Psychological Research

, Volume 82, Issue 6, pp 1091–1101 | Cite as

Perceptual similarity induces overinvestment in an attentional blink task

  • Ellen MacLellan
  • David I. Shore
  • Bruce Milliken
Original Article


The overinvestment account of the attentional blink (AB) posits that the AB results from the allocation of more resources than necessary to encode a first target (T1), which in turn lowers the resources available to encode a second target (T2) shortly thereafter. Across two experiments, we examined whether resource allocation to T1, and thus overinvestment that results in an AB effect, might be limited by perceptual mechanisms that evaluate the need for encoding resources. The key result observed in both experiments was that a relatively easy to encode T1 can nonetheless result in an AB when it is perceptually similar to a more difficult to encode T1. The importance of experimental context as an influence on the allocation, or overinvestment, of attentional resources to T1 is highlighted by these findings.



We wish to thank Christian Olivers and one anonymous reviewer for the insightful comments on a previous version of this paper. We also wish to thank Amanda Dias for assistance with data collection.

Compliance with ethical standards


Financial support for this study was provided by NSERC discovery grants to BM and DIS. The authors declare no conflict of interest. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the McMaster Research Ethics Board (MREB). All participants provided informed consent prior to completing the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen MacLellan
    • 1
  • David I. Shore
    • 1
  • Bruce Milliken
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and BehaviourMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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