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Shira Tkacz-Domb, Yaffa Yeshurun; Spatial attention alleviates temporal crowding, but neither temporal nor spatial uncertainty are necessary for the emergence of temporal crowding. Journal of Vision 2017;17(3):9. doi: 10.1167/17.3.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recently, we demonstrated temporal crowding with normal observers: Target identification was impaired when it was surrounded by other stimuli in time, even when the interstimuli intervals (ISIs) were relatively long. Here, we examined whether temporal and spatial uncertainties play a critical role in the emergence of temporal crowding. We presented a sequence of three letters to the same peripheral location, right or left of fixation, separated by varying ISI (106–459 ms). One of these letters was the target, and the observers indicated its orientation. To eliminate temporal uncertainty, the position of the target within the sequence was fixed for an entire block (Experiment 1). To eliminate spatial uncertainty, we employed spatial attentional precues that indicated the letters' location. The precue was either auditory (Experiment 2) or visual (Experiment 3). We found temporal crowding to result in worse performance with shorter ISIs, even when there was no temporal or spatial uncertainty. Unlike the auditory cue, the visual cue affected performance. Specifically, when there was uncertainty regarding the target location (i.e., when the target appeared in the first display), precueing the target location improved overall performance and reduced the ISI effect, although it was not completely eliminated. These results suggest that temporal and spatial uncertainties are not necessary for the emergence of temporal crowding and that spatial attention can reduce temporal crowding.
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