PSYB65 Textbook notesChapter 11: Attention and Consciousness 1
•Attention can be defined in many different ways
selective attention: the process that allows the selection of inputs, thoughts, or actions
while other ones are ignored.
Voluntary attention: one intentionally shifts attention from one input to another.
Reflexive attention: the shift occurs in response to some external event.
•Cocktail party effect: the effect is the ability to focus one's listening attention on a single
speaker among a cacophony of conversations and background noises.
•After many dichotic listening tests, Cherry suggested that “spatial hearing” was the main
mechanism for segregating auditory inputs.
•After other experimental work, it is found that auditory selective attention is mediated by the
contralateral anterior temporal lobe.
Early versus Late Selection
•Helmholtz and William James suggested that the “gate” for selective attention is actually very
early in the sensation and perception process.
•Late selection: Another idea is that the attention operates after the sensory information has
been perceived, identified, and / or categorized.
In the stroop effect, unattended semantic information influences the processing of attended
How Does Attention Shift?: Voluntary versus Reflexive Orienting
•Autonomic processes have significant influence on controlled ones.
•Shifts in attention could be over (moving the eyes when shifting visual attention) or covert
(visual attention did not correspond to the location of visual fixation).
Voluntary shifts in Attention
•Voluntary shifts in attention are the changes you intentionally initiate, changing the focus of
your attention from one thing to another.
•Experiment: Cueing task
Presenting a stimuli and asks the participant to respond as quick as possible.
There is a valid cue which cues the participant before the presentation of the stimuli, there's
also an invalid cue which was misleading, then there's a neutral cue, in which the cue doesn't
tell you anything.
Interestingly, when the cues were valid, the participants responded faster which is
called a benefit they learn to see the cue to help, thus their reaction time went down.
Inactive cues increases average reaction time, resulting in a cost.
This experiment can be attributed to either early or late selection.
Neural System(s) Subserving Attention
•Every cortical cell (with the exception of some primary visual and motor areas) can have its
activity influenced by attention.
•According to the Baddeley's model of working memory, attention is controlled by the central
executive (chapter 7).
central executive is defined by what it does.
central executive is involved with the allocation of attention, strategy selection, and the