Sleep after practice reduces the attentional blink

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2015 Aug;77(6):1945-54. doi: 10.3758/s13414-015-0912-7.


The attentional blink (AB) is an impairment in detecting the second of two targets that appear in close temporal succession. We investigated the effect of practice and a nap on the magnitude of the AB deficit. We found evidence that sleep boosts practice-dependent reduction of the AB. Participants reported two target letters embedded in a rapid serial visual presentation display. After two morning sessions, half the participants took a polysomnographically recorded nap, while the others remained awake. Comparing two afternoon sessions to the two morning sessions, we observed a decreased AB only within the group who napped. The improvement was due to increased efficacy of the attentional selection of T2 (the probability of reporting a T2-relevant item). There was no change in selection's latency or temporal precision. The magnitude of improvement was positively associated with the duration of N2 sleep and the number of N2 sleep spindles. Our results suggest that sleep, particularly N2 sleep and sleep spindles, improves attentional selection in time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attentional Blink / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult