Attentional blink (AB) is a phenomenon that reflects the temporal costs in the allocating selective attention. The AB is typically measured by using rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) tasks, where participants often fail to detect a second salient target occurring in succession if it is presented between 180-450 ms after the first one. Also, the AB has been observed using two backward-masked targets and auditory stimuli. The term attentional blink was first used in 1992, although the phenomenon was probably known before.
The precise adaptive significance behind the attentional blink is unknown, but it is thought to be a product of a two-stage visual processing system attempting to allocate episodic context to targets. In this two-stage system, all stimuli are processed to some extent by an initial parallel stage, and only salient ones are selected for in-depth processing, in order to make optimum use of limited resources at a late serial stage