The effects of shape crowding on grasping Academic Article uri icon


  • Crowding refers to the deleterious effect of nearby objects on the identification of a target in the peripheral visual field. A recent study (Chen, Sperandio, & Goodale, 2015) showed that when a three-dimensional (3D) disk was crowded by disks of different sizes, participants could scale their grip aperture to the size of the target, even when they could not perceive its size. It is still unclear, however, whether or not grasping can also escape to some degree the crowding of other object features, such as shape. To test this, we presented 3D rectangular blocks in isolation or crowded by other blocks in the periphery. The target and flanking blocks had the same surface area but different dimensions. Participants were required either to grasp the target block across its width or to estimate its width. We found that, consistent with what we observed earlier with size, participants can also scale their grasp to the width of the target block even when they could not perceive its width. To further explore whether or not the effect of crowding on grasping depends on how proficient people are with their right hand, we had right-handed participants perform the same test but with their left hand. We found that left-hand grasping did not escape the crowding effect on shape perception at all. Taken together, our results suggest that people can also use invisible shape information to guide actions and that this ability depends on the proficiency of the action.

publication date

  • 2015