The present work examined discrimination accuracy for targets that were presented either alone in the visual field (clean displays) or embedded within a dense array of letter distractors (crowded displays). The strength of visual crowding varied strongly across the four quadrants of the visual field. Furthermore, this spatial bias in crowding was strongly influenced by the observers' prior experience with specific distractor stimuli. Observers who were monolingual readers of English experienced amplified crowding in the upper-left quadrant, while subjects with primary reading skills in Korean, Chinese, or Japanese tended towards worse target discrimination in the lower visual field. This interaction with language experience was eliminated when non-alphanumeric stimuli were employed as distractors, suggesting that prior reading experience induced a stimulus-specific change in the topography of visual crowding from English letters.
- Experience dependent