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Christian Olivers, Frederic Hilkenmeier, Martijn Meeter, Ingrid Scharlau; Boosting back to the future: Explaining order reversals in the attentional blink. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):199. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.7.199.
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The second of two targets (T2) is often missed when it follows the first (T1) within 500 ms in a rapid stream of distractors– a finding referred to as the attentional blink. No attentional blink occurs when T2 immediately follows T1, at lag 1. Intriguingly, T2 is then often reported before T1, even though it occurs 100 ms later. These order reversals have been attributed to limited-capacity episodic representations within which order is completely lost. We provide evidence that order reversals are instead due to prior entry: T1 causes an attentional enhancement that is beneficial to T2 and speeds up its processing. This predicts that order reversals should be reduced when T1 itself is enhanced, e.g. by a cue. Conversely, order reversals should increase when T2 is cued instead. These predictions are borne out by the results. Moreover, the observers that exhibited the greatest shift in performance between T1 and T2 also showed the greatest change in the number of order reversals. These results support the theory that an attentional boost rather than deficit underlies order reversals, lag-1 sparing, and the attentional blink.
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