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Shahab Ghorashi, Daniel Smilek, Vincent Di Lollo; Information about a spatial cue survives the attentional blink. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):107. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/5.8.107.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
If two targets are presented in rapid sequence, the first target (T1) is usually perceived easily and accurately. Identification of the second target (T2), however, is impaired while the system is busy processing T1. This second-target deficit, known as the attentional blink (AB), is most pronounced at short inter-target lags and decreases rapidly, vanishing at lags beyond about 700 ms. A question asked in several earlier studies is whether all aspects of the blinked items are lost, or whether some information is preserved during the period of inattention that is the hallmark of the AB. In the present study, we asked whether information about a spatial cue presented after T1 but before T2 can survive the AB. To this end, we used a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) of distractor items consisting of black upper-case letters. Inserted in the stream of distractors were a white letter (T1) and a search array (T2). The search array contained 11 rotated Ls on an imaginary clock face, as distractors, and the letter T - tilted either to the left or to the right - as the target. The observers' task was to report the white letter, and then to decide whether the T was tilted to the left or to the right. T2 could appear at lag-1, lag-3, or lag-7 (90, 270, or 630 ms after the onset of T1). In Experiment 1, we used a 100% informative cue (a small square patch) to signal the location of the tilted T. This cue always appeared at the same time as the item (either T1 or a distractor) preceding T2. In Experiment 2, we used the same cue but this time it was non-informative. In both experiments, we obtained a significant AB deficit and, more importantly, a significant facilitatory effect of the cue. These results show that information about a spatial cue can survive the AB.
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