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Attention and memory

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Ashley Waggoner Denton

Attention and memory Attention : • In order for something to potentially be remembered, it must be attended to in the first place • Attention is selective: - It has to be selective because it is limited - Selective attention is adaptive Visual search tasks  Searching for one feature is fast and automatic (parallel processing) - The target will “pop out” at you  Searching for two (or more) features is slow and effortful (serial processing): - Must examine each target one-by-one Selective listening:  The “cocktail party phenomenon”: even if you are having a conversation with someone, if you hear something that gets your attention (your name, or someone talking about someone you know), your brain is likely to focus on that conversation.  Shadowing: A person listens to two different messages (one presented to the left ear, and one to the right) and only attends to one of the messages (by repeating it aloud): - Generally have no conscious knowledge about the information being presented to the other (unattended) ear Models of memory:  The information processing model: - Encoding phase: information is acquired and processed into a neural code that the brain can use - Storage phase: The retention of encoded information (whether it is for a second or a lifetime) - Retrieval phase: Recalling or remembering the stored information when we need it  The modal memory model:  Sensory memory: Memory for sensory information that lasts only a fraction of a second. We are not usually even aware of it.  Short-term or Working memory: Memory that will remain for only about 20-30 seconds, unless you actively think about or rehearse it  E.g., remembering a phone number or licence plate - Chunking: Organizing information into meaningful units to make it easier to remember (E.g., KFC CEO UBC PHD UTM (6 units) much easier to remember than KFCCEOUBCPHDUTM (15 units)) - The working memory system has 4 components:  Phonological loop: Auditory information  Visuospatial sketchpad: Visual and spatial information  Episodic buffer: Information about oneself  Central executive: Coordinates information between each component as well as long-term memory  Long-term memory: The relatively permanent storage of information. - Differs from working memory in terms of both duration and capacity Working Memory vs. Long-term Memory • Serial position effect: The ability to recall items from a list depend on the order of presentation
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