distinct under the different awareness conditions. Adaptation was primarily binocular when participants were aware of stimuli and was purely monocular when participants were unaware of adaptors. Moreover, numerosity adaptation was significantly reduced when the adaptor dots were clustered into chunks with awareness, whereas clustering had no effect on unaware adaptation. These results show that distinct mechanisms exist in numerosity processing under different awareness conditions. It is suggested that awareness is crucial to numerosity cognition. With awareness, grouping (by clustering) influences numerosity coding through altered object representations, which involves higher-level cognitive processing.

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