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Flashcards in Attention Deck (25)
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Definition of attention

Lots of definitions based on awareness


What happens when attention fails?

Negative consequences:
road traffic accidents - distractions, mind wandering
workplace - won't be as productive
school - learning


Why is attention important?

It is a gateway which helps us succeed in all cognitive processes:
negative consequences when it fails
applied contexts (advertising - increasing sales)
clinical contexts (anxiety, neglect)
We receive too much input, we can't look at, listen to, feel and think about everything at once


Why can't we process everything?

Attention is a limited capacity resource and a processing bottleneck
At some point there is a block, preventing more info going in


Types of attention

Selective - focussing attention on something, ignoring information
Sustained - maintaining attention over a long time (security guard monitoring a camera)
Divided - dividing attention to 2 things, multi tasking can look at capacity limits
Attention to sensory modalities - sight, touch, sound, smell


Neural processing of attention

If covertly attending to something, neural response is boosted
2 regions responding to specific categories:
fusiform face area - when covertly attending to faces, this is activated
parahippocampal place area - covert attention to houses increased PPA response


How to study attention?

Eye movements
Reaction times


Eye movements

Measure what people are fixating on as looking round a scene
Limitations: eye movements aren't perfectly linked to attention - we don't always look where we are attending


What is covert attention?

Fixating on one thing but attending to something else


What is overt attention?

Attention is where your eyes are looking


Ways of studying covert attention

Spatial cueing
Visual search
Distractor effects
Attentional capture
Error rates
Self report measures


Spatial cueing

Is the target letter an X or an N?
Quicker response if valid cue, slower if invalid cue as attention goes to the wrong place
Spatial attention moved to cued location
This words with:
endogenous cues (top down) - arrow sends information to where it is pointing, can ignore cue if want, voluntary
exogenous cues (bottom up) - captures attention immediately, can't not attend - involuntary


What is endogenous cues?

Sends information to where it is pointing


What is exogenous cues?

Captures attention immediately


Visual search task

Find purple O
If target pops out (unique quality) , increasing non targets has no effect
If target is a conjunction (shares properties with other targets) RT increases with number of non target
Have to search for lots, serial search


What is a conjunction target?

Shares properties with non targets


Distractor effects

If we are slowed down when something is irrelevant, we assume attention has been distracted
e.g. stroop task and response competition flanker task


Stroop task

Name ink colour of word
RT are slower if ink conflicts with the word, suggests we can't ignore word meaning


Response competition flanker task

Is central letter X or N
Response slower if distractors are incongruent (when distracting targets are one of the letters) compared to congruent or neutral
If the task is separated from flankers, still can't ignore them, suggests spatially separated distractors can't be ignored


What is an incongruent distractor?

When the distractor letter is the target letter too


Attentional capture task

We assume attention has been captured by a stimulus if it slows us down when it is irrelevant
e.g. singleton attentional capture task


Singleton attentional capture task

Find the circle in an array of subjects
Colour singleton non targets increases RT's - evidence for attentional capture
Colour singleton target reduces RT as easy to find


Error rates

Sustained attention to response task
press a button for every digit except 3 - hard to do this


Self report measures

Used to test effects of attention on awareness
e.g. change blindness (not realising something has changed due to attention being too good) and mind wandering (hard to measure this)


What do people with mind wandering report?

More reaction time interference and more errors on sustained attention tasks