2650 Chapter 4: PSYCH 2650 CHAPTER 4
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Monday, January 19, 2015
Chapter 4: Paying Attention
*view James’ quote: describes what attention achieves but not what processes or
mechanisms produce these effects.
-early studies used a set up called “dichotic listening” which involves two different
inputs in each ear. they are told to pay attention to the “attended channel” and ignore
the unattended channel”
-to make sure the participants were paying attention one gave the task of “shadowing”
reciting the speech word for word after it is said to them and remember little from the
-they discovered the same pattern along for visual inputs. hence, people are not
altogether oblivious to the unattended channel because apparently the physical
attributes of the channel are heard even if they're oblivious to it’s semantic context.
Some Unattended Inputs are Detected
-one study showed that we can remember a series of names, movies we just saw, our
favourite restaurant and generally words that have some personal importance to us
while the rest of the unattended stimuli is a blur.
ex: a at party, the cocktail party effect: you will only pay attention to the conversation
you are having unless something of obvious stimuli catches your attention you’ll slightly
go off and focus on that one for a while and become oblivious to the main conversation.
Perceiving and the Limits on Cognitive Capacity
-one option of explaining these results with the unattended input which proposes that
you somehow block the processing of the inputs you are not interested in, much as a
sentry blocks the path of unwanted guests but stands back and does nothing when
the legit guests are in view allowing them to pass through the gate with no trouble.
-the central early theory was called the “bottleneck theories”- which suggest that you
erect a ﬁlter that shields you from potential distractors. Desired information, is not
ﬁltered out and so goes on to receive further processing.
-this suggests that the sentry does seem to have the assignment of blocking speciﬁc
already identiﬁed door crashers, thus, if some comes along that you have not
experienced before, you will need to develop a new skill to block this intruder.
-our ability to block is not the whole story, we also promote the processing of the
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Monday, January 19, 2015
-it seems that perception needs a lot of activity, thus this does not seem plausible that
this needs resources and initiatives from you.
ex: ﬁxation study -> starting at a ﬁxation point and waiting to get a warning or not on a
the failure to directly see shapes that are directly in front of us, such as the ketchup in
the fridge is due to the fact that we’re not expecting any shapes to appear and we were
not prepared for them either.
^ this is known as intentional blindness: literally cannot see the stimulus right in front of
them due to the attention to another stimulus and not expecting the target stimulus to
we forgot about real world implications and that sometimes things like this happen and it
is entirely normal due to the fact that perception does require more work than simply
just having the stimulus in front of you.
Conscious Perception, Unconscious Perception
-argue that there is no conscious perception without attention.
-it seems that attention may be needed for conscious perception but somehow you
can maybe unconsciously detect and be inﬂuence by patterns in the world even in
absence of attention.
ex: series of images with different dot patterns asking which line is longer. they caused
the illusion that the one had “ﬁns” >——< vs. <—>
-the active nature of perception is also evident in these types of studies
change blindness: the inability to detect changes in the scene that they are looking at
directly whether central or peripheral.
- it is no guarantee that you will perceive the stimulus! -> this goes the same for
images, videos and live events.
Early Versus Late Selection
-limits on perception and memory
-early selection: the attended input is identiﬁed and privileged from the starts that the
unattended receives little to no analysis.
-late selection: all input receive relatively complex analyses and the selection is done
after all the analysis is ﬁnished.
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