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Funda Yildirim, Vincent Meyer, Frans W. Cornelissen; Eyes on crowding: Crowding is preserved when responding by eye and similarly affects identity and position accuracy. Journal of Vision 2015;15(2):21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.2.21.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Peripheral vision guides recognition and selection of targets for eye movements. Crowding—a decline in recognition performance that occurs when a potential target is surrounded by other, similar, objects—influences peripheral object recognition. A recent model study suggests that crowding may be due to increased uncertainty about both the identity and the location of peripheral target objects, but very few studies have assessed these properties in tandem. Eye tracking can integrally provide information on both the perceived identity and the position of a target and therefore could become an important approach in crowding studies. However, recent reports suggest that around the moment of saccade preparation crowding may be significantly modified. If these effects were to generalize to regular crowding tasks, it would complicate the interpretation of results obtained with eye tracking and the comparison to results obtained using manual responses. For this reason, we first assessed whether the manner by which participants responded—manually or by eye—affected their performance. We found that neither recognition performance nor response time was affected by the response type. Hence, we conclude that crowding magnitude was preserved when observers responded by eye. In our main experiment, observers made eye movements to the location of a tilted Gabor target while we varied flanker tilt to manipulate target–flanker similarity. The results indicate that this similarly affected the accuracy of peripheral recognition and saccadic target localization. Our results inform about the importance of both location and identity uncertainty in crowding.
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