Document Type


Publication Date

January 2013


Multiple-object tracking (MOT) studies have shown that tracking ability declines as object speed increases. However, this might be attributed solely to the increased number of times that target and distractor objects usually pass close to each other (“close encounters”) when speed is increased, resulting in more target–distractor confusions. The present study investigates whether speed itself affects MOT ability by using displays in which the number of close encounters is held constant across speeds. Observers viewed several pairs of disks, and each pair rotated about the pair’s midpoint and, also, about the center of the display at varying speeds. Results showed that even with the number of close encounters held constant across speeds, increased speed impairs tracking performance, and the effect of speed is greater when the number of targets to be tracked is large. Moreover, neither the effect of number of distractors nor the effect of target–distractor distance was dependent on speed, when speed was isolated from the typical concomitant increase in close encounters. These results imply that increased speed does not impair tracking solely by increasing close encounters. Rather, they support the view that speed affects MOT capacity by requiring more attentional resources to track at higher speeds.


Copyright © 2013 Springer Verlag. The final publication is available at DOI: 10.3758/s13414-012-0369-x.

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