On the fate of distractor stimuli in rapid serial visual presentation

Paul E. Dux*, Veronika Coltheart, Irina M. Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Observers demonstrate an impaired ability to report the second of two targets in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream if it appears within 500 ms of the first target-a phenomenon known as the attentional blink. This study investigated the fate of stimuli in dual-target RSVP streams that do not require report-the distractors. In five experiments, observers viewed dual-target RSVP streams where the items flanking Target 1 either had the same identity (repeats) or a different identity (non-repeats). Repeated distractors reduced the attentional blink, but only if two conditions were met (1) the items flanking Target 1 were featurally identical and (2) the distractors were drawn from a different alphanumeric category to the targets (e.g. digits vs. letters). We interpret this reduced blink magnitude in the repeat trials as evidence that in RSVP streams distractor items that appear in close temporal proximity to Target 1 are inhibited and we propose that this inhibition occurs both at the level of alphanumeric features and abstract identities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)355-382
    Number of pages28
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006

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