Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Priming T2 in a Visual and Auditory Attentional Blink Task

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Priming T2 in a Visual and Auditory Attentional Blink Task

Article excerpt

Participants performed an attentional blink (AB) task including digits as targets and letters as distractors within the visual and auditory domains. Prior to the rapid serial visual presentation, a visual or auditory prime was presented in the form of a digit that was identical to the second target (T2) on 50% of the trials. In addition to the "classic" AB effect, an overall drop in performance on T2 was observed for the trials on which the stream was preceded by an identical prime from the same modality. No cross-modal priming was evident, suggesting that the observed inhibitory priming effects are modality specific. We argue that the present findings represent a special type of negative priming operating at a low feature level.

Capacity limitations in the visual system become evident when a vast amount of information needs to be processed within a limited period of time. A classic example of such a capacity limitation is the attentional blink (AB) deficit (Broadbent & Broadbent, 1987; Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1992). An AB occurs when people have to report two target items (e.g., words or single characters) presented among distractors in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP), in which items are presented in succession at a high rate (e.g., 10 items per second). People are accurate in reporting the first target (Tl) but often fail to report the second target (T2). The AB is most severe when T1 and T2 are presented close together in time (within 200-500 msec) but gradually disappears as the time period between the targets becomes longer.

One of the early models explaining the AB effect is the two-stage model of Chun and Potter (1995). As its name implies, this model divides target detection into two stages: In the first stage, relevant features of the target are detected, and in the second, the target is consolidated into short-term memory (STM). The model states that the AB deficit is based on a capacity limitation that occurs during consolidation of T2 into STM (Jolioeur & Dell'Acqua, 1998). The AB occurs because resources used during consolidation of T1 are not available at the time when consolidating T2 is necessary. This results in a bottleneck in the transfer of sensory codes to STM.

According to the two-stage model, consolidation is necessary for reporting T2. To get a better understanding of the process underlying the AB, it is important to know whether or not prior knowledge already consolidated into STM has an influence on the AB. In other words, what happens to T2 performance when an item identical to T2 has already been shown and consolidated into STM prior to the presentation of T2? The classic study by Jacoby and Dallas (1981) showed that identification of an item (e.g., a word) improves as a result of prior exposure to a similar or identical item. This effect is called repetition priming, and on the basis of the effect repetition priming has on performance, an improvement of T2 performance can be expected.

However, Akyurek and Hommel (2005) found an overall performance drop on T2 in an AB task when participants held in memory characters from the same class as T2. In this paradigm, participants had to memorize in each trial a number of characters (letters, digits, or symbols), displayed prior to the RSVP stream, which they had to report back afterward. Their performance on the AB task became worse as the STM load became higher and as the STM content became more related to the targets (letters, digits, or symbols) in the AB task. Interestingly, the drop in performance did not interact with the AB and was constant over the lag condition. Another study (Nieuwenstein, Johnson, Kanai, & Martens, 2007) showed a similar drop in T2 performance when an STM set contained an item identical to T2, as compared with an STM set without identical items. Both studies showed that when an item identical to or from the same class as T2 is already consolidated in STM, performance on T2 drops. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.