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Stephen Johnston, Kimron Shapiro; Working memory and the AB: Disscociable effects of working memory mainenance and scanning operations. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):504. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.504.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The limitation in the temporal availability of attentional resources is most commonly studied using the attentional blink (‘AB’; Raymond et al, 1992) paradigm. The AB paradigm requires participants to identify or detect the presence of two targets separated by only a short temporal interval, often as part of a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP). The common finding is that if the second target (T2) occurs within 500ms of the first (T1) it is often missed or incorrectly identified. The inability to perform the T2 task has been linked most consistently to a failing at the level of working memory (WM) as a result of insufficient attentional resources. However, studies that have examined the impact of concurrent WM maintenance operations on the AB have so far failed to find any interaction. In the current study we attempted to find an interaction of WM and the AB using a different WM operation which we term ‘memory scanning’. The participants' T1 task was to match either one or three items from a WM array to the first target (match/no-match); the T2 task was to detect the presence of an ‘X’. The results show that as the number of potential matches increases, so does the size of the attentional blink. To further dissociate the results of this ‘memory scanning’ operation from those previously found for maintenance operations we created a second experiment where both WM maintenance and memory scanning operations could be examined. The results show that whilst maintenance operations impact on overall T2 performance, only memory scanning operations impact on the AB itself. These results are explained in terms of the shared resources between WM and the AB.
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