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M. L. Lawson, S. G. Crewther, P. M. Kiely, D. P. Crewther; Development of the attentional blink in relation to cognitive and short-term memory development. Journal of Vision 2001;1(3):218. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/1.3.218.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The Attentional Blink (AB) refers to the refractory period (300–400msec) following a prescribed visual identification during which the performance of a second task is impaired. We aimed to study the development of the attentional blink in 41 primary school age children (7 – 12) in relation to other developmental measures including reading, Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (Colour) and a computer-based visual digit-span test. Eight adult subjects, aged between 19 and 50, provided an estimate of adult performance on the same AB task. Prior to beginning the AB experiment, all subjects viewed rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) sequences requiring single letter identification, and the presentation rate was adjusted for 80% accuracy. This presentation rate was retained for the remainder of the experiment. For the AB trials, the subject was asked to identify both a target letter (red amongst black letters) and to detect a probe item (letter X) in the sequence following the target. The post-target presentation time for the probe item was varied according the an adaptive threshold procedure yielding a threshold of 79% accuracy. Overall, the results showed a considerably longer AB duration for younger participants (M = 2.19 sec) than adult subjects (M = 0.624 sec). Furthermore, AB duration showed a significant negative, although weak, correlation with Raven's performance (p < 0.05, r = −0.430). No significant correlations were observed between AB duration and other variables tested (including chronological age). The results suggest that children have greater difficulty in dynamic temporal processing tasks than do adult subjects. As participants were equilibrated with respect to single letter accuracy, the effect could be interpreted in terms of improvement in the dual attention task inherent in the AB. The lack of strong correlation between AB duration and digit span performance suggests that the two tasks tap different aspects of visual short-term memory.
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