Attentional Blink: An attentional blink is a phenomenon where when presented with rapid visual stimuli if you are asked to track two particular stimuli you will fail to notice the second if it is preceded shortly after the first (Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1992).

Intelligence: A quantifiable score, or set of scores, aimed at measuring human cognitive capacities (such as the Raven's Progressive Matrices test, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, etc.).


The results of Attentional Blink Tests have led some to see attention as a commodity that can be allocated, by will or nature, but needs time to be restored before additional attentional resources can be spent on subsequent activities (Raymond, Shapiro, & Arnell, 1992). It has been noted that emotion plays a role in recognition of the second target – particularly, if there is an emotional investment or relevance in the second target it is more likely to be detected (Schwabe, 2010). This illustrates that emotion can mediate attention. My question is whether intelligence could also mediate attention.

  • Does intelligence increase a person’s attentional abilities?
  • Does, or would, an intelligence score positively correlate with the detection of the second stimulus in an Attentional Blink Test?


Raymond, J. E., Shapiro, K. L., & Arnell, K. M. (1992). Temporary suppression of visual processing in an RSVP task: An attentional blink? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 18(3), 849-860. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.18.3.849

Schwabe L, Wolf OT (April 2010). "Emotional modulation of the attentional blink: Is there an effect of stress?". Emotion 10(2): 283–288.

  • $\begingroup$ I would be surprised if it doesn't correlate. Intelligence scores tend to correlate with almost any cognitive ability. Perhaps you might want to look up John Duncan's work. He's an attention researcher who also published a bit in the intelligence field. I haven't read the key paper myself, but here it is $\endgroup$
    – Ana
    Jul 16, 2012 at 9:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It looks like AB correlates with working memory capacity above and beyond its relationship to fluid intelligence (as measured by Raven's). springerlink.com/content/t221545168371136 $\endgroup$
    – CHCH
    Jul 16, 2012 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


CHCH mentions in the comments that Attentional Blink has been shown to correlate with operation span, a component of working memory. (Colzato et al., 2007)

It has also been demonstrated that working memory correlates highly with general intelligence. (Colom et al., 2004)

So yes, performance on an attentional blink task correlates with intelligence scores.

Colom, R., Rebollo, I., Palacios, A., Juan-Espinosa, M., & Kyllonen, P. C. (2004). Working memory is (almost) perfectly predicted by< i> g. Intelligence, 32(3), 277-296. PDF

Colzato, L. S., Spapé, M. M., Pannebakker, M. M., & Hommel, B. (2007). Working memory and the attentional blink: Blink size is predicted by individual differences in operation span. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14(6), 1051-1057. PDF


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