A mask in cognitive psychology refers to a visual stimulus that interferes with the processing of another visual stimulus. Masks are commonly used in experiments to study the mechanisms of visual perception and attention.
Types of Masks
There are several types of masks used in cognitive psychology experiments, including:
- Backward Mask: A mask that appears after a Target stimulus.
- Forward Mask: A mask that appears before a Target stimulus.
- Pattern Mask: A mask that consists of a complex pattern, which can interfere with the processing of a simple Target stimulus.
- Noise Mask: A mask made up of random visual elements, which can interfere with the processing of a Target stimulus.
How Masks are Used in Experiments
Masks are often used in experiments to study various aspects of visual perception and attention. For example, researchers may use masks to investigate:
- The duration and limits of visual sensory memory.
- The effects of attentional load on early visual processing.
- The neural mechanisms involved in conscious awareness.
An Example Experiment
To illustrate how masks are used in cognitive psychology experiments, consider the following example:
Researchers present participants with a sequence of visual stimuli consisting of letters or numbers. The Target stimulus is presented briefly and followed immediately by a backward mask. Participants must indicate which letter or number was presented as quickly and accurately as possible.
By varying the duration between the Target stimulus and the mask, researchers can investigate how long participants retain information about the Target. They can also manipulate the type and complexity of the mask to study how different types of interference affect performance.
In conclusion, a mask in cognitive psychology refers to a visual stimulus that interferes with the processing of another visual stimulus. By manipulating the type and timing of masks, researchers can investigate various aspects of human cognition, including sensory memory, attention, and conscious awareness.