Age-related changes in crowding and reading speed

Academic Article


  • © 2017 The Author(s). Crowding, the inability to recognize objects in clutter, is known to play a role in developmental changes in reading speed. Here, we investigated whether crowding also plays a role in age-related changes in reading speed. We recruited 18 young (mean age: 22.6 ± 3.5; range: 18~31) and 21 older adults (mean age: 58.2 ± 7.0; range: 50~73) with normal vision. Reading speed was measured with short blocks of text. The degree of crowding was determined by measuring crowding zone (the distance between a target and flankers required to yield a criterion recognition accuracy) and the size of the visual span (an uncrowded window in the visual field within which letters can be recognizable reliably). Measurements were made across the central 16-degree visual field using letter-recognition tasks. Our results showed that, compared to young adults, older adults exhibited significantly slower reading speed (a decrease by 30%) and larger crowding: an enlargement of crowding zone (an increase by 31%) and shrinkage of the visual span (a decrease by 6.25 bits). We also observed significant correlations between reading speed and each of the crowding measures. Our results suggest that crowding increases with age. Age-related changes in crowding may in part explain slower reading in older adults.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Scientific Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Liu R; Patel BN; Kwon MY
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 1