What’s amazing is, if I remember the # correctly, we can track around 150 individual items simultaneously (notice children with video games) when focused on the task, at least as a vague awareness of existence enough to register an “uh oh” change in one of them.
That’s not a counting task though but an object awareness task – but interestingly as 150 objects that are each CAPABLE of change that requires our immediate response.
There’s the lab-coat issue too though with certain tasks. I think the 3-7 +-2 rule of thumb – for all ages – is a good approximation for holding onto distinct objects with accuracy of naming / describing / etc.But the tracking of 150 items is a bit different I think as it doesn’t focus on the “what-ness” of things but of the “is-ness”
The 150 was gathered by eye tracking software and video game performance if I remember correctly. Eye saccades and such. I don’t think if you were to question anybody who was shown to be able to track 150 items successfully that they would be capable of telling you anything much ABOUT any of the 150 items. But performance on tasks showed the capabilities.I don’t have the ages though offhand. It’s been a few years since I’ve looked into it. Plus, these are all raw capabilities that really can’t be consciously molded as I think they’re based on basic fear mechanisms (“I don’t want my character to die”) rather than rational thinking.
I have great difficulty with task switching. Probably autistic spectrum.
As long as I’m allowed to be in my own mental space, I can hold onto a great complexity of items interacting, arranging, rearranging, querying each other, reconfiguring, morphing, etc – but the tiniest interruption and it all falls apart like a house of cards and my brain capabilities drop down to just a few items.
It’s also a great let-down feeling too as these mental structures are delicate and easily disturbed.