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Lecture 7

PSYB51H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Fusiform Face Area, Visual Search, Gestalt Psychology

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Matthias Niemeier

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Perception and Cognition
Week 7 – June 26 th
, 2015
Selective attention: a cognitive brain mechanism that enables one to process relevant inputs, thoughts,
or actions while ignoring others that are less important, irrelevant or distracting.
Arousal: a global state of the brain reflecting an overall level of responsiveness.
oDegree to which you’re active and awake.
oE.g., studying all night for the midterm then falling asleep during a lecture (not because it’s
Nonlinear relationship between attention and arousal however, they do go in tandem.
You are tired, so you drink coffee, which increases arousal for the exam.
You drink too much coffee leading to an arousal state too high for the exam in which
everything is vivid and salient so focusing on one thing is difficult.
Bottlenecks: it is impossible to process everything at once.
oSeveral bottlenecks in human processing:
Sensory bottlenecks
Cognitive bottlenecks
E.g., Where’s Waldo, for both sensory and cognitive bottlenecks
Motor bottlenecks
Can’t do various tasks all at the same time (need for prioritization)
Humans only have two arms (limitation of motor functions)
oE.g., necessary for crossing the street.
Ways of measuring attention:
oReaction times: a measure of the time from the onset of a stimulus to a response.
Perceptual thresholds
Perceptual biases
oMotor accuracy
oEye movements: overt shifts of attention but not covert shifts of attention.
Simple probe detection experiment: measures response time (or perceptual thresholds).
oPress the response key as quickly as possible.
oAuditory system responds faster than visual cues.
Michael Posner: added a cue to the paradigm.
Cue: a stimulus that might indicate where (or what) a subsequent stimulus will be.
Cueing effect: the difference (in reaction time, brain activity, etc.) between the effect of a valid and
invalid cue.
Stimulus-driven cue: information conveyed through previous events at the same location (involuntary,
reflexive, peripheral).
oCue provides information regarding space.
oExogenous cues.
Voluntary cues: (spatial) information conveyed through cognitions and memory, often based on
language or other symbols (symbolic, central).
oEndogenous cues.
Stimulus-driven (peripheral) vs. voluntary (symbolic):
oPartially independent neural structures.
oStimulus onset asynchrony (SOA): the time between the onset of one stimulus and the onset of
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