Contrast dissimilarity effects on crowding are not simply another case of target saliency

Einat Rashal, Yaffa Yeshurun

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Previous studies have shown crowding alleviation when target and flankers similarity is reduced. However, in the case of contrast dissimilarity, the findings were inconsistent. This study examined the effect of stimulus contrast, particularly contrast dissimilarity, on both overall performance under crowded conditions and the critical distance-the spatial extent of crowding. To this end, we measured orientation identification of a rotated T presented with and without flankers. Target contrast was either the same as the flankers or different: higher in Experiment 1 and lower in Experiment 2. Experiment 3 investigated the hypothesis that higher target contrast reduces crowding through attraction of attention to the salient target. Thus, this experiment included orthogonal manipulations of transient attention, via attentional precues, and contrast. The results show reduced crowding effects-better performance and smaller critical distance- when target contrast was higher than its flankers and increased crowding effects when target contrastwas lower. In addition, the effects of attention did not interact with those of contrast, suggesting that the effect of high target contrast is not solely due to attraction of attention. Our results suggest that contrast dissimilarity effects reflect a differential contribution of the target and flankers to the faulty integration process underlying crowding.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


  • Attention
  • Contrast
  • Critical distance
  • Crowding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Ophthalmology

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