Category effect in visual crowding = feature differences + overlap differences

Josephine Reuther, Ramakrishna Chakravarthi

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Recognition of an object in the periphery is negatively influenced by other objects in close proximity. This crowding effect is modulated by the similarity between such adjacent objects. The more similar the objects’ features are (e.g., shape or spatial frequency), the stronger the crowding between the objects is. Recent evidence seems to suggest that this similarity effect extends to higher level properties of objects, such as their category membership: objects belonging to the same category crowd more than those belonging to different categories. In three experiments, we take a closer look at this alleged higher-level interaction in crowding while controlling for various low-level attributes. We find that the ‘category’ effect is observed when there are featural differences between target and flankers or when there is substantial overlap between the two (target and flanker) stimulus sets; whereas the effect completely disappears when both are controlled for. We conclude that the effect cannot be attributed to object category, but can be reduced to low-level differences such as featural differences and differences in target- and distracter-set overlap. Based on these findings, we recommend caution when claiming the existence of higher-level interactions in crowding.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventThe Scottish Vision Group (SVG) Meeting 2015 - Carnoustie Golf Hotel, Carnoustie, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Mar 201522 Mar 2015
Conference number: 15


ConferenceThe Scottish Vision Group (SVG) Meeting 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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