The chromatic selectivity of visual crowding

Graeme J Kennedy, David Whitaker
Journal of Vision 2010, 10 (6): 15
Precortical vision is mediated by three opponent mechanisms that combine receptoral outputs to form a luminance channel (L + M) and two chromatic channels, red-green (L/M) and blue-yellow (S/L + M). Here we ask the extent to which these basic color opponent mechanisms interact in the phenomenon of crowding, where nearby targets interfere with the processing of a central test target. The task was to identify the orientation of a Gabor patch while an annular plaid surrounded the patch. The radius of the annulus was varied in order to produce different separations of the test and flanker. The chromatic content of the Gabor and the annulus could be varied independently along the (L + M), (L/M), and (S/L + M) cardinal axes. For all targets, when the target and flanker shared the same chromaticity, performance decreased with decreasing separation of the target and annulus, i.e., a typical crowding effect was seen. When the test and flanker isolated different chromatic mechanisms, very little crowding was observed, even at the minimum separation of test target and annulus. In addition to this, intermediate chromaticities were found to produce intermediate levels of crowding. Finally, crowding effects using "half-wave rectified" stimuli suggest a locus for crowding effects beyond the level of color opponent mechanisms.

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