Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

The Role of Spatial Switching in the Attentional Blink

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

The Role of Spatial Switching in the Attentional Blink

Article excerpt

The attentional blink (AB) is a well-established paradigm in which identification of a target T2 is reduced shortly after presentation of an earlier target T1. An important question concerns the importance of backward masking during the AB. While task switching has been found to be a strong modulator mediating the AB without any masking of T2, the present study investigated whether spatial switching could similarly produce an AB without masking. Using a spatial AB paradigm in which items appeared at different locations; we found (a) a significant AB without backward masking of T2 but no AB when no distractors followed T2, (b) no evidence for Lag 1 sparing. These findings show that when there is a spatial switch between the targets, presenting the distractor following T2 at the same location than T2 (backward masking) is not a necessary condition for the AB to occur, but T2 has to be followed by surrounding distractors (appearing at different locations than T2). This pattern of data confirms that spatial switching is a robust modulator of the AB, but to a less extent than task switching.

Keywords: attentional blink, spatial switch, task switch, masking, temporal attention, spatial attention.

El parpadeo atencional (PA) es un paradigma muy utilizado cuyo principal resultado se traduce en una reducción temporal en la identificación de un target (T2) que se presenta seguido de otro target (T1). Una de las claves que provoca este efecto es el enmascaramiento hacia atrás que tiene lugar durante el PA. Sin embargo, estudios previos asumen que el cambio de tarea es uno de los moduladores más potentes en la aparición de PA sin enmascaramiento del T2; el objetivo de este trabajo se centró en probar si otro tratamiento, el cambio espacial podría dar lugar a un efecto de PA similar, esto es, sin enmascaramiento. Un paradigma de PA con presentación de los ítems en diferentes localizaciones condujo a los siguientes resultados: (a) efecto significativo de PA sin enmascaramiento hacia atrás de T2, pero no PA sin la presencia de distractores después de T2; (b) esto no se confirmó en la posición 1; los resultados sugieren que si hay un cambio espacial entre los targets, presentar un distractor seguido de T2 y en su mismo lugar (enmascaramiento hacia atrás) no necesariamente va a facilitar la aparición de PA, sino que es necesario que T2 vaya seguido de distractores pero presentados en diferentes localizaciones. Este patrón de datos confirma que el cambio espacial es un importante modulador en la aparición de PA, aunque en menor medida que el cambio de tarea.

Palabras clave: parpadeo atencional, cambio espacial, cambio de tarea, enmascaramiento, atención temporal, atención espacial.

Dealing with the considerable amount of visual information from the environment requires individuals to select relevant information in the stream of spatio-temporal events. Yet, attentional selection can suffer from severe limits, as evidenced in the Attentional Blink (AB) phenomenon (Marois & Ivanoff, 2005). In a typical AB paradigm, subjects are presented with a stimulus stream using Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) and are instructed to report the two targets embedded in a stream of distractors. The AB effect refers to the impairment for identification or detection of the second target (T2) when presented briefly (within 200-600 ms) after the first target (T1) (Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1992). The magnitude of the AB effect is known to vary as a function of the temporal lag between the two targets. In a typical AB effect, performance on T2 is U-shaped curved: it is relatively high at Lag 1 (when T2 is presented directly after T1), drops substantially at Lags 2 and 3, and then recovers at longer lags. The relatively unimpaired performance at Lag 1 is referred to as Lag 1 sparing. While the AB was initially attributed to the limited attentional resources (Raymond et al., 1992), research has converged on the idea that the AB can arise from a multiplicity of factors which can be necessary and/or sufficient (e. …

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