October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
Perception is dominated by the peripheral item: Testing the mechanisms underlying the crowding effect through the inner–outer asymmetry
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Adi Shechter
    Department of Learning Disabilities, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa
    The Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, University of Haifa
  • Amit Yashar
    Department of Special Education, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa
    The Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, University of Haifa
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This work was supported by The Israeli Science Foundation Grant Nos. 1980/18 (to A. Yashar).
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 869. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.869
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      Adi Shechter, Amit Yashar; Perception is dominated by the peripheral item: Testing the mechanisms underlying the crowding effect through the inner–outer asymmetry. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):869. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.869.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Background. Crowding refers to the failure to identify a peripheral item when it is presented along with nearby flankers. A hallmark property of crowding is the inner-outer asymmetry; the outer flanker (eccentric) produces stronger interference than the inner one. Here we investigated the asymmetry effect using an estimation report in order to test the predictions of competing crowding models: pooling vs. substitution. Pooling models suggest that the outer flanker is more integrated with the target, which predicts either averaging errors with the outer flanker or mis-reports of the inner flanker (the less integrated flanker). Substitution models, on the other hand, suggest confusion between the target and the outer flanker, which predicts mis-reports of the outer flanker. Method. Observers (n=22) estimated the orientation of a Gabor using a continuous report. The target was presented at 7° eccentricity. In the crowding conditions, two distractors flanked the target, one on each side, along the horizontal meridian. We characterized crowding errors with respect to each distractor separately, by fitting probabilistic models to the error distributions. Results. Under crowding conditions, instead of the target, observers mistakenly reported (misreport errors) the outer flanker (eccentric), but not the inner flanker (closer to the fovea). This finding is in accordance with the prediction of the substitution models. Conclusions. Our results reveal a counterintuitive finding: perception is dominated by the peripheral item rather than the one closer to the center of the visual field. Importantly, our findings support the substitution account. Namely, increased location uncertainty in the periphery, due to larger receptive fields, leads to confusion between the target and the outer flanker.

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