Jan 21 2014 Attention Week 3
ATTENTION AND CONSCIOUSNESS
Attention is the concentration of mental effort on sensory (environment) or mental
Overt attention- Observer can tell what we are paying attention ( directing our
Covert attention – Paying attention to something but not looking at it.
Ex. Out with friends for dinner. Looking at them (overt). You hear people
across the table talking about something ( you start to eves drop)
Endogenous – we decide what we pay attention to. Volunteering our attention.
Can also be overt and covert.
Exogenous- when something grabs our attention and we can’t shift our attention
(ex. Siren). Can be overt, but not covert- we can’t help but looking at it.
Attention is intimately linked to consciousness
Habituation- stop paying attention to a physical stimulus and you are no longer
aware of it. Fades away from consciousness. Ex. Bum on the chair.
Dishabituation- Feeling of sensation arises once again. Bringing attention back
Sensory adaptation- when you stop paying attention to a physical stimulus,
happens at a neuronal level. Sense receptors stop responding to physical
stimulus. Ex. McDonalds smell.
In attentional blindness:
If we don’t pay attention to something we won’t be consciously aware of it
Simons and Chabris (1999) demonstrated this phenomenon dramatically.
Video: gorilla, black shirt member leaves, curtain changing color are
related phenomenon known as change blindness.
We are often “blind” to changes that occur within our visual fields
Video: missing the change in person they started convo with. We can only pay
attention to a number of things. Can’t change the gender, approximate height.
Female participants are equal at noticing change in both male and female. Males
are more likely to pay change in females than in men.
Attention is driven by stimulus saliency- environmental attention grabbers.
Motion- adds that flash.
Colour- bright colors.
Endogenous : Attention can be driven by
other “important” information and
Eg.Land & Hayhoe
All fixations occur before the
action. How do you what to look at
next? >> Past knowledge. Jan 21 2014 Attention Week 3
Chabris , et al (2011) demonstrated that one “important” event can make us blind to an
unexpected “important” event
Police officer being sued. They failed to notice an assault while they were on
Conditions: daylight 72%, nighttime 35% , tap their heads with one hand 56%,
tap head with both hands but count only with right hand 42%. If participants were
given a task, they decided that it was the only important task. Important is what
we decide is our goal or our end task.
THE ROLL OF ATTENTION
Attention can be used for different functions
Selective attention- paying attention to one thing.
Often studied by using dichotic listening tasks and shadowing
Dichotic listening task: each ear is
played a different msg. They are
also asked to do a shadowing task
(repeat msg from one ear & ignore
CHERRY’S DICHOTIC LISTENING SELECTIVE
ATTENTION- Selectively attending to the meaning.
People are good at paying attention to message in one ear only – i.e. people are good at
People noticed sensory information ( physical ) in unattended ear
People did not notice the meaning of the message in the unattended ear. Even if
it was the same word repeated over and over.
Can tell if a male/ female voice was being played. A voice speaking or telephone
FILTER THEORIES OF ATTENTION & SELECTIVE ATTENTION
Based on results from dichotic listening tasks
Filter theories (aka bottleneck theories) believe attention has a specific ‘filter’ that only
lets some information through at a time
1. Broadbent’s Early Selection Model- Selective Attention Jan 21 2014 Attention Week 3
Sensory comes in. Attention acts as a filter. The single msg is passed on to detector
which gains a meaning.
People are aware of their own name in an unattended message: cocktail effect.
Triesman’s (1960) experiment.
Two msg switches ear. They are only told to report one ear.
What they actualy report the prop msg. They would only know to switch
ear if they are paying attention to the other unintended ear. People might
be shifting ears.
Instead of attention acting like a filter, it attends like an Attenuator
Reported: …sitting at the mahogany table possibilities…
Triesman’s Attenuation Model- Selective Attention
Attended signal is stronger than other stimuli after passing through the filter, but…
Unattended stimuli may be more intense
Unattended stimuli may be ‘more important’
Unattended stimuli may be ‘more likely’
Dictionary decides which was in more important and which one has meaning.
Capacity Theories of Attention- Divided
We have a fixed amount of attentional
resources that we can use to perform
mental work. Being in “the zone”
More cognitive load = more
attentional resources used
We have some control over how
we allot these resources
We can decide how much to devote
attention to. Jan 21 2014 Attention Week 3
If primary task isn’t hard, then you have extra attention to do