When crowding meets binocular rivalry: challenges for object perception

Sangrae Kim, Eunsam Shin, Sang Chul Chong
Vision Research 2013 January 14, 76: 134-43
Both crowding and binocular rivalry impair object perception, but their influence on object perception has so far only been investigated in separate fields. Three experiments investigated the joint influences of crowding and rivalry on object perception (orientation discrimination). Experiment 1 investigated how crowding and rivalry influence orientation discrimination together. Experiment 2 tested whether rivalry between flankers affects crowding using an orientation discrimination task. Experiment 3 tested whether crowding affects the temporal dynamics of the rivalry between a target and a rival stimulus. In Experiment 1, judgments of target orientation were more impaired when crowding and rivalry were simultaneously induced than when they were separately induced and their effects were combined. In Experiment 2, judgments of target orientation were impaired even when flankers were undergoing rivalry, thus highlighting the importance of the presence of flankers. Experiment 3 showed that flankers presented in the neighborhood of a target undergoing rivalry shortened target dominance and prolonged target suppression. The augmented impairments of object perception found in Experiments 1 and 3 suggest that crowding and rivalry interact, presumably through signal suppression. The adverse effect of flankers shown in Experiment 2 suggests that inappropriate feature integration may have additionally contributed to this interaction.

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