Lecture 4-Attention


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C OGNITION - L ECTURE F OUR : A TTENTION 1/21/2010 William James “Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking of possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which is called distraction”. Harold Pashler (1998) “No one knows what attention is, and there may even not be an “it” there to be known about (although of course there might be). Selective Attention Major experiments used to show selective hearing are those used by Broadbent. The experimental technique Broadbent used (as seen in chapter 1) is called dichotic listening. Dichotic Listening : Participants are exposed to two verbal messages presented simultaneously, and are required to answer questions posed in only one of the messages. Participants were good at selective attention —that is they were able to select relevant information and ignore irrelevant information. Broadbent also worked closely with Colin Cherry (1953), who became well known for drawing attention to the cocktail party phenomenon and invented a seminal technique for investigating attention. Cocktail party phenomenon: The capacity for attending to one conversation in a crowded room in which many other conversations are going on. Cherry studied the ability to attend to one message while ignoring another by using a shadowing task , where you expose the subject to two messages simultaneously while repeating one of them. This helped show that one of the stages of information processing might be a kind of filter that admits some messages but blocks others. A study by Neisser and Becklen (1975) used a visual analogue of dichotic listening, called selective looking. Selective Looking: Occurs when one is exposed to two events simultaneously, but attends to only one. The studies of dichotic listening and of selective looking both produced results consistent with what is called the early selection view of attention.
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C OGNITION - L ECTURE F OUR : A TTENTION 1/21/2010 Early selection: The hypothesis that attention prevents early perceptual processing of distracters. The Stroop Task: A list of color names, each of which is printed in a color other than its name. Conclusion: the tendency to read the names interferes with the attempt to name the colors. The results of Stoop experiments have often been taken to illustrate controlled versus automatic processes. Controlled versus automatic processes: Processes to which we must pay attention in order to execute them properly versus processes that run themselves without the necessity of our paying attention to them A truly automatic process is autonomous; it just runs itself without the necessity of our paying attention to it. By contrast, with other activities we must pay attention if we are to execute them properly. Such processes are often called
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This note was uploaded on 03/21/2010 for the course PSYC 213 taught by Professor Levitin during the Spring '08 term at McGill.

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