Object substitution masking and the object updating hypothesis

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Object substitution masking (OSM) is a recent discovery in the field of visual masking and is an ideal tool for exploring questions about visual awareness because it selectively impairs the extent to which an individual becomes conscious of a visual stimulus without the extent of image-level degradation that other forms of visual masking induce.

It was first documented in the late 19th century that the presentation of a stimulus (the mask) has the potential to interfere with the perception of a prior target stimulus when they share a common spatial location and that this impairment provides a metric of the time taken to recognize the target item (Baxt, ).There exists a long and rich history in experimental psychology of using visual masking to explore such issues.Visual masking refers to conditions where the visibility of one to-be-reported visual stimulus (the target) is obscured by the presentation of another stimulus (the mask) that appears in close spatiotemporal proximity and does not require report.When observing a visual scene, at any point in time, we are conscious of only a small fraction of the available information.Given this limitation, it is important to understand the mechanisms that determine what stimuli we become conscious of, when we become conscious of them, and the nature of processing that occurs in the absence of explicit awareness.

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