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Karen Arnell, Shawn Stubitz; Attentional blink magnitude is predicted by the ability to keep irrelevant material out of working memory. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):200. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.7.200.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Participants have difficulty reporting the second of two masked targets if this second target is presented within 500 ms of the first target – an Attentional Blink (AB). Even unselected, healthy, young participants differ in the magnitude of their AB. Previous studies (Arnell, Stokes, MacLean & Gicante, 2010; Colzato, Spape, Pannebakker, – Hommel, 2007) have shown that individual differences in working memory performance using the OSPAN task can predict individual differences in AB magnitude where individuals with higher OSPAN scores show smaller ABs. Working memory performance also predicts AB magnitude over and above more capacity based memory measures which are unrelated to the AB (Arnell et al., 2010). Why might working memory performance predict the AB? One possibility is that individuals showing smaller ABs are better able to keep irrelevant information out of working memory. The present study employed an individual differences design, an AB task, and two visual working memory tasks to examine whether the ability to exclude irrelevant information from visual working memory (working memory filtering efficiency) could predict individual differences in the AB. Visual working memory capacity was positively related to filtering efficiency, but did not predict AB magnitude. However, the degree to which irrelevant stimuli were admitted into visual working memory (i.e., poor filtering efficiency) was positively correlated with AB magnitude over and above visual working memory capacity such that good filtering efficiency was associated with smaller ABs. Good filtering efficiency may benefit AB performance by not allowing irrelevant RSVP distractors to gain access to working memory.
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