Crowding is size and eccentricity dependent

Rick Gurnsey, Gabrielle Roddy, Waël Chanab
Journal of Vision 2011, 11 (7): 15
Crowding is a form of lateral interaction in which flanking items interfere with the detection or discrimination of a target stimulus. It is believed that crowding is a property of peripheral vision only and that no crowding occurs at fixation. If these two claims are true, then there must be a change in the nature of crowding interactions across the visual field. In three different tasks, we determined target size and flanker separation at threshold for eccentricities of 0 to 16° in the lower visual field for 7 relative separations (1.25 to 8 times target size). In all three tasks, the magnitude of crowding increases with eccentricity; there was no crowding at fixation and extreme crowding at 16°. Using a novel double-scaling procedure, we show that the non-foveal data in all three tasks can be characterized as shifted versions of the same psychometric function such that different sections of the function characterize data at each eccentricity. This pattern of results can be understood in terms of size-dependent responses to the target and distance-dependent interference from the flankers. The data suggest that the distance-dependent interference increases with eccentricity.

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