Tracking multiple objects is limited only by object spacing, not by speed, time, or capacity

S. L. Franconeri, S. V. Jonathan, J. M. Scimeca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


In dealing with a dynamic world, people have the ability to maintain selective attention on a subset of moving objects in the environment. Performance in such multiple-object tracking is limited by three primary factors-the number of objects that one can track, the speed at which one can track them, and how close together they can be. We argue that this last limit, of object spacing, is the root cause of all performance constraints in multiple-object tracking. In two experiments, we found that as long as the distribution of object spacing is held constant, tracking performance is unaffected by large changes in object speed and tracking time. These results suggest that barring object-spacing constraints, people could reliably track an unlimited number of objects as fast as they could track a single object.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-925
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Crowding
  • Divided attention
  • MOT
  • Multiple-object tracking
  • Surround inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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