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Flashcards in Attention Deck (68):
1

What is attention?

Attention is the ability to focus on specific stimuli or locations.

2

The book divides up the research on attention. How?

Research on selective attention and divided attention.

3

What is selective attention?

Selective attention is the focusing of attention on one specific location, object, or message.

4

What is divided attention?

Divided attention is attending to two or more things at once.

5

Research on selective attention started with the following idea...

Many of the early experiments involved the idea of a "filter" that acted on incoming information, keeping some information out and letting some information in for further processing.

6

Most famous for his filter idea, Broadbent leant on research previously done by ...

Colin Cherry (1953), who did an experiment using a procedure called dichotic listening.

7

What are the most prominent feature of Broadbent's 1958 model?

His model has been called a bottleneck model because the filter restricts information flow, much as the neck of a bottle restricts flow of liquid.

8

Roughly outline Broadbent's early selection model?

He proposed that information that is perceived passes through the following stages:
1. Sensory memory
2. Filter
3. Detector
4. Short-term memory.

9

Most of Broadbent's model components are obvious. What position is his "detector" stage, and what is it?

The detector processes information to determine higher-level characteristics of the message, such as its meaning. Because only the important, attended information has been let through the filter, the detector processes all of the information that enters it.

10

Explain the dichotic listening procedure.

In a dichotic listening experiment, different messages are presented to the two ears. In a selective attention experiment, participants are instructed to pay attention to the message presented to one ear, and to ignore the message presented to the other ear. They're also told to repeat the message they're attending out loud, a procedure called shadowing.

11

Already in 1959, Neville Moray did an experiment that yielded results that does not mesh well with Broadbent's 1958 model. Which and why do they not mash?

Neville Moray did an experiment in which his participants shadowed the message presented to one ear and ignored the other, but when Moray presented the listener's name to the other, unattended ear, about a third of the participant's detected it. This effect, known as the cocktail party effect, is not predicted by Broadbent's theory because Broadbent's filter is supposed to let through only the attended message.

12

Neville Moray's cocktail party effect study contested Broadbent's early selection model. Mention another study that does this.

J.A. Gray and A. I. Wedderburn (1960) performed, while undergraduates at the University of Oxford, an experiment sometimes called the "Dear Aunt Jane" experiment. In it, participants heard content from the unattended ear that fit well with the message from the unattended ear. ("Dear 7 Jane" / "9 Aunt 6").

13

What does the Dear Aunt Jane and cocktail party effect experiments tell us about Broadbent's filter model?

That the notion of the filter acting on information based on its physical characteristics, like what ear it is coming from, is not correct. It seems that the attentive filtering happens "later" in processing, taking the meaning of the stimuli into account.

14

Because of results such as the Dear Aunt Jane experiment and the cocktail party experiment, Anne Treisman (1964) proposed a modification of Broadbent's theory. What did she change?

Treisman proposed that selection occurs in two stages, and she replaced Broadbent's filter with an attenuator, and a dictionary unit.

15

How does Treismans attenuator work? How much is filtered?

Treisman proposed that the analysis of the message proceeds only as far as is necessary to identify the attended message. Once the attended and unattended messages have been identified, both messages are let through the attenuator, but the attended message emerges at full strength and the unattended messages are attenuated - they are still present, but are weaker than the attended message.

16

Treisman proposed that the analysis of the message proceeds only as far as is necessary to identify the attended message. Explain.

For example, if there are two messages, one in a male voice and one in a female voice, then analysis at the physical level is adequate to separate the low-pitched male voice, from the higher-pitched female voice. If, however, the voices are similar, then it might be necessary to use meaning to separate the two messages.

17

Treisman's model of attention is sometimes called ...

The "leaky filter" model. This is because some of the unattended message gets trough the attenuator.

18

In Broadbent's model, the filter sends information to the ...

Detector.

19

In Treisman's model, the attenuator sends information to ...

the dictionary unit.

20

What does the dictionary unit of Treisman's model do?

The dictionary unit contains stored words, each of which has a threshold for being activated. Thus, a word with a low threshold might be detected even when it is presented softly or is obscured by other words. This accounts for the cocktail party effect.

21

Broadbent's and Treisman's models are both called ... why?

