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Attentional Blink: processing deficit or adaptive biological mechanism?

Asselt, E.M. van (2012) Attentional Blink: processing deficit or adaptive biological mechanism? Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Attentional blink (AB) is known in literature as a failure in reporting the second of two targets (T1 and T2) from a stream of stimuli (non-targets) when they are in close succession. The goal of this thesis was to find evidence in literature for the suggestion that AB is not just a processing deficit, but could be a useful adaptation of the brain, either directly or indirectly as a consequence of another mechanism. Surprisingly, no AB is found when T2 directly follows T1, also known as ‘lag-1 sparing’, indicating that non-targets play a crucial role in AB. Indeed, the selection of non-targets during T1 processing is suppressed to avoid competition between stimuli. According to ‘contingent capture’, some non-targets capture attention and are unintentional selected from streams of stimuli. If these non-targets are not suppressed, they will interfere with processing of T2 and cause consolidation of T2 to fail. I conclude that contingent capture is a plausible cause for AB. This hypothesis is supported by the findings that similarity between targets and non-targets and the mere presence of non-targets strongly influences the AB effect. Also, individuals who show no or little AB (non-blinkers) consolidate targets faster into working memory than individuals who do show AB, probably because of better suppression of non-targets. The conclusion of my thesis is that AB can be considered in two ways: a failure in suppressing non-targets or as the side-effect of contingent capture, which is in fact a useful adaptive mechanism. Unfortunately, these conclusions are only speculations, since evidence for contingent capture as underlying mechanism of AB is not abundant.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:49
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:49

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