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On the blink: the importance of target-distractor similarity in eliciting an attentional blink with faces.

Müsch K, Engel AK, Schneider TR - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: Experimental studies reported that the AB is reduced when the second target is emotionally significant, suggesting a modulation of attention allocation.An AB was present but not increased when the facial expression was irrelevant to the task suggesting that target-distractor similarity plays a more important role in eliciting an AB than the attentional set demanded by the specific task.In line with previous work, emotional faces were less affected by the AB.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany. k.muesch@uke.uni-hamburg.de

ABSTRACT
Temporal allocation of attention is often investigated with a paradigm in which two relevant target items are presented in a rapid sequence of irrelevant distractors. The term Attentional Blink (AB) denotes a transient impairment of awareness for the second of these two target items when presented close in time. Experimental studies reported that the AB is reduced when the second target is emotionally significant, suggesting a modulation of attention allocation. The aim of the present study was to systematically investigate the influence of target-distractor similarity on AB magnitude for faces with emotional expressions under conditions of limited attention in a series of six rapid serial visual presentation experiments. The task on the first target was either to discriminate the gender of a neutral face (Experiments 1, 3-6) or an indoor/outdoor visual scene (Experiment 2). The task on the second target required either the detection of emotional expressions (Experiments 1-5) or the detection of a face (Experiment 6). The AB was minimal or absent when targets could be easily discriminated from each other. Three successive experiments revealed that insufficient masking and target-distractor similarity could account for the observed immunity of faces against the AB in the first two experiments. An AB was present but not increased when the facial expression was irrelevant to the task suggesting that target-distractor similarity plays a more important role in eliciting an AB than the attentional set demanded by the specific task. In line with previous work, emotional faces were less affected by the AB.

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Illustration of a single trial and overview of experiments.(A) After 500 ms fixation period, 25 stimuli including the two targets with a variable lag were rapidly presented (lag 3 in this example). The first and the second target were task-relevant. T1 was presented between position 9 and 15 in a stream of distractors followed by T2 at lags 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. (B) The experiments differed with regard to stimuli used as T1, T2, and distractors, and dual task demands. Abbreviations: Fix, fixation; T1, first target; T2, second target; D, distractors; RSVP, rapid serial visual presentation; Exp., experiment; 2AFC, two-alternative forced-choice.
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pone-0041257-g001: Illustration of a single trial and overview of experiments.(A) After 500 ms fixation period, 25 stimuli including the two targets with a variable lag were rapidly presented (lag 3 in this example). The first and the second target were task-relevant. T1 was presented between position 9 and 15 in a stream of distractors followed by T2 at lags 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. (B) The experiments differed with regard to stimuli used as T1, T2, and distractors, and dual task demands. Abbreviations: Fix, fixation; T1, first target; T2, second target; D, distractors; RSVP, rapid serial visual presentation; Exp., experiment; 2AFC, two-alternative forced-choice.

Mentions: Emotional and neutral faces were embedded among distractors in a RSVP stream (Figure 1). Faces of 12 males and 12 females with neutral, fearful, and happy expressions from the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces (KDEF; [37]) served as targets. These faces were selected for highest gender discernability as determined in a pilot rating. Distractors were phase-scrambled versions of 54 neutral faces. All stimuli were converted to gray-scale, matched for luminance and masked by an oval shape to remove hair, neck and background information. T1 faces were presented in a red tint (each pixel value of the red color channel multiplied by 2.25) in order to distinguish it from the other stimuli in the stream.


On the blink: the importance of target-distractor similarity in eliciting an attentional blink with faces.

Müsch K, Engel AK, Schneider TR - PLoS ONE (2012)

Illustration of a single trial and overview of experiments.(A) After 500 ms fixation period, 25 stimuli including the two targets with a variable lag were rapidly presented (lag 3 in this example). The first and the second target were task-relevant. T1 was presented between position 9 and 15 in a stream of distractors followed by T2 at lags 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. (B) The experiments differed with regard to stimuli used as T1, T2, and distractors, and dual task demands. Abbreviations: Fix, fixation; T1, first target; T2, second target; D, distractors; RSVP, rapid serial visual presentation; Exp., experiment; 2AFC, two-alternative forced-choice.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3399797&req=5

pone-0041257-g001: Illustration of a single trial and overview of experiments.(A) After 500 ms fixation period, 25 stimuli including the two targets with a variable lag were rapidly presented (lag 3 in this example). The first and the second target were task-relevant. T1 was presented between position 9 and 15 in a stream of distractors followed by T2 at lags 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. (B) The experiments differed with regard to stimuli used as T1, T2, and distractors, and dual task demands. Abbreviations: Fix, fixation; T1, first target; T2, second target; D, distractors; RSVP, rapid serial visual presentation; Exp., experiment; 2AFC, two-alternative forced-choice.
Mentions: Emotional and neutral faces were embedded among distractors in a RSVP stream (Figure 1). Faces of 12 males and 12 females with neutral, fearful, and happy expressions from the Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces (KDEF; [37]) served as targets. These faces were selected for highest gender discernability as determined in a pilot rating. Distractors were phase-scrambled versions of 54 neutral faces. All stimuli were converted to gray-scale, matched for luminance and masked by an oval shape to remove hair, neck and background information. T1 faces were presented in a red tint (each pixel value of the red color channel multiplied by 2.25) in order to distinguish it from the other stimuli in the stream.

Bottom Line: Experimental studies reported that the AB is reduced when the second target is emotionally significant, suggesting a modulation of attention allocation.An AB was present but not increased when the facial expression was irrelevant to the task suggesting that target-distractor similarity plays a more important role in eliciting an AB than the attentional set demanded by the specific task.In line with previous work, emotional faces were less affected by the AB.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany. k.muesch@uke.uni-hamburg.de

ABSTRACT
Temporal allocation of attention is often investigated with a paradigm in which two relevant target items are presented in a rapid sequence of irrelevant distractors. The term Attentional Blink (AB) denotes a transient impairment of awareness for the second of these two target items when presented close in time. Experimental studies reported that the AB is reduced when the second target is emotionally significant, suggesting a modulation of attention allocation. The aim of the present study was to systematically investigate the influence of target-distractor similarity on AB magnitude for faces with emotional expressions under conditions of limited attention in a series of six rapid serial visual presentation experiments. The task on the first target was either to discriminate the gender of a neutral face (Experiments 1, 3-6) or an indoor/outdoor visual scene (Experiment 2). The task on the second target required either the detection of emotional expressions (Experiments 1-5) or the detection of a face (Experiment 6). The AB was minimal or absent when targets could be easily discriminated from each other. Three successive experiments revealed that insufficient masking and target-distractor similarity could account for the observed immunity of faces against the AB in the first two experiments. An AB was present but not increased when the facial expression was irrelevant to the task suggesting that target-distractor similarity plays a more important role in eliciting an AB than the attentional set demanded by the specific task. In line with previous work, emotional faces were less affected by the AB.

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