Chapter 4 - Attention and Memory Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 .docx

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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
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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
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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
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Document Summary

Flashbulb memories vivid memories that have a live" quality feeling almost as if a person is looking. Psych 1x03 at a photograph of a moment locked in time. 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. 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. Automatically captures your attention to capture your attention. Eg/ police siren captures your attention automatically: top-down processing you can strategically direct your attention to match your current goals and expectations from past experiences through memory.

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