Target sparing effects in the attentional blink depend on type of stimulus

Evan J. Livesey, Irina M. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


In a typical attentional blink (AB) experiment, recognition of the second of two serially presented targets is impaired if it occurs around 200-500 ms after the first. However, recognition for the second item is often intact if the two targets occur consecutively (lag-1 sparing). Recent theories of the AB have placed great emphasis on the presence of lag-1 sparing and protracted sparing effects, where accurate performance is seemingly maintained across three or more targets, provided that they are presented consecutively. Here, we show that the type of stimulus (objects vs. letters) used in rapid serial visual presentation streams has a significant effect on the extent of lag-1 sparing, without a commensurate influence on the AB. In addition, multiple consecutive targets produce strikingly different patterns of sparing for objects and letters. These findings suggest that the processes mediating lag-1 sparing are independent of those underlying the AB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2104-2123
Number of pages20
JournalAttention, Perception and Psychophysics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Attentional blink
  • Extended sparing
  • Lag-1 sparing
  • Object recognition

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