Independent and parallel visual processing of ensemble statistics: Evidence from dual tasks
The visual system can represent multiple objects in a compressed form of ensemble summary statistics (such as object numerosity, mean, and feature variance/range). Yet the relationships between the different types of visual statistics remain relatively unclear. Here, we tested whether two summaries (mean and numerosity, or mean and range) are calculated independently from each other and in parallel. Our participants performed dual tasks requiring a report about two summaries in each trial, and single tasks requiring a report about one of the summaries. We estimated trial-by-trial correlations between the precision of reports as well as correlations across observers. Both analyses showed the absence of correlations between different types of ensemble statistics, suggesting their independence. We also found no decrement (except that related to the order of report explained by memory retrieval) in performance in dual compared to single tasks, which suggests that two statistics of one ensemble can be processed in parallel.