OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Vol. 17, Iss. 9 — Sep. 1, 2000
  • pp: 1516–1524

Contour interaction in fovea and periphery

Robert F. Hess, Steven C. Dakin, Neil Kapoor, and Marc Tewfik  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 17, Issue 9, pp. 1516-1524 (2000)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (294 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



It has been known for some time that both foveal and peripheral visual acuity are higher for single letters than for letters in a row. Early work showed that this was due to the destructive interaction of adjacent contours (termed contour interaction). It has been assumed to have a neural basis, and a number of competing explanations have been advanced that implicate either high-level or low-level stages of visual processing. Our previous results for foveal vision suggested a much simpler explanation, one determined primarily by the physics of the stimulus rather than the physiology of the visual system. We show that, under conditions of contour interaction or crowding, the most relevant physical spatial-frequency band of the letter is displaced to higher spatial frequencies and that foveal vision tracks this change in spatial scale. In the periphery, however, beyond 5°, the physical explanation is not sufficient. Here we show that there are genuine physiological lateral spatial interactions, which are due to changes in the spatial scale of analysis.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(330.1070) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision - acuity
(330.5020) Vision, color, and visual optics : Perception psychology
(330.6110) Vision, color, and visual optics : Spatial filtering
(330.6130) Vision, color, and visual optics : Spatial resolution

Original Manuscript: September 21, 1999
Revised Manuscript: May 10, 2000
Manuscript Accepted: May 10, 2000
Published: September 1, 2000

Robert F. Hess, Steven C. Dakin, Neil Kapoor, and Marc Tewfik, "Contour interaction in fovea and periphery," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 17, 1516-1524 (2000)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. P. Muller, “Über das Schen der Amblyopen,” Ophthalmologica 121, 143–149 (1951). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. M. C. Flom, F. W. Weymouth, D. Kahneman, “Visual resolution and contour interaction,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 53, 1026–1032 (1963). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. J. M. Loomis, “Lateral masking in foveal and eccentric vision,” Vision Res. 18, 335–338 (1978). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. H. Strasburger, L. O. Harvey, I. Rentschler, “Contrast thresholds for the identification of numeric charters in direct and eccentric view,” Percept. Psychophys. 49, 495–508 (1991). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. R. J. Jacobs, “Visual resolution and contour interaction in the fovea and periphery,” Vision Res. 19, 1187–1195 (1979). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. M. C. Flom, G. Heath, E. Takahashi, “Crowding interaction and visual resolution: contralateral effects,” Science 142, 979–980 (1963). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. W. K. Estes, D. H. Allmeyer, S. M. Reder, “Serial position functions for letter identification at brief and extended exposure periods,” Percept. Psychophys. 19, 1–15 (1976). [CrossRef]
  8. M. C. Flom, “Contour interaction and the crowding effect,” Prob. Optom. 3, 237–257 (1991).
  9. A. J. Simmers, L. S. Gray, P. V. McGraw, B. Winn, “Contour interaction for high and low contrast optotypes in normal and amblyopic observers,” Ophthalmic Physiol. Opt. 19, 253–260 (1999). [CrossRef]
  10. J. Wagner, “Experimentelle Beitrage zur Psychologie des Lesens,” Z. Psychol. 80, 1–75 (1918).
  11. C. D. Gilbert, T. N. Wiesel, “Columnar specificity of intrinsic horizontal and corticocortical connections in cat visual cortex,” J. Neurosci. 9, 2432–2442 (1989). [PubMed]
  12. D. Y. T’so, C. D. Gilbert, “The organization of chromatic and spatial interactions in the primate striate cortex,” J. Neurosci. 8, 1712–1727 (1988).
  13. R. F. Hess, S. C. Dakin, N. Kapoor, “Foveal contour interaction: physics or physiology?” Vision Res. 20, 365–370 (2000). [CrossRef]
  14. S. J. Leat, K. Epp, “Crowding in central and eccentric vision: the effects of contour interaction and attention,” Invest. Ophthalmol. Visual Sci. 40, 504–512 (1999).
  15. D. H. Brainard, “The psychophysics toolbox,” Spatial Vision 10, 433–446 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  16. D. G. Pelli, L. Zhang, “Accurate control of contrast on microcomputer displays,” Vision Res. 31, 1337–1347 (1991). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  17. R. N. Bracewell, The Fourier Transform and Its Applications (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1965).
  18. V. M. Bondarko, M. V. Danilova, “What spatial frequencies do we use to detect the orientation of a Landolt C?” Vision Res. 37, 2153–2156 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  19. F. L. Kooi, A. Toet, S. P. Tripathy, D. M. Levi, “The effect of similarity and duration on spatial interactions in peripheral vision,” Spatial Vis. 8, 255–279 (1994). [CrossRef]
  20. F. W. Campbell, D. G. Green, “Optical and retinal factors affecting visual resolution,” J. Physiol. (London) 181, 576–593 (1965).
  21. J. S. Pointer, R. F. Hess, “The contrast sensitivity gradient across the human visual field: emphasis on the low spatial frequency range,” Vision Res. 29, 1133–1151 (1989). [CrossRef]
  22. R. F. Hess, S. C. Dakin, “Contour integration in the peripheral field,” Vision Res. 39, 947–959 (1999). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  23. R. F. Hess, A. Hayes, “The coding of spatial position by the human visual system: effects of spatial scale and retinal eccentricity,” Vision Res. 34, 625–643 (1994). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited