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Attention.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCH 1X03
Professor
Joe Kim
Semester
Summer

Description
Attention 29/05/2013 1:59:00 PM Introduction to Attention Attention  Allows you to navigate through a crowded world brimming with information and distractions  Without the ability to focus your limited processing resources, you wouldn’t be able to carry on a meaningful conversation, enjoy a piece of music, understand a joke, or learn new things William James  Study of attention covers a seemingly wide range of topics and psychologists have found it challenging to put forth a single all- encompassing operational definition th  One which suits our purposes comes from the 19 century psychologist William James (same one as the levels of analysis unit) o “Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects of trains of though… it implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state” Selection  Center of the definition of attention o Attending to something causes the object of attention to be selected apart from the rest of the unattended objects  When you first put on your clothes you can feel the fabric, but as you go on with your day, those sensations are gone  Some stimuli in the environment can trigger your attention in an automatic fashion o Ex: if a light flashes in your periphery, you can’t help but look at it  Attention also refers to our conscious ability to attend to the information that is relevant to our goals  When you walk down a crowded sidewalk, drive through busy traffic, etc, you are actively selecting where you want to focus your attention  Although irrelevant information in the environment make it difficult to identify and attend to important information, we are remarkably adept at distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information in the environment, however, sometimes the noise overwhelms the signal and you get distracted o Ex: walking down a crowded sidewalk becomes more difficult wen you’re looking for a lost friend in the crowd o Finding your favourite groceries becomes more challenging when you are in foreign market filled with new foods Automatic and Controlled Attention Introduction  Automatic and controlled processes are fundamentally different types of processes that influence attention Automatic Processes  Involuntary “capture”  Fast, efficient  Intimately linked with concepts covered in unit 2 (learning in two ways)  First, recall that some cues seem to be more noticeable and lead to stronger and quicker associations when paired with events, this is the notion of salience o a salient piece of information is one that appears to naturally pop-out at you  ex: it’s hard to miss the loud sounds and flashing lights of an emergency vehicle, this information just seems to automatically capture your attention whether you intended to or not  Second, when you first learn how to drive, it takes many motor skills involving many steps o At first this takes a lot of effort to do them in the right sequence o With enough practice these things don’t take much of an effort (breaking, pressing the gas pedal, etc.) Controlled Processes  Conscious attention  Slow, effortless  Ex: while driving, you consciously choose to pay attention to many aspects of the environment o Flexible controlled processes involved in conscious attention  Choose when to make lane changes, speed up, slow down, engage in conversation, etc  Why do you turn down the radio if you are looking for a new address? o Shows that it’s difficult to consciously attend to many aspects of the task-environment at the same time because the resources for controlled processes are limited CHECKPOINT The Spotlight Model Selection and the Spotlight  Visual attention o Play at Stratford Festival: as the actors move about the stage, a spotlight illuminates a key part of the visual scene and focuses where you look o According to psychologist Michael Posner, there’s an analogous process to visual attention  Attention can be consciously directed across the visual scene as you look for your friend at the crowded after-party  Attention can also be hijacked by unconscious processes that can quickly grab your attention so you can avoid an oncoming speeding car as you step off the sidewalk  As your attention moves around your filed of vision, objects falling within the spotlight are processed preferentially: you can respond to objects faster and with greater accuracy Spatial Cueing Paradigm  How can psychologists objectively measure changes in attention  As a subject, you are asked to fix your attention to the middle box on the screen, at some point a target will appear in either the left or right box, it is your job to indicate the correct target location as quickly as possible o Twist: just before the target appears, a potential target box briefly flashes, the flashing box serves as a cue for your attention o The target can then follow in either the cued or uncued location  One questions that researchers using this paradigm are interested in is measuring the influence of the flashing cue on target detection time Automatic Processing  In one experiment, the target appears randomly on either the left or right target box, and is equally often cued or uncued o in such an arrangement, the cue provides no predictive information about where the target will appear o we can then compare how quickly the subject detects the target  ex: consider all trials where the target appears in the left box; we find that target detection is quicker when it is correctly cued than when it is uncued  the set up of the experiment suggest that this difference in target detection is governed by automatic rather than conscious control of attention  recall: consciously controlled strategies are slower than automatic processes o the relatively short time interval between cue and target presentation favours automatic rather than consciously controlled processes that guide the allocation of attention  results suggest that the cue automatically attracts the attentional spotlight to the cued location o if a target appears in the cued location, then attention will amplify the perceptual processing of that target and it will be detected quickly o if the target appears in the uncued (unattended location) the target will be detected more slowly because the attentional spotlight will have been directed away from the actual target location o this translate into a measureable different in target detection in the cued and uncued trials Controlled processing  What if we set up the experiment so that the attentional cue does provide accurate predictive information about where the target is likely to occur? In this experimental arrangement, the target appears in the cued location more than 50% of the time  Researchers may vary the predictability of cues, to study consciously controlled shifts of attention o Under many circumstances, consciously controlled shifts of attention can lead to fast responses to targets that appear in the location indicated by the cue than to targets that appear opposite the location indicated by the cue  In all these experiemtns on spatial cueing, the predictive cues lead to faster detection times even though the subjects don’t have time to move their eyes to the cued location before making their judgement  It would appear that attention moves faster than the eye! CHECKPOINT Conclusion  When looking at two pictures of can you spot the difference, once you see the difference you can’t get your attention off of i Filer Models Filter Models  Auditory attention o When you go to a party and you are surrounded by many different sounds, despite all the noise, you are still able to single out the specific voice of your conversation partner  Colin Cherry: conduced experiment on this “cocktail party effect” in which subjects were asked to listen to two different messages played from a single loudspeaker at a time  Subjects tried to separate messages, repeating one but not the other in a “shadowing” task o His work revealed that the ability to separate target sounds from background noise is based on physical characteristics, such as the gender of the speaker, and the direction, pitch, or speed of the speech Filters and Attention  Cherry’s work inspired the cognitive models that compare attention processes to a filter which sifts away distractions and only allows important information through  Filter and spotlight models propose very different mechanisms for attention, using the example of a flower in a filed of grass o Spotlight model: attention would enhance the processing of a single flower relative to the grass o Filter model: attention helps us ignore the grass and allows the flower to continue on for further processing Broadbent’s Single Filter Model  First filter model proposed by Donald
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