Speed of processing, time and interference in the attentional blink: application to children

Nicholas A. Badcock, Mike Anderson, Janet Fletcher, John Hogben

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


The Attentional Blink (AB) represents the limits of temporal processing capacity and is estimated using a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) in which items (commonly letters or numbers) are presented for 100msec, one after the other, in the same spatial location. When two targets are embedded within the sequence, the inter-target interval required to correctly report both targets reflects the AB (approximately 500-700msec in adults). In a series of 3 studies, this investigation controlled for individual speed of processing and evaluated the application of the AB in children (between 6 and 12 years of age). Speed of processing was controlled using an adaptive, single-target RSVP procedure, whereby exposure duration required for 70.7% accuracy was estimated. This was then applied to dual-target RSVP. Study 1 suggested that individuals with faster speed of processing had less of an AB. However, this was confounded by differences associated with RSVP duration: for those with brief exposure durations, RSVP duration was shorter. Study 2, controlling for RSVP duration, suggested that distracters produced an interference confound: those with briefer durations were presented with more items in the same RSVP duration. In Study 3, distracter items between targets were removed. The time interval between targets required for correct report was estimated using an adaptive procedure, where the duration of a blank inter-target interval was varied. This suggested that processing speed was related to AB estimates. It is recommended that these factors, as well as inattention, be considered when applying the AB to developmental and group-difference research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Development and Learning
Place of PublicationBloomington, IN
PublisherIndiana University Bloomington
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Development and Learning (5th : 2006) - Bloomington, IN
Duration: 31 May 20063 Jun 2006


ConferenceInternational Conference on Development and Learning (5th : 2006)
CityBloomington, IN


  • Attentional Blink
  • Speed of Processing
  • Children
  • Development


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