Why is it difficult to pick out even a familiar face in a crowd? We all experience this, but the phenomenon has been poorly understood until now. The results of a recent study may have implications for individuals with face-recognition disorders and visual-attention related ailments — and eventually could help scientists develop an artificial visual system that approaches the sophistication of human visual perception.
The study is part of the recently completed Journal of Vision (www.journalofvision.org) special issue titled “Crowding: Including illusory conjunctions, surround suppression, and attention” (www.journalofvision.org/7/2). “Crowding” is a failure to recognize an individual object in a cluttered environment. It may be due to one of the shortcuts our brains use to help us make sense of the vast amount of visual information we take in every second.
This special issue contains 25 articles devoted exclusively to crowding and related topics. Other noteworthy studies include “Effect of letter spacing on visual span and reading speed” which links reading speed to the number of letters we can recognize without moving our eyes. The impact of contrast and character size on reading speed is examined in “The case for the visual span as a sensory bottleneck in reading.”
The authors conducted five experiments to measure participants’ recognition of a familiar face or house that was located in a crowded display of other faces or houses. They found that face recognition is more difficult when target faces are surrounded by upright faces (as seen in crowds). This effect was not present for images of houses, or when upside-down faces were used as targets. The results indicate that searching for a face in a crowd is difficult in part because images of upright faces interfere with each other.
This kind of crowding is well documented in simple features, such as slanted lines or edges. But faces are a complex stimulus. Many researchers believe the importance of faces in our lives lend them special status in the brain: they are processed not as a collection of these lines and edges, as many objects are, but holistically, as a single image. The authors in this study were the first to show that crowding also occurs for these high-level stimuli.
“Crowding may reveal one of the fundamental mechanisms the visual system uses to consolidate or filter a great deal of information into a very few meaningful chunks,” explained Dr. Whitney. “If vision scientists and engineers are to develop an efficient and realistic artificial visual system, they will almost certainly benefit from using the human visual system as a model. An understanding of the visual system’s heuristics, shortcuts and limitations — such as crowding — will likely prove essential in designing effective artificial vision.”
Joanne Olson | EurekAlert!
Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News