Attentional Changes During Implicit Learning

Signal Validity Protects a Target Stimulus From the Attentional Blink

Evan J. Livesey*, Irina M. Harris, Justin A. Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    27 Citations (Scopus)


    Participants in 2 experiments performed 2 simultaneous tasks: one, a dual-target detection task within a rapid sequence of target and distractor letters; the other, a cued reaction time task requiring participants to make a cued left-right response immediately after each letter sequence. Under these rapid visual presentation conditions, it is usually difficult to identify the 2nd target when it is presented in temporal proximity of the 1st target-a phenomenon known as the attentional blink. However, here participants showed an advantage for detecting a target presented during the attentional blink if that target predicted which response cue would appear at the end of the trial. Participants also showed faster reaction times on trials with a predictive target. Both of these effects were independent of conscious knowledge of the target-response contingencies assessed by postexperiment questionnaires. The results suggest that implicit learning of the association between a predictive target and its outcome can automatically facilitate target recognition during the attentional blink and therefore shed new light on the relationship between associative learning and attentional mechanisms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)408-422
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


    • attentional blink
    • implicit learning
    • predictive learning
    • signal validity

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