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Chapter 4

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Blaine Mullins

Chapter 4 – Varieties of Attention Case Study – Total Train Wreck - Train accidents in BC and California were caused by lack of attention of conductors (distracted by cell phones) » Acknowledged the 2 advance warning signals but still didn’t stop at the red signal - As a result, cellphones are banned from cabs in the US and Canada Views of Attention - William James: attention is withdrawing from some things to effectively deal with others opposite of attention is distraction - Pashler: no one really knows what attention is (if it even exists) attention is complex and can have a variety of meanings - Attention: mechanisms for continued cognitive processes » Filters, consciously processes and highlights important information (makes experiences more salient) » Made of mental processes with stages and components » Limited resources can’t pay attention to everything at once » Selective you only pay attention to things that you select » In order to shift attention, you must disengage from one task and engage in another (harder for children) » More practice in a task = less attention required (ex. when you first learned to drive vs. how you drive now) Selective Attention - Initially research on attention was driven by problems experienced by the army - Selective attention: select info. relevant to the task and ignore other info. (Broadbent) » Dichotic listening: 2 verbal messages are simultaneously presented in each ear and listener must answer a question regarding one of the messages people did well in the dichotic listening task if they knew beforehand, which of the two messages contained the answer (could one out the other message) » Selective looking: exposed to 2 events but attend to only one (not distracted by the other) (Neisser) - Cocktail party phenomenon: ability to attend to one conversation when many other conversations are occurring around you (Cherry) » Shadowing task: 2 verbal messages are simultaneously presented and subject is asked to repeat one of them (shadow one of the messages) for the unattended ear, we remember when pure tone changes or when gender changes (not words or words repeated multiple times or switches in languages) - Early selection: attention prevents any perceptual processing of distractors  you don’t see or hear irrelevant info. (ex. dichotic listening and selective looking task) - Late selection: perceive both relevant/irrelevant info but must actively ignore irrelevant stimuli to focus on relevant stimuli (ex. Stroop task) - Automatic processes: operate without requiring attention » Bottom-up, stimulus driven, involuntary » Require few resources » Ex. automatically reading words » Can be inhibited by hypnosis (ex. Stroop task) - Controlled processes: require our attention in order to be carried out » Top-down, goal oriented, voluntary » Requires effort to start and demands a lot of resources » Ex. controlled processes try to stop you from automatically reading the words in the Stroop task - Stroop task: requires you to read names of colours printed in different coloured fonts (ex. “red” in printed in a blue colour) naming the colour of the word is hard because you get distracted by reading the words » We automatically read when presented with words so we must actively inhibit reading of word (have to keep goal in mind at all times) » Exp: XXX printed in green versus “RED” printed in green (incongruent task is when colour of word and the word itself don’t match) - Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC): exerts top down influence that favours selection of task- relevant info. » Catches mistakes and tries to correct them » Involved in decision making makes choices when dealing with competing responses - Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC): detects conflicting response tendencies » Increases awareness of conflict (like during the Stroop task) Attentional Capture and Inattentional Blink - Cognitive resources is the capacity to carry out a task whereas cognitive load is the amount of resources needed to do something » Higher cognitive load = less resources available to do something else - Attentional capture: diversion of attention stimulus is so powerful that we have to notice it even if our attention is focused on something else (ecologically useful against predators) - Inattentional blink: failure to attend to events that we expect to notice » Ex. pilots landing plane didn’t notice another plane already on the runway » Ex. Gorilla video 73% people fail to notice the Gorilla when counting the number of passes (50% fail to notice it even when the Gorilla stops and pounds its chest) » Ex. people fail to notice a black square in one quadrant when trying to judge the relative size of the two lines making up the cross (people do register it – stem completion)  85% success rate if the stimuli is a face - Flanker task: participants are influenced by irrelevant stimulus represented near the target inhibitory test where it tells your ability to suppress a response » Exp: shown a list of words and asked to find the name of the celebrity or politician face of celebrity or politician appeared next to the list  Congruent trial: face of celebrity matched the name in the list faster response time  Incongruent trial: face of celebrity didn’t match the name in the list slower response time because you must suppress the face  Even when the task became more difficult (list of words became longer), the face was still distracting this effect didn’t occur for musical instruments » Exp: shown 3 letters but can only respond to center letter  Congruent trial: surrounding letters are the same as the middle letter  Incongruent trial: surrounding letters are different form the middle letter slower » Domain-specific modules: parts of the brain are specialized for specific tasks (ex. for automatically detecting faces or body parts) not innate - Highly meaningful stimuli captures our attention (ex. hearing our name, or baby crying) Dual Tasks and Limits of Attention - Your ability to do multiple tasks at once depends on what you’re trying to do and how skilled you are it is easier to combined a voluntary task (ex. talking) with an automatic task (ex. walking) » It is harder to do two goal-oriented tasks - Capacity model: attention is like a power supply it can only support a limited amount of activity - Structural limits: attentional tasks interfere with each other if they involved similar activities/resources (ex. harder to do 2 visible or 2 auditory tasks at the same time) » Central bottleneck: narrow path along which info. can travel can only accommodate info. relevant to the task  Central processor can only handle one task as a time » Highly practiced tasks can bypass s
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