Contrast polarity differences reduce crowding but do not benefit reading performance in peripheral vision

Vision Res. 2009 Nov;49(23):2782-9. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2009.08.013. Epub 2009 Aug 18.


Previous studies have shown that the spatial extent of crowding in peripheral vision is reduced when a target letter and its flanking letters have opposite contrast polarity. We have examined if this reduction in crowding leads to improved reading performance. We compared the spatial extent of crowding, visual-span profiles (plots of letter-recognition accuracy versus letter position), and reading speed at 10 degrees inferior visual field, using white letters, black letters, or mixtures of white and black letters, presented on a mid-gray background. Consistent with previous studies, the spatial extent of crowding was reduced when the target and flanking letters had opposite contrast polarity. However, using mixed contrast polarity did not lead to improvements in visual-span profiles or reading speed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Field Dependence-Independence*
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychophysics
  • Reading*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*
  • Young Adult