The Information-Processing Model
Information Processing: Cognition
Storage: short term memory, sensory, long term memory
Cocktail Effect: at a party you here people talking and you block it out but you can hear your name
and you look to find who is saying your name and can only think about what they're saying about
The information-processing model uses a computer metaphor to explain how people process stimuli.
Just like on a computer, information enters people's brains and is transformed, coded, and stored in
People are ACTIVE participants in the process.
Both quantitative (how much information is remembered) and qualitative (what kinds of
information are remembered) aspects of performance can be examined.
Information is processed through a series of hypothetical stages, or stores.
The information-processing approach is based on three assumptions:
All memories start as sensory stimuli
It takes in large amounts of information very rapidly;
Does not seem to have the limits that other processes do when attentional focus
(concentration) is applied;
It is more like a very brief and almost identical representation of the stimuli that exist in the
i.e. Try drawing either side of a penny in great detail. You probably see pennies every
day, but never paid enough attention to them to processes them to a longer lasting
However, unless we pay attention to this information very quickly, the representation is lost.
Sensory memory is the ability that results from the earliest step in information processing, where
the new, incoming information is first registered.
There are no age differences found in sensory memory. Older adults can effectively retrieve
information briefly represented in sensory memory.
Attention Processes - Types of Attention
Do age differences exist in what information is processed?
Attention is composed of separable dimensions serving different functions.
The complex tasks we engage in usually use more than one attentional function.
Older adults have more difficulty filtering out distractors compared to younger people.
Unfamiliar information is usually processed over familiar information.
Older adults' reaction time is slower and more prone to errors in the presence of
Visual Search tests involve asking participants to find a letter (e.g. "P") on a screen full of
other letters. The task gets more complicated as different letters are used. Tasks like this
always involve responding to a stimulus, the target, and ignoring everything else, the
nontarget. Such tasks measure selective attention because the main data involve
nontarget interference effects (i.e. The degree to which the nontargets interfere with
the ability to respond only to targets)
Selective attention is the way in which we choose in information we will process further. We
are trying to move information from sensory memory to working memory. We have to decide
which stimuli is important, and move this to working memory.
Attention involves at least three interdependent processes: selective attention, divided attention,
Chapter 6 - Attention and Perceptual Processing