Object substitution masking (OSM) occurs when the perceptibility of a brief target is reduced by a trailing surround mask typically composed of four dots. Camp et al. (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41, 940–957, 2015) found that crowding a target by adding adjacent flankers, in addition to OSM, had a more deleterious effect on performance than expected based on the combined individual effects of crowding and masking alone. The current experiments test why OSM and crowding interact in this way. In three experiments, target-flanker distance is manipulated whilst also varying mask duration in a digit identification task. The OSM effect—as indexed by the performance difference between unmasked and masked conditions—had a quadratic function with respect to target-flanker distance. Results suggest it is OSM affecting crowding rather than the converse: Masking seems to amplify crowding at intermediate target-distractor distances at the edge of the crowding interference zone. These results indicate that OSM and crowding share common mechanisms. The effect of OSM is possibly a consequence of changes to the types of feature detectors which are pooled together for target identification when that target must compete for processing with a trailing mask in addition to competition from adjacent flankers.
Camp, Sarah JaynePilling, MichaelGellatly, Angus
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health
Year of publication: 2017Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-12-18