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Bahiyya Kewan-Khalayly, Marta Migó, Amit Yashar; Transient attention equally reduces visual crowding in radial and tangential axes. Journal of Vision 2022;22(9):3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.9.3.
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Crowding refers to the failure to identify a peripheral object due to its proximity to other objects (flankers). This phenomenon can lead to reading and object recognition impairments and is associated with macular degeneration, amblyopia, and dyslexia. Crucially, the maximal target–flanker spacing required for the crowding interference (critical spacing) increases with eccentricity. This spacing is also larger when target and flankers appear along the horizontal meridian (radial arrangement) than when the flankers appear above and below the target (tangential arrangement). This phenomenon is known as radial–tangential anisotropy. Previous studies have demonstrated that transient attention can reduce crowding interference; however, it is still unclear whether and how attention interacts with radial–tangential anisotropy. To address this issue, we manipulated transient attention by using a cue at either the target (valid) or the fixation (neutral) location, in both radial and tangential target–flanker arrangements. Results showed that critical spacing was larger in the radial than in the tangential arrangement and that cueing the target location improved performance and reduced the critical spacing for both radial and tangential arrangements to the same extent. Together, our findings suggest that transient spatial attention plays an essential role in crowding but not in radial–tangential anisotropy.
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