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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2015) 27 (6): 1161–1171.
Published: 01 June 2015
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One of the major topics in attention literature is the attentional blink (AB), which demonstrates a limited ability to identify the second of two targets (T1 and T2) when presented in close temporal succession (200–500 msec). Given that the effect has been thought of as robust and resistant to training for over two decades, one of the most remarkable findings in recent years is that the AB can be eliminated after a 1-hr training with a color-salient T2. However, the underlying mechanism of the training effect as well as the AB itself is as of yet still poorly understood. To elucidate this training effect, we employed a refined version of our recently developed pupil dilation deconvolution method to track any training-induced changes in the amount and onset of attentional processing in response to target stimuli. Behaviorally, we replicated the original training effect with a color-salient T2. However, we showed that training without a salient target, but with a consistent short target interval, is already sufficient to attenuate the AB. Pupil deconvolution did not reveal any posttraining changes in T2-related dilation but instead an earlier onset of dilation around T1. Moreover, normalized pupil dilation was enhanced posttraining compared with pretraining. We conclude that the AB can be eliminated by training without a salient cue. Furthermore, our data point to the existence of temporal expectations at the time points of the trained targets posttraining. Therefore, we tentatively conclude that temporal expectations arise as a result of training.
Katharina Sophia Goerlich, Jurriaan Witteman, Niels O. Schiller, Vincent J. Van Heuven, André Aleman ...
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2012) 24 (8): 1725–1741.
Published: 01 August 2012
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The phenomenon of affective priming has caught scientific interest for over 30 years, yet the nature of the affective priming effect remains elusive. This study investigated the underlying mechanism of cross-modal affective priming and the influence of affective incongruence in music and speech on negativities in the N400 time-window. In Experiment 1, participants judged the valence of affective targets (affective categorization). We found that music and speech targets were evaluated faster when preceded by affectively congruent visual word primes, and vice versa. This affective priming effect was accompanied by a significantly larger N400-like effect following incongruent targets. In this experiment, both spreading of activation and response competition could underlie the affective priming effect. In Experiment 2, participants categorized the same affective targets based on nonaffective characteristics. However, as prime valence was irrelevant to the response dimension, affective priming effects could no longer be attributable to response competition. In Experiment 2, affective priming effects were observed neither at the behavioral nor electrophysiological level. The results of this study indicate that both affective music and speech prosody can prime the processing of visual words with emotional connotations, and vice versa. Affective incongruence seems to be associated with N400-like effects during evaluative categorization. The present data further suggest a role of response competition during the affective categorization of music, prosody, and words with emotional connotations.
Quick Minds Don't Blink: Electrophysiological Correlates of Individual Differences in Attentional Selection
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2006) 18 (9): 1423–1438.
Published: 01 September 2006
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A well-established phenomenon in the study of attention is the attentional blink—a deficit in reporting the second of two targets when it occurs 200–500 msec after the first. Although the effect has been shown to be robust in a variety of task conditions, not every individual participant shows the effect. We measured electroencephalographic activity for “nonblinkers” and “blinkers” during execution of a task in which two letters had to be detected in an sequential stream of digit distractors. Nonblinkers showed an earlier P3 peak, suggesting that they are quicker to consolidate information than are blinkers. Differences in frontal selection positivity were also found, such that nonblinkers showed a larger difference between target and distractor activation than did blinkers. Nonblinkers seem to extract target information better than blinkers do, allowing them to reject distractors more easily and leaving sufficient resources available to report both targets.