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Online response-selection and the attentional blink: Multiple-processing channels

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Robust interference often arises when multiple targets (T1 and T2) are discriminated in rapid succession (the attentional blink or AB). The AB has been observed for a wide range of stimuli, and is often thought to reflect a central capacity limitation in working memory consolidation, attentional engagement, and/or online response selection. However, recent evidence challenges the existence of unitary bottleneck during postperceptual processing. Awh et al. (2004) found no AB interference when a digit target preceded a face target, presumably because these stimuli could be processed by means of separable processing channels. Using a modified AB procedure, recent studies have also demonstrated that speeded response selection of T1 leads to an AB effect for T2 identification, supporting the conclusion that response selection induces the same processing limitations that typically gives rise to an AB. The present research tests this hypothesis by examining the effects of response selection on the identification of faces. Although we replicated previous demonstrations that online response selection of a digit disrupts the identification of T2 letters, we found no interference in the identification of T2 faces. However, robust AB interference was once again observed when a speeded response to a T1 face was required, confirming that faces are not simply immune to central interference. These results dispute the existence of a unitary postperceptual capacity limitation that gives rise to the AB.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Cognitive Sciences and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA 2: Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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