1. This thread contains a very simple question that can be answered by doing a quick experiment.

I want you to close your eyes and to imagine just one apple in your mind.
After that, I want you to add one apple. If you still have a clear image of two apples in your mind, then add another apple, etc.
As soon as you cannot add another apple before one of the previous apples disappears in your mind, you stop.

When I did this experiment myself, I had no trouble imagining seven apples. But as soon as I tried to add an eighth apple, another apple would disappear.
I found this quite odd, as mental arithmetic is not a problem for me. In other words, I know that , but clearly I cannot imagine 8 objects.
I wonder if there is an explanation for this.

So, my question is: How many apples can you imagine in your head​?

2.

3. I can't even see the 'clear image' of an apple. This is very hard for me><

4. Well I believe that having "seen" something in mind or in a dream is often self-deception. As we think over the details to"recall" them we are actually constructing them, as we think they must be. Police are well aware of this problem.

Anyway I tried the experiment. Lingered on the first apple to flesh it out. Duplicated no problem. The third to form a triangle. As I added apples my "gaze" riffled round and round to refresh the picture as if peripheral apples must vanish. Once I had six apples surrounding a central one I knew I'd reached my high score.

So perhaps our 7 limit is because non-adjacent things are much harder to keep track of? For me it seemed that moving my attention to place #8 made the farthest 2 vanish.

Did you employ the same arrangement?

5.

6. Originally Posted by Pong
Did you employ the same arrangement?

I did not use the same arrangement. I aligned them all, rather than using geometric arrangements.

Originally Posted by Nucleara
I can't even see the 'clear image' of an apple. This is very hard for me><

You can also use other objects, such as books, squares, points, etc. if imagining apples is too difficult.
Do note that it is not important to visualize every single detail of the apple (shadow, color, form, ...), but to visualize the amount of apples.

Originally Posted by Dywyddyr

I was not aware of Miller's paper, otherwise I would have included it in my O.P.

7. Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum
I did not use the same arrangement. I aligned them all, rather than using geometric arrangements.
You mean along one dimension?
Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum
You can also use other objects, such as books, squares, points, etc. if imagining apples is too difficult.
I guessed pieces on a chessboard should work better, from practice, but they're not! How the heck do we play that game?
Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum
Do note that it is not important to visualize every single detail of the apple
Yeah, but if one pares an apple down to bare concept, that's cheating. And I know many people can't recognize the difference because I've tested them. Anyway Miller suggests each item (of the seven) is a comfortable "chunk" of information, so you're right people should imagine a degree of detail that feels natural.

8. I first simply imagined 1 then 2 then 3 then 4 apples.
But then I held the image of 4 apples (arranged in a square) and added 1 more and then 1 more, etc. until I had 2 groups of 4 apples.
So I got to 8 really easily.
After 16 apples I started grouping them in 10's (which were more like 2 groups of 5).
After 30 I got bored.

It is hard to determine how many of what I am imagining; it is apples or groups of apples?

9. Originally Posted by Pong
Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum
I did not use the same arrangement. I aligned them all, rather than using geometric arrangements.
You mean along one dimension?

Yes, indeed.

Originally Posted by RedPanda
It is hard to determine how many of what I am imagining; it is apples or groups of apples?

If I understand your explanation correctly, you seem to have focused on groups of apples rather than on individual apples.
Perhaps you should repeat the thought experiment, but now place the apples in a random arrangement (as if they were thrown on the ground).

10. Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum
If I understand your explanation correctly, you seem to have focused on groups of apples rather than on individual apples.
Perhaps you should repeat the thought experiment, but now place the apples in a random arrangement (as if they were thrown on the ground).
I was adding apples one at a time, but once they got to more than 4/5 they 'became' 1 group and I start adding 1 apple at a time to a new (but as yet empty) group.
But the same happens if I place then randomly.

I do still 'see' each individual apple, but I automatically group them together - it just seems to be how I count things.

11. I tried the experiment, Cogito, and found that one by one, I feasibly could 'envision' ten (10) apples at a time...and then, after that, the apples started to 'drop off,' so to speak. (11, 12, and so on) Your suggestion to imagine them on the ground was helpful, as I had a hard time ''separating'' them as part of a group.

12. I struggle after 3 apples without changing them from "an apple" into "a block of apples".

13. I couldn't get by the first apple because I kept eating It!

14. I didn't even try. I always chunk things into groups.

15. I cheated.

I looked out at my 3 apples trees and the are no apples...but one has leaves..they just blended in together!

16. It seems that this thought experiment demonstrates that there might be a tendency for grouping things together.
Would this be a mechanism in our brains that facilitates data processing?

17. Would this be a mechanism in our brains that facilitates data processing?
It's what we do when we read. And when you think about our propensity for pattern seeking, that's strongly linked to putting things together in various ways.

When I looked at the apple thing the way you described it, I instantly had a picture of pairs of apples and adding them in one by one - a bit like a marching display with tricky turns and splitting up and rejoining - and I had 10 or more in my head before I even tried to slow the thinking down. Once that picture was there, it was there forever.

18. I also automatically arrange them into shapes, but I still see the individual apples. I count coins quite frequently and usually arrange things into fives. Each group of five jump out from the scattering of coins. Similarly, I arrange the apples as if you were making shapes with them on a table, with triangles working best, so the sequence from bottom to top goes 4,3,2,1 or 5,4,etc. and then each grouping can be arranged in a pattern itself as well. I also imagine green apples automatically for some reason. But I do tend to think more in concepts than in pictures.

19. I musta taken too many drugs in the 80's to imagine 7.

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