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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Attention and Memory Textbook Notes Psych 1X03

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Joe Kim

Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 Chapter 4: Memory and Attention  Flashbulb Memories – vivid memories that have a ‘live’ quality feeling almost as if a person is looking at a photograph of a moment locked in time Section 1: Introduction to Attention  William James: Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession of the mind in clear and vivid form, or one out of what seem several simultaneous possible objects or trains of thought  Psychologists are interested in understanding how attention shapes our perception and memory and how attentional processes are guided by two competing needs of: o Focusing limited mental resources on the immediate task o Monitoring ongoing stimuli to evaluate their potential significance and shifting the allocation of mental resources when necessary Section 2: Tools to Measure Attention  Attention – the ability to selectively focus, consciously or unconsciously, on relevant stimuli in our environment in order to navigate successfully and economically through day experiences  Cocktail Party Effect – despite competing background noises, a listener can focus on a single channel and still pick out relevant salient information from the background  Dichotic Listening Paradigm (Broadbent) o Headphones play two different messages; one into the attended ear and one into the unattended ear o The attended message is “shadowed” without interference from the message sent to the unattended ear o The semantic content of the message sent to the attended ear is well remembered o The semantic content of the message sent to the unattended ear is vague, but present  Bottom-Up and Top-Down Processing o Two-way flow of information; raw data is gathered through the senses (bottom-up processing), which dynamically interacts with information already stored in memory (top- down processing) o Bottom-Up Processing – refers to a stimulus-driven mechanism in which attention is captured by salient change in the environment  Automatically captures your attention to capture your attention  Eg/ Police Siren captures your attention automatically o Top-down processing – you can strategically direct your attention to match your current goals and expectations from past experiences through memory  Prior knowledge about the environment helps us to efficiently find information pertinent to our goals  Eg/ Always put your keys on the right side of your desk; when you’re in a rush, you don’t have to look all over the house, but direct your search to the right of your desk for your keys o Eg/ Answering a question about a painting; about wealth – eyes look toward clothing and furniture, about age – eyes look toward faces o The controlled nature of the top-down processing in directing attention conflicts with the automatic nature of bottum0up processing in the capture of attention  Orienting and the Spatial Cueing Paradigm o Spatial Cueing Paradigm – measures the movement of attention across a scene and factors involved o Overt Attending – the direction of attention is made clear through eye movements Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 o Covert Attending – direction of attention not guided by eye movements but can be measured by spatial cueing where cues lead to faster target detection in periods too short for eye movement  Exogenous vs. Endogenous cueing o Exogenous Cues – allows attention to be physically and automatically oriented  Physically orient you to a specific peripheral location  Eg/ A flash of a box on the right or left o Endogenous Cues – allows attention to be consciously directed by interpretation of cue information  “Symbolic cues”  Eg/ a left or right arrow Section 3: Further Measures of Attention  Stimulus features and contextual information play a large role in how attention is directed and the limitations of attention are highlighted by instances of failure to attend to salient environmental information  Visual Search Paradigm – allows attention to be measured as a function of environmental complexity  Set Size – the total number of items on the display  Pop-Out Effect – reflects bottom-up capture of attention driven by the salience of the physical properties of the target; indicates that virtually salient information automatically captures attention regardless of set size o Eg/ Searching for a red dot among blue dots  Conjunctive Search – searching for a target defined by a combination of features o Eg/ Searching for a red dot among blue dots and red squares o Cannot simply rely on a single unique feature of the target to distinguish it from the distractors  Through experience and accumulation of knowledge, a schema can guide your search – a representation depicting the range of plausible objects and likely configuration of those objects within particular scenes o Familiar environmental settings and our general knowledge about their contexts (schema) guide our attention in amore efficient manner  Contextual Cueing Paradigm o Eg/ searching for a T amid a background display of randomly oriented L’s of different colors o You would find the target T more and more quickly over successive trials with the same distractor display, compared to your search time for a new display that you’ve not seen before o This is because your memory for the global spatial configuration of the old display provides a helpful context to guide your search for the target o Implicit memory mechanism is suggested because participants are unaware that these displays have been repeated, yet they are faster at identifying the target in the unaltered old displays  Unattended Item o Memory of unattended items is vague – but unattended messages are still processed o Test: Dichotic listening paradigm using an ambiguous message to the attended ear “They threw stones at the bank yesterday” (bank