Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
After prolonged fixation, a stationary object placed in the peripheral visual field fades and disappears from our visual awareness, especially at low luminance contrast (the Troxler effect). Here, we report that similar fading can be triggered by visual transients, such as additional visual stimuli flashed near the object, apparent motion, or a brief removal of the object itself (blinking). The fading occurs even without prolonged adaptation and is time-locked to the presentation of the visual transients. Experiments show that the effect of a flashed object decreased monotonically as a function of the distance from the target object. Consistent with this result, when apparent motion, consisting of a sequence of flashes was presented between stationary disks, these target disks perceptually disappeared as if erased by the moving object. Blinking the target disk, instead of flashing an additional visual object, turned out to be sufficient to induce the fading. The effect of blinking peaked around a blink duration of 80 msec. Our findings reveal a unique mechanism that controls the visibility of visual objects in a spatially selective and time-locked manner in response to transient visual inputs. Possible mechanisms underlying this phenomenon will be discussed.