The meaning of the mask matters

Evidence of conceptual interference in the attentional blink

Paul E. Dux*, Veronika Coltheart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) experiment reported here investigated the role of conceptual interference in the attentional blink (AB). Subjects were presented with RSVP streams that contained five stimuli: Target 1, a distractor, Target 2, a second distractor, and a symbol mask. Target 1 was a green letter, Target 2 was a red letter, and the distractors were either white letters or white digits. The stimuli were presented in a font typically seen on the face of a digital watch. Thus, "S" and "O" were identical to "5" and "0," respectively. This allowed us to present streams that were conceptually different even though featurally identical: The two letter targets were followed by distractors that were recognized either as "5" and "0" or as "S" and "O." The AB was substantially attenuated when subjects were told the distractors were digits rather than letters. This result indicates that conceptual interference plays a role in the AB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-779
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

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