could mean the side of a river or a savings and loan association)  The message presented to the unattended ear contained either the word “River” or “Money”  Subjects were asked to shadow the attended message by writing it down word for word without delay or mistake Textbook Notes Psych 1X03  They were then asked which sentence was closest in meaning to the sentences they shadowed: “They threw stones at the side of the river yesterday” or “They threw stones at the savings and loan association yesterday”  Subjects that heard “River” in the unattended ear chose “They threw stones at the side of the river yesterday”  Subjects that heard “Money” in the unattended ear chose “They threw stones at the savings and loan association yesterday” o Participants reported no explicit memory for unattended message content – word meaning may be processed pre-attentively or before attention is selectively committed  Inattentional Blindness – demonstrates that when the focus of attention is placed strongly on a particular stimulus, even highly salient stimuli may go unnoticed o Eg/ 6 basketball players, 3 wearing black, 3 wearing white – count the times the ball is passed between the white shirted players – Black gorilla walking through the video goes unnoticed  Change blindness – demonstrates that salient changes in the environment often go unnoticed, even when we are looking for them o Eg/ Flickering pictures with minor changes o We are faster at detecting the change if we know which part of the image is changing – demonstrates the benefit of top-down directed attention o We are faster at detecting change if the intervening blank scene is removed – benefit from bottom-up capture of attention  The Stroop Task o Not all complex processes require attention, numerous experiences or practice with tasks allows us to perform them almost automatically o An example of how this automatic processing can be a hindrance is the Stroop paradigm – the automatic processing of words interferes with the color naming Section 4: Models of Attention  Spotlight o Attention acts like a spotlight, enhancing things that fall within its focus o Focus moves toward different stimuli and when in the focus of the spotlight are more easily perceived and processed, however, this model is limited with more complex spatial paradigms o This model does a good job of explaining the result for Posner’s spatial cueing task o It has been less successful in explaining many of the other scenarios described earlier  Filter o Attention acts like a filter with a bottleneck that only allows certain information to pass on to conscious awareness o Physical characteristics (color, shape) or sensory information are briefly stored and initially analyzed o Incoming information then encounters a bottleneck, which selects (based on physical characteristics) only a limited amount of the information to pass on for further processing o Early-Selection Theory (Broadbent) – filters physical information out relatively early before it can be analyzed semantically  Supported by dichotic listening task, where participants noticed the physical properties of the unattended messages but not necessarily the meaning  Does not account for the cocktail party effect o Attenuation Theory (Triesman) – unattended information is not completely filtered out but rather “turned down” or attenuated; if information is relevant it may be brought to the focus of attention Textbook Notes Psych 1X03  The attenuator replaces the filter in Broadbent’s model, allowing all information to pass but with differently assigned weightings depending on whether the information is physically similar to the target not  Information that fits the description of the target is more heavily weighted and passes through the attenuator at full strength, whereas irrelevant information passes as a weaker signal  “Leaky Filter” – the unattended message also gets through albeit in much attenuated form  Accounts for the cocktail party effect o Late-selection model – filtering occurs after physical and semantic analysis and only selected information goes on for further processing due to limitations in processing capacity  Only selected information can be maintained and so the unselected information fades  Accounts for the cocktail party effect Section 5: Introduction to Memory  Three successive processes of encoding, storage and retrieval: o Encoding – reflects data entry or how information initially enters into memory; a selective process that is highly dependent on attention o Storage – concerns how the record of memory is maintained over time  Record is not fixed; can be modified o Retrieval – the act of recovering stored information  Dependent on retrieval cues – a key piece of information that has the potential to activate a memory in full  Eg/ The small of lilacs (cue) makes me think of my grandmother  Cues become integrated with the memory at the time of encoding, and so the process of encoding and retrieval are considered highly interconnected  Target Study: False Memories o Background Information  Different types of details in a false narrative affect the likelihood of recalling false events  Familial informant false narrative paradigm – details about true events are collected from parents and individuals are guided to remember past events  Critical factors involved to implant false memories  The believability of events and the effects of the imagination (fact)  Social Pressures (still to be explored)  Narratives (rather than pictures) are more likely to elicit the formation of false memories  Individuals have to use imagination and reconstruction to picture the event, making it easier for false details to be used to fill in the gaps, and less restriction is provided than with pictures  Increased likelihood of self-relevant details in producing false memories in comparison to non-self relevant details  Self-relevant information is better constructed and formed because we are so familiar with it and we use it quite frequently  