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Interaction between stimulus contrast and pre-saccadic crowding


Objects that are briefly flashed around the time of saccades are mislocalized. Previously, robust interactions between saccadic perceptual distortions and stimulus contrast have been reported. It is also known that crowding depends on the contrast of the target and flankers. Here, we investigated how stimulus contrast and crowding interact with pre-saccadic perception. We asked observers to report the orientation of a tilted Gabor presented in the periphery, with or without four flanking vertically oriented Gabors. Observers performed the task either following a saccade or while maintaining fixation. Contrasts of the target and flankers were independently set to either high or low, with equal probability. In both the fixation and saccade conditions, the flanked conditions resulted in worse discrimination performance-the crowding effect. In the unflanked saccade trials, performance significantly decreased with target-to-saccade onset for low-contrast targets but not for high-contrast targets. In the presence of flankers, impending saccades reduced performance only for low-contrast, but not for high-contrast flankers. Interestingly, average performance in the fixation and saccade conditions was mostly similar in all contrast conditions. Moreover, the magnitude of crowding was influenced by saccades only when the target had high contrast and the flankers had low contrasts. Overall, our results are consistent with modulation of perisaccadic spatial localization by contrast and saccadic suppression, but at odds with a recent report of pre-saccadic release of crowding.

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