Effects of contrast polarity in paracontrast masking
Attention, Perception & Psychophysics
Springer New York
1576 - 1587
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The visibility of a target stimulus can be suppressed (inhibition) or increased (facilitation) during paracontrast masking. Three processes have been proposed to be involved in paracontrast masking: brief inhibition, facilitation, and prolonged inhibition (Breitmeyer et al., 2006). Brief inhibition is observed when the mask precedes the target at short stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) ranging from -10 to -30 msec, whereas prolonged inhibition is effective up to very large SOAs of -450 msec. Facilitation, enhancement in target visibility, can be observed at SOA values between -20 and -110 msec. We further investigated these processes by changing target-mask spatial separation and the contrast polarity of the mask. Our results show that (1) facilitation weakens when spatial separation between the target and mask is increased or when they have opposite contrast polarity, and (2) brief inhibition turns into facilitation for the opposite-polarity mask, whereas prolonged inhibition does not change significantly. These results suggest a fast inhibition mechanism realized in the contrast-specific center-surround antagonism of classical receptive fields for brief inhibition and a slower, higher level cortical processing that is indifferent to contrast polarity for prolonged inhibition.