The attentional blink reveals serial working memory encoding: Evidence from virtual and human event-related potentials

Patrick Craston, Brad Wyble, Srivas Chennu, Howard Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Observers often miss a second target (T2) if it follows an identified first target item (T1) within half a second in rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP), a finding termed the attentional blink. If two targets are presented in immediate succession, however, accuracy is excellent (Lag 1 sparing). The resource sharing hypothesis proposes a dynamic distribution of resources over a time span of up to 600 msec during the attentional blink. In contrast, the ST 2 model argues that working memory encoding is serial during the attentional blink and that, due to joint consolidation, Lag 1 is the only case where resources are shared. Experiment 1 investigates the P3 ERP component evoked by targets in RSVP. The results suggest that, in this context, P3 amplitude is an indication of bottom-up strength rather than a measure of cognitive resource allocation. Experiment 2, employing a two-target paradigm, suggests that T1 consolidation is not affected by the presentation of T2 during the attentional blink. However, if targets are presented in immediate succession (Lag 1 sparing), they are jointly encoded into working memory. We use the ST 2 model's neural network implementation, which replicates a range of behavioral results related to the attentional blink, to generate "virtual ERPs" by summing across activation traces. We compare virtual to human ERPs and show how the results suggest a serial nature of working memory encoding as implied by the ST 2 model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-566
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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