How Many Locations Can Be Selected at Once?

Steven L. Franconeri*, George A. Alvarez, James T. Enns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The visual system uses several tools to select only the most relevant visual information for further processing, including selection by location. In the present study, the authors explored how many locations can be selected at once. Although past evidence from several visual tasks suggests that the visual system can operate on a fixed number of 4 objects or locations at once, the authors found that this capacity varies widely in response to the precision of selection required by the task. When the authors required precise selection regions, only 2-3 locations could be selected. But when the selection regions could be coarser, up to 6-7 locations could be selected. The authors discuss potential mechanisms underlying the selection of multiple locations and review the evidence for fixed limits in visual attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1012
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • capacity
  • location
  • selection
  • span
  • visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'How Many Locations Can Be Selected at Once?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this