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Maria Lev, Uri Polat; Space and time in masking and crowding. Journal of Vision 2015;15(13):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.13.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Masking and crowding are major phenomena associated with contextual modulations, but the relationship between them remains unclear. We have recently shown that crowding is apparent in the fovea when the time available for processing is limited, pointing to the strong relationship between crowding in the spatial and temporal domains. Models of crowding emphasize the size (acuity) of the target and the spacing between the target and flankers as the main determinants that predict crowding. Our model, which is based on lateral interactions, posits that masking and crowding are related in the spatial and temporal domains at the fovea and periphery and that both can be explained by the increasing size of the human perceptive field (PF) with increasing eccentricity. We explored the relations between masking and crowding using letter identification and contrast detection by correlating the crowding effect with the estimated size of the PF and with masking under different spatiotemporal conditions. We found that there is a large variability in PF size and crowding effects across observers. Nevertheless, masking and crowding were both correlated with the estimated size of the PF in the fovea and periphery under a specific range of spatiotemporal parameters. Our results suggest that under certain conditions, crowding and masking share common neural mechanisms that underlie the spatiotemporal properties of these phenomena in both the fovea and periphery. These results could explain the transfer of training gains from spatiotemporal Gabor masking to letter acuity, reading, and reduced crowding.
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