Peripheral vision is strongly limited by crowding, the deleterious influence of flanking items on target perception. Distinguishing what is seen from what is merely inferred in crowding is difficult because task demands and prior knowledge may influence observers’ reports. Here, we used a standard identification task in which participants were susceptible to these influences, and to minimize them, we used a free-report-and-drawing paradigm. Three letters were presented in the periphery. In Experiment 1, 10 participants were asked to identify the central target letter. In Experiment 2, 25 participants freely named and drew what they saw. When three identical letters were presented, performance was almost perfect in Experiment 1, but it was very poor in Experiment 2, in which most participants reported only two letters. Our study reveals limitations of standard crowding paradigms and uncovers a hitherto unrecognized effect that we call redundancy masking.
- visual perception