Thursday, March 17, 2005

Visual Crowding in Faces and Words - Implications for Dyslexia and Autism

The authors emphasize a different point in their title, but this article provides a good example of 'visual crowding' which affects people with dyslexia as well as those with brain-based visual pathway injury and those with autism spectrum disorders. We've excerpted the sample below, but if you don't like putting your nose up to the computer screen, check out the figure in the full paper below.

Come in close the screen and stare at the black square. What you may see is that it is easier to see the R on the right than the R which is crowded in between A & E on the left. The face also causes a crowding effect so that it is easier to see the mouth on the right than when it is surround by other facial features. The point to note is that visual crowding is a normal perceptual phenomenon for everybody in their peripheral field - but in other situations like those mentioned above, crowding effects take place in the center of your vision.

Some kids we see with dyslexia (and some parents with dyslexia) can't see all the letters in long words at once because of visual crowding. If they cover part of it, then they can see all the letters bit-by-bit. This same phenomena happens with faces - and this accounts for why some people with 'face blindness' can eventually 'put together the pieces' of who someone is, but don't automatically take in the whole face at once.

Visual Crowding

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