Time course of the unmasked attentional blink.

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    • Abstract:
      The Attentional Blink (AB) usually refers to the impaired report of a second target (T2) if it appears within 200–500 ms after a first target within a rapid sequence of distractors. The present study focused on a less studied AB variant known as the unmasked AB, where T2 is the last item of the sequence and T2 report is unaffected. This aspect of the unmasked AB holds promise for an experimental paradigm in which measures of on‐going event‐related processing are unconfounded by differences in late‐stage processing. To fully characterize the unmasked AB paradigm, we used a randomization statistics approach to comprehensively examine the electroencephalographic signature of the unmasked AB. We examined the unmasked AB with auditory and visual T2s—participants attended to either the auditory or visual information within a sequence of paired auditory‐visual stimuli, and reported targets within the attended modality stream while ignoring the other. As predicted, T2 report was unaffected by the unmasked AB. The visual AB was associated with delayed but intact N2 and P3 components, and a suppressed N1. We suggest that this N1 is linked to auditory processing of the distractor stream, and reflects the cognitive system prioritizing the processing of visual targets over auditory distractors in response to AB‐related processing load. The auditory AB only indicated a delayed but intact P3. Collectively, these findings support the view that the AB limits the entry of information into consciousness via a late‐stage modal bottleneck, and suggest an ongoing compensatory response at early latencies. The present article examines a less‐studied variant of the attentional blink (AB)—the unmasked AB—in which the entry of a perceived stimulus into consciousness is temporarily delayed. Our application of global ERP analyses within an AB paradigm is novel. Our findings reflect well‐established late ERP effects, but also suggest AB‐related influence on early sensory processes. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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