Electrophysiological evidence for a postperceptual locus of suppression during the attentional blink

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1998 Dec;24(6):1656-74. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.24.6.1656.


When an observer detects a target in a rapid stream of visual stimuli, there is a brief period of time during which the detection of subsequent targets is impaired. In this study, event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from normal adult observers to determine whether this "attentional blink" reflects a suppression of perceptual processes or an impairment in postperceptual processes. No suppression was observed during the attentional blink interval for ERP components corresponding to sensory processing (the P1 and N1 components) or semantic analysis (the N400 component). However, complete suppression was observed for an ERP component that has been hypothesized to reflect the updating of working memory (the P3 component). Results indicate that the attentional blink reflects an impairment in a postperceptual stage of processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Blinking / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials*
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology