Visser, T., Bischof, W. F., and Di Lollo, V. (2004). Rapid serial visual distraction: Task-irrelevant items can produce an attentional blink. Perception & Psychophysics, 66, 1418-1432.
When two sequential targets (T1 and T2) are presented within about 600 ms, perception of the second target is impaired. This attentional blink (AB) has been studied by means of two paradigms: RSVP, in which targets are embedded in a stream of central distractors, and two-target, in which targets are presented eccentrically without distractors. We examined the role of distractors in the AB using a modified two-target paradigm with a central stream of task-irrelevant distractors. In six experiments, the RSVP stream of distractors substantially impaired identification of both T1 and T2, but only when the distractors shared common characteristics with the targets. Without such commonalities, distractors had no effect on performance. This points to the subjects' attentional control setting as an important factor in the AB deficit, and suggests a conceptual link between the AB and a form of non-spatial contingent capture attributable to distractor processing.
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