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PSYC 3260 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Fault Tolerance, Exosphere, Sketchpad

Course Code
PSYC 3260
Norman Park
Study Guide

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Chapter 3—attention and consciousness
Attention—concentration of mental activity--allows cognitive processes to
take in limited portion of vast stream of info available from both sensory
world and memory--“gatekeeper”
Attention tasks rely on both bottom up and top down processing
oWe sometimes concentrate mental activity b/c interesting stimulus in
environment has captured attention (bottom up). OR concentrate
mental activity b/c we want to pay attention to specific stimulus (top
down) i.e. searching for a particular friend in the caf
Divided attention task
Paying equal attention to two or more kinds of info & responding
appropriately to each message
Speed and accuracy suffer
Multitask—Strains limits of attention, working memory, & LTM
Research focuses on ppl who use cells and drive
oReaction times are slower, even with hands free cell phones
oShows form of inattentional blindness
oattention reduced for info appearing in the center of their visual field
oAs a driver you are more distracted when passenger is on phone
Task switching related to multitasking—roommate keeps interrupting you
while studying—make more errors during transitions
Parallel processing
Selective attention tasks
pay attention to certain kinds of info, while ignoring other ongoing info
Simplifies our lives
Dichotic listening task—studied by ppl wearing earphones; one msg is
presented in one ear & diff msg in other—on phone while paying attention
to a convo beside you
oResearch shows that we notice little abt an irrelevant auditory msg.
oPpl asked to shadow the msg in one ear—they listen to that msg and
repeat it—if listener makes mistakes, researcher knows they weren’t
paying appropriate attention to specified msg
oPpl notice very little abt the unattended second msg—didn’t notice the
switch to a diff language—did notice whether the voice of the
unattended msg was switched from male to female
oPpl can process only one msg at a time
oPpl are more likely to process the unattended msg if:
Both msgs are presented slowly
The main task is not challenging
The meaning of the unattended msg is immediately relevant
oCocktail party effect—noticing your name
oWorking memory—brief immediate memory for material we are
currently processing
One reason why ppl might not hear their name
High working memory capacity noticed name 20 % of time
Low working memory capacity noticed 65% of time—ppl with
low have difficulty blocking out irrelevant info such as their
name—meaning they are easily distracted
oWhen ppls attention is divided, they can sometimes notice
characteristics of the unattended msg (speakers gender and their own
name). under more challenging conditions, they might not even notice
whether the unattended msg is in english or not
The Stroop Effect SE task
oPpl take a long time to name the ink colour when the colour is used in
printing an incongruent word
oThey can quickly name that same ink colour when it appears as a solid
patch of colour
oSE demonstrates selective attention: ppl take longer to pay attention to
a colour when they are distracted by another feature of the stimulus,
namely the meaning of the name itself
oOne explanation—adults have had much more practice in reading
words than in naming colours
The more automatic process (reading word) interferes with the
less automatic process (naming colour of ink)
oemotional Stroop task—ppl instructed to name ink colour of words
that could have strong emotional significance to them.
Phobic disorder—an excessive fear of a specific object—
Ppl with phobias are sig slower on these anxiety-arousing words
than on control words—ppl w/o phobias show no diff
Results suggest: ppl who have PD are hyper alert to words
related to phobia-attentional bias—situation in which ppl pay
extra attention to some stimuli or features
oSE used in research on ED—results consistent w/ cognitive
behavioural approach—psychological problems arise from
inappropriate thinking (cognitive factors) and inappropriate learning
(behavioural factors)
Study shows relationship bw these women’s potential for eating
disorders and their thought patterns abt words related to body
Visual Search task
oobserver must find a target in visual display that has numerous
oEveryone does daily
olocate target faster if it appears frequently (Jeremy wolfe), if it differs
from irrelevant objects on only one dimension (colour), and if a
specific feature of a stimulus (a line) is present rather than absent
otwo stimulus variables: (1) whether we are searching for a single
isolated feature or a combined set of features and (2) searching for a
target in which a feature is present or absent
o1. isolated feature/combined feture effect
When presented target with a combination of two properties
(searching for blue X among red X’s and O’s and blue O’s) you
pay attention to one item at a time using SERIAL PROCESSING
You were distracted by the stimuli that resembled the target
Time taken increases a lot
o2. The feature-present/feature absent effect
theme 3—states cog processes handle positive info better
“positive” =feature is present, “negative”= its missing
target item captures attention automatically—pop out effect
bottom up process when target present
when target absent ppl examine every item one at a time—
attention uses both bottom up and top down processing
Eye Movements in Reading
saccadic eye movements—very rapid movement, eyes make series of little
jumps as they move across page—purpose of them during reading is to
bring the center of retina into position over the words you want to read—
meaning to move the eye to a location where the acuity is high for the
stimulus you want to see
very small region in the center of the retina—fovea, has better acuity than
other retinal regions—eyes must be moved so new words can be registered
on the fovea
omovements are an example of theme 1 (active cognitive processes
oeach saccade moves your eye forward about 7-9 letters
ofixation occurs during the period bw 2 saccadic movements—during
fixation your visual system pauses briefly in order to acquire info that
is useful for comprehending the written text
many physical and linguistic factors of text influence how long
fixation occurs for
perceptual span—number of letters and spaces that we perceive
during fixation—large individual diff –normally incudes letters
lying 4 positions to left and 15 to the right
operceptual span allows readers to experience parafoveal preview
during fixation readers can access visual info (to right of current
fixation) abt upcoming words even though they are currently fixated
on a word to the left of those words
PP can case shorter fixation durations on a nearby word when
info abt the properties of the text is available parafoveally
saccadic movements show predictable patterns—when eye jumps forward
it moves toward center of word rather than blank spaces—eye jumps past
shorter words, words that are frequent, and words that are highly
predictable in a sentence
saccadic movement is small if next word is misspelled or unusual
design features of the text influence patterns of eye movements during
reading, as does skill level
selective attention in reading

