Time to see the bigger picture: Individual differences in the attentional blink

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If two to-be-identified targets are presented in close temporal succession, identification for the second target is typically impaired. This attentional blink (AB) phenomenon has long been considered as a robust, universal cognitive limitation. However, more recent studies have demonstrated that AB task performance greatly differs between individuals, with some individuals even showing no AB in certain paradigms. Several studies have focused on these individual differences in an attempt to reveal the mechanism underlying the AB, but an overview of this approach is currently missing. Here, by reviewing studies regarding individual differences in AB task performance, we investigate how individual differences have contributed to our understanding of the AB. We show that the individual differences AB literature provides reliable indications that the AB is a multifaceted phenomenon that presumably arises from a combination of factors; individuals with higher levels of executive working memory (WM) functioning and broad attentional focus perform better in the AB paradigm than individuals with lower executive functioning of WM and narrow attentional focus. As it turns out, seeing the bigger picture certainly seems helpful for AB task performance.




Willems, C., & Martens, S. (2016, October 1). Time to see the bigger picture: Individual differences in the attentional blink. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. Springer New York LLC. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0977-2

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