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Chapter 4

PSYC 221 Ch4 Attention.pdf

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 221
Professor
Kevin G Munhall
Semester
Fall

Description
PSYC  221  –  Attention     Chapter  4   Attention     Attention:  the  ability  to  focus  on  specific  stimuli  or  locations.       Selective  attention:  focusing  attention  on  one  specific  stimulus.       Overt  attention:  process  of  shifting  attention  by  moving  the  eyes.       Covert  attention:  process  of  shifting  attention  without  moving  the  eyes.       Divided  attention:  process  of  attending  to  two  or  more  things  at  once.  This  can  be  overt,  covert,   or  a  combination  of  the  two.  (overt+overt  or  overt+covert).     “Millions  of  items  are  present  to  my  senses  which  never  properly  enter  my  experience.  Why?  Because   they  have  no  interest  for  me.  My  experience  is  what  I  agree  to  attend  to.  [Attention]  implies   withdrawal  from  some  things  in  order  to  deal  effectively  with  others.”  ~  William  James     Recall  Colin  Cherry’s  dichotic  listening  task  and  how  this  relates  to  attention.       Shadowing:  repeating  an  auditory  message  aloud.  This  technique  is  used  in  the  dichotic  listening   task  to  ensure  that  the  participant  is  fully  attending  to  the  message  being  presented  in  one  of  their   ears.       Recall  Donald  Broadbent’s  early  selection  model  of  attention.         Sensory  memory  holds  incoming  information  for  a  fraction  of  a  second  before  moving  it  on  to  the   next  modality.     The  filter  identifies  the  physical  characteristics  of  the  message,  such  as  the  speaker’s  gender,  tone,   pitch,  et  cetera.  Only  important,  attended  to  information  passes  through  the  filter.     The  detector  processes  the  higher-­‐level  information  of  the  incoming  message.  Since  irrelevant   stimuli  have  already  been  filtered  out,  the  detector  processes  all  information  that  enters  it.       Information  from  the  detector  moves  into  memory  stores,  first  via  short-­‐term  memory  and  soon   after  into  long-­‐term  memory.     Broadbent’s  early  selection  model  has  also  been  called  a  bottleneck  model.  The  filter  acts  as  a   bottleneck,  restricting  information  flow  despite  the  large  amount  of  possible  content.       1   PSYC  221  –  Attention     Cocktail  party  effect:  occurs  when  a  person’s  attention  is  drawn  to  a  previously  unattended  to   stimulus  by  hearing  their  name  or  something  important  (such  as  “fire!”)     The  “Dear  Aunt  Jane”  study   • In  one  dichotic  listening  task,  researchers  presented  the  following  to  the  left  and  right  ears:   • Dear,  7,  Jane  (left  ear)  //  9,  Aunt,  6  (right  ear)   • They  told  the  participant  to  only  attend  to  the  message  in  their  left  ear  and  to  shadow  the   message.  Participants  would  say  “Dear  Aunt  Jane”  as  what  they  heard.  This  goes  against   Broadbent’s  theory  of  the  filter  only  taking  into  account  physical  details  of  the  message.  It   appeared  that  meaning  plays  a  role  in  attention  to  messages,  and  a  new  theory  was  created     The  attenuation  model  of  selective  attention  was  developed  by  Anne  Treisman  when  it   became  apparent  that  the  filter  considers  meaning  when  attending  to  a  stimulus.       In  this  model,  instead  of  a  filter  there  is  an  attenuator,  which  analyzes:   • Physical  characteristics  of  the  message   • Language  of  the  message  –  how  it  is  sorted  into  syllables  or  words   • Meaning  of  the  message   • Treisman  notes  that  these  analyses  are  hierarchical,  and  that  the  attenuator  only  analyzes   at  the  lowest  level  possible  to  attend  to  the  correct  message.  For  example,  if  there  are  two   voices  and  one  is  male  and  one  is  female,  the  only  the  physical  characteristic  analysis  would   need  to  happen.  If  the  two  voices  are  similar  however  the  higher  level  of  processing  by  the   attenuator  would  kick  in.       (Note  that  in  Treisman’s  attenuation  theory  of  attention  language  and  meaning  can  be  used  to   separate  messages).       