Sparing and impairing: Emotion modulation of the attentional blink and the spread of sparing in a 3-target RSVP task

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Manuel Petrucci, Anna Pecchinenda (2017): Sparing and impairing: Emotion modulation of the attentional blink and the spread of sparing in a 3-target RSVP task. In: Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 80 , pp. 439-452, 2017.

Abstract

The performance impairment (attentional blink, AB) on a second target (T2) when it is presented within 200-500 ms after a first target (T1) during rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) is typically attributed to resource depletion. The AB does not occur when targets appear in immediate sequence (sparing). Recently, this account has been challenged by findings that the lag 1 sparing can spread to later lags when using a 3-target RSVP. Two experiments using the 3-targets RSVP investigated the relative contribution of resource depletion and attentional enhancement and/or inhibition on the AB and the sparing when T1 (Exp. 1) or T3 (Exp. 2) are emotionally salient. Findings showed a greater sparing for neutral T3s when preceded by negative compared with neutral T1s (Exp. 1) and for negative T3s (Exp. 2). In contrast, the AB on neutral T3s was greater after negative than after neutral T1s (Exp. 1), but it was reduced when T3 was negative (Exp. 2). The AB and the sparing also depended on how many targets before T3 were correctly reported. These findings indicate that although there is a cost for processing multiple targets, the emotional modulations of the AB and the sparing are better explained by an interplay between emotion-enhancement and capacity limitations on temporal selective attention.

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