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Ronald van den Berg, Jos B. T. M. Roerdink, Frans W. Cornelissen; On the generality of crowding: Visual crowding in size, saturation, and hue compared to orientation. Journal of Vision 2007;7(2):14. doi: 10.1167/7.2.14.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Perception of peripherally viewed shapes is impaired when surrounded by similar shapes. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “crowding”. Although studied extensively for perception of characters (mainly letters) and, to a lesser extent, for orientation, little is known about whether and how crowding affects perception of other features. Nevertheless, current crowding models suggest that the effect should be rather general and thus not restricted to letters and orientation. Here, we report on a series of experiments investigating crowding in the following elementary feature dimensions: size, hue, and saturation. Crowding effects in these dimensions were benchmarked against those in the orientation domain. Our primary finding is that all features studied show clear signs of crowding. First, identification thresholds increase with decreasing mask spacing. Second, for all tested features, critical spacing appears to be roughly half the viewing eccentricity and independent of stimulus size, a property previously proposed as the hallmark of crowding. Interestingly, although critical spacings are highly comparable, crowding magnitude differs across features: Size crowding is almost as strong as orientation crowding, whereas the effect is much weaker for saturation and hue. We suggest that future theories and models of crowding should be able to accommodate these differences in crowding effects.
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