Attention Blinks for Selection, Not Perception or Memory: Reading Sentences and Reporting Targets

Mary C. Potter, Brad Wyble, Jennifer Olejarczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In whole report, a sentence presented sequentially at the rate of about 10 words/s can be recalled accurately, whereas if the task is to report only two target words (e.g., red words), the second target suffers an attentional blink if it appears shortly after the first target. If these two tasks are carried out simultaneously, is there an attentional blink, and does it affect both tasks? Here, sentence report was combined with report of two target words (Experiments 1 and 2) or two inserted target digits, Arabic numerals or word digits (Experiments 3 and 4). When participants reported only the targets an attentional blink was always observed. When they reported both the sentence and targets, sentence report was quite accurate but there was an attentional blink in picking out the targets when they were part of the sentence. When targets were extra digits inserted in the sentence there was no blink when viewers also reported the sentence. These results challenge some theories of the attentional blink: Blinks result from online selection, not perception or memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1915-1923
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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