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PSYC 2410 (149)
Chapter 4

Chapter 4 notes.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 2410
Professor
Anneke Olthof

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Cognitive Psychology: Chapter 4 Selective Attention - Selective attention refers to the skill through which one focuses on one input or one task while ignoring other stimuli - Attention studies sometimes employ a task known as shadowing  Using headphones, different information is presented to each ear. This is known as dichotic listening  The participant pays attention to the information presented to one ear (the attended channel) while ignoring information presented to the other (the unattended channel) - Results from these studies suggest that unusual characteristics of the unattended channel go unnoticed - Similar effects happen in visual studies (Ex. In a classic study, participants asked to count the number of basketball passes) - There are some important exceptions, where certain pieces of information will be unnoticed even if the presented to the unattended channel  The participants own name, or any words of high personal significance, will be noticed even in the unattended channel - This pattern is observed in real-life situations and sometimes called the cocktail party effect - Sometimes effects of attention are so strong that we fail to see stimuli that are directly in front of our eyes - For instance, if participants are asked to look at a fixation target while attending to another part of the screen, they may fail to notice changes in shape to the fixation target. This phenomenon is known as inattentional blindness - From studies of inattentional blindness, one might be tempted to conclude that there is “no perception without attention” - However, other studies demonstrate that unconscious perception still occurs in the absence of attention - For example, participants’ judgements of line length are influenced by the presence of “fins” that cause the Muller-Lyer illusion, even if they do not consciously see the fins - Other studies of attention focus on a phenomenon known as change blindness, the inability of observers to detect changes in scenes they are looking directly at - We recognize things more easily when it’s in the middle of the scene, and not in the periphery - Similar effects of change blindness occur when people fail to notice continuity errors in films - In a particularly striking example, participants failed to notice when the person asking them for directions changed identity (following a brief interruption by two people carrying a door) - Each study of attention focused on when the perceiver selects the desired input - According to the early-selection hypothesis, the unattended input receives little to no analysis - According to the late-selection hypothesis, all input receives analysis but only the attended input reaches consciousness or is remembered - Both early- and late-selection hypotheses capture part of the truth • For instance, the study discussed earlier showing that unattended stimuli have effects on perception seems to be a case of late selection • However, the electrical activity of the brain for attended versus unattended inputs differs within 70ms of stimulus presentation, suggesting early selection - An experiment by Posner and Snyder (1975) illustrates that there are two kinds of priming related to attention - One kind of priming is stimulus-based (repetition-based priming), the other is expectation-based (basically ready for the stimulus, waiting for it to happen) - For this type of study, the dependent variable is the response time to make a decision about the stimuli - Posner and Snyder (1975) found in the low-validity condition that the primed condition was faster than neutral • This demonstrates an effect of repetition priming; the receptors were “warmed up” - But, the misled condition was not any slower than neutral • Warming up the “wrong” detector does not take activation away from the correct one - Posner and Snyder (1975) found in the high-validity condition that the primed condition was much faster than neutral • This demonstrates an additional effect of expectation in addition to repetition priming - Further, the misled condition was slower than the neutral condition • Expectation is limited in capacity; the “wrong” expectation interferes with activating the correct detectors - You can’t expect two things to happen… When watching and waiting for one thing to happen, you can’t pay attention to another thing; therefore you can’t expect the other thing to happen - Studies of spatial attention examine the ability to focus on a particular position in space and to be prepared for stimuli appearing in that position - For example, when detecting a stimulus on the right or left side of the screen, participants benefit if an arrow provides
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