No commonality between attentional capture and attentional blink

Jun I Kawahara, Ken Kihara
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: QJEP 2011, 64 (5): 991-1008
Visual search for a unique target is impaired when a salient distractor is presented (attentional capture). This phenomenon is said to occur because attention is diverted to a distractor before it reaches the target. Similarly, perception of the second of two targets embedded in a rapid stream of nontargets is impaired, suggesting attentional deprivation due to the processing of the first target (attentional blink). We examined whether these phenomena emerge from a common underlying attentional mechanism by using correlation studies. If these phenomena share a common foundation, the magnitude of these deficits should show within-subject correlations. Participants (N = 135) revealed significant attentional deficits during spatial and temporal capture and the attentional blink tasks. However, no significant correlation was found among these tasks. Experiment 2 (N = 95) replicated this finding using the same procedure as that used in Experiment 1 but included another attentional blink task that required spatial switching between the two targets. Strong correlations emerged only between the two attentional blink tasks (with/without spatial switching). The present results suggest that attentional deficits during spatial and temporal capture and the attentional blink tasks reflect different aspects of attention.

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