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Tina Plank, Laura Lerner, Jana Tuschewski, Maja Pawellek, Maka Malania, Mark W. Greenlee; Perceptual learning of a crowding task: Effects of anisotropy and optotype. Journal of Vision 2021;21(11):13. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.11.13.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visual crowding refers to the impairment of recognizing peripherally presented objects flanked by distractors. Crowding effects, exhibiting a certain spatial extent between target and flankers, can be reduced by perceptual learning. In this experiment, we investigated the learning-induced reduction of crowding in normally sighted participants and tested if learning on one optotype (Landolt-C) transfers to another (Tumbling-E) or vice versa. Twenty-three normally sighted participants (18–42 years) trained on a crowding task in the right-upper quadrant (target at 6.5 degrees eccentricity) over four sessions. Half of the participants had the four-alternative forced-choice task to discriminate the orientation of a Landolt-C, the other half of participants had the task to discriminate the orientation of a Tumbling-E, each flanked by distractors. In the fifth session, all participants switched to the other untrained optotype, respectively. Learning success was measured as reduction of the spatial extent of crowding. We found an overall significant and comparable learning-induced reduction of crowding in both conditions (Landolt-C and Tumbling-E). However, only in the group who trained on the Landolt-C task did learning effects transfer to the other optotype. The specific target-flanker-constellations may modulate the transfer effects found here. Perceptual learning of a crowding task with optotypes could be a promising tool in rehabilitation programs to help improve peripheral vision (e.g. in patients with central vision loss), but the dependence of possible transfer effects on the optotype and distractors used requires further clarification.
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