When crowding of crowding leads to uncrowding

J Vis. 2013 Nov 8;13(13):10. doi: 10.1167/13.13.10.


In object recognition, features are thought to be processed in a hierarchical fashion from low-level analysis (edges and lines) to complex figural processing (shapes and objects). Here, we show that figural processing determines low-level processing. Vernier offset discrimination strongly deteriorated when we embedded a vernier in a square. This is a classic crowding effect. Surprisingly, crowding almost disappeared when additional squares were added. We propose that figural interactions between the squares precede low-level suppression of the vernier by the single square, contrary to hierarchical models of object recognition.

Keywords: contextual modulation; crowding; grouping; hierarchical processing; vernier acuity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Visual Fields