Restricted attentional capacity between sensory modalities

Psychon Bull Rev. 1999 Mar;6(1):87-92. doi: 10.3758/bf03210813.


The purpose of the experiments was to demonstrate an attentional-blink (AB) effect in a visual second task following the processing of a simple auditory signal. Subjects monitored a stream of letters presented at the middle of a computer screen using rapid serial visual presentation for the presence of a visual target (an X or a Y). In experimental trials, the visual target followed a pure tone that required an immediate speeded-choice response. When the tone had to be processed, accuracy in the visual-encoding task suffered a marked and prolonged deficit that was timelocked to the onset of the tone. When the tone could be ignored or when no tone was presented, no deficit was observed in the visual task. The results demonstrate a cross-modal AB effect produced by a simple two-choice auditory discrimination task. The results are consistent with the view that at least part of the AB effect has a central, amodal, postperceptual locus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Blinking
  • Humans
  • Random Allocation
  • Signal Detection, Psychological
  • Visual Perception