Developmental changes in feature detection across time: Evidence from the attentional blink

Natalie Russo, Wendy R. Kates, Brad Wyble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The ability to select targets from an ongoing stream of visual information is critical to the successful management of visual attention. The attentional blink (AB), a phenomenon elicited using rapid serial visual presentation, allows for the assessment of the limits of the temporal visual system, and is reflected in a decrease in accuracy in the detection of the second of two targets when it occurs within 200–500 ms of a first target. Evidence regarding the development of the AB is mixed and appears to be dependent on the task demands. Here we present data examining the AB across middle childhood, early adolescence, and adulthood using a feature binding task. Participants were asked to detect and report the identity of two purple letters presented in a stream of black letters at a rate of 135 ms/item. On this feature binding task, the depth of the AB was invariant across development but AB recovery occurred earlier with increasing age. Furthermore, the error data suggested important developments in temporal binding that were reflected both in a decrease in the number of swaps (where participants reverse the order of the targets but identify them correctly) and in the spread of temporal binding errors with age. These findings suggest that the characteristics of the AB and its development are task dependent and also suggest that the development of binding abilities in visual search tasks mirrors the time course of multisensory binding effects, perhaps suggesting a common mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Attentional blink
  • Development
  • Rapid serial visual presentation
  • Temporal binding
  • Temporal processing
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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