They are both called early selection theories of selective attention. This is because they propose a filter that operates at an early stage in the flow of information, in many cases eliminating information based only on physical characteristics of the stimulus.

22

Broadbent's and Treisman's models are both called early selection models of attention. Late selection models of attention resulted as more evidence proved early selection wrong. Mention one important study.

Donald MacKay (1973) had his participants attend to ambiguous sentences while being presented with priming words in the unattended ear. The meaning of the unattended words affected the participant's understanding of the attended messages.

23

Donald MacKay (1973) had his participants attend to ambiguous sentences while being presented with priming words in the unattended ear. The meaning of the unattended words affected the participant's understanding of the attended messages.

Does this disprove Broadbent and Treisman?'

Yes and no. Treisman is open to the prospect that the attenuator could process information as far as meaning, if necessary. In MacKay's experiment, it is not necessary to use the unattended information - yet it is used.

24

If Treisman's model is able to account for meaning being processed at the early attenuator stage, why did other researchers see the need for late models of processing?

Because in Treisman's model meaning processing at the attenuator stage is an exception done only when it is necessary. The findings of later researchers was that meaning seemed to always be processed, no matter the attention given to the information.

25

What was the conclusion to the "early-late" controversy?

As research in selective attention has progressed, researchers have realized that there is no one answer to it. Early selection can be demonstrated under some conditions and later selection under others, depending on the observer's task and the type of stimuli presented.

26

As research in selective attention has progressed, researchers have realized that there is no one answer to it. Early selection can be demonstrated under some conditions and later selection under others, depending on the observer's task and the type of stimuli presented. Thus, researchers began focusing instead on ..

Other factors that control attention.

27

What is a "cognitive resource"?

Cognitive resources refers to the idea that a person has a certain cognitive capacity, which can be used for carrying out various tasks.

28

What is "cognitive load"?

Cognitive load is the amount of a person's cognitive resources needed to carry out a particular cognitive task.

29

How has cognitive load and cognitive resources created research questions for cognitive psychologists?

They've looked at:

(1) The relation between the amount of a person's cognitive resources that are used by a primary task or stimulus.
(2) How this affects the person's ability to avoid attending to other, task-irrelevant, stimuli.

30

Describe the flanker compatibility task and how it relates to the theory of cognitive resources.

The flanker compatibility task is a task in which participants are told to carry out a task that requires them to focus attention on a specific stimuli and to ignore other stimuli (Eriksen & Eriksen, 1974).

BAB - Compatible flankers. Fastest response.
CAC - Incompatible flankers. Slowest response.
XAX - Neutral flankers. Intermediate response.

Because pushing a key in response to an easily visible target is easy, this task wouldn't use all of a person's cognitive resources, so some cognitive resources would remain available. This is why the flanker stimuli is processed, and affects the outcome of the test.

31

How can you make the flanker compatibility task more difficult?

Lavie, 2005; Lavie & Cox 1997 did a task that was similar to the flanker compatibility task. In this experiment, a target stimulus appears somewhere in a ring of six stimuli. The flanker stimulus is presented off to the side. The interesting part is that the ring of stimuli varied between a low-load and a high-load condition. In the low-load condition, they were all O's. In the high-load condition, they were all different letters. Intuitively it is more difficult to discern a target stimuli (X) in a ring of letters than in a ring of O's.

32

What happens if you make the flanker compatibility task more difficult?

The results of experiments with a high-load and low-load condition, indicate that the incompatible flankers causes a slower response in the low-load condition, but has no effect in the high-load condition.

From this we might assume that the high-load condition expends all of the participants' cognitive resources, so that they no longer process the flanker stimuli.

33

Ignoring task-irrelevant stimuli is a function of ..

(1) The load of the task (higher load makes it easier!)
(2) How "powerful" the task-irrelevant stimuli is (stroop).

34

Ignoring task-irrelevant stimuli is a function of how "powerful" the task-irrelevant stimuli is. Huh?

In the Stroop effect the task-irrelevant stimuli are extremely powerful, because reading words is highly practiced and has become so automatic that it is difficult not to read them.

35

Distributing attention among two or more tasks is easier if ...

The task has become automatic.

