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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 55, Iss. 5 — May. 1, 1965
  • pp: 541–559

Temporal and Spatial Visual Masking. I. Masking by Impulse Flashes

GEORGE SPERLING  »View Author Affiliations


JOSA, Vol. 55, Issue 5, pp. 541-559 (1965)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSA.55.000541


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Abstract

Masking is defined as the change in threshold energy eT*(τ) of a test stimulus T induced by a masking stimulus M of energy eM as a function of the relative time τ of occurrence. Masking is maximum when T and M occur simultaneously. A slight decrease in threshold for tests preceding the masking impulse by about 0.1 sec was explained as an alteration in appearance of the subsequent masking flash by a "subthreshold" test flash. Impulse-contrast threshold eT*/eM was investigated for masking impulses M of seven different energies superimposed on five backgrounds B. The increases in test threshold caused by M and by B were found to be independent and a modified Weber’s law (adjusted contrast threshold Cδ*≍0.1) held approximately. This conclusion was supported in a supplementary investigation of Cδ* using a category-rating-scale method.

Impulse masking results were applied to predicting the masking peak at the onset of a long flash by treating the first 60 msec as an impulse. The lowering of thresholds of tests delayed in a long masking flash implied other detection mechanisms (e.g., temporal resolution). Theoretical predictions accounted for 94% and 97% of the variance in two relevant experiments, correctly predicting the effect of masking-flash duration and of background intensity.

In both steady and intermittent light, masking is attributed primarily to fast processes (time constant «1 sec) which presumably have a neural rather than a photochemical basis.

Citation
GEORGE SPERLING, "Temporal and Spatial Visual Masking. I. Masking by Impulse Flashes," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 55, 541-559 (1965)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/josa/abstract.cfm?URI=josa-55-5-541

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