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Sarah J. Waugh, Monika A. Formankiewicz; Grouping Effects on Foveal Spatial Interactions in Children. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(5):23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.5.23.
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Grouping of flankers from the target can modulate crowding in adults. Visual acuity in children is measured clinically using charts with targets and different flankers to enhance spatial interactions. We investigated grouping effects on interactions using visual acuity letters, flanked by contours and letters, in children.
Visual acuity for isolated and flanked letters was measured in 155 three- to 11-year old children and 32 adults. Flankers were one stroke width from the target and were a box or four bars and black or red letters. Magnitudes of interaction were flanked minus isolated logMAR acuities. Psychometric function slopes were also examined.
Magnitudes of interaction by contours did not change significantly with age. They were 0.047 ± 0.014 logMAR more with bars than a box. Interaction from flanking letters reduced with age, adults being not different from 9- to 11-year-olds for black and red letter surrounds. It was weaker by 0.033 ± 0.013 logMAR when a black letter was surrounded by red rather than black letters. Psychometric function slopes for visual acuity were steepest for the youngest children (3–5 years).
For contour and letter flankers, grouping effects on interaction magnitude are age independent. Grouping bars into a box forming a single object reduces magnitude of effect. Grouping letter flankers by color and ungrouping them from the target reduce interaction magnitude by ∼8%, suggesting that luminance-defined form dominates. Differently colored letter flankers of high-luminance contrast on acuity charts could draw attention to the target but retain significant interaction strength.
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