Task switching mediates direct interference of intertarget distractors in the attentional blink: An event-related potential study

Benoit Brisson


The attentional blink (AB) refers to the difficulty in reporting a second target (T2) presented shortly after a first target (T1) in a stream of distractors. The goal of the present study was to investigate distractor-based interference in the AB by recording the P3 component of the event-related potential to both targets. An intertarget distractor was presented at lag 1 (T1+1), at lag 2 (T1+2), or at neither of these two lags (no distractor). T2 was always presented at lag 3, as the last item in the stream. In two experiments, the P3 from T1 was attenuated in the T1+1 condition compared to the two other distractor conditions. In absence of a task switch (Experiment 1), the P3 from T2 was delayed in both the T1+1 and T1+2 conditions. In the presence of a task switch (Experiment 2), the P3 from T2 was delayed only in the T1+1 condition. Results demonstrate that intertarget distractors can modulate the AB directly but only in absence of a task switch.


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