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Thorsten Albrecht, Uwe Mattler; Individual differences in subjective experience and objective performance in metacontrast masking. Journal of Vision 2012;12(5):5. doi: 10.1167/12.5.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When participants discriminate stimuli that are masked by a following stimulus via metacontrast masking, stable individually different masking functions have been found despite identical stimulation conditions.In the present study, in one group of observers objective performance increased with increasing target-mask stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA), whereas in another group performance decreased with increasing SOA. In addition, a group of overachievers showed ceiling effects whereas a group of underachievers hardly exceeded chance levels of performance irrespective of SOA. The differences between observers' objective measures of performance correspond to differences in participants' phenomenological reports of subjective experience. This indicates that participants differ in their access to specific perceptual cues that they use spontaneously to solve the task. When we instructed participants to use only one specific cue, the instructed cue determined participants' objective performance considerably in two experiments. Nevertheless, masking functions remained similar with and without the cued instruction, and the effect of cues depended on the initial masking function of individuals. Findings suggest that individuals with different masking functions differ also in terms of phenomenology, used cues, and response strategy. The relation between subjective experience, reported usage of perceptual cues, and objective performance in the metacontrast masking task deserves further investigation.
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