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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44786. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044786. Epub 2012 Sep 12.

Distractor detection and suppression have a beneficial effect on attentional blink.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality of Ministry of Education, School of Psychology, Southwest University, Beibei, Chongqing, China.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Attentional blink (AB) is a phenomenon that describes the difficulty individuals have in reporting the second of two masked targets if the second target (T2) arrives 200-500 ms after the first target (T1). Recent studies explain the AB from cognitive resources limitation to distractors interference. For example, the temporary loss of control (TLC) hypothesis suggests that the AB is conduced by distractors disrupting the input filter for target processing. The inhibition models suggest that the T1+1 distractor triggers a suppression mechanism which could be beneficial for T1 processing but would suppress T2 at short T1-T2 lags. These models consider that the AB is caused by the appearance of distractors. However, in the present study, two methods were taken to help individuals to detect the distractors more effectively. An attenuated AB deficit was found when the distractors could be excluded or suppressed in time. We consider that under an appropriate condition the distractors detection and suppression have a beneficial effect on attentional blink.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

Two methods were employed to help individuals to detect the distractors more effectively: enlarging the low-level-physical characteristic difference between targets and distractors (Experiment 1) and restricting the sets of distractors (Experiment 2). Attenuated AB deficits were found as using the above manipulations.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

The present study found when the distractors are detected or identified quickly, they could be effectively suppressed, in order to reduce the interference from the targets and result in a smaller AB deficit. We suggest that the suppression mechanism for distractors have a beneficial effect on AB.

PMID:
22984558
PMCID:
PMC3440329
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0044786
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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