Crowding with detection and coarse discrimination of simple visual features

Endel Põder
Journal of Vision 2008, 8 (4): 24.1-6
Some recent studies have suggested that there are actually no crowding effects with detection and coarse discrimination of simple visual features. The present study tests the generality of this idea. A target Gabor patch, surrounded by either 2 or 6 flanker Gabors, was presented briefly at 4 deg eccentricity of the visual field. Each Gabor patch was oriented either vertically or horizontally (selected randomly). Observers' task was either to detect the presence of the target (presented with probability 0.5) or to identify the orientation of the target. The target-flanker distance was varied. Results were similar for the two tasks but different for 2 and 6 flankers. The idea that feature detection and coarse discrimination are immune to crowding may be valid for the two-flanker condition only. With six flankers, a normal crowding effect was observed. It is suggested that the complexity of the full pattern (target plus flankers) could explain the difference.

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