The Fluency Hypothesis o Self-relevant details are highly familiar and thus fluently processed  Non-self relevant details lack fluency and may eve have the compete opposite effect Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 o The more unfamiliar or bizarre the details are, the less fluent they are and less likely to produce false memories o Method  44 undergraduates – 5 males, 39 females  The general story – putting a slime toy on the teachers desk and blaming the friend for convincing them to do it  Parents helped to customize personal and unique narratives for each participant  Self relevant details includes: the name of their first grade teacher, a friend and their favorite toy at the time  The length and amount of detail was matched across false and true events to ensure the false event did not stand out for such reasons  Three main measures were used  The AMBQ; an assessment of event plausibility completed by participants  Judges ratings of the strength of participants memories  Memory questions or participants ratings of memory qualities  Participants attended a series of three interviews where they were told about events and encouraged to recall them; when unable to remember, interviewers used guidance to help  Following the interview, the three measures were used, and participants were told one event was false and asked to choose which one before being told o Results and Discussion  Participants that received narratives with self-relevant details had a greater amount of images and full memories of false events  In terms of self-ratings of memory strength, the subjective sense of recall was enhanced for self-relevant details  AMBQ ratings and judges scores matched up, ensuring credibility of responses  Trend – Higher ratings of belief and memory were given for narratives with self relevant details (not necessarily significant)  Participants were more likely to be unable to tell which memory was false if they received self-relevant narratives  Highlights the critical, robust role of self-relevant details in the likelihood of false memory formation – further reveals the mechanism of false memory formation and memory processes in general, with support from the fluency hypothesis o Limitations  It is worth asking what would happen if the specific details were bizarre, instead of being neutral and non-self relevant, and whether this would affect false memory formation any differently  It would be worth comparing self-relevant details and specific details between both pictures and narratives in order to examine all possible effects  Memories provided by parents may have been false, or remembered incorrectly, thus confounding the assumption that only one of the memories is false  False narratives may be similar or the same as an actually event that had occurred but that parents may not have remembered or been aware of o Comment  Memory and remembering is based strongly on processes of reconstruction  It is easy for false memories to be implanted and believed to be true  Memory is a process rather than just information storage in different parts of the brain  Familiarity and fluency have a role in reconstruction  Eyewitness testimonies cannot always be reliable o Individuals can be manipulated into believes by those guiding recall Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 Section 6: Sensory and Short Term Memory  Multi-store Model – three separate stores o Sensory Memory o Short Term Memory (Working Memory) o Long Term Memory  Sensory Memory – the transient maintenance of perceptual and physical information from the very recent past o Each snapshot is briefly maintained and then replaced by the next o Eg/ Scanning the room – taking snapshots of different locations, you perceive the world as a continuous representation o Sensory memory is not limited by attention and therefor may have a fairly large capacity  Recall: In the dichotic listening paradigm, participants could recall the physical (sensory) characteristics of the unattended things o Iconic Memory – for visual information is represented by the visual system o Echoic Memory – for auditory information is represented by the auditory system o Sensory representations are displaced or overwritten by new incoming information from the same modality o Experiment – testing the longevity of sensory memory  Briefly (50 milliseconds) and simultaneously presenting arrays of three rows of three numbers  Participants viewed the arrays and then listened for a tone of high, medium or low pitch to indicate which row to report  Despite the brief presentation time, if the tone sounded immediately after the array was presented, participants were surprisingly accurate at reporting the numbers  If the tone sounded just one second later they recalled nothing – illustrates the extremely fast rate at which sensory memory decays  Short Term Memory o Some information in sensory memory is selected for further processing – this selection required attention  Information that is selected from sensory memory enters consciousness and is maintained in the short-term or working memory buffer o Short term memory allows you to keep in mind all the words in a sentence; the temporary record allows you to understand the meaning of the entire sentence and decide what to do with the information o If unrehearsed, selected information can be maintained in the short-term (working) memory buffer for about 20 seconds  Experiment – tested participants memory for three consonants over varying lengths of time (3-18 seconds)  To prevent participants from rehearsing during the delay, they were asked to count backwards from a three-digit number by three or fours  Participants were good at recalling the consonants after a three-second delay, by 18 seconds their memory had almost completely faded o The “magic number” of items that can be held in (or processed by) short-term memory is seven plus or minus two o Chunking – refers to the pro
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