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2007 | 3 | 1-2 | 241-255

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Temporal processes in prime–mask interaction: Assessing perceptual consequences of masked information


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Visual backward masking is frequently used to study the temporal dynamics of visual perception. These dynamics may include the temporal features of conscious percepts, as suggested, for instance, by the asynchronous-updating model (Neumann, 1982) and perceptual-re-touch theory (Bachmann, 1994). These models predict that the perceptual latency of a visual backward mask is shorter than that of a like reference stimulus that was not preceded by a masked stimulus. The prediction has been confirmed by studies using temporal-order judgments: For certain asynchronies between mask and reference stimulus, temporal-order reversals are quite frequent (e.g. Scharlau, & Neumann, 2003a). However, it may be argued that these reversals were due to a response bias in favour of the mask rather than true temporal-perceptual effects. I introduce two measures for assessing latency effects that (1) are not prone to such a response bias, (2) allow to quantify the latency gain, and (3) extend the perceptual evidence from order reversals to duration/interval perception, that is, demonstrate that the perceived interval between a mask and a reference stimulus may be shortened as well as prolonged by the presence of a masked stimulus. Consequences for theories of visual masking such as asynchronous-updating, perceptual-retouch, and reentrant models are discussed.








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  • Department of Psychology, Bielefeld University, Germany


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