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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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PSYC 213
Jelena Ristic

Chapter 4: The Varieties of Attention James’s Description of Attention  James wrote the first textbook, Principles of Psychology described attention as “the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thoughts…it implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others” Selective Attention  Dichotic listening is when participants are exposed to two previously recorded verbal messages presented simultaneously and required to answer questions posed in only one of the messages o When participants knew which voice contained the message, performance was good o Good at selective attention—able to select relevant info and ignore irrelevant info  Cocktail party phenomenon occurs when you‟re able to attend to one conversation in a room where many other conversations are occurring o Ability to study one message while ignoring others using the shadowing task, in which a participant wears headphones and is given a message in each ear  They shadow one of messages by repeating it  People must filter out information whey did not want to attend—one stage of info-procession might be a filter  Selective looking o People are able to attend to either sequence easily o Saw only the attended to sequence and not distracted by the other  Early selection view of attention o Attention can effectively prevent early perceptual processing of irrelevant distractors‟ o Other tasks might produce effects relevant to late selection view of attention, where both relevant and irrelevant stimuli are perceived and the person must actively ignore the irrelevant stimuli to focus on the relevant ones The Stroop Task  When you try to name the colors, it is as if you are constantly being distracted by the tendency to read the names o The tendency to read the names interferes with the attempt to name the colors  A typical Stroop experiment compares performance in an incongruent condition (red) with a control condition (XXX) o The incongruent condition takes more time than the control  Requires participant to inhibit the reading of the color words in order to name the color  Illustrates controlled versus automatic processes o Automatic is autonomous—runs itself without necessity of paying attention  Bottom-up, stimulus-driven, involuntary o Control process are ones we must pay attention to if we want to execute properly  Top-down, goal-directed, voluntary  Use of hypnosis to investigate this phenomenon o Participants given a hypnotic induction procedure and several suggestions o Those who are highly suggestible are more susceptible to hypnosis  Did not show the typical Stroop effect o Possible explanation is that the readings of words is suppressed in highly suggestible participants, enabling them to easily name the color o Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and anterior cingulated cortex (ACC) have been identified most with these studies  Prefrontal areas are thought to provide top-down bias favoring selection to task-relevant info  ACC should be seen as part of a network responsible for attentional control communicating with other equally essential components within this network and having multiple functions Attention Capture and Inattentional Blindness  Attention capture—the power of some stimuli on some occasions to elicit attention in spite of the fact that we did not intend to pay attention to them o Its possible that we are „tuned‟ to pick up useful info even when our attention is directed elsewhere o The revere is known as inattentional blindness—our failure to attend to events that we might be expected to notice  Mack and Rock experiment o Show a series of asymmetrical crosses and asked to judge which arm of cross was longer o On the fourth trial there was an unexpected small black square shown in one quadrant o Participants, when asked, where not aware of having seen anything other than the cross o In one variation there was a cartoon face used  These were detected 85% of the time  Flanker task o Had to search for name of famous show-business personality or a famous politician on a screen by itself or with a string of letters o On the periphery there was a picture of the person being south (congruent condition) or person from opposite category (incongruent condition)  Incongruent conditions took longer than congruent ones  We attend to faces involuntarily even when our goal is to ignore them o Downing thought there may be domain-specific modules in the brain that automatically process faces Dual Tasks and the Limits of Attention  If you‟re a skilled driver, driving will be a simples task o Might be able to carry on a conversation while you drive o If something out of the ordinary happens, driving might no longer be a simple task  Attention is like a power supply, and is therefore required capacity model o A task taps a reservoir of fuel o If you try to do too much, you will run out of gas o Task performance has limit given by the capacity of the fuel tank that powers attention  Attention has structural limits o If two tasks require the same kind of activity, then they may interfere with each other more than if each requires a different type of activity o Interference between tasks is more likely to occur to the extent that they share the same processing resources  Central bottleneck o Doing two things at once will require you to alternate attention between two tasks and attend to one at a time  Divided attention o People can learn to attend to more than one thing at a time  People often make inferences on that basis of what they hear o Often falsely recognize these inferences as being something they actually heard Task Switching  Set—organization that facilitates some responses while inhibiting others o An examples if the way that an individual often prepares to act before beginning the overt effective action o Preparatory sets, executive sets, and goal sets  Task switching—people must change from working on one task to working on another o We exercise intentional control to select and implement the task-set that are appropriate to our dominant goals o Switch cost—performance on a task immediately after a switch is worse than typical performance on the same task o Once participants are used to one task, they may be reluctant to incur the cost of switching to another task o Requires people to change their set Attention, Awareness, and Unconscious Processes  Different travelers visiting the same place will bring back different accounts of what they have seen o People encode events in different ways  Encoding refers to the process of transforming information into one or more forms of representation o There is too much richness in the world for us to be aware of all the dimensions along which we are encoding it  We are able to encode an event without being aware of it o And event can be encoded along several different dimensions simultaneously— multi-dimensional encoding Perception without Awareness  Subliminal perception refers to a class of phenomena in which a stimulus has an effect on behavior even though it has been exposed too rapidly or at too low an intensity for the person to be able to identify the stimulus Backward Masking  Backward masking involves presenting a stimulus to the participant and then covering it with another stimulus o The time difference between the first stimulus and the masking stimulus is called the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA)  Experiment where participants were shown a single word that was then masked o Participants asked to report whatever they could o Sometimes they reported words that had not been shown but that were semantically related to the stimulus word o Sometimes called
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