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ML Lawson, KD Bello, LM Biviano, D Kerr, SW McClintock, VN Mrowinski, BC Plowright, SG Crewther, DP Crewther; Is the Attentional Blink related to Working Memory or Executive Function? . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(13):4713.
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Purpose: To compare the performance on the Attentional Blink (AB) task, which is thought to reflect processing in visual short-term or working memory1 with performance on traditional neuropsychological tests of working memory and executive function. In accordance with previous models of the AB, it was hypothesised that performance on the AB task would relate to performance on other tests of working/short-term memory, than performance on tests of executive function. Methods: Fifty-one adult participants completed a battery of tests including the AB task. The AB task required the participant to first identify a red target letter and then detect the presence of a probe (letter X) in a rapidly presented stream of random letter distractors. The battery also included tests of executive function (Wisconsin Card Sort Test), visuo- spatial memory (Visual Spatial Memory Test; Austin Maze), sort-term/working memory (Digit Span and Letter-number Sequencing) and Processing Speed (Symbol Search). Non-verbal mentation was assessed using the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices. Order of presentation of the tests was counterbalanced across subjects. Results: Overall the results for the AB task showed a refractory period for probe detection of approximately 400 msecs. The only significant relationship observed between performance on the AB and any other measure was a weak negative relationship with chronological age r=-0.355, p<0.05. Conclusion: The results suggest that the AB does not relate to traditional conceptualisations of short-term/working memory. Thus further consideration of the definition of working memory in relation to the AB is warranted. Estimation of the duration of the AB in this case does, however support previous studies. It is possible that the AB relates to earlier, and possibly more transient, aspects of information processing which are not examined by current neuropsychological testing.
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