Pilling M, Gellatly A, 2009, "Target visibility in the standing wave illusion: Is mask – target shape similarity important?" Perception 38(1) 5 – 16
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Target visibility in the standing wave illusion: Is mask – target shape similarity important?
Michael Pilling, Angus Gellatly
Received 5 March 2006, in revised form 15 July 2008; published online 23 December 2008
Abstract. The perceptibility of a flickering central bar can be dramatically reduced by the presence of two flanking bars presented in counterphase. This phenomenon, known as the ‘standing wave illusion’, has been suggested to involve local edge interactions (Macknik et al, 2000 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 97 7556 – 7560). High-level re-entrant mechanisms have also been implicated. Enns (2002, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 9 489 – 496) reports an association between the reported viability of the centre bar and its similarity in shape with the flanking bars. We find that this relationship between shape similarity and reported visibility seems to be contingent on the degree of experienced apparent motion. When target duration is shortened, so reducing apparent motion, reports of visibility reflect the amount of abutting contour. In a further experiment we find that luminance discriminations of the centre bar are related to the amount of abutting contour not to shape similarity. This is despite experiment 3 being conducted at stimulus durations for which experiment 2 visibility ratings indicated that shape similarity is important and contour is not. We suggest that this perceived motion may be the factor mediating shape ‘effects’ in the reported visibility task. We propose that the absence of such shape effects in the discrimination task may be because the task provides an objective measure of visibility that is immune to bias from perceived motion. We also speculate that while target luminance information may be immune to masking resulting from perceived motion, it may be subject to masking due to lateral inhibition.
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