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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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Gabriela Ilie

Chapter 4 • Selective Attention: We can focus our attention on one or few events at any given time • Automatic: extensive practice in a task can make it easy and effortless and require little attention • Divided attention: attention can be freed up to do task simultaneously • Focus attention: direct attention on events and objects • Spatial attention: attention can be focused on objects and events of interest • Cognitive neurospsychology: brain mechanisms involved with paying attention • William James: only one system of conception can happen at once, and to do more than 1 thing at once, requires the process to be habitual • French distraction, Zerstreutheit in German Selective Attention • Selective attention refers to the fact that we usually focus our attention on one or a few tasks rather than on many. o Hal Pashler: at any moment, people’s awareness encompass only a small portion of stimuli on sensory systems • We process information differently depending on whether or not we have been actively focusing on a stimulus • Dichotic listening task: person listens to an audiotape that has 2 messages, 1 in each ear at the same time – information is presented at a rapid rate 150wpm o Shadow: repeat one side aloud o Asked to recall either message (attended or not attended) o Binaural presentation: both messages are heard in both ears o Reason why it works: person focuses on message to be shadowed, and fast rate of presentation requires a lot of mental resources • Cherry: showed that people can shadow a message at normal – rapid rate no problem, but when asked about unattended message, they could report if the message was speech (male or female) or noise but not the message. Filter Theory • Broadbent: limits on how much information a person can attend to at any time o Attentional filter to let information through then block the rest o Filter is based on physical aspect of attended message – location of its source or pitch/loudness (eg.) o Only material that is passed by the filter is analyzed for meaning o Unattended messages are not processed – selection is done early to choose what message is to be processed.  It would be impossible to get the meaning of an unattended message o Two messages that contain information presented slowly can be processed  People can pay attention to two messages at once o Filter is to protect us from information overload • Moray: cocktail party effect disrupts a person’s shadowing when it is embedded in the attended or unattended message – name is remembered and heard o Poses a problem for filter theory since a person can hear their own name in unattended message but filter theory says ALL unattended messages are filtered out  Moray concluded that important material can penetrate filter – name is important  But how does filter know what is important?  Maybe shadowing in shadowing task does not take 100% attention • Treisman: Played a dichotic message to a participant, and then switch the sides midway through the passage o Participant repeated 1-2 words from the new “unattended ear” – if attention only shifts when attention filter lapse, it is hard to explain why it always lapses at he message switch o Treisman reasoned that participants can base selection of message to attend to part that makes sense – filter theory says it would be shut out. o Attentional Leakage • Wood/Cowan: Students perform dichotic listening task of The Grapes of Wrath and 2001 Space Odyssey – switch into backward speech on unattended ear for 30 seconds – two groups 2.5 min switch and 5min switch • Task showed that people made errors in shadowing when backward speech was presented but no change in control (no switch) • Attentional shift to unattended message was unintentional and completed without awareness • Conway/Cowan/Bunting: those who detect their name in an unattended message are those with a lower working memory span. o Lower working memory capacity means less ability to block out unattended message – lower working memory spans = less focus o Working memory capacity: things in the memory space • Corteen/Wood: pair shocked with city names – presented city names with new city names in unattended ear in shadowing task – all city names elicited a galvanic skin response – associations are still learned but unconsciously. Attenuation Theory • Unattende messages are not completely blocked down – only their “volume is turn down” o Some meaningful information is available if hard to recover • Incoming messages are subjected to 3 kinds of analysis: o 1 stage Attenuator: analyzes message’s physical properties like pitch or loudness. Physical characteristics, language, and meaning  analysis is done to identify which message should be attended and so unattended message can be attenuated o 2 ndstage Linguistic/Dictionary Unit: stored words have thresholds, so some words have a lower threshold rd parsing of words into syllables and words o 3 stages Semantic: processes the meaning of the message • Important or meaningful words have lower thresholds o Requires little mental effort to be heard or recognized • Priming can lower the threshold of some words • People only need to process as much as necessary to separate attended and unattended message o Messages that are not attended are weakened – like lowering volume on a stereo – parts with lower threshold in unattended message can still be heard. • Attenuation theory allows for many kinds of analysis of messages, but filter theory only allows one. Late Selection Theory • Deutsch- Norman model of attention • All messages are routinely processed for at least some aspect of meaning o Attentional selection occurs after this processing for meaning • Filter theory hypothesizes a bottleneck – late selection theory also uses a bottleneck, but choke is later, after certain meanings have been extracted o Elaborated material is retained, unelaborated is forgotten • Context and significance in context determine importance o Low level of alertness (sleep) o High level of alertness (awake) • All information activates corresponding representation in long term memory o Selection of what to pay attention to is the Response Output Stage o Human limitation for processing 2 streams of information lies in making a conscious response to each stimuli Attention, Capacity and Mental Effort • Broadbent: bottleneck theory for attention • Kahneman: attention as a set of cognitive processes for categorizing and recognizing stimuli o people can choose what to focus on and where to allocate attention • Availability of mental resources is affected by overall stage of arousal o Fewer cognitive resources are brought to easy task, but they also require fewer cognitive resources • Allocation policy: how resources are allocated o Enduring dispositions: how a person personality is o Momentary intentions: vows to do right now o Evaluation of demands on capacity: knowledge that a task requires effort o Attention is mental effort: more effort is expended is more attention being used  Resource limited processing = greater results when more effort is put in.  Performance on data limited task means that it depends on data coming in and not mental effort or concentration Automaticity and Effects of Practice • Over time, the attentional capacity required for a given task decreases o Typing, talking, math, reading, driving • Downside of automatic processing o Increased susceptibility to certain types of interference • Practice decreases the amount of mental effort a task requires • Stroop Effect: series of colour bars or colour words presented in conflicting colour – task is to name the ink colour as fast as possible o Stroop effect is that literate adults read so automatic that it is hard to identify the colour than to read the word Automatic versus Attentional (Controlled) Processing • Automatic processing o Occurs without intention
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