August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Does stress increase or decrease attentional resource? The effect of acute stress on attentional blink
Author Affiliations
  • Jun Kawahara
    National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
  • Hirotsune Sato
    University of Tsukuba
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 1338. doi:
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      Jun Kawahara, Hirotsune Sato; Does stress increase or decrease attentional resource? The effect of acute stress on attentional blink. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1338.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The notion of attention as a limited resource has been generally accepted. The finding that perception of a second target is impaired after short inter-target lags when two targets are presented in rapid succession supports this position. This phenomenon "attentional blink" is thought to occur because processing the first target deprives attentional resources, leaving no resources for processing the second target when the lag is short. Similarly, acute stress has been viewed as resource consuming by perspectives on stress research that underscore similar capacity approaches. Thus, questions about whether processing a target embedded in a rapid serial presentation and acute stress drain a common attentional resource arise. The present study examined this question by manipulating inter-target lag and stress. The resource-depletion theories involving attentional blink predict an increased blink effect, whereas the overinvestment view predicts a decreased blink. Participants identified two targets embedded in a rapid stream of nontargets separated by variable numbers of intervening nontargets (lags of 100-700 ms). Participants in the stress group received the Trier Social Stress Test, which generates speech anxiety and threatens self-esteem. The control group received a filler task. The stress induction successfully increased scores on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and levels of salivary cortisol from before to after stress induction. Both groups exhibited attentional blink: accurate identification of the second target was impaired at shorter lags. The effect of lag interacted with the stress manipulation. Participants in the stress group demonstrated greater attentional blink relative to those in the control group. The present results are consistent with resource theories, rather than with the overinvestment view. The results suggest that target identification and stress drain the same attentional resource, resulting in increased attentional blink under stress.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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