Multisensory numerosity judgments for visual and tactile stimuli.
Gallace A., Tan HZ., Spence C.
To date, numerosity judgments have been studied only under conditions of unimodal stimulus presentation. It is therefore unclear whether the same limitations on correctly reporting the number of unimodal visual or tactile stimuli presented in a display might be expected under conditions in which participants have to count stimuli presented simultaneously in two or more different sensory modalities. In Experiment 1, we investigated numerosity judgments using both unimodal and bimodal displays consisting of one to six vibrotactile stimuli (presented over the body surface) and one to six visual stimuli (seen on the body via mirror reflection). Participants had to count the number of stimuli regardless of their modality of presentation. Bimodal numerosity judgments were significantly less accurate than predicted on the basis of an independent modality-specific resources account, thus showing that numerosity judgments might rely on a unitary amodal system instead. The results of a second experiment demonstrated that divided attention costs could not account for the poor performance in the bimodal conditions of Experiment 1. We discuss these results in relation to current theories of cross-modal integration and to the cognitive resources and/or common higher order spatial representations possibly accessed by both visual and tactile stimuli.