Attentional episodes in visual perception

Brad Wyble, Mary C Potter, Howard Bowman, Mark Nieuwenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Is one's temporal perception of the world truly as seamless as it appears? This article presents a computationally motivated theory suggesting that visual attention samples information from temporal episodes (episodic simultaneous type/serial token model; Wyble, Bowman, & Nieuwenstein, 2009). Breaks between these episodes are punctuated by periods of suppressed attention, better known as the attentional blink (Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1992). We test predictions from this model and demonstrate that participants were able to report more letters from a sequence of 4 targets presented in a dense temporal cluster than from a sequence of 4 targets interleaved with nontargets. However, this superior report accuracy comes at a cost in impaired temporal order perception. Further experiments explore the dynamics of multiple episodes and the boundary conditions that trigger episodic breaks. Finally, we contrast the importance of attentional control, limited resources, and memory capacity constructs in the model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-505
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Attentional Blink
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Models, Psychological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Visual Perception


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