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The itinerant strong sustain discharge that occurs during a sustain period over a few minutes causes image sticking, which means a ghost image remains in the subsequent image when the previous image was continuously displayed over a few minutes. Accordingly, this paper investigates whether the dominant factor in image sticking is the MgO surface or phosphor layer by testing the effects of image sticking in subsequent dark and bright images using a 42-in plasma display panel. When the subsequent image was dark, the image sticking was found to produce a brighter ghost image than the background. Thus, since the luminance of a dark image is produced by the weak discharge that occurs during the reset-period, the higher luminance of the ghost image was mainly due to the activation of the MgO surface. Conversely, when the subsequent image was bright, the image sticking was found to produce a darker ghost image than the background. Thus, since the luminance of a bright image is predominantly produced by the strong discharge that occurs during the sustain period, the lower luminance of the ghost image was mainly due to the deterioration of the phosphor layer.