The pleasure of multiple images

Aenne A. Brielmann, Denis G. Pelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How many pleasures can you track? In a previous study, we showed that people can simultaneously track the pleasure they experience from two images. Here, we push further, probing the individual and combined pleasures felt from seeing four images in one glimpse. Participants (N = 25) viewed 36 images spanning the entire range of pleasure. Each trial presented an array of four images, one in each quadrant of the screen, for 200 ms. On 80% of the trials, a central line cue pointed, randomly, at some screen corner either before (precue) or after (postcue) the images were shown. The cue indicated which image (the target) to rate while ignoring the others (distractors). On the other 20% of trials, an X cue requested a rating of the combined pleasure of all four images. Later, for baseline reference, we obtained a single-pleasure rating for each image shown alone. When precued, participants faithfully reported the pleasure of the target. When postcued, however, the mean ratings of images that are intensely pleasurable when seen alone (pleasure >4.5 on a 1–9 scale) dropped below baseline. Regardless of cue timing, the rating of the combined pleasure of four images was a linear transform of the average baseline pleasures of all four images. Thus, while people can faithfully track two pleasures, they cannot track four. Instead, the pleasure of otherwise above-medium-pleasure images is diminished, mimicking the effect of a distracting task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1188
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Object recognition
  • Precuing
  • Scene perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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