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The influence of pain on attention: Electrocutaneous distractors modulate the Attentional Blink

Sippel, I. (2011) The influence of pain on attention: Electrocutaneous distractors modulate the Attentional Blink.

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Abstract:The attentional blink effect is known as the inability of participants to report a second target in a stream of rapidly shown non – targets if it occurs about 500 ms after a first target. Studies suggest that this phenomenon is a long-lasting, unavoidable attentional deficit, because it can be observed under a wide variety of task conditions, for example visual, auditory or sensory targets, and cannot be eliminated even with training. Several explanations are suggested, including the Threaded Cognition Model or the Boost and Bounce Theory. Research is done on the effect of distractors on the attentional blink, suggesting that there are two sides to it. On the one hand, studies have found that the mere presence of distractors can lead to a shorter blink period, while on the other hand some distractors, for example unpleasant ones, can lead to longer blink lengths. In this experiment, the influence of pain on the attentional blink was studied. It was expected that low intensity pain stimuli have a beneficial effect, while high intensities lead to longer blink periods. To study this, participants carried out an RSVP task, during which they were presented with an irrelevant electrocutaneous stimulus at the same time as T1 in 33 % of the trials. Participants were asked to report T2 and were tested for their accuracy on this. The analysis showed that high intensity pain stimuli indeed led to lower accuracy in reporting T2, while low intensity stimuli did not seem to have a significant effect. This can be due to the experimental design, which was the first to use acute pain in contrast to continuous distractors, or the dissimilarity of the distractor stimuli to the targets. In conclusion, the hypothesis that high intensity pain stimuli have a detrimental effect for the attentional blink was confirmed, while the second half of the hypothesis, that low intensity stimuli have a beneficial effect, was not.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/61315
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