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Rajkumar Nallour Raveendran, Arun Kumar Krishnan, Benjamin Thompson; Reduced fixation stability induced by peripheral viewing does not contribute to crowding. Journal of Vision 2020;20(10):3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.10.3.
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Attending to peripheral visual targets while maintaining central fixation, a process that involves covert attention, reduces fixation stability. Here, we tested the hypothesis that changes in fixation stability induced by peripheral viewing contribute to crowding in peripheral vision by increasing positional uncertainty. We first assessed whether fixation was less stable during peripheral versus central (foveal) viewing for both crowded and uncrowded stimuli. We then tested whether fixation stability during peripheral viewing was associated with the extent of crowding. Fourteen participants performed a tumbling E orientation discrimination task at three different eccentricities (0°, 5°, 10°). The target was presented with or without flankers. Fixational eye movements were measured using an infrared video-based eyetracker. A central fixation cross was provided for the two peripheral viewing conditions, and optotype size was scaled for each eccentricity. Discrimination of appropriately scaled uncrowded stimuli was unaffected by eccentricity, whereas discrimination of crowded stimuli deteriorated dramatically with eccentricity, despite scaling. Both crowded and uncrowded peripheral stimuli were associated with reduced fixation stability, increased microsaccadic amplitude, and a greater proportion of horizontal microsaccades relative to centrally presented stimuli. However, these effects were not associated with the magnitude of crowding. This suggests that reduced fixation stability due to peripheral viewing does not contribute to crowding in peripheral vision.
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