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Spat Vis. 1994;8(2):255-79.

The effect of similarity and duration on spatial interaction in peripheral vision.

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TNO Institute for Human Factors, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.


Spatial interactions are extensive in the peripheral visual field, extending up to about half the retinal eccentricity of the target (Toet and Levi, Vision Res. 32, 1349-1357, 1992). In the present study it is shown that the degree and extent of peripheral spatial interaction depends in large measure on the similarity between test and flanking stimuli. The stimulus consisted of a test T surrounded by four distracting flanking Ts, each randomly oriented. The task was to determine the orientation of the test T. The test and flanking Ts differed in contrast polarity, shape, depth, color, eye of origin, or contrast. When the target and flanks differed in contrast polarity, depth, or shape, performance improved markedly for all observers. A color difference enhanced the performance of most but not all observers. Eye-of-origin had no effect, that is, spatial interaction was identical when the target and flanks were presented to the same eye, or to opposite eyes. The role of stimulus duration in spatial interaction was examined in two additional experiments. In the first, the stimulus viewing duration was increased in order to allow the observer time to serially search for the test T. In the second experiment, a postmask was presented at the location of the test T. The results of these experiments showed that the influence of similarity was independent of stimulus duration and the postmask, and suggest that serial search does not play an important role in the spatial interaction effects reported here. The extent of spatial interaction is correlated with the ability to do parallel search.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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