Leaky  filter  model:  Treisman  states  that  both  the  attended  and  the  unattended  message  pass   through  the  attenuator  (making  it  a  “leaky  filter”)  but  the  attended  message  makes  up  a  stronger   signal.  See  diagram  for  a  schematic  of  this  idea.       The  second  stage  of  Treisman’s  attenuation  model  is  the  dictionary  unit.  The  dictionary  unit  is   able  to  recognize  words  and  send  them  on  to  memory  stores  if  the  word  crosses  a  particular   threshold.  Some  words  that  should  be  especially  salient,  such  as  our  names,  have  a  low  threshold   (they  are  detected  even  when  presented  quietly  or  muddled  in  with  other  words).  Uncommon   words  have  higher  thresholds.  Thus,  important  words  from  both  the  attended  and  unattended   message  can  be  detected.       2   PSYC  221  –  Attention       Both  Broadbent  and  Treisman’s  theories  have  been  called  early  selection  theories  because  they   offer  that  a  filter  operates  in  the  early  stages  of  processing.       Other  theorists  have  proposed  late  selection  models  of  attention.  One  study  found  that  an   ambiguous  sentence  (“they  threw  stones  at  the  bank”)  would  be  interpreted  a  particular  way  if  a   certain  biasing  word  was  presented  in  their  unattended  ear  (hearing  either  the  word  “money”  or   “river”  would  sway  the  person’s  understanding  of  the  sentence).  This  lead  researchers  to  believe   that  there  was  some  level  of  processing  at  later  stages  in  the  flow  of  information.       Early-­‐late  controversy:  the  early  selection  theory  has  been  demonstrated  in  some  circumstances   and  the  late  selection  theory  has  been  demonstrated  in  others.  Neither  choice  is  wholly  correct  or   incorrect,  and  so  researchers  have  (for  the  most  part)  moved  on  to  studying  other  features  of   selective  attention,  cognitive  resources  and  cognitive  load.       Cognitive  resources:  the  cognitive  capacity  of  an  individual.     Cognitive  load:  the  amount  of  cognitive  resources  needed  to  carry  out  a  particular  cognitive  task.     Low-­‐load  tasks  take  up  little  cognitive  resources  to  complete.  High-­‐load  tasks  use  up  much  more   of  a  person’s  cognitive  resources.       Researchers  that  study  attention  are  especially  interesting  in  the  relationship  between  the   cognitive  load  of  the  primary  (attended  to)  task  and  this  affects  the  person’s  ability  to  attend  task-­‐ irrelevant  stimuli.       Example:  flanker  compatibility  task   A  participant  is  presented  with  three  letters,  two  that  are  the  same  on  the  outside  and  a  different   one  in  between,  and  is  asked  to  pay  attention  only  to  the  letter  in  the  centre.  For  example:  B  A  B.   The  letters  surrounding  the  centre  stimulus  are  called  flankers.     The  participant  is  told  to  press  one  button  if  the  middle  letter  is  A  or  B,  or  a  different  button  if  the   middle  letter  is  C  or  D.       There  are  three  possible  combinations  of  what  can  happen.     • Compatible  flankers  occur  when  the  centre  stimulus  and  the  flankers  require  the  same   button  to  be  pressed.  For  example:  B  A  B  or  C  D  C.     • Incompatible  flankers  occur  when  the  centre  stimulus  requires  the  pressing  of  one   button  and  its  flankers  require  the  pressing  of  the  other  button.  For  example:  C  A  C  or  B  C  B.   3   PSYC  221  –  Attention     • Neutral  flankers  occur  when  a  letter  not  associated  with  the  pressing  of  any  button  is   presented  as  the  flanker.  For  example:  X  A  X.       Because  simply  pressing  a  button  at  the  presentation  of  a  particular  stimulus  requires  little   cognitive  resources,  one  would  expect  that  some  processing  of  the  flankers  occurs.  This  has  been   supported  by  the  fact  that  compatible  flankers  are  completed  at  the  fastest  speed,  followed  by   neutral  flankers,  and  incompatible  flankers  having  the  slowest  reaction  time.         The  Stroop  effect  is  a  demonstration  of  how  task-­‐irrelevant  stimuli  can  be  difficult  to  ignore.       [...]     So  far  the  focus  has  been  on  selective  attention.  We  now  move  to  the  topic  of  divided  attention.     Recall  that  divided  attention  is
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