Perception of a briefly presented target is impaired when a sparse surrounding mask (e.g., four-dot) persists after target offset compared to when the target and mask offset together (i.e., object substitution masking [OSM]). Previous studies have reported a mask preview effect in which OSM is largely attenuated by prior presentation of the mask. Here, we investigated how breaking object continuity of the previewed mask affects the mask preview effect. Introducing an abrupt surface color change of the previewed mask at target onset disrupted the beneficial effect of mask preview, that is, OSM was reinstated (Experiment 1). The masking induced by mask color change exhibited the same two characteristics as conventional OSM: target location specificity and non-necessity of voluntary attention to the mask (Experiment 2). These results suggest that a sudden change in surface color breaks object continuity of the previewed mask and causes the mask to be represented as a new one, which triggers OSM anew.
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