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Elena Gorbunova, Maria Falikman; Word Superiority within the Attentional Blink. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):203. doi: 10.1167/10.7.203.
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There is enough evidence of word superiority effects (WSE) on letter processing under various masked presentation conditions, including forward, backward, metacontrast and lateral masking. However, there are indications that without focused attention there might be no word superiority (e.g. Pantyushkov, Horowitz, & Falikman, 2008). The question remains whether the WSE would improve performance for stimuli lacking attention, e.g. due to the attentional blink (AB). Previously, we've observed a sort of the WSE on the AB (Falikman, 2002), but for words presented letter-by-letter, with at least some letters presumably safe from the AB. Here, we studied the influence of a simultaneously presented word context on the letter target processing within the AB. In a rapid serial visual presentation procedure, observers were presented with strings consisting of five identical digits, among which two strings of letters were embedded. After each trial, participants reported the central letter of each letter string using the 2AFC procedure for the 1st and for the 2nd letter in order. The 1st target was always flanked by identical letters, whereas the 2nd target (the probe) was embedded in the string of letters forming a 5-letter nonpronunceable nonword, a pronounceable pseudoword, or a Russian word, in which the middle letter could be replaced with another letter, as in the Reicher-Wheeler paradigm (e.g. river-rider). For probes embedded in nonwords, a standard AB was obtained. For probe letters embedded in words, there was no AB, the result that might be considered a word-superiority effect. For pseudowords, the probe performance within the AB was better than with nonwords, but in general still poorer than with words. Thus, word superiority shown might be partly, but not entirely explained by the closest familiar context set by letters flanking the probe. Supported by RFBR, grant #08-06-00171-a.
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