Object Substitution Masking Induced by Illusory Masks: Evidence for Higher Object-Level Locus of Interference

Nobuyuki Hirose, Naoyuki Osaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A briefly presented target can be rendered invisible by a lingering sparse mask that does not even touch it. This form of visual backward masking, called object substitution masking, is thought to occur at the object level of processing. However, it remains unclear whether object-level interference alone produces substitution masking because previous studies manipulated only the presence or absence of a physical masking stimulus after the removal of the target, leaving the possibility of some image-level interference contributing to the total masking. To assess object-level interference in the present study, we used an illusory-contour figure as an object mask, adjacent to the possible target locations, which was created by rotating 4 previewed inducers shaped like Pac-Man to face inward to form a subjective square region. The illusory object persisting beyond the target offset reduced the visibility of the target only when presented in its immediate vicinity. This masking effect could not be attributed to the local directional changes, symmetry, or perceptual closure of the inducers near the target. These results provide strong evidence for a high-level locus of interference in object substitution masking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-938
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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