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Endel Põder; Crowding, feature integration, and two kinds of “attention”. Journal of Vision 2006;6(2):7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/6.2.7.
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In a recent article, Pelli, Palomares, and Majaj (2004) suggested that feature binding is mediated by hard-wired integration fields instead of a spotlight of spatial attention (as assumed by Treisman & Gelade, 1980). Consequently, the correct conjoining of visual features can be guaranteed only when there are no other competing features within a circle with a radius of approximately 0.5E (E = eccentricity of the target object). This claim seems contradicted by an observation that we can easily see—for example, the orientation of a single blue bar within a dense array of randomly oriented red bars. In the present study, possible determinants of the extent of crowding (or feature integration) zones were analyzed with feature (color) singletons as targets. It was found that the number of distractors has a dramatic effect on crowding. With a few distractors, a normal crowding effect was observed. However, by increasing the number of distractors, the crowding effect was remarkably reduced. Similar results were observed when the target and distractors were of the same color and when only a differently colored circle indicated the target location. The results can be explained by bottom-up “attention” that facilitates the processing of information from salient locations in the visual field.
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