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Yuhong V. Jiang, Khena M. Swallow; An overview of the attentional boost effect. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):143. doi: 10.1167/10.7.143.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We report a series of studies on a new attentional phenomenon: the attentional boost effect, and relate it to perceptual learning, dual-task interference, and event perception. The attentional boost effect is the surprising finding that when two continuous tasks are performed concurrently, a transient increase in attention to one task enhances, rather than impairs, performance in another task. In the standard paradigm our participants encoded a series of scenes presented at 500 ms/item into memory while simultaneously monitoring an unrelated stream of letters (also presented at 500 ms/item) for an occasional target (e.g., a red X among other colored letters). Previous studies have shown that attention to the letter task transiently increases when a target is detected relative to when a distractor is rejected. Instead of producing dual-task interference, however, performance on the scene encoding task was enhanced by target detection: Memory for scenes that were encoded when the target letter appeared was significantly better than memory for scenes presented before or after the target letter. The attentional boost effect contrasts with the majority of the dual-task performance and attention literature, showing that increasing attention to one task can trigger an attentional process that supplements, rather than impairs, performance on a second task. We report experiments that illustrate the generality of the attentional boost effect across different sensory modalities, different primary tasks, and different time scales (e.g., perceptual processing, long-term memory). We also relate and differentiate this effect to other attentional and memory phenomena such as the attentional blink, temporal grouping, memory isolation effects, and perceptual learning.
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