Masked-target recovery requires focused attention on the target object

Geoffrey Woodman, Do Joon Yi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Flashing a homogeneous light mask after the presentation of a masked target reduces the deleterious effects of the mask, a phenomenon often called target recovery. Target recovery has been studied using masking paradigms in which a target object is presented in isolation prior to the presentation of a mask, thus capturing attention. In the present study, we examined whether target recovery is possible when a target does not benefit from attentional capture. We hypothesized that target recovery would be eliminated when a target must compete with distractors for perceptual attention. Replicating classic studies, we observed target recovery when pattern and light masks followed an isolated target. However, target recovery was not observed when a light mask followed a masked visual search target. Furthermore, using an attentional-capture paradigm we found that sudden onset search targets were recoverable whereas nononset targets were not. The present findings indicate that attentional capture by a target prior to masking plays a critical role in the subsequent recovery of the target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-401
Number of pages17
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Please address all correspondence to Geoffrey F. Woodman, Department of Psychology, Wilson Hall, 111 21st Avenue South, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37240-1103, USA. E-mail: The research described here was made possible by a National Research Service Award from the National Eye Institute to GFW (F32 NEI015043), and a Vanderbilt University Discovery Grant. We thank Marvin Chun, Jeffrey Schall, and Timothy McNamara for invaluable support.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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