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Chapter 4

PSYC 2650 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Speech Shadowing, Prefrontal Cortex, Stroop Effect

Course Code
PSYC 2650
Dan Meegan

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Textbook Notes: Attention
Attention s the process that enables us to focus on a select number of
sensory inputs while disregarding others.
How are we able to selectively filter out which stimuli are relevant and
which ones aren't?
When can our attention be divided effectively and when can it not?
The singular process of attention is actually the result of a collaboration of
processes that each perform a crucial function without which we would be
limited in our ability to focus effectively.
oMost of the processes that facilitate paying attention come at a cognitive
price. Focus ties up mental resources that are then unable to be used to
pay attention to other stimuli.
oIf two tasks together do not require the enitrety of our mental resources,
we are able to effectively pay attention to both of them.
oSome processes are specialized and are only required when performing
certain behaviours whereas other processes are general and are used by
nearly every task.
oThe cognitive price required can be reduced through practice.
oAttention is not a process - it is an achievement that is honed through
practice, a skill.
Selective Listening
Shadowing: A technique used to study attention where the individual must
repeat back word for word the message they are being heard played for
Attended Channel: Focus of attention.
Unattended Channel: Stimuli outside of the attended channel. These stimuli
are not attended to.
Dichotic Listening: Experimental setup for testing attention. The participant
wears a pair of headphones and the attended channel is played in one ear
and the unattended channel is played in the other ear.
Experiment with dichotic listening showed that the one message is
understood clearly while only physical characteristics of the unattended
message are heard.
oParticipants can tell if it is music or silence or a person speaking.
oIf it is a person speaking, participants can tell f the speaker is a man or
woman and whether they are talking quietly or loudly.
oNo semantic content is understood. In one study, Czech read with
English pronunciations was used as the unattended message and only 4
out of 30 people were able to identify that the unattended message was
not in real English words.
Experiment with divided watching or selective visual attention
demonstrated the same phenomenon
oParticipants asked to follow the passing of a ball missed the giant gorilla
suited man in the center of the scene.

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Some Unattended Inputs are Detected
Even though the unattended channel goes largely unnoticed, certain stimuli
that are particularly relevant to us or that we are primed for do catch our
Cocktail Party Phenomenon: Being in a crowded room and being able to
attend only to the conversation of interest while the remaining
conversations become a dull buzz of noise.
oif you hear a relevant word such as your name or the name of your
friend, you may momentarily shift your attention away from the
conversation you were originally attending to.
Perceiving and the Limits of Cognitive Capacity
Text proposes that we erect a filter that blocks out distractors like a bouncer
outside a club.
Not all distractions are equal, we may be adept at preventing certain stimuli
from breaking our focus, but when new stimuli are introduced we must
learn new attentional skills to cope with the new distractions.
Our minds are not only capable of blocking out unattended stimuli but also
enhancing processing for stimuli that are attended to
Inattentional Blindness
In an experiment where participants were asked to focus on a plus sign and
make determinations about the difference between the length of the lines,
most failed to see shapes that were added in with the attended to stimulus
even though it was presented right before their eyes.
Two theories currently explain this phenomenon:
oThe eyes sense the stimuli but they are not attended to and thus not
oThe mind s not prepared to receive the stimuli so the eyes literally do
not see the stimulus
Inattentional Blindness: Failure to see or perceive a stimulus due to a lack
of focus on that stimulus.
Conscious Perception, Unconscious Perception
"There is no conscious perception without attention"
Experiment with lines and background dots asked participants to determine
which of the horizontal lines was longer. For the first few trials, the dots in
the background were arranged in random patterns.
On the fourth trial the dots were arranged in the classical illusion Muler-Lyer
line illusion where each line has fins pointing inwards or outwards
When asked if there had been any slide with patterned dots, none reported
seeing the pattern. When told difinitively, however, that there was a
pattern, 90% chose the correct pattern from a multiple choice selection.
95% of participants also responded to trial 4 by answering that one line was
longer even though they were the same. Clearly the participants were
influenced by the fins even though they did not consciously perceive them.
Change Blindness
Changes that occur in a film between cuts are often not noticed
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