How the global layout of the mask influences masking strength
In visual backward masking, the perception of a target is influenced by a trailing mask. Masking is usually explained by local interactions between the target and the mask representations. However, recently it has been shown that the global spatial layout of the mask rather than its local structure determines masking strength (Hermens & Herzog, 2007). Here, we varied the mask layout by spatial, luminance, and temporal cues. We presented a vernier target followed by a mask with 25 elements. Performance deteriorated when the length of the two mask elements neighboring the target vernier was doubled. However, when the length of every second mask element was doubled, performance improved. When the luminance of the neighboring elements was doubled, performance also deteriorated but no improvement in performance was observed when every second element had a double luminance. For temporal manipulations, a complex nonmonotonic masking function was observed. Hence, changes in the mask layout by spatial, luminance, and temporal cues lead to highly different results.