36

Distributing attention among two or more tasks is easier if the task has become automatic. Backed up by what evidence?

Walter Schneider and Robert Shiffrin (1977) had participants pay attention to a series of "distractor" stimuli and determine if a target stimuli was present among the distractors. They used a consistent mapping condition, where the targets would be always numbers and the distractors would always be letters. Performance increased remarkably, from 55% correct on the first trial, to 90% correct by 900 trials. Participants explained this with their experience of the task being automated.

37

What happens if you make divided attention tasks very difficult?

Participants don't seem to be able to automatise it.

38

When divided attention tasks are very difficult, participants seem to have trouble automatising them. Mention the study implied.

Schneider and Shiffrin's 1977 experiment featured a varied mapping condition where both the targets and the distractors were letters. When the rules changed, targets could become distractors and vice versa.

39

What is one important use for the research on divided attention?

Driving. Driving is one of those tasks that demand constant attention, but where large parts of the task can become automatic.

40

A survey of accidents and cell phone use in Toronto showed that the risk of a collision was how many times higher when using a cell phone than when a cell phone was not being used?

This survey by Redelmeier & Tibshirani (1997) showed that the risk of a collision was four times higher when using a cell phone than when a cell phone was not being used.

41

A survey of accidents and cell phone use in Toronto showed that the risk of a collision was four times higher when using a cell phone than when a cell phone was not being used. A more surprising finding from said study was ..

That hands-free cell phone units offered no safety advantage. Redelmeier & Tibshirani (1997)

42

How distracting are telephones when used while driving? Redelmeier & Tibshirani (1997) found that it increased risk of a collision fourfold by using data on telephone use crossreferenced with reported collisions. Were there also laobratory experiments?

Yes! David Strayer and William Johnston (2001) placed participants in a simulated driving task that required them to apply the brakes as quickly as possible in response to a red light. Doing this task while talking on a cell phone caused participants to miss twice as many of the red lights as when they weren't talking on the phone and also increased the time it took them to apply the brakes. They also did not find any difference between hands-free users and non-hands-free users.

43

Survey studies and laboratory studies have both found that hands-free holds no advantage over normal mobile phone use. They both increase the risk of collisions equally. How can this be explained by a cognitive psychologist?

One can conclude, like Strayer and Johnston did in their laboratory study, that talking on the phone uses cognitive resources that would otherwise be used for driving the car.

44

How can hands-free phone usage be any worse than having a conversation with a passenger when you're driving?

1. Passengers are aware of traffic situations and will, perhaps, know when to stop demanding attention.
2. Phone conversational partners don't know when to stop demanding attention. The driver might feel rude if they attend to their driving in moments where it's needed.

45

Someone says they are a safe driver. What's it worth to you?

Shouldn't be worth a lot. An overwhelming majority of people who talk on cell phones while driving consider themselves safe drivers, and 45% of them reported that they had been hit or nearly hit by another driver talking on a cell phone.

46

An overwhelming majority of people who talk on cell phones while driving consider themselves safe drivers, and 45% of them reported that they had been hit or nearly hit by another driver talking on a cell phone. What is this an example of?

The fundamental attribution error. These driver probably think that the drivers that nearly, or actually, hit them were poor drivers, and have not considered that the reason they were poor drivers was because they were on their cell phones.

47

What is inattentional blindness?

Inattentional blindness is a phenomenon in which an unattended object is not perceived despite being clear and visible. The blindness is caused by attention be directed at something else.

48

Mention a famous study on inattentional blindness?

Daniel Simons and Cristopher Chabris (1999) created a 75-second film that showed two teams of three players each. The team that was dressed in white was passing a basketball around, and the other, dressed in black, was not handling the ball. Observers were told to count the number of passes, a task that focused their attention of the team in white. After about 45 seconds, an event that took 5 seconds occurred. One of these events was a person dressed in a gorilla suit, walking through the scene.
Nearly half - 46 percent - of the observers failed to report having seem the event, even though it was clearly visible.

49

Inattention blindness sounds crazy, does it even make sense?

Sure. Brain trauma to the parietal cortex can cause a rare condition known as bilateral neglect syndrome in which people fail to attend to any objects in the contralateral field of view to the lesion. The effect is absolute and dramatical, even though there is nothing wrong with their vision.

