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Attentional priming releases crowding

  • Author(s): Kristjánsson, A
  • Heimisson, PR
  • Róbertsson, GF
  • Whitney, D
  • et al.
Abstract

Views of natural scenes unfold over time, and objects of interest that were present a moment ago tend to remain present. While visual crowding places a fundamental limit on object recognition in cluttered scenes, most studies of crowding have suffered from the limitation that they typically involved static scenes. The role of temporal continuity in crowding has therefore been unaddressed. We investigated intertrial effects upon crowding in visual scenes, showing that crowding is considerably diminished when objects remain constant on consecutive visual search trials. Repetition of both the target and distractors decreases the critical distance for crowding from flankers. More generally, our results show how object continuity through between-trial priming releases objects that would otherwise be unidentifiable due to crowding. Crowding, although it is a significant bottleneck on object recognition, can be mitigated by statistically likely temporal continuity of the objects. Crowding therefore depends not only on what is momentarily present, but also on what was previously attended. © 2013 Psychonomic Society, Inc.

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