Constraints on letter-in-string identification in peripheral vision: effects of number of flankers and deployment of attention


  • Chanceaux Myriam
  • Grainger Jonathan


  • Letter perception
  • Crowding
  • Non-adjacent flankers
  • Number of flankers
  • Spatial attention

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Effects of non-adjacent flanking elements on crowding of letter stimuli were examined in experiments manipulating the number of flanking elements and the deployment of spatial attention.To this end, identification accuracy of single letters was compared with identification of letter targets surrounded by two, four, or six flanking elements placed symmetrically left and right of the target. Target stimuli were presented left or right of a central fixation, and appeared either unilaterally or with an equivalent number of characters in the contralat-eral visual field (bilateral presentation). Experiment 1A tested letter targets with random letter flankers, and Experiments 1B and 2 tested letter targets with Xs as flanking stimuli. The results revealed a number of flankers effect that extended beyond standard two-flanker crowding. Flanker interference was stronger with random letter flankers compared with homogeneous Xs, and performance was systematically better under unilateral presentation conditions compared with bilateral presentation. Furthermore, the difference between the zero-flanker and two-flanker conditions was significantly greater under bilateral presentation , whereas the difference between two-flankers and four-flankers did not differ across unilateral and bilateral presentation. The complete pattern of results can be captured by the independent contributions of excessive feature integration and deployment of spatial attention to letter-in-string visibility.

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