Crowding increases with eccentricity, and is most readily observed in the periphery. During natural, active vision however, central vision plays an important role. Measures of critical distance to estimate crowding are difficult in central vision, as these distances are small. Any overlap of flankers with the target may create an overlay masking confound. The crowding factor method avoids this issue by simultaneously modulating target size and flanker distance and using a ratio to compare crowded to uncrowded conditions. This method was developed and applied in the periphery (Petrov & Meleshkevich, 2011a). In this work, we apply the method to characterize crowding in parafoveal vision (< 3.5 visual degrees) with spatial uncertainty. We find that eccentricity and hemifield have less impact on crowding than in the periphery, yet radial/tangential asymmetries are clearly preserved. There are considerable idiosyncratic differences observed between participants. The crowding factor method provides a powerful tool for examining crowding in central and peripheral vision, which will be useful in future studies that seek to understand visual processing under natural, active viewing conditions.
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