Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Faces in the Crowd

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Faces in the Crowd

Article excerpt

VISUAL IDENTIFICATION

Farzin et al. (2009). Holistic crowding of Mooney faces. J Vis, 9(6), Art. 18.

It is much harder to identify a letter in the peripheral visual field if the letter is surrounded by other letters than if it occurs alone. This effect is called crowding, and it seems to be quite distinct from ordinary visual masking (Pelli et al., 2004, J Vis 4:1136). Whereas a target is rendered less visible by an ordinary mask, this is not the case with crowding. A crowded target is as easy to detect as an uncrowded one; however, it is harder to identify. The current thinking about crowding favors the view that in peripheral vision, the mechanisms that sense the features of a target do a poor job of localizing those features in space. As a result, vision has no way to disentangle the features of the target from those of the other figures crowding it, creating a visual jumble. This account presupposes that a twostage process is required to identify a peripheral target: (1) the target and its features must be detected, and (2) the features of the target must be correctly bound to it.

A Mooney (1957, Can J Psychol 11:216) face is a type of stimulus whose identification resists this characterization. Such a face is created by taking a monochrome photograph of a real face, thresholding it (making all pixels darker than a given level black, and all other pixels white), cutting it out, and centering it in an ellipse. …

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