When two targets are presented in close temporal contiguity among distractors in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream, perception of the second target is impaired. This deficit is known as the attentional blink (AB). The major objective of the present work was to test a two-strategy hypothesis of how the target-identification task is performed: target-passing and distractor-rejection. This hypothesis was tested in Experiment 1 by comparing AB magnitude in groups that experienced the same distractors throughout, with groups that experienced a switch in distractor category halfway through the experiment. In Experiment 2, the type of instructions was manipulated in order to assess the cognitive penetrability of the processes that underlie strategy choice. It was found that choice of strategy neither affected AB magnitude nor was it cognitively penetrable. Instead, an asymmetry in switch effects on T2 performance pointed to the importance of type of distractor and direction of switch.
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