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Lecture 3

PSY270H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Detection Theory, Clapping Game, Inattentional Blindness

Course Code
Christine Burton

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Monday, January 18, 2010
PSY270 Lecture 3
January 18, 2010
- Today we’re talking about attention, but as we all know the
Coglabs are due today. We’re going to spend some time going
over both the lab & relate them to the lecture today.
- She doesn’t have too many announcements today. The only
quick announcement she has is that someone told on her &
that they’re not allowed to pack the room & have people
sitting on the stairs since that’s a fire hazard. If we notice
someone come in & they can’t find a spot, please raise your
hand if there is an empty seat beside you so that they can sit
there instead of the aisle.
Todays Goals
Introduce attention and define the different ways it can be
Describe the 2 major camps of attention theories
Filter theories
Capacity theories
Discuss the connection between attention and consciousness
Inattentional blindness
Change blindness
Review brain areas and neurotransmitters involved in
- What we’re doing today she’s going to try & keep this
discussion in structure as *possible*. Attention is one of those
things that we can really talk about in a lot of different ways &
different research areas ask different questions, so it can be a
bit tricky to figure out how they all fit together. She’s going to
try & create an overarching structure when we’re talking about
- What we’re going to start off with is introducing different
types of attention & how we can use attention & talking about
different tasks used to study them.
- Then she wants to go on & talk about overarching themes of
what attention actually is & then at the end we’ll spend time
discussing the connection b/w attention & consciousness.
- She has added on a review of brain areas & neurotransmitters
involved in attention. That covers the last 3 pages of the
chapter. The reason she decided to add that on is b/c she was
reading over the textbook again today & she realized that the
info is not accurate there are little errors so she wants to go
over it so we have the right info.
Types of Attention
Attention is the concentration of mental effort on
sensory or mental events
Selective attention
Divided attention
How does vigilance work?
Posner was one of first to demonstrate the nature of
visual attention experimentally
- So what is attention? We all sort of have an idea of what
attention is it really is just concentrated mental effort or
mental energy on either sensory or mental events. So we can
pay attention to some external stimulus or we can pay
attention to something going on inside so it’s just
concentrating our mental efforts.
- We can talk about 4 different things that attention can do
they’re not really types of attention but things we can do with
our attention.
- So we can be vigilant of something, which is looking out for
something, keeping our attention focused for a certain event to
- We can selectively attend something. So that’s really what
we think of when we pay attention we’re selectively
attending one thing, either an external or internal event.
- We can pay attention to more than one thing at once so we
can divide our attention.
- And finally we can use attention to search for something – so
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directing attention at different items to pick one out of a group.
- So those are different things that we can do with attention.
We’ll spend a bit of time going over each of those & the tasks
that we use.
- There are 2 general themes people research in attention that
she wants to point out they’re not explicit in our textbook
but there are 2 things we want to know about for attention.
The first one is what is it that’s in attention, how do we decide
what to pay attention to? Those are the theories about what
really is attention. The other question is what is inside
attention? If we pay attention to something, what is it about
that thing are we paying attention to? So first of all, what is
attention & second of all, what are the objects that we’re
paying attention to? So those are the 2 main themes.
Generally, the first question of what is attention we talk about
when we talk about selective attention & divided attention.
Now this is not strictly the case but generally speaking that’s
what we find. People who study selective & divided attention
want to know what is it that makes up attention. People who
study vigilant & specifically visual search tasks really want to
know what is it that we’re putting our attention on, what are
we being vigilant for? What are we searching for?
- She wants to point out sort of where those themes come in as
we go along. So those 2 main questions which are a different
way of dividing attention than those 4 things that we need
attention for.
- Alright so we’re going to start off with vigilance. The first
question is how does vigilance work? What is it? One of the
first people to ask what is vigilance was Posner & he
performed a now classic experiment which is the first Coglab
that we could’ve done today. We’re going to start right off
going off the Spatial Cueing Coglab it was a task designed
by Posner asking what are we being vigilant for? About half
the class did this one, half the class did the other one so what
she’s going to do is to first go over very briefly what the task
was so we’re all on the same page before going into the details
of it.
- In that task, the role is first we look at a cross, we keep our
eyes there, & the task was to push a button when we notice a
target item & in this case, it’s the red square look here & the
red square will show up on the left or right. There are 3
possible trials we might see. First one we may see an arrow
before the stimulus then we see the red square & press the
button that is a valid trial the arrow indicated where the
target was going to be. In another case, we might get no arrow
& then a square, a target item, & that trial is a neutral trial b/c
it doesn't really give us any info about where the target is
going to be. And finally we have an invalid trial where the trial
indicates the opposite direction. So that was the task
- What she wants us to do now that students don't generally
really like to do but it’s beneficial is that she wants us to sort
of get into casual groups of 4, 5 or 6 people just talk to
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people around you. What she wants us to do is talk about what
we wrote in the lab report so go over what was the purpose,
procedures, manipulations & measurements. If we didn’t do
that lab then it’s useful to listen to those who did the lab &
come to a consensus of what you wrote & then we’ll go over
that later.
Spatial Cueing - CogLab
To investigate the nature (“range”) of visual attention
Detect the location of a target shape
IV-type of cue
DV-reaction time
- We’re going to start with the question of what was the
purpose of this Coglab, why did we do it. What did you write
in your report? (She’s taking answers, I’ll just write down
what she says). What she put was really broad to just
investigate the nature of visual attention or the range of visual
attention where does visual attention go? So what we wrote
is not wrong, just too specific. So we just really ask what it
does. How does attention work? Just a basic question.
- So what would be the procedure? Just generally what do we
do? As a participant what did you do? Press a button. The
procedure was to detect the location of a target shape by
pressing a button.
- So what about the manipulation? What was the independent
variable? So the type of cue you were given a valid, invalid
or neutral cue.
- Then what did we measure, what was the dependent
variable? Reaction time.
- This is the type of info we’ll be looking for. Obviously we
don’t need this word for word just very brief statements of
what we want to do, what the participants’ jobs were, & what
were the independent & dependent variable. So is all of this
testable material? Yes. She just wants to say as an aside right
now especially since there were other students that asked her
what we’re responsible for & what material we’re going to be
responsible for. This course is very experimentally based – the
thing with cognitive psychology is we can never really
observe what is going on inside our minds we have to make
inferences based on what we measure like reaction time. So it
is unlikely for us to be able to say that we did this experiment,
we observed it & here is the fact & this is how it works. With
cognitive psychology, we come up with a theory, then we
perform an experiment & ask does it fit or not. Then we’ll
come up with a theory based on the results & then someone
else might come up with a theory & we’ll say okay so how
does this expand it? Really what we’re responsible for are sort
of the ideas & theories, & whether or not we can do
experiments to support that. That is the main focus. So to
answer the guys question, we are going to be responsible for
these types of things, but she never expects us to know any
details about the experiment we don’t need to know who did
them, or the years they did them in. What we should know is
what kind of theory was this related to, what is the question, &
what did they want to show? Generally what happens, what
did we want to measure, & what did we want to manipulate to
get that measurement. And then did it show what it wanted to?
So that is what we’re going to be responsible for & she might
ask on a test to explain an experiment that shows we’re better
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