A conceptual and methodological framework for measuring and modulating the attentional blink

Attention, Perception & Psychophysics
Mary H Maclean, K M Arnell


The attentional blink (AB) is a transient attention cost that is shown when report accuracy for a second target (T2) is reduced when T2 is presented within approximately 500 ms of a first target (T1). Thus, by definition an AB is only observed when T2 accuracy is reduced at short relative to long T1-T2 separations, and the magnitude of the AB is reflected in the change in T2 performance across target separations. However, the designs, analyses, and interpretations of several studies of the AB have suggested a lack of clear definitions about what constitutes a demonstration of the AB, what constitutes a modulation of the AB across participant groups or manipulations, and how AB magnitude might best be represented accurately as a single value for a given individual. In this article, we discuss the important conceptual and methodological issues that should be considered when obtaining, analyzing, and interpreting AB data, and we discuss the pros and cons of various approaches while providing suggestions as to how best to validly represent the AB and its modulations.


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