Identification of the second of two targets (T2) is impaired when presented shortly after the first (T1). T1-based theories ascribe this attentional blink (AB) to a T1-initiated period of inattention. Distractor-based theories ascribe it to a disruption of input control caused by post-T1 distractors. The finding that an AB occurs without intertarget distractors (Nieuwenstein, Potter, & Theeuwes, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 35:159-169, 2009) seemingly disconfirms distractor-based theories. The present experiments addressed different ways in which distractor-based theories might account for that finding. Intertarget events were varied in four experiments. Experiment 1 replicated Nieuwenstein, Potter, and Theeuwes's findings. The next two experiments tested two ways (lack of visual stimulation, violation of expectation) in which the blank intertarget interval might cause an AB. Experiment 4 explored whether backward-masking of T1 can account entirely for the larger AB obtained with intervening distractors or whether distractors also disrupt input control. The results disconfirm predictions from distractor-based theories and support the claim of T1-based theories that T1 processing alone is sufficient for the AB. Simulations based on the eSTST (Wyble, Bowman, & Nieuwenstein, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 35:787-807, 2009) and the B&B models (Olivers & Meeter, Psychological Research, 115, 836-863 2008) were compared. Predictions were more accurate from the T1-based theory (eSTST) than from the distractor-based theory (B&B).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Sensory Systems
- Linguistics and Language