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Paul Dux, Ashleigh Kelly; Different attentional blink tasks reflect distinct information processing limitations: An individual differences approach. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1329. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.1329.
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To study the temporal dynamics and capacity-limits of attentional selection and encoding researchers often employ the attentional blink (AB) phenomenon: Subjects’ impaired ability to report the second of two targets in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream they appear within 200-500ms of one another. The AB has now been the subject of hundreds of scientific investigations and a variety of different dual-target RSVP paradigms have been employed to study this failure of consciousness. The three most common are those where targets are defined categorically from distractors (e.g., report the letter targets that appear amongst digit distractors), those where target definition is based on featural information (e.g., report the red coloured targets that appear amongst the black distractors) and those where there is a set switch between T1 and T2 with the first target typically being featurally defined and T2 requiring a detection or discrimination judgement based on identity or category membership (probe task). An almost universally held assumption across all AB theories is that these three types of task measure the same deficit. Here, across two experiments using large samples and an individual differences approach, we tested this assumption. Subjects performed a variety of AB tasks and all were reliable (test-retest. However, while the ABs found in tasks without a T1-T2 set switch (e.g., featural and categorical AB tasks) and those with a T1-T2 set switch correlated with one another, no relationship in AB magnitude was observed between the these two groups of tasks. Thus, AB paradigms with and without T1-T2 set switches appear to reflect distinct cognitive limitations, suggesting that there are multiple bottlenecks in human information processing that limit temporal attention.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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