2 Properties of Attention LIMITEDAllocate attention, switch among tasks;SELECTIVEDirect searchEvaluate what is not currently in attention
3 Today. . .limited What can we say about how attention is allocated? What mechanisms do you use to protect the limited resource of attention?How do you solve the problem that attention is limited?
4 Allocation Sperling & Melchner: Arrays flash by one at a time, 240 ms each: subjects are to name the location and identification of the two digits on each trialSubjects do better if told whether the digits will be in theinner or outer circle of characters.
5 Question:Is attention always allocated the way that you want?
6 What happens that prevents you from allocating attention? Of course not!What happens that prevents you from allocating attention?In general we could say that there is distraction from without and distraction from within.
7 Allocation: distraction from without Sudden, high intensity stimuli in the peripheryCertain types of stimuli (that aren’t sudden or high intensity) naturally draw attention (examples?)
8 Question: what strategies do you employ to avoid distraction?
9 DemonstrationAsk them “How many windows are in your house or apartment?”When they answer, note whether they look off into the distance, or keep their gaze on you.
10 GatekeeperStrategy 1: Avoid distracting stimuli. Faces are socially important, & it’s hard not to attend to them.
11 Strategy 2: HabituateWith continued exposure, distracting stimuli no longer demand attention.This is more effective for stimuli that don’t change much; e.g., harder to habituate to music than a refrigerator hum.BUT complexity is not so important
12 If this painting were behind me as we were having a conversation, you would habituate, because it’s static.
13 Even this simple scene would be distracting because of the motion
14 Strategy 3: admit some stuff, not others Next class we’ll talk in more detail about how much the gatekeeper can really evaluate about the stimulusWhat is the most distracting auditory stimulus?
17 Wegner theoryOperating process: seeks mental contents consistent with what you want to think about (no white bear)Monitoring process: searches for mental contents that you are NOT supposed to think about (white bear)—this is a warning system that mental control is about to fail.Operating process demands attention, but monitoring doesn’t; thus if you’re distracted, or tired, operating can’t work, but monitoring can.
18 Allocation summaryIn order to allocate attention as you desire, you must maintain its focus.Distractions may come from outside (stimuli in environment) or inside (your own thoughts).The cognitive system has strategies to maintain allocation to the desired targets.
19 Limited attention: problem 2 Problem 1 was distraction—your desired allocation gets messed up.Problem 2 is the very fact that attention is limited—you can’t do everything you want to do.How does your system deal with that problem?
21 Reduction in demands w/ practice AutomaticLittle or no attentional costWith or without intentionNot affected by motivationCan happen w/o awarenessControlledAttentional costOccurs only with intentionAffected by motivationOnly with awareness
22 Training to automaticity: Shiffrin & Schneider (1977) What effect will # of figures on each card have on errors?
23 Results: Early in training Errors 1 2 3 4 Number of figures on each card
24 Results:Early in trainingErrorsAfter 2100 trials1234Number of figures on each card
25 Spelke, Hirst, & Neisser Sought automaticity for more complex tasks Subjects read stories while they took dictationInitially,huge interferenceAn hour-long session , 5 days/ week, for six weeksDeveloped automaticity.
26 Example of automatic process: reading Name the ink colors.Example: “Lion” say “red”
28 GREEN RED RED GREENLION GREEN BLUE BLUERED RED GREEN BLUEGREEN RED GREEN REDBLUE GREEN RED BLUEBLUE RED BLUE GREENBLUE GREEN RED GREEN
29 THE POINTReading is automatic and therefore happens without intention: even when you don’t want it to happen, it does.This phenomenon is limited by context: e.g, stoplight.cf interference in sports. . .
30 Summary Attention is limited To deal with this limitation, we allocate it, and we make frequently practiced tasks automaticIn trying to allocate attention, there are potential distractions, both internal and externalWe have strategies for dealing with these