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Percept Psychophys. 2002 Oct;64(7):1028-38.

Attend to it now or lose it forever: selective attention, metacontrast masking, and object substitution.

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Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Metacontrast masking occurs when the visibility of a brief target stimulus is decreased by the subsequent appearance of another nearby visual stimulus. Early explanations of the phenomenon involved low-level mechanisms, but subsequent studies have suggested a role for selective attention. The results of three experiments presented here extend previous findings to the metacontrast paradigm. It is shown that the strength of metacontrast masking increases with the number of distractor items in a display, decreases when the target location is validly but not invalidly precued, and is eliminated when search for the target is efficient (pop-out search) but not when search is inefficient (serial search). A connection between metacontrast masking and object substitution masking is considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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