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Trafton Drew, Edward K. Vogel; Repeated masks are less effective. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):75. doi: 10.1167/5.8.75.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When a target is immediately followed by an irrelevant stimulus, it is generally harder to accurately report than when it is presented in isolation. The concept of using target masks is pervasive, yet the underlying mechanisms that predict the efficacy of a particular masking stimulus are still not fully understood. For example, what happens when a target mask is repeated? We investigated this question using a simple target detection task. Subjects were asked to pick a target out of a circular array of 7 other non-targets. The target array was preceded and followed by a circular array of random letters. On half of the trials, the distractor arrays were identical before and after the target. On the other half, both masks were novel. We found a benefit of repeated masks. That is, target detection was significantly better when the trial repeated the same mask twice as compared to trials when there were two novel masks. Under certain circumstances, repeated stimuli have been found to be more difficult to perceive (repetition blindness, Kanwisher, 1987) while under others there is a clear benefit for seeing the same thing twice (repetition priming, Henson et al, 2000). It is not yet clear whether the current results are due to participants being primed to the mask or ‘blind’ to it and it is possible that the same mechanisms may actually underlie both of these processes.
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