September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Do Non-Target Emotional Stimuli Modulate the Attentional Blink?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lindsay A Santacroce
    Department of Psychology, University of Houston
  • Nathan Petro
    Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska Lincoln
  • Christopher Walker
    Department of Psychology, University of Houston
  • Benjamin J Tamber-Rosenau
    Department of Psychology, University of Houston
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 17b. doi:
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      Lindsay A Santacroce, Nathan Petro, Christopher Walker, Benjamin J Tamber-Rosenau; Do Non-Target Emotional Stimuli Modulate the Attentional Blink?. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):17b. doi:

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

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In the attentional blink (AB), the second of two targets separated by a short lag in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream is difficult to report. Researchers have reported two kinds of emotional interactions with the AB: First, the AB is modulated when one of the targets itself has emotional valence. Second, AB modulation is obtained when just one target among neutral distractors is in close proximity to a to-be-ignored emotional stimulus (critical distractor item; CDI). However, previous studies have yet to examine whether the addition of a valenced CDI can modulate the “classic” two-target AB. Here, participants were presented with RSVP streams of neutral words that included two targets as well as a pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant CDI immediately following the first target, i.e., with a variable lag to the second target. In Experiment 1, valenced word CDIs did not modulate the AB. Experiment 2 aimed to increase the salience of the CDIs by replacing them with similarly-sized images, but still showed no effect of valence on the AB. Experiment 3 aimed to further increase the CDIs’ salience by enlarging the size of the images to full-screen. Here, CDI valence had an effect on the AB, where participants performed better when the CDIs were neutral, compared to both pleasant and unpleasant. Bayesian analyses support a Valence×Lag interaction in Experiment 3, but show substantial support for equivalence of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant CDIs in Experiments 1 and 2. The results suggest that emotional stimuli must be attended (as targets or as highly salient items) in order for their valence to have an effect on the AB. Future experiments will test if the modality shift in Experiments 2 and 3 (word RSVP with image CDIs) makes attending to salient images less likely by using images for all RSVP items.


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