Spreading the sparing: against a limited-capacity account of the attentional blink

  title={Spreading the sparing: against a limited-capacity account of the attentional blink},
  author={Christian N. L. Olivers and Stefan Van der Stigchel and Johan Hulleman},
  journal={Psychological Research},
The identification of the second of two targets presented in close succession is often impaired—a phenomenon referred to as the attentional blink. Extending earlier work (Di Lollo, Kawahara, Ghorashi, and Enns, in Psychological Research 69:191–200, 2005), the present study shows that increasing the number of targets in the stream can lead to remarkable improvements as long as there are no intervening distractors. In addition, items may even recover from an already induced blink whenever they… 

The attentional blink: A review of data and theory

  • P. DuxR. Marois
  • Psychology, Biology
    Attention, perception & psychophysics
  • 2009
It is concluded that the attentional blink arises from attentional demands of Tl for selection, working memory encoding, episodic registration, and response selection, which prevents this high-level central resource from being applied to T2 at shortT1-T2 lags.

An attentional blink for sequentially presented targets: Evidence in favor of resource depletion accounts

The present study shows that an AB is observed for successive targets from the same attentional set in an RSVP stream when the first target powerfully captures attention, and suggests that resource depletion contributes significantly to the AB.

The attentional blink: a structural or strategic limitation of the attentional system?

The Attentional Blink could be considered as a blind spot in perceptual awareness. This phenomenon results in a marked difficulty to identify the second of two sequential targets, that are presented

Sparing from the attentional blink is not spared from structural limitations

Three recently introduced computational models are examined that provide different explanations of this protracted sparing effect of RSVP and the candidate mechanisms that might underlie these limitations are compared.

Target sparing effects in the attentional blink depend on type of stimulus

It is shown that the type of stimulus used in rapid serial visual presentation streams has a significant effect on the extent of lag-1 sparing, without a commensurate influence on the AB, and that multiple consecutive targets produce strikingly different patterns of sparing for objects and letters.

Negative attentional set in the attentional blink: control is not lost

Findings demonstrate that a negative attentional set is maintained even though the central system is engaged in the in-depth processing of T1 during the AB, and whether its influence is modulated by task demands.

On the failure of distractor inhibition in the attentional blink

The results demonstrate that the distractor repetition effect is dependent on attention, and that a failure to inhibit distractors contributes to the AB.

On the failure of distractor inhibition in the attentional blink.

The results demonstrate that the distractor repetition effect is dependent on attention, and that a failure to inhibit distractors contributes to the AB.

When similarity leads to sparing: probing mechanisms underlying the attentional blink

The surprising finding is that while high similarity impairs second-target accuracy at all subsequent lags, it actually improves accuracy when the targets follow one another directly, suggesting that this improvement reflects the positive influence of over-committing resources to target processing in the AB.



The attentional blink is not a unitary phenomenon

Five experiments, in which three sequential targets were inserted in a stream of distractors, showed that identification accuracy for the leading target depended on an attentional switch whose magnitude varied with distractor–target similarity, in contrast, Accuracy for the trailing targets depended on similarity between the target and the trailing mask.

The attentional blink: Resource depletion or temporary loss of control?

Three experiments in the present study reveal a failure of resource-limitation accounts to explain why the AB is absent when the targets consist of a stream of three items belonging to the same category (e.g., letters or digits).

Beyond the attentional blink: visual masking by object substitution.

In 3 experiments, it was shown that the 2nd target must also be masked, but that the precise form of masking is important: An AB occurs with interruption but not with integration masking.

Blinks of the mind: memory effects of attentional processes.

If 2 words are presented successively within 500 ms, subjects often miss the 2nd word and it is easier to subsequently identify wedding than apple, a paradoxical finding.

The Beneficial Effect of Concurrent Task-Irrelevant Mental Activity on Temporal Attention

The paradoxical finding that the attentional blink is significantly ameliorated when observers are concurrently engaged in distracting mental activity, such as free-associating on a task-irrelevant theme or listening to music, suggests that the temporal dynamics of attention are determined by task circumstances that induce either a more or a less distributed state of mind.

Similarity determines the attentional blink.

To investigate the importance of posttarget stimulation in AB production, the categorical, featural, and spatial similarity of the immediate posttarget item to other items in the stream was manipulated and significant AB effects were found in all conditions, suggesting that the presentation of any patterned stimulus in close temporal proximity to the target provokes the AB.

Delayed attentional engagement in the attentional blink.

There is a delay between detection and the selection of target candidates for consolidation in short-term memory during the attentional blink, resulting in improvement in T2 report, suggesting that processing of T1 was already completed or was at least protected when the cue was presented.

Beyond similarity: Masking of the target is sufficient to cause the attentional blink

The attentional blink was found when the +1 item acted as a mask of the target, even though the +2 item and the probe were visually dissimilar, which supports the two-stage model of the attentional blinking.

Sources of interference in the attentional blink: Target-distractor similarity revisited

Modulation of the AB effect by target-distractor similarity appears to result partly from low-level masking, but masking effects may be reduced by attentional capture by target features.

Short-term memory and the attentional blink: Capacity versus content

Overall performance in an RSVP task was impaired by a concurrent short-term memory (STM) task and, furthermore, this effect increased when STM load was higher and when its content was more task relevant.