- Numerosity illusions occur when the spatial arrangement of stimuli influences the quantity perception of a set.
- We tested the Solitaire illusion among preschool children and task-naïve capuchin monkeys.
- Monkeys perceived the numerosity illusion, although there were large individual differences.
- Younger children performed similarly to the monkeys, whereas older children more consistently perceived the illusion like adults.
- Human-unique perceptual experiences may play a key role in the emergence of the Solitaire illusion in humans.
One approach to gaining a better understanding of how we perceive the world is to assess the errors that human and nonhuman animals make in perceptual processing. Developmental and comparative perspectives can contribute to identifying the mechanisms that underlie systematic perceptual errors often referred to as perceptual illusions. In the visual domain, some illusions appear to remain constant across the lifespan, whereas others change with age. From a comparative perspective, many of the illusions observed in humans appear to be shared with nonhuman primates. Numerosity illusions are a subset of visual illusions and occur when the spatial arrangement of stimuli within a set influences the perception of quantity. Previous research has found one such illusion that readily occurs in human adults, the Solitaire illusion. This illusion appears to be less robust in two monkey species, rhesus macaques and capuchin monkeys. We attempted to clarify the ontogeny of this illusion from a developmental and comparative perspective by testing human children and task-naïve capuchin monkeys in a computerized quantity judgment task. The overall performance of the monkeys suggested that they perceived the numerosity illusion, although there were large differences among individuals. Younger children performed similarly to the monkeys, whereas older children more consistently perceived the illusion. These findings suggest that human-unique perceptual experiences with the world might play an important role in the emergence of the Solitaire illusion in human adults, although other factors also may contribute.
- Solitaire illusion;
- Human children;
- Capuchin monkeys;
- Visual illusion;
- Gestalt laws;
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