Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Individual Differences in Electrophysiological Responses to Performance Feedback Predict AB Magnitude

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Individual Differences in Electrophysiological Responses to Performance Feedback Predict AB Magnitude

Article excerpt

Abstract The attentional blink (AB) is observed when report accuracy for a second target (T2) is reduced if T2 is presented within approximately 500 ms of a first target (T1), but accuracy is relatively unimpaired at longer T1-T2 separations. The AB is thought to represent a transient cost of attending to a target, and reliable individual differences have been observed in its magnitude. Some models of the AB have suggested that cognitive control contributes to production of the AB, such that greater cognitive control is associated with larger AB magnitudes. Performance-monitoring functions are thought to modulate the strength of cognitive control, and those functions are indexed by event-related potentials in response to both endogenous and exogenous performance evaluation. Here we examined whether individual differences in the amplitudes to internal and external response feedback predict individual AB magnitudes. We found that electrophysiological responses to externally provided performance feedback, measured in two different tasks, did predict individual differences in AB magnitude, such that greater feedback-related N2 amplitudes were associated with larger AB magnitudes, regardless of the valence of the feedback.

Keywords Attention · Cognitive control · Event-related potential · ERP · Attentional blink · Feedback

When two to-be-attended targets are presented in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream, the accuracy for the second target (T2) is reduced when it is presented within 500 ms after the first target (T1), relative to longer T1-T2 separations (Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1992). This phenomenon has been named the attentional blink (AB; Raymond et al., 1992). The magnitude of the AB can be captured in the change in T2 accuracy as a function of the temporal separation, or lag, between T1 and T2 (MacLean & Arnell, 2012). The AB has traditionally been interpreted as reflecting attentional limitations according to which processing of T1 interferes with and/ or delays the allocation of attention to T2, if T2 is presented before T1 processing has been completed (e.g., Chun & Potter, 1995; Jolicoeur & Dell'Acqua, 1998; Shapiro, Arnell, & Raymond, 1997). However, several recent models of the AB have implicated cognitive control as influential to the production of the AB.

The attentional blink and cognitive control

Several models of the AB, such as the temporary-loss-ofcontrol (TLC) model (Di Lollo, Kawahara, Ghorashi,& Enns, 2005), the boost-and-bounce model (Olivers&Meeter, 2008), the threaded-cognition model (Taatgen, Juvina, Schipper, Borst, & Martens, 2009), and the overinvestment hypothesis (Olivers & Nieuwenhuis, 2006), feature cognitive control as being central to the presence of the AB. In several of these models, strong cognitive control predicts an increased AB. For example, in the boost-and-bounce model (Olivers & Meeter, 2008), it is proposed that selection of the T1 item leads to an excitatory "boost" that carries over to the distractor immediately trailing T1. In response to the incorrect boosting of the distractor into working memory, cognitive control is used to initiate an inhibitory "bounce" that prevents subsequent items, including T2, from inclusion into working memory. Similarly, according to the threaded-cognition model (Taatgen et al., 2009), selection of T1 initiates an overexertion of cognitive control (the "memory function") that results in impaired T2 detection at short lags. Note that according to both the boost-and-bounce and threaded-cognition models, better goal-driven cognitive control leads to larger ABs because greater cognitive control exerted to protect T1 identification comes at the cost of T2 identification at short lags. While it may seem counterintuitive that better cognitive control may predict larger ABs, some data do suggest that somewhat distracted performance (due to the need to perform an additional task) may decrease the AB by reducing attentional investment (Olivers & Nieuwenhuis, 2005, 2006), and that the probability of failing to correctly identify T2 is predicted by investment in T1 (Shapiro, Schmitz, Martens, Hommel, & Schnitzler, 2006). …

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