Temporal Limitations in the Effective Binding of Attended Target Attributes in the Mutual Masking of Visual Objects

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The problem of feature binding has been examined under conditions of distributed attention or with spatially dispersed stimuli. We studied binding by asking whether selective attention to a feature of a masked object enables perceptual access to the other features of that object using conditions in which spatial attention was directed at a single location where all objects appeared. In an identification condition, the task required reporting the same property of each object. High rates of identification showed good perceptual availability. In a search condition, the task required reporting the property (e.g., shape) that was associated with a specific value of the searched property (e.g., surface texture) of the same object. Focusing of attention on a target's searched property value did not result in a high rate of identifying the target's other property, and strong object masking was found. Backward masking between spatially superimposed visual objects appears to be primarily due to a difficulty in feature binding of a target object rather than to a substitution of an integrated object by the following stimulus.

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