Grasso, P. A., Anobile, G., Caponi, C., & Arrighi, R.
Implicit visuospatial attention shapes numerosity adaptation and perception
Journal of Vision, 21(8), 26
The perception of numerical quantities is susceptible to adaptation: after inspecting a numerous dot array for a few seconds a subsequent dot array is grossly underestimated. In a recent work we showed that the mere appearance of an additional numerically neutral stimulus significantly reduces the adaptation magnitude. Here we demonstrate that this reduction is likely due to a numerosity underestimation of the adaptor caused by a change of numerosity-related attentional resources deployed on the adapting stimulus. In Experiment 1 we replicated previous findings revealing a robust reduction of numerosity adaptation when an additional adaptor (even if neutral) was displayed. In Experiment 2 we used the method of magnitude estimation to demonstrate that numerosity is underestimated whenever a second task-irrelevant numerical stimulus appears on screen. Furthermore we demonstrated that the same experimental manipulations were not effective in modulating orientation adaptation magnitude as well as orientation estimation accuracy. Our results support the hypothesis of a tight relationship between numerosity perception and implicit visuospatial attention and corroborate the notion that numerosity adaptation depends on perceived rather than physical numerosity. However the lack of an effect of visuospatial attentional deployment for orientation perception suggests that attention might differently shape adaptation aftereffects for different features along the visual hierarchy.