A Glossary for My Paper Reviews

If you plan on reading through these paper reviews and you don't have a background in Experimental Psychology, you'll want to review the vocabulary terms below to get the most out of these papers without having to google too much.

  • First of all, congratulations. You're going to love these papers... or hate them. Either way, you don't know until you try! You'll figure it out, and I'll be here every step of the way. 
  • Rapid Series Visual Presentation (RSVP)- An RSVP stream is a rapid presentation of visual stimuli, with merely 100's of milliseconds between presentation of stimuli. It begins with a simple task instruction, such as finding the 2 red letters in the stream. These are the targets; the first red letter is T1 and the second red letter is T2. Subjects are typically asked to report what the targets were: in this case, which letters are red.  However, before and after each of these targets there are distractors - other non-red letters that might attract attention away from the targets. The RSVP stream is used mainly to test the Attentional Blink, which I will cover below.
  • Lag-  In the case of an RSVP stream, the "Lag" refers to distance between T1 and T2- in either milliseconds or stimuli. In other words, if there are 3, 100-millisecond stimuli between T1 and T2, we would say that this condition is Lag 3 or a 300 millisecond Lag. 
  • The Attentional Blink- This is a phenomenon observed while testing subjects with an RSVP stream. Normally, when T1 is reported correctly, T2 can be reported at a level of accuracy significantly higher than chance. However, when T2 is presented between approximately 200 and 400 milliseconds after T1, T2 is reported only at chance. In other words, you could (theoretically) do just as well guessing what T2 is if it is within the window of the Attentional Blink. Observe the figure below:

Note the rate at which T2 is answered correctly; around 75% when the lag is only 100 ms, but only 40% at 200 ms! As the lag continues to increase, so does the rate at which T2 is correctly identified. That makes sense; the more time you're given between targets, the more accurate you should be.

But then why do you get less accurate between 100 and 200 ms? Exactly. That's why there are so many people doing these experiments, and that's why we're going to read so many papers on this. When we understand the Attentional Blink better, we will understand the process of cognition much better.  

  • Salience- How much an object stands out and, as a result, the level to which it is naturally attended to and processed by Bottom-Up Processing. An object is more salient the more it stands out from other features of a scene or the more naturally distinctive its features are.
  • Top-Down Processing- The concept that what we see is influenced by what we're looking for. When we're looking for something orange, we'll see orange things at a much higher rate. However, we will also miss blue things. 
  • Bottom-Up Processing- The concept that some objects are so inherently salient - whether due to color or the subject matter - that you process them even if they aren't relevant. When you're looking for a blue circle and an orange triangle distracts you, bottom-up processing is interfering with your top-down task. 

That's all for now! You have a basic background in some of the terms you'll encounter in the papers I'll be reviewing. I'll do my best to keep you updated with new terms as we encounter them. Still, Google exists for a reason: use it!

Works Cited for image used:

Heim S and Keil A (2012) Developmental trajectories of regulating attentional selection over time. Front. Psychology 3:277. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00277