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Chapter 4

Chapter 4. Paying Attention

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Gabriela Ilie

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Chapter 4. Paying Attention Wednesday, February 02, 2011 2:54 PM Selective attention: the focusing of cognitive resources on one or a small number of tasks to the exclusion of others. Dichotic listening task: a task in which a person hears two or more different, specially recorded messages over earphones and is asked to attend to one of them. { Sometimes the tapes are recorded so that both messages are heard in both ears - called binaural presentation. Filter theory: a theory of attention proposing that information that exceeds the capacity of a processor to process at any given time is blocked from further processing. { Based on some physical aspect of the attended message: the location of its source and its typical pitch or loudness. { In other words, the filter selects information for later processing. { Protects us from information overload by shutting out messages when we hear too much information to process all at once. The cocktail party effect shows that people sometimes do hear their own name in an unattended message or conversation, and hearing their name will cause them to switch their attention to the previously unattended message. { Name recognition occurs during attention lapses. { Wood and Cowan concluded that the attentional shift to the unattended message was unintentional and completed without awareness. They believed that 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. Research participants who detect their name in the unattended message are those who have a lower working-memory span. Lower working-memory capacity means less ability to actively block the unattended message (less able to focus). Attenuation theory: a model of attention in which unattended perceptual events are transmitted in weakened form but not blocked completely before being processed for meaning. { Incoming messages are subjected to three kinds of analysis. First the physical properties, such as pitch or loudness. Second the analysis is linguistic, a process of parsing the message into syllables and words. Third is semantic, processing the meaning of the message. { Some words such as Fire! or Watch out! have permanently lower thresholds, we can recognize our own names with l
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