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4. PSY270 Attention.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Kristie Dukewich

PSY270 Ch. 4 Attention 10/31/2012 12:51:00 PM SELECTIVE ATTENTION  How well can we focus on ONE message. What model explains it best? DIVIDED ATTENTION  What factors determine whether we can pay attention to more than one thing at a time? VISUAL ATTENTION  Attention when we look at visual objects/scene Overview: 1. Selective attention: When does selection occur? 2. How does task load affect selective attention? 3. Dividing attention: Paying attention to more than one thing 4. Attention and visual processing 5. Attention in social situations: The case of autism Selective attention  Divided attention  Visual attention 1. Selective attention: When does selection occur?  Selective attention, the ability to focus on one message while ignoring all others o It has been demonstrated using the dichotic listening procedure  Cherry’s Experiment:  Hearing to 2 passages at once, but focusing attention on hearing 1 passage (attended message) over the other unwanted one (unattended message) by using the shadowing procedure of someone else saying them out loud)  Cocktail party phenomenon: ability to pay attention to one message and ignore all others. A number of models have been proposed to explain the process of selective attention. 1. Early Selection - Broadbent’s filter model of attention  Filter first, incoming info meaning analyzed after = selective attention o Challenge = cocktail party phenomenon (where our attention is dispersed despite his selective attention theory!)   Broadbent proposes that the attended message is separated from the incoming signal early in the analysis of the signal.  First to describe the human as an information processor & to use a flow diagram to explain processing.  Broadbent’s model is called an early-selection model, as the filtering step comes before the incoming information is analyzed to determine its meaning.  Model to explain selective attention – Information passes through the following stages: o 1. Sensory memory  holds incoming info for a fraction of a second o 2. Filter  Identifies the attended message based on its physical characteristics (speaker’s voice)  Lets only this message through to the detector, filters out other messages. o 3. Detector  Processes info to determine higher-level characteristics of the message such as its meaning  Only attended info enters the filter, so detector processes only this attended info o 4. STM  receives the output of the detector.  Holds info for 10-15 seconds  Transfers info into LTM   Broadbent’s split-scan experiment o Dual-channel (two ears) used, to detect different letters to each.  When asked to repeat the letters, he found that it is difficult to switch between channels, so it was easier to first report all info from one channel and then repeat all info from the other. o CRITIQUE = Mooray’s experiment using participants name in 1 channel instead of letters.  Name was being detected still! Thus, info sent to unattended ear was still processed enough to present listener with awareness of its meaning.  = cocktail party phenomenon  Broadbent: said their names would have been filtered out before reaching the detector (as it is only to let through one message, based on physical characteristics) o CRITIQUE = Gray & Wedderburn “Dear Aunt Jane” experiment, challenged Broadbent’s idea that one can’t switch between channels. st  1 channel = “Dear 7 Jane”  2nd channel = “9 Aunt 6”  Listeners response = “Dear Aunt Jane” 2. Intermediate Selection - Treisman’s model  Attenuation theory = attenuator first (analyzes the incoming message) + dictionary unit (language + meaning)  Leaky filter theory = both messages through, but one stronger than other  o proposes later separation and adds a dictionary unit to explain how the unattended message can sometimes get through.  Both messages are let through the attenuator, but the attended message emerges STRONGER, and unattended message are attenuated (present, but weak) = Leaky filter o Selection occurs in 2 stages, filter from Broadbent’s theory replaced with an attenuator which analyzes the incoming message in terms of its:  physical characteristics  its language  and its meaning o Common/important words = have lower thresholds = so even a weak signal in the un-attenuated channel can activate that word = cocktail party phenomenon Thresholds:  Own name = LOW(easily noticed)  “rutabaga” = HIGH(not easily noticed)  Boat = Medium o Like Broadbent = early selection model = attended from the unattended message early in the info-processing system o BUT = in Treisman’s model  further selection can also occur later (based on some weaker threshold words getting through) = intermediate selection model 3. Late selection models – Donald MacKay  propose that selection doesn’t occur until messages are processed (processed enough to determine their meaning).  People had to listen to ambiguous sentences o “they were throwing stones at the bank”  Bank could mean = riverbank or financial bank st o 1 channel (attended ear) = Ambiguous sentence o 2 ndchannel (unattended ear) = biasing words  river vs. money  Then listener was presented with pairs of sentences o They threw stones toward the side of the river o They threw stones at the savings/loan association  Listener chose which sentence was closest to the meaning of the attended message  = MacKay found that the meaning of the biasing word had affected the participants choice o This occurred even if participant wasn’t aware of the biasing word o Meaning of the unattended word was effecting the listeners judgment, so the word must have been processed semantically. Which model is best?? = Depends on the nature of the task and the attention we need to focus on to respond best 2. How does task load affect selective attention?  The ability to selectively attend is affected by task load. o High-load task = all resources used up, no capacity to handle other tasks, hard to be distracted  Reciting the piano o Low-load task = few resources, some ability to handle other tasks, easy to be distracted  Reading celebrity gossip  Flanker-compatibility measured how high/low loaded a task was = Flanker-compatibility experiments have shown that when attentional tasks involve low load, some cognitive capacity remains, so some processing of unattended signals can occur. o When attentional tasks involve high load, processing of unattended material is prevented. o LOW TASK LAOD = Target vs. Flanker (distractor stimulus). Participant told to respond asap when they see the target stimulus.  Distractor (flanker)
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