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Chapter 4

chapter 4

Course Code
Gabriela Ilie

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Chapter 4
We usually focus our attention on one or a few tasks or events rather than on
Shut out other competing tasks
Dichotic listening task
The shadowing task is difficult and requires a great deal on mental resources, thus
fewer resources are available to process info from the nonshadowed, unattended
could report whether the unattended msg contains speech or noise, and if the
voice is of a man or a woman. / notice the played backward speech.
couldnt recall the content of the unattended msg or the language in which it was
Filter Theory
There are limits on how much info a person can attend to at any given time.
The filter is based on some physical aspect of the attended msg: the location
of its source or its typical pitch/ loudness.
The filter selects info for later processing, early before the meaning of the msg is
Explains why so little of the meaning of the unattended msg can be recalled.
The meaning from an unattended msg is simply not processed.
It should be impossible to recall any of the meaning of an unattended msg

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what is limited is the amount of info we can process at any given time.
E.g. two msgs that contain little info or that present info slowly, can be processed
In contrast, msgs that present a great deal of info quickly overcome the filter. The
filter thus protects us frominfo overload” by shutting out msgs. All unattended
msgs will be filtered out—not processed for recognition of meaning.
Problems w/ Filter Theory
Cocktail party effect (Moray)
Shadowing performance is disrupted when ones own name is
embedded in either the attended or unattended msg.
Only important material can penetrate the filter set up to block
unattended msgs.
Played participants two distinct msgs, each presented to a different ear,
and asked the participants to shadow one of them. At a certain point,
the content of the first msg and the second msg was switched. Many
participants repeated one or two words from the unattended ear.
Participants must be basing their selection of which msg to attend to
at least in part on the meaning of the msg.
Wood and Cowan
Dichotic listening task--switch the speech in the unattended channel to
backward speech for 30 seconds(half would notice), two groups
differed only in how long the normal speech was presented after the
backward speech.
ppl who noticed the backward speech in the unattended msg showed
a disruption in their shadowing of the attended msg, and error rates

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peaked in a uniform time for all participants who noticed the
backward speech.
The attentional shift to the unattended msg was unintentional and
completed w/o awareness. The participants who noticed the backward
speech had their attention “captured” by the backward speech, which
led to poorer performance on the main shadowing task.
Conway, Cowan and Bunting
Participants who detect their name in the unattended msg have a lower
working-memory span.
A lower working-memory span means less ability to actively block the
unattended msg (are less able to focus).
Attenuation Theory
Anne Treisman
Some meaningful info in unattended msgs might still be available, even if
hard to recover
Incoming msgs are subjected to 3 kinds of analysis
The msgs physical properties (pitch, loudness)
Linguistic, a process of parsing the msg into syllables and words
Semantic, processing the meaning of the msg.
some meaningful units tend to be processed quite easily. Words that have
subjective importance (e.g. your name) or that signal danger (Watch out!) have
permanently lowered thresholds—require little mental effort, are recognizable even
at low volumes.
ExplainsCocktail party effect
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