Past rejections lead to future misses: Selection-related inhibition produces blink-like misses of future (easily detectable) events

Alejandro Lleras, Jun Ichiro Kawahara, Brian R. Levinthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our recent experiences can have substantial effects on our future behavior. Here we show influences of prior visual experiences on the future workings of selective attention. Selective attention uses inhibitory processes to suppress distracting information on a given trial. We show that, once in place, this selective inhibition persists across trials and leads to misses of future targets when they belong to the previously distracting category of stimuli. This effect is documented using a single-target RSVP task, in which participants are asked to report the case (or color) of an oddball target. Furthermore, we show that selective inhibition is not present when observers are merely asked to detect the presence or absence of the oddball target. We argue that selective inhibition is a mechanism aimed at facilitating the access to secondary (non-target defining) features of the target stimuli, and that our results provide further evidence that visual stimuli are processed in a hierarchical, non-holistic manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number26
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 27 2009


  • Attentional blink
  • Feature-based attention
  • Inhibition
  • Inter-trial effects
  • Selective attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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