Alpha, Beta: The Rhythm of the Attentional Blink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of British Colombia
  • University of Illinois


Extant theories of the attentional blink propose that the most critical factor in determining second target accuracy is the time that elapses between the first and second targets. Here we report that this conclusion has overlooked an equally important determinant, namely the frequency of the entraining stream in which these targets are embedded. Specifically, we show in two experiments that the signature of the attentional blink — second target accuracy that increases with inter-target lag — is significantly larger for entraining streams that are in the alpha-beta frequency range, relative to streams that are slower (theta) or faster (gamma). This finding ties the attentional blink critically, for the first time, to these two prominent oscillation frequencies that are known to be involved in the control of human attention and consciousness.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1862–1869
Number of pages20
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin & Review
Issue number6
Early online date7 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • beta, attentional blink, attention, oscillations, alpha

ASJC Scopus subject areas