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26-05-2018 | Original Article

The attentional blink: why does Lag-1 sparing occur when the dependent measure is accuracy, but Lag-1 deficit when it is RT?

Psychological Research
Hayley E. P. Lagroix, Vincent Di Lollo, Thomas M. Spalek


Perception of the second of two targets (T1, T2) displayed in rapid sequence is impaired if it comes shortly after the first (attentional blink, AB). In an exception, known as Lag-1 sparing, T2 is virtually unimpaired if it is presented directly after T1. Three experiments examined the seemingly inconsistent findings that Lag-1 sparing occurs in accuracy but Lag-1 deficit occurs in RT. Experiment 1 pointed to masking of T2 as the critical factor. When T2 was not masked, the results replicated the conventional findings. The novel finding was that Lag-1 sparing occurred in RT, provided that T2 was masked. An account was provided by a psychological refractory period-based model in which processing was said to occur in two broadly sequential stages: stimulus selection and response planning. Experiments 2 and 3 tested predictions from the PRP-based model regarding Lag-1 sparing/Lag-1 deficit. In Experiment 2, we increased T2 salience, notionally reducing the duration of the T2 selection stage, with corresponding reduction in Lag-1 sparing. In Experiment 3, we manipulated the compatibility between the T1 stimulus and the response to notionally decrease/increase the duration of the T1 response-planning stage with corresponding increment/decrement in Lag-1 sparing. The results of both experiments confirmed predictions from the PRP-based model.

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