The influence of a salient distractor in object-substitution masking

Wieske van Zoest*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


It remains unclear whether a salient distractor directly affects performance accuracy and the perceptual resolution of a target. In order to investigate this issue, the present study employed object substitution masking (OSM) to index perceptual hypothesis testing of a target. Trailing-mask duration of the four-dot mask was varied to investigate how the representation of the masked target decayed over time. Participants responded to the presence of a vertical line on a target ring that was isolated by a four-dot mask while an irrelevant salient distractor was presented in a subset of trials. The results revealed that the salient distractor only impacted performance when the mask and target offset concurrently (Experiment 1) or at short mask durations (Experiment 2). At longer mask durations performance in the distractor present condition was identical to performance in the distractor absent condition, suggesting that involuntary capture of attention did not affect OSM. These results show that the perceptual resolution of a masked target can operate independently of involuntary attentional selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-414
Number of pages16
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2013


  • Attention
  • Distractor
  • Masking
  • Object substitution
  • Perceptual resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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