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Bilateral field advantage in visual enumeration

Delvenne, JFCM, Castronovo, J, Demeyere, N and Humphreys, GW (2011) Bilateral field advantage in visual enumeration. PLoSONE, 6 (3). e17743 - ? . ISSN 1932-6203

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A number of recent studies have demonstrated superior visual processing when the information is distributed across the left and right visual fields than if the information is presented in a single hemifield (the bilateral field advantage). This effect is thought to reflect independent attentional resources in the two hemifields and the capacity of the neural responses to the left and right hemifields to process visual information in parallel. Here, we examined whether a bilateral field advantage can also be observed in a high-level visual task that requires the information from both hemifields to be combined. To this end, we used a visual enumeration task – a task that requires the assimilation of separate visual items into a single quantity – where the to-be-enumerated items were either presented in one hemifield or distributed between the two visual fields. We found that enumerating large number (> 4 items), but not small number (< 4 items), exhibited the bilateral field advantage: enumeration was more accurate when the visual items were split between the left and right hemifields than when they were all presented within the same hemifield. Control experiments further showed that this effect could not be attributed to a horizontal alignment advantage of the items in the visual field, or to a retinal stimulation difference between the unilateral and bilateral displays. These results suggest that a bilateral field advantage can arise when the visual task involves inter-hemispheric integration. This is in line with previous research and theory indicating that, when the visual task is attentionally demanding, parallel processing by the neural responses to the left and right hemifields can expand the capacity of visual information processing.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2011 Delvenne et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: enumeration, subitizing, laterality, interhemispheric interaction, bilateral advantage, hemifield
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > School of Psychology (Leeds)
Depositing User: Symplectic Publications
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2011 14:44
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 09:07
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017743
Status: Published
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Identification Number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017743
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43441

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