August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
The effects of visual backward masking on visual spatiotemporal dynamics
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Siying Xie
    Freie Universität Berlin
  • Daniel Kaiser
    Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
    Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior (CMBB), Philipps-Universität Marburg and Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
  • Johannes Singer
    Freie Universität Berlin
  • Radoslaw Cichy
    Freie Universität Berlin
    Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
    Einstein Center for Neurosciences Berlin, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin
    Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  R.C. is supported by German Research Foundation grants (DFG, CI241/1-1, CI241/3-1, CI241/7-1) and a European Research Council Starting Grant (ERC-2018-StG). D.K. is supported by the DFG grants (SFB/TRR135 – INST162/567-1) and “The Adaptive Mind”.
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 4711. doi:
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Siying Xie, Daniel Kaiser, Johannes Singer, Radoslaw Cichy; The effects of visual backward masking on visual spatiotemporal dynamics. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):4711.

      Download citation file:

      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Disentangling the neural computations performed through feedforward and feedback information flow in visual processing is challenging. Backward masking is an efficient experimental approach for this purpose, as it effectively interferes with reentrant feedback processing but leaves feedforward processing relatively intact. We used backward masking to dissect the spatiotemporal flow of visual information in the human brain. We briefly presented natural objects which were followed by a dynamic visual mask to participants. The mask could appear shortly after the object (16.7ms), resulting in low visibility, or with a substantial delay (600ms), resulting in high visibility of the object. We performed multivariate analysis on EEG (n=32) and fMRI (n=27) data to characterize temporal and spatial object representations in these two visibility conditions. While visual representations changed rapidly in time for both conditions, object information could be better decoded at later time points in the high than in the low visibility condition. To assess the temporal stability of the representation, we used time-generalization analysis. We observed less generalization and stronger pattern dynamics across time in the low compared to the high visibility condition. This suggests that backward masking fundamentally alters the visual recurrent processing in time. Furthermore, we combined fMRI and EEG responses using representational fusion to assess information flow in space and time simultaneously. While backward masking did not alter neural dynamics in the early visual cortex, we observed a decreased correspondence between EEG responses and the lateral occipital complex in later processing stages (i.e., from around 400ms on). This suggests a difference in recurrent processing at object-selective stages of the visual hierarchy due to efficient backward masking. Overall, our results characterize how feedforward and feedback information flow mediate visual object processing.


This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.