Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Relationships between Attentional Blink Magnitude, RSVP Target Accuracy, and Performance on Other Cognitive Tasks

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Relationships between Attentional Blink Magnitude, RSVP Target Accuracy, and Performance on Other Cognitive Tasks

Article excerpt

When two masked, to-be-attended targets are presented within approximately half a second of each other, performance on the second target (T2) suffers, relative to when the targets are presented further apart in time or when the first target (T1) can be ignored. This pattern of results is known as the attentional blink (AB). Typically, participants differ with respect to the magnitude of their AB and their overall target accuracy. Despite investigations as to what participant characteristics may influence AB performance (e.g., age, brain damage, or mood state), there has been no focused examination of whether individual differences in cognitive performance measures predict the magnitude of the AB or overall rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) target accuracy. Our university student participants performed single-target and dual-target RSVP tasks, as well as a selection of cognitive tasks that did not use RSVP presentations, with color, letter, digit, and object stimuli. Overall performance on each of the RSVP targets (T1, T2, and single target) was predicted by speeded manual and vocal identification times to isolated stimuli and by performance with other RSVP targets. However, the magnitude of the AB was predicted only by T1 accuracy, not by any other performance measures. The results suggest that individual differences in AB magnitude do not result from differences in effective RSVP target encoding and are not well explained by varied information-processing abilities.

When two masked, to-be-attended targets are presented within approximately half a second of each other, performance on the second target (T2) is impaired, relative to when the targets are presented further apart in time or when the first target (T1) can be ignored (Broadbent & Broadbent, 1987; Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1992). This pattern of results is known as the attentional blink (AB; Raymond et al., 1992). The AB is most often investigated by embedding targets in rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) streams in which stimuli are presented rapidly one at a time in the same spatial location. Dozens of studies have examined the presentation conditions that modulate the AB. For example, studies have examined the importance of masking T1 and T2 in order to produce an AB (e.g., Chun & Potter, 1995; Giesbrecht & Di Lollo, 1998; Grandison, Ghirardelli, & Egeth, 1997; Raymond et al., 1992; Seiffert & Di Lollo, 1997), the AB with targets from different modality combinations (e.g., Arnell & Jolicceur, 1999; Arnell & Larson, 2002; Duncan, Martens, & Ward, 1997; Hillstrom, Shapiro, & Spence, 2002; Mondor, 1998; Potter, Chun, Banks, & Muckenhoupt, 1998; Soto-Faraco & Spence, 2002; Soto-Faraco et al., 2002), how the AB can be modulated by response selection demands (e.g., Arnell & Duncan, 2002; Jolicceur, 1998, 1999; Jolicoeur & Dell'Acqua, 1999), and how the AB might vary when the difficulty of extracting the first target's identity is manipulated (McLaughlin, Shore, & Klein, 2001; Shapiro, Raymond, & Arnell, 1994; Shore, McLaughlin, & Klein, 2001; Ward, Duncan, & Shapiro, 1997). Other studies have examined the degree to which T2 was processed even when it could not be reported (e.g., Luck, Vogel, & Shapiro, 1996; Shapiro, Driver, Ward, & Sorensen, 1997; Vogel, Luck, & Shapiro, 1998) or have investigated the nature of targets that can overcome the AB (e.g., Anderson, 2005; Keil & Ihssen, 2004; Shapiro, Caldwell, & Sorensen, 1997).

In addition to explorations of procedural variables, some investigators have begun to look at group differences in AB magnitude when different participant populations are tested. For example, the AB has been shown to be larger for elderly participants (Lahar, Isaak, & McArthur, 2001; Maciokas & Crognale, 2003), schizophrenics (Cheung, Chen, Chen, Woo, & Yee, 2002; Li et al., 2002), unilateral neglect patients (Husain, Shapiro, Martin, & Kennard, 1997), ADHD patients (Li, Lin, Chang, & Hung, 2004), Alzheimer's patients (Kavcic & Duffy, 2003), and those reporting severe depression symptoms (Rokke, Arnell, Koch, & Andrews, 2002), relative to matched controls. …

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