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Prof Joel B. Talcott - Aston University

N2 - Visual information is difficult to search and interpret when the density of the displayed information is high or the layout is chaotic. Visual information that exhibits such properties is generally referred to as being "cluttered." Clutter should be avoided in information visualizations and interface design in general because it can severely degrade task performance. Although previous studies have identified computable correlates of clutter (such as local feature variance and edge density), understanding of why humans perceive some scenes as being more cluttered than others remains limited. Here, we explore an account of clutter that is inspired by findings from visual perception studies. Specifically, we test the hypothesis that the so-called "crowding" phenomenon is an important constituent of clutter. We constructed an algorithm to predict visual clutter in arbitrary images by estimating the perceptual impairment due to crowding. After verifying that this model can reproduce crowding data we tested whether it can also predict clutter. We found that its predictions correlate well with both subjective clutter assessments and search performance in cluttered scenes. These results suggest that crowding and clutter may indeed be closely related concepts and suggest avenues for further research.

AB - Visual information is difficult to search and interpret when the density of the displayed information is high or the layout is chaotic. Visual information that exhibits such properties is generally referred to as being "cluttered." Clutter should be avoided in information visualizations and interface design in general because it can severely degrade task performance. Although previous studies have identified computable correlates of clutter (such as local feature variance and edge density), understanding of why humans perceive some scenes as being more cluttered than others remains limited. Here, we explore an account of clutter that is inspired by findings from visual perception studies. Specifically, we test the hypothesis that the so-called "crowding" phenomenon is an important constituent of clutter. We constructed an algorithm to predict visual clutter in arbitrary images by estimating the perceptual impairment due to crowding. After verifying that this model can reproduce crowding data we tested whether it can also predict clutter. We found that its predictions correlate well with both subjective clutter assessments and search performance in cluttered scenes. These results suggest that crowding and clutter may indeed be closely related concepts and suggest avenues for further research.

We tested this hypothesis by examining the relative effects of visual crowding and …

Aliens - Atomic Rockets - The Weird World of Winchell Chung

we test the hypothesis that the so-called "crowding" phenomenon is an important constituent of clutter.

The visual discrimination of targets in the periphery is strongly impaired by the presence of nearby distractors, a phenomenon that is called crowding (; ; ). Various studies have suggested that crowding impairs target discrimination because of excessive integration of target and distractor features (for a review, see ); this effect can be detected within an “integration zone” that extends outward from the target with a radius of about 0.5 of target eccentricity. Crowding remains strong even with highly over-learned visual discriminations. For example, reading rate is directly proportional to the strength of crowding (). The robust nature of crowding, however, does not preclude experience-dependent changes in this form of visual interference.

When written text is presented in experimental reading tasks, multiple researchers have found differences in perceptual span (i.e., the window of attention surrounding a central fixation point, in which visual information is likely to be encoded) and in oculomotor activity (i.e., saccadic movement) between people with different linguistic backgrounds, including readers of Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, or English languages (; ; ; ; ; ). For example, studies that measure oculomotor behavior found that when English and other similarly oriented alphabetic text (such as French or Dutch) is read, the range of characters that influences eye movements extends from the beginning of the fixated word to about 14–15 character spaces to the right and only 3–4 characters to the left. Thus, English readers exhibit a perceptual asymmetry that is biased towards the right visual field (). By contrast, when Israelis read right-to-left oriented Hebrew text, the perceptual asymmetry that emerges is to the left of fixation, indicating that written language orientation and reading direction influence the effective range of visual attention around fixation (). Interestingly, the inherent features of different linguistic scripts also appear to influence the size of the perceptual span and the degree of asymmetry: found that when horizontal Chinese text is read, the effective range of vision was only slightly asymmetric, extending 3 characters to the right of fixation and only 1 character to the left. The researchers hypothesized that this smaller and less asymmetric perceptual span occurs because Chinese uses a morphographic script with linguistic symbols that are often of greater density and complexity than the characters used in alphabetic languages such as English; further, the majority of Chinese words only use two characters, while English words are often longer, necessitating a wider perceptual span. It seems clear, in any case, that prolonged reading experience can have spatially specific effects on how text is processed.

However, emotional problems often arise because of it

Visual crowding occurs when stimuli become more difficult to either detect or discriminate when surrounded by other stimuli, compared to when they are presented in isolation. Crowding is a phenomenon that occurs in nearly every visual context. It can occur with simple stimuli - such as orientation gratings – and also with complex stimuli such as letters . Efficient allocation and control of visual attention can ameliorate the negative effects of crowding , , although Dakin, Bex, Cass and Watt have argued that crowding does not specifically reflect a limitation in attention. He, Cavanagh and Intriligator have provided alternative evidence from an orientation adaptation and discrimination task that suggests that it is attention – rather than visual acuity – that ultimately limits spatial resolution under normal circumstances . Several studies have suggested that persons with reading impairments such as dyslexia suffer more from crowding than do similarly aged control readers , –, . Research in this area, however, has mainly used letter or letter-like stimuli to investigate this hypothesis. Because dyslexia is also associated with deficits in recognition and processing of linguistic stimuli – including letters – it is difficult to adjudicate between effects linked to visual attention and those associated with processing the symbols of language in such tasks.

It is considered a cognitive disorder, not a problem with intelligence

Visual information is difficult to search and interpret when the density of the displayed information is high or the layout is chaotic. Visual information that exhibits such properties is generally referred to as being "cluttered." Clutter should be avoided in information visualizations and interface design in general because it can severely degrade task performance. Although previous studies have identified computable correlates of clutter (such as local feature variance and edge density), understanding of why humans perceive some scenes as being more cluttered than others remains limited. Here, we explore an account of clutter that is inspired by findings from visual perception studies. Specifically, we test the hypothesis that the so-called "crowding" phenomenon is an important constituent of clutter. We constructed an algorithm to predict visual clutter in arbitrary images by estimating the perceptual impairment due to crowding. After verifying that this model can reproduce crowding data we tested whether it can also predict clutter. We found that its predictions correlate well with both subjective clutter assessments and search performance in cluttered scenes. These results suggest that crowding and clutter may indeed be closely related concepts and suggest avenues for further research.

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Living in a Landscape of Fear: How Predators Impact an Ecosystem

The present studies examine whether reading experience can also have spatially specific effects on the strength of visual crowding. Specifically, we measured the accuracy with which digits could be discriminated either in the presence or absence of strong crowding from English letters. With these stimuli, we found pronounced effects of the observer’s experience with these stimuli. For observers who were monolingual English readers (with negligible experience reading other character sets), crowding effects were markedly stronger in the upper-left quadrant. However, for observers whose first language did not employ the characters of the English alphabet, crowding was strongest in the lower visual field (Experiments 1a and 1b). Our hypothesis that reading experience is the primary factor contributing to these two distinct patterns of visual crowding with alphanumeric stimuli is supported by the fact that in later studies, when unfamiliar non-linguistic stimuli were presented, these differences between language groups were no longer evident (Experiments 2a and 2b). Thus, these studies suggest that the topography of visual crowding from letters is strongly influenced by prior experience with those stimuli.

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