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Paul Dux, René Marois; Individual differences in distractor priming during the attentional blink: Distractor inhibition gives rise to awareness. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):7. doi: 10.1167/8.6.7.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The attentional blink (AB) refers to subject's impaired ability to detect the second of two targets (T2) in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream of distractors if it appears within 200–600 ms of the first target (T1). As is the case with many cognitive tasks, there are large individual differences in AB magnitude. Here we show that a key determinant of this variability is the extent to which subjects are able to inhibit distractors in the RSVP stream. Distractor inhibition was assessed by measuring the extent to which T2 was primed from a distractor presented within the AB. We found that while subjects with small ABs displayed negative priming (i.e. worse performance on T2 when it was preceded by a distractor stimulus that shared its identity), subjects with greater AB magnitude instead displayed positive priming (T2 performance improved by the presence of a preceding distractor stimulus with the same identity). These findings demonstrate that distractor inhibition plays a vital role in the conscious perception of stimuli distributed across time and have strong implications for theories of the AB.
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