50

What is change blindness?

A difficulty in detecting changes in scenes. This is not a pathology, but a phenomenon of attention.

51

Mention one experiment on change blindness?

Levin & Simons (1997) showed a video of a brief conversation between two women at a café. Changes to their clothes, their positions, and the colors of their plates, occur between shots. Although participants were told to pay close attention, only 1 of 10 participants claimed to notice any changes. Even when given cues, they only found less than 1/4 of the changes.

52

Eye movement. What is a fixation?

The places where the eyes briefly pause.

53

What are saccadic eye movements?

Movements of the eye from one fixation to the next.

54

How long do eye fixations typically last?

About 1/3 second. Typically people make about three fixations per second.

55

Attention that is not associated with eye movements is called ..

covert attention.

56

How has covert attention been studied?

Covert attention has been studied using a procedure called precueing, in which the participant is presented with a "cue" that indicates where a stimulus is most likely to appear.

57

Covert attention has been studied using a procedure called precueing, in which the participant is presented with a "cue" that indicates where a stimulus is most likely to appear. Precueing has been used to study two types of attention. Which?

1. Location-based attention
2. Object-based attention.

58

Precueing has been used to study two types of attention. Location-based attention and object-based attention. What are they?

1. Location based attention - how attention is directed to a specific location or place.
2. Object-based attention - attention that is directed to a specific object.

59

Mention a study on location-based attention.

Michael Posner and coworkers (1978) had participants keep their eyes stationary, looking at a +. They would first be given an arrow cue indicating on which side of the + a stimulus would later appear. Sometimes the cue was misleading. The results of this experiment indicate that observers reacted more rapidly on valid trials than on invalid trails.

60

Mention a study on object-based attention.

Egly et al (1994) did an experiment in which they cued a stimulus on an object. We already know that cueing location increases the velocity of a response, but cueing a stimulus on the same object increased overall the detection of stimuli on that object.

61

What is the feature integration theory?

Anne Treisman (1986; 1998) proposed a theory, called feature integration theory, to explain how we perceive separated features as part of the same object. A red rolling ball is still perceived as one object, despite its different features being processed by different parts of the brain.

62

Treisman proposed several steps of feature integration. Which?

1. Object
2. Preattentive stage (analyze into features)
3. Focused attention stage (combine features)
4. Perception

63

Feature integration theory ... evidence?

Anne Treisman and H. Schmidt (1982) did an experiment where they would show a display consisting of four objects flanked by two numbers. They'd flash it for one-fifth of a second. When people were to report what they had seen, the objects reported were often a mishmash of what they had seen. The features were correct, but did not necessarily match the object.

64

Anne Treisman and H. Schmidt (1982) did an experiment where they would show a display consisting of four objects flanked by two numbers. They'd flash it for one-fifth of a second. When people were to report what they had seen, the objects reported were often a mishmash of what they had seen. The features were correct, but did not necessarily match the object.

How would this be explained by feature integration theory=

These matches, called illusory conjunctions, occur because at the beginning of the perceptual process each feature exists independently of the others. They are, in Treisman's (1986) words, "free-floating", and can therefore be incorrectly combined.

65

What has been the primary research findings found by research into the physiological mechanisms of attention?

1. Attention enhances neural responding.
2. Attentional processing is distributed across a large number of areas in the brain.

66

1. Attention enhances neural responding.
How?

Carol Colby and coworkers (1995) did research on monkeys. They had trained the monkeys to fixate on a light dot. In both conditions there was a peripheral light that sometimes would be lit, but only in one of the conditions would the monkey's task be to release a lever when it did. At the same time, the researchers recorded the activity of a parietal cortex neuron that seemed to respond to the peripheral light. It responded much more in the condition where the light was attended to.

67

2. Attentional processing is distributed across a large number of areas in the brain.

Gordon Shulman and coworkers (1999) used fMRI scans to measure participants' brain activity while they performed a task in which they paid attention to a specific direction of motion. Many different areas of the brain was involved. That's the short version.

68

What is, broadly, the difference between autistic people's attention and other people?

People with autism do not direct their attention in social situations in the same way as nonautistic observers. Autistic people attend to things, where nonautistic people attend more to other people.