Training the attentional blink: subclinical depression decreases learning potential

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Abstract

The attentional blink (AB) reflects a temporal restriction of selective attention and is generally regarded as a very robust phenomenon. However, previous studies have found large individual differences in AB performance, and under some training conditions the AB can be reduced significantly. One factor that may account for individual differences in AB magnitude is the ability to accurately time attention. In the current study, we focus on the sensitivity for temporal information on the ability to control attention. Following a visual AB task, a time estimation task was presented in either the visual or auditory modality, followed by another visual AB task. It was found that the time estimation training in both the auditory and visual modality reduced AB magnitude. Although a reduction in AB magnitude was also observed when individuals were trained on a control task (either an auditory frequency or visual line length estimation task), the effect was significantly larger following the time estimation tasks. In addition, it was found that individuals who showed most improvement on the visual time estimation task, also showed the largest reduction in AB magnitude, which was not the case for individuals who were trained on the control tasks. Finally, a negative correlation was observed between depression scores (tested by Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form (BDI-SF) scores and the improvement in the AB and time estimation tasks. Our findings demonstrate clear links between timing ability and mechanisms to control attention and emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPsychological Research : An International Journal of Perception, Attention, Memory, and Action
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21-Oct-2021

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