The "beam of darkness": spreading of the attentional blink within and between objects.

Attention, perception & psychophysics

PubMedID: 19933558

Conci M, Müller HJ. The "beam of darkness": spreading of the attentional blink within and between objects. Atten Percept Psychophys. 2009;71(8):1725-38.
When two targets (T1 and T2) are inserted into a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream of nontargets, observers are impaired at identifying T2 when it is presented within half a second after T1. This transient drop in performance, or attentional blink (AB), has been attributed to a temporary unavailability of task-critical processing resources. In the present study, we investigated how object-based attention modulates the AB, by presenting four synchronized RSVP streams in the corners of two rectangular bars (e.g., one above and one below fixation). The results from four experiments revealed that the AB increased within short temporal lags (of up to ~400 msec) when T2 was presented on the same, rather than a different, bar as T1 (with T1-T2 spatial distance controlled for). Thus, the AB is seen to spread across entire object groupings, suggesting that the spatiotemporal resolution of attention is modulated by global-object information.