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Amit Yashar, Jiageng Chen, Marisa Carrasco; Rapid reduction of crowding by training. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.12.102.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Background: Crowding refers to people difficulty to identify a letter in the peripheral visual field in the presence of nearby letters. The processes that underlie crowding are still debated. Some postulate the larger receptive fields and spatial integration in the periphery as the underlying mechanism for crowding. According to this view crowding is hardwired and cannot be rapidly changed. Recent studies have shown that crowding can be alleviated after 8-10 days of training but the speed of this improvement is still unclear. Objective: We tested whether a short period of training can alleviate crowding. Method: Observers were asked to identify the orientation of a letter in the periphery surrounded by two flanker letters. Observes were tested before (pre-test) and after (post-test) training (800 trials). We tested different components of feature selection by keeping letter color constant between training and test blocks as follows: 1) the target letter (feature selection); 2) the flankers (feature suppression); 3) both (selection and suppression). Results: Following training, all groups showed a reduction in crowding as assessed by the critical distance; i.e., the target–flankers distance at which the flankers no longer interfere with target identification. Conclusion: Our results show that training can rapidly reduce crowding and that the training stimuli need not be identical to the test stimuli. Observers not only can learn to identify the target but also to ignore the irrelevant flankers.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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