Beyond similarity: Masking of the target is sufficient to cause the attentional blink

Timothy D. Grandison, Thomas G. Ghirardelli, Howard E. Egeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When subjects are asked to identify a letter target embedded in a rapid serial visual presentation stream, the detection of a subsequent letter probe is briefly impaired. This transient deficit in probe detection, termed the "attentional blink," depends on the type of item that immediately follows the letter target (Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1995). Two models have been proposed to account for this effect. The interference model of the attentional blink predicts that visual similarity between the probe and item immediately following the target (+1 item) causes the attentional blink, whereas the two-stage model is based on the notion that increased time needed to process the target letter causes the attentional blink. In order to test between these two possibilities, the masking properties of the +1 item and its similarity to the probe were varied. We found the attentional blink when the +1 item acted as a mask of the target, even though the +1 item and the probe were visually dissimilar. This pattern of results supports the two-stage model of the attentional blink.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-274
Number of pages9
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)

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