The beneficial effects of additional task load, positive affect, and instruction on the attentional blink.

C.N.L. Olivers, S.T. Nieuwenhuis

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Abstract

The attentional blink reflects the impaired ability to identify the 2nd of 2 targets presented in close succession - a phenomenon that is generally thought to reflect a fundamental cognitive limitation. However, the fundamental nature of this impairment has recently been called into question by the counterintuitive finding that task-irrelevant mental activity improves attentional blink performance (C. N. L. Olivers & S. Nieuwenhuis, 2005). The present study found a reduced attentional blink when participants concurrently performed an additional memory task, viewed pictures of positive affective content, or were instructed to focus less on the task. These findings support the hypothesis that the attentional blink is due to an overinvestment of attentional resources in stimulus processing, a suboptimal processing mode that can be counteracted by manipulations promoting divided attention. Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-379
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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