September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Individual differences in attention switching speeds predict the magnitude of the attentional blink.
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Matthew S. Peterson
    Psychology, George Mason University
    Neuroscience, George Mason University
  • Eric L Russell
    Psychology, George Mason University
  • Erika De Los Santos
    Psychology, George Mason University
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 108c. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.108c
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      Matthew S. Peterson, Eric L Russell, Erika De Los Santos; Individual differences in attention switching speeds predict the magnitude of the attentional blink.. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):108c. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.108c.

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

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Abstract

The attentional blink is a deficit in reporting the second of two targets, and peaks roughly 200–300 ms after the onset of the first target. Only a small proportion of individuals, sometimes known as non-blinkers, fail to show an attentional blink. One possible explanation for the attentional blink is that it is due to a delay in switching attention from processing the first target to processing the second. We used shifts of spatial attention as a proxy measure of attention switching speed. We based our task on that used by Peterson & Juola (2000), in which 3 RSVP streams are presented simultaneously, with precues indicating the likely spatial locations of T1 and T2. This allowed us to have separate measures of the attentional blink (both targets occurring in the same RSVP stream) and spatial shifting (targets occurring in separate streams). At the group level, our results are indistinguishable from the results of Peterson & Juola (2000), with accuracy for both tasks being nearly identical for every lag except for lag 1. However, individual differences tell a different story. We found that the magnitude of the attentional blink predicted spatial shifting speed, with low blinkers showing quicker shifts of spatial attention. In addition, blink magnitude predicted lag-1 sparing, with high-blinkers showing lag-1 sparing, and low-blinkers showing a lag-1 cost. In addition, switching speed predicted Lag-1 sparing, with fast-shifters showing little or no lag-1 sparing in the AB task. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that the attentional blink may be driven by the speed at which an individual can switch attention from one task to another.

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