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Ariana Familiar, Stefan Uddenberg, Won Mok Shim; Positive affect reduces visual crowding. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):450. doi: 10.1167/15.12.450.
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Positive mood has been shown to both broaden the scope of visual attention (Rowe, Hirsh & Anderson, 2006), and facilitate a broad or narrow focus depending on whichever mode is currently dominant (Huntsinger, Clore & Bar-Anan, 2010). Here we investigate whether positive affect influences the spatial extent of peripheral feature integration. Using short film clips to induce positive (happy), negative (fear), and neutral affect, we measured the effect of visual crowding in each mood condition. A Gabor patch (diameter: 1o, eccentricity: 8o) surrounded by six equally spaced ‘flanker’ Gabors (diameter: 1o) at one of eight possible distances (1.5o, 2o, 2.5o, 3o, 3.5o, 4o, 4.5o, 5o) from the central patch was briefly presented in the right visual field. Subjects’ task was to report whether the central patch was tilted left or right of the vertical meridian, and the detection threshold was measured at each flanker distance. Average critical spacing across subjects was significantly smaller when in a positive mood compared to both neutral and negative conditions, which did not significantly differ. Thus, under positive affect the spatial scope of feature integration was narrowed, allowing for better identification of a crowded feature in the periphery. This supports the notion that positive affect influences the spatial envelope of attention in a flexible manner (Huntsinger, 2013), and modulates this scope depending on the default mode necessitated by current task demands.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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