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selective is illustrated by how we fixate a word long enough to gather info
when ppl are certain of the identity of an upcoming word there is a higher
probability that they will skip it
good readers differ from poor readers in regards to saccadic eye
omake larger jumps
oless likely to make regressions—moving their eyes backward to
earlier material
omakes shorter pauses before moving onward
Neuroscience of attention
the orienting attention network OAN—active when searching for objects
when selecting info from sensory input, your OAN is activated
responsible for attention required for visual search, where you must shift
attention around to various spatial locations
brain lesion—damage to the parietal region of the right hemisphere have
trouble noticing a visual stimulus that appears on the left side of their visual
field and vise versa
ounilateral spatial neglect---person ignores part of their visual field
operson may eat only on left side of plate and may even complain she
didn’t get enough food—may be totally unaware of deficit
PET scans—established: network is active when ppl perform visual
searches or when they notice spatial locations. parietal cortex shows
increased blood flow when ppl performs visual searches and when they try
to pay attention to spatial locations
Network involved in visual search, develops first year of life, relies on
activity in the parietal region of the right hemisphere
The executive attention network-active when we must inhibit auto response
Stroop task relies on this network
Responsible for attention we use when a task focuses on conflict
On Stroop you need to inhibit your automatic response of reading a word,
so that you can name the colour of ink
Inhibits your automatic responses to stimuli
prefrontal portion of cortex (frontal lobe) is where this network is active
Primarily involved with top down control of attention
Begins to develop at about age 3
Important when you acquire academic skills in school—learning to read
Adults can enhance this network by learning meditation
Helps you learn new ideas
Area overlaps with the area required for general intelligence
Important for attention tasks that focus on conflict, in top down control of
attention and in learning new info
Early theories
Emphasized that ppl are extremely limited in the amount of info they can
process at any given time
Common metaphor: bottleneck—matches our introspections abt attention
Narrow neck of a bottle restricts the flow into or out of the bottle
Limits the quantity of info to which we can pay attention—one msg is
flowing through neck so other msgs must be left behind
Rejected b/c it is not flexible enough—info is not lost at just one phase of
attention process, as bottleneck suggests. Info is lost throughout many
phases of attention from the beginning through to the later processing
Feature integration theory
Anne Treisman—theory of attention and perceptual processing
contains two components (1) distributed attention, which can be used to
register single features automatically and (2) focused attention, which
requires slower serial processing, to search for combinations of features
Automatic parallel processing (distributed attention/divided) may lead to
pop out effect
1. The basic elements: we sometimes look at a seen using distributed
attention/divided, and we process all parts of a scene at the same time. OR
we use focused attention, we process each item in the scene one at a time.
odistributed attention and focused attention form a continuum—
resulting in using attention somewhere in b/w
odistributed attention (isolated features)—register features rapidly,
automatically; using parallel processing across the field and you
register features simultaneously
low level kind of processing—so effortless
allows you to rapidly locate a target among neighbouring,
irrelevant items—pop out
ofocused attention—requires slower serial processing, forcing you to
focus on identifying one object at a time
necessary when objects are more complex
identifies which features belong together
searching for object in conjunction/combination of properties
oillusory conjunction—inappropriate combination of features, perhaps
combining one objects shape with a nearby objects colour
another effect of this theory—when we are overwhelmed with
too many simultaneous visual tasks we sometimes form an
illusory conjunction
the visual system processes an objects features independently.
visual system sometimes has binding problem b/c it does not
represent the important features of an object as a unified whole
when you look at a red apple, you actually analyze its red
colour separately from its round shape
focused attention allows the binding process to operate—focused
acts like a glue, so that an objects colour and its shape can stick
otop down processing allows us to screen out inappropriate
distributed attention can occasionally resemble focused attention
ovisual system may use distributed attention to quickly gather info abt
the general gist of a scene: the beach
controversy is the variety of diff definitions for the term
diff from attention b/c we may not be conscious of the tasks we perform
when using automatic, distributed form of attention
means the awareness that ppl have abt outside world and about their
perceptions, images, thoughts, memories, and feelings
associated with the kind of controlled, focused attention that is not
cog psychs interested in 3 interrelated issues: (1) inability to bring certain
thoughts into consciousness; (2) inability to let certain thoughts escape
from consciousness; and (3) blindsight
mindless reading—eyes move forward, but do not process meaning of
material. eyes move erratically
no conscious awareness of your higher mental process until you suddenly
became conscious that you remembered nothing
mind wandering—thoughts shift from external environment in favour of
internal processing
oRichard Nisbett—we often have little direct access to our thought
You may be fully conscious of the products of your thought
processes (mothers maiden name). you are usually not conscious
of the processes that created these products (the memory
mechanisms that produced her maiden name)
Ppl may solve problem correctly but be unaware of how they
reached solution
Thought suppression
When engaged in this, ppl try to eliminate undesirable thoughts, ideas,
images that are related to the undesirable stimulus-unable to eliminate them
Wegnerironic effects of mental control describe how our efforts can
backfire when we attempt to control contents of consciousness—you have
trouble suppressing certain thoughts
oTested Tolstoy’s white bear task—when told not to think abt it they
were unable to do so
oInitial suppression of specific thoughts can produce rebound effect—
when ppl are instructed not to notice a painful stimulus they become
more aware of that pain
Also relevant for ppl who experience PTSD, GED and OCD
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