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Mark A. Williams, Troy A. W. Visser, Ross Cunnington, Jason B. Mattingley; Activation of primary visual cortex during the Attentional Blink. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):1014. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/6.6.1014.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When two targets are presented in rapid succession, identification of the first target is nearly perfect while identification of the second is severely impaired at shorter inter-target lags, and then gradually improves as lag increases. This second-target deficit is known as the attentional blink (AB). Numerous studies have implicated competition for access to higher-order processing mechanisms as the primary cause of the AB. However, few studies have directly examined how the AB modulates activity in specific brain areas. To this end, we used fMRI to measure activation in the occipital cortex during an AB task. Participants were presented with an initial target of oriented line segments embedded in a central stream of letter distractors. This central target was followed 100 – 700 ms later by a peripheral ‘X’ at one of four locations along with three ‘+’ distractors. All peripheral items were presented in the centre of a small field of moving dots. Participants made non-speeded judgments about gabor orientation and the location of the second target at the end of a trial. The results showed a robust AB characterised by a linear improvement in second-target accuracy as lag increased. This pattern of behavioural results was mirrored by changes in activation patterns across a number of visual areas indicating robust modulation of brain activity by the AB.
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