Paper in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
  • Livesey, E. J., Harris, I. M., and Harris, J. A. (2009) Attentional changes during implicit learning: Signal validity protects a target stimulus from the attentional blink. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35, 408-422.

    Participants in 2 experiments performed 2 simultaneous tasks: one, a dual-target detection task within a rapid sequence of target and distractor letters; the other, a cued reaction time task requiring participants to make a cued left-right response immediately after each letter sequence. Under these rapid visual presentation conditions, it is usually difficult to identify the 2nd target when it is presented in temporal proximity of the 1st target-a phenomenon known as the attentional blink. However, here participants showed an advantage for detecting a target presented during the attentional blink if that target predicted which response cue would appear at the end of the trial. Participants also showed faster reaction times on trials with a predictive target. Both of these effects were independent of conscious knowledge of the target-response contingencies assessed by postexperiment questionnaires. The results suggest that implicit learning of the association between a predictive target and its outcome can automatically facilitate target recognition during the attentional blink and therefore shed new light on the relationship between associative learning and attentional mechanisms.