Number of flankers influences foveal crowding and contour interaction differently

František Pluháček, Lenka Musilová, Harold E. Bedell, John Siderov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Nearby flanking objects degrade visual resolution. If the flankers are similar to the acuity target, this influence is called crowding (CW), whereas if the flanking stimuli are simple bars then the phenomenon is known as contour interaction (CI). The aim of this study was to compare the influence of the number and position of flankers on foveal CW and CI to investigate possible differences in mechanism of these two effects.
Five normal observers viewed single, foveally presented Sloan letters surrounded by 1, 2 or 4 flankers (either a Sloan letter or one-stroke-width bars), presented at several edge-to-edge separations. Single flankers were presented in the right, left, top or bottom position, 2 flankers were placed equally to the right and left or top and bottom of the central target, and 4 flankers were equally spaced in all four directions. Percent correct letter identification was determined for each type, number, position and separation of flankers and confusion matrices were constructed for separations equal to 20% and 100% letter width. Increasing the number of flankers caused an increase in the magnitude of both phenomena. CW showed a greater magnitude than CI for higher numbers of flankers. Analysis of confusion matrices suggests that in addition to the edge-to-edge interaction that appears to mediate CI, letter substitution and feature pooling contribute significantly to CW when higher numbers of flankers are presented. Foveal CW is more strongly influenced by an increase in the number of flankers than CI, which can be explained by the presence of additional interaction effects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVision Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 Nov 2020

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