Emergent features break the rules of crowding

Melnik, Natalia; Coates, Daniel R.; Sayim, Bilge (2020). Emergent features break the rules of crowding. Scientific reports, 10(1), p. 406. Springer Nature 10.1038/s41598-019-57277-y

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Crowding is the deleterious influence of surrounding objects (flankers) on target identification. A central rule of crowding is that it is stronger when the target and the flankers are similar. Here, we show in three experiments how emergent features break this rule. Observers identified targets with various emergent features consisting of a pair of adjacent chevrons either pointing in opposite (‘Diamonds’ and ‘Xs’), or the same (both up or down) directions. Targets were flanked by Diamonds or Xs, resulting in conditions with different levels of target-flanker similarity. Despite high target-flanker similarity, Diamonds were identified better than Xs when flanked by Diamonds. Participants’ judgments of target conspicuity, however, showed that Diamonds were not perceived to stand out more strongly from X than Diamond flankers. Next, we asked observers to indicate whether all presented items were identical. We found superior performance with all Diamonds compared to all Xs, indicating that display uniformity judgments benefitted from the emergent features of Diamonds. Our results showed that emergent features and the information content of the entire display strongly modulated crowding. We suggest that conventional crowding rules only hold when target and flankers are artificially constrained to be mutually independent.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Melnik, Natalia; Coates, Daniel Robert and Sayim, Bilge

Subjects:

100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology

ISSN:

2045-2322

Publisher:

Springer Nature

Funders:

[4] Swiss National Science Foundation

Language:

English

Submitter:

Natalia Melnik

Date Deposited:

22 Jan 2020 14:41

Last Modified:

27 May 2020 08:55

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41598-019-57277-y

PubMed ID:

31941984

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.139135

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/139135

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