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Evan Livesey, Irina Harris, Justin Harris; Implicit learning and the attentional blink. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):159. doi: 10.1167/9.8.159.
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A series of experiments are described in which participants performed two simultaneous tasks; a dual-target detection task in which a sequence of letter targets and distractors were presented in rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP), and a reaction time task requiring participants to respond to a cue presented immediately after the RSVP sequence. Under these RSVP conditions, it is usually difficult to identify the second target when it is presented in close temporal proximity of the first target, a phenomenon known as the attentional blink. However, here, participants showed an advantage for detecting a target presented during the attentional blink if that target signaled the presentation of the response cue. Participants also showed faster reaction times on trials with a predictive target. Both of these effects were independent of conscious knowledge of the target-response contingencies assessed by post-experiment questionnaires. The results suggest that implicit learning of the association between a predictive target and its outcome can automatically facilitate target recognition during the attentional blink, and therefore shed new light on the relationship between learning and attentional mechanisms.
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