Visual crowding effect in the parvocellular and magnocellular visual pathways

Nilsu Atilgan, Seung Min Yu, Sheng He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The crowding effect, defined as the detrimental effects of nearby items on visual object recognition, has been extensively investigated. Previous studies have primarily focused on finding the stage(s) in the visual hierarchy where crowding starts to limit target processing, while little attention has been focused on potential differences between the parvocellular (P) and magnocellular (M) pathways in crowding mechanisms. Here, we investigated the crowding effect in these parallel visual pathways. In Experiment 1, stimuli were designed to separately engage the P or M pathway, by tuning stimulus and background features (e.g., temporal frequency and color) to activate the targeted pathway and saturate the other pathway, respectively. Results showed that at the same eccentricity and with the same tasks, targets processed in the M pathway appeared to be more vulnerable to crowding effect. In Experiment 2, crowding effects were studied using three different types of stimuli and visual tasks (form, color, and motion), presumably with different degrees of dependence on the P and M pathways. Results revealed that color, motion, and form discrimination were increasingly more affected by crowding. We conclude that processing in the M and P pathways are differentially impacted by crowding; and importantly, crowding seems to affect processing of spatial forms more than other stimulus properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number86
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors.


  • Color
  • Crowding
  • Motion
  • Parallel visual pathways
  • Temporal frequency

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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