Short-term memory and the attentional blink: capacity versus content
Akyurek, E.G. and Hommel, B. (2005) Short-term memory and the attentional blink: capacity versus content. Memory & Cognition, 33 (4). pp. 654-663. ISSN 0090-502X
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When people monitor the rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) of stimuli for two targets (T1 and T2), they often miss T2 if it falls into a time window of about half a second after T1 onset, a phenomenon known as the attentional blink (AB). We found that overall performance in an RSVP task was impaired by a concurrent short-term memory (STM) task and, furthermore, that this effect increased when STM load was higher and when its content was more task relevant. Loading visually defined stimuli and adding articulatory suppression further impaired performance on the RSVP task, but the size of the AB over time (i.e., T1-T2 lag) remained unaffected by load or content. This suggested that at least part of the performance in an RSVP task reflects interference between competing codes within STM, as interference models have held, whereas the AB proper reflects capacity limitations in the transfer to STM, as consolidation models have claimed.
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