Response selection modulates crowding

a cautionary tale for invoking top-down explanations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Object recognition in the periphery is limited by clutter. This phenomenon of visual crowding is ameliorated when the objects are dissimilar. This effect of inter-object similarity has been extensively studied for low-level features and is thought to reflect bottom-up processes. Recently, crowding was also found to be reduced when objects belonged to explicitly distinct groups; that is, crowding was weak when they had low group membership similarity. It has been claimed that top-down knowledge is necessary to explain this effect of group membership, implying that the effect of similarity on crowding cannot be a purely bottom-up process. We tested the claim that the effect of group membership relies on knowledge in two experiments and found that neither explicit knowledge about differences in group membership nor the possibility of acquiring knowledge about target identities is necessary to produce the effects. These results suggest that top-down processes need not be invoked to explain the effect of group membership. Instead, we suggest that differences in flanker reportability that emerge from the differences in group membership are the source of the effect. That is, when targets and flankers are sampled from distinct groups, flankers cannot be inadvertently reported, leading to fewer errors and
hence weaker crowding. Further, we argue that this effect arises at the stage of response selection. This conclusion is well supported by an analytical model based on these principles. We conclude that previously observed effects in crowding attributed to top-down or higher level processes might instead
be due to post-perceptual response selection strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Sep 2019

Fingerprint

group membership
Top-down
Group
experiment
knowledge
Bottom-up

Keywords

  • object recognition
  • crowding
  • knowledge
  • similarity
  • top-down
  • bottom-up
  • response selection

Cite this

@article{19f1a393b630411d92773320e06db5c7,
title = "Response selection modulates crowding: a cautionary tale for invoking top-down explanations",
abstract = "Object recognition in the periphery is limited by clutter. This phenomenon of visual crowding is ameliorated when the objects are dissimilar. This effect of inter-object similarity has been extensively studied for low-level features and is thought to reflect bottom-up processes. Recently, crowding was also found to be reduced when objects belonged to explicitly distinct groups; that is, crowding was weak when they had low group membership similarity. It has been claimed that top-down knowledge is necessary to explain this effect of group membership, implying that the effect of similarity on crowding cannot be a purely bottom-up process. We tested the claim that the effect of group membership relies on knowledge in two experiments and found that neither explicit knowledge about differences in group membership nor the possibility of acquiring knowledge about target identities is necessary to produce the effects. These results suggest that top-down processes need not be invoked to explain the effect of group membership. Instead, we suggest that differences in flanker reportability that emerge from the differences in group membership are the source of the effect. That is, when targets and flankers are sampled from distinct groups, flankers cannot be inadvertently reported, leading to fewer errors andhence weaker crowding. Further, we argue that this effect arises at the stage of response selection. This conclusion is well supported by an analytical model based on these principles. We conclude that previously observed effects in crowding attributed to top-down or higher level processes might insteadbe due to post-perceptual response selection strategies.",
keywords = "object recognition, crowding, knowledge, similarity, top-down, bottom-up, response selection",
author = "Josephine Reuther and Ramakrishna Chakravarthi",
note = "Open Access via the Springer Compact Agreement Neither the data of experiment 1 or 2 are available, since consent given at the time of data collection lacked a corresponding statement. Only the experiment in the supplementary material was registered on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/xchya/).",
year = "2019",
month = "9",
day = "10",
doi = "10.3758/s13414-019-01891-5",
language = "English",
journal = "Attention, Perception & Psychophysics",
issn = "1943-3921",
publisher = "Springer New York",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Response selection modulates crowding

T2 - a cautionary tale for invoking top-down explanations

AU - Reuther, Josephine

AU - Chakravarthi, Ramakrishna

N1 - Open Access via the Springer Compact Agreement Neither the data of experiment 1 or 2 are available, since consent given at the time of data collection lacked a corresponding statement. Only the experiment in the supplementary material was registered on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/xchya/).

PY - 2019/9/10

Y1 - 2019/9/10

N2 - Object recognition in the periphery is limited by clutter. This phenomenon of visual crowding is ameliorated when the objects are dissimilar. This effect of inter-object similarity has been extensively studied for low-level features and is thought to reflect bottom-up processes. Recently, crowding was also found to be reduced when objects belonged to explicitly distinct groups; that is, crowding was weak when they had low group membership similarity. It has been claimed that top-down knowledge is necessary to explain this effect of group membership, implying that the effect of similarity on crowding cannot be a purely bottom-up process. We tested the claim that the effect of group membership relies on knowledge in two experiments and found that neither explicit knowledge about differences in group membership nor the possibility of acquiring knowledge about target identities is necessary to produce the effects. These results suggest that top-down processes need not be invoked to explain the effect of group membership. Instead, we suggest that differences in flanker reportability that emerge from the differences in group membership are the source of the effect. That is, when targets and flankers are sampled from distinct groups, flankers cannot be inadvertently reported, leading to fewer errors andhence weaker crowding. Further, we argue that this effect arises at the stage of response selection. This conclusion is well supported by an analytical model based on these principles. We conclude that previously observed effects in crowding attributed to top-down or higher level processes might insteadbe due to post-perceptual response selection strategies.

AB - Object recognition in the periphery is limited by clutter. This phenomenon of visual crowding is ameliorated when the objects are dissimilar. This effect of inter-object similarity has been extensively studied for low-level features and is thought to reflect bottom-up processes. Recently, crowding was also found to be reduced when objects belonged to explicitly distinct groups; that is, crowding was weak when they had low group membership similarity. It has been claimed that top-down knowledge is necessary to explain this effect of group membership, implying that the effect of similarity on crowding cannot be a purely bottom-up process. We tested the claim that the effect of group membership relies on knowledge in two experiments and found that neither explicit knowledge about differences in group membership nor the possibility of acquiring knowledge about target identities is necessary to produce the effects. These results suggest that top-down processes need not be invoked to explain the effect of group membership. Instead, we suggest that differences in flanker reportability that emerge from the differences in group membership are the source of the effect. That is, when targets and flankers are sampled from distinct groups, flankers cannot be inadvertently reported, leading to fewer errors andhence weaker crowding. Further, we argue that this effect arises at the stage of response selection. This conclusion is well supported by an analytical model based on these principles. We conclude that previously observed effects in crowding attributed to top-down or higher level processes might insteadbe due to post-perceptual response selection strategies.

KW - object recognition

KW - crowding

KW - knowledge

KW - similarity

KW - top-down

KW - bottom-up

KW - response selection

U2 - 10.3758/s13414-019-01891-5

DO - 10.3758/s13414-019-01891-5

M3 - Article

JO - Attention, Perception & Psychophysics

JF - Attention, Perception & Psychophysics

SN - 1943-3921

ER -