A. Basic Characteristics
− Visual attention limits are described with a spotlight metaphor
− Auditory attention limits are described with gateway metaphor
− Easily shift attention based on situational demands
3- Voluntary control
− We can control how we direct our attention
B. Pre-Attentive vs. Post-Attentive Processing
Pre-attentive processing- Happens before the focus of attention is brought to a stimulus. It occurs quickly (without thinking).
Post-attentive processing- occurs after the focus of attention has been brought to a stimulus. It is slow and effortful.
Enumeration: The ability to accurately determine the number of presented items
Subitizing: The quick and effortless (i.e., pre-attentive) enumeration of a small number of objects (0-4)
Above 4 involves “counting,” which is a slow and effortful (i.e., post-attentive) enumeration process
Attentional involvement is gauged by noting how reaction time (RT) varies with the number of items in a visual display.
◘ Pre-attentive process
← RT does not increase as the number of items increases
◘ Post-attentive process
← RT increases as the number of items increases
II. Visual Attention
A. Types of Visual Attention
Goal-driven attention: Focusing attention based on previous knowledge, goals, or expectations (i.e., top-down processing).
Space-Based Attention: Focusing attention on a specific spatial location (like shining a spotlight).
● Areas within central attentional focus receive the most thorough processing
● Areas in the periphery receive more diffuse processing
Feature Integration vs. Guided Search
● Problems with two-stage assumption of feature integration theory
− Some conjunction searches have been found to be as fast as feature searches
◘ Not possible if binding multiple features is a post-attentive process (stage 2)
◘ Stages are proposed to be distinct and noninteractive
◘ No information gained from stage 1 is used in stage 2
● Guided search: Emphasizes role of the pre-attentive search (stage 1) in guiding the post-attentive search (stage 2).
B. Limits in Visual Attention
Low-Target Prevalence: Searching for targets that rarely occur
The Attentional Blink: The period of time after the detection of a stimulus during which another stimulus cannot be detected.
Limits in visual attention are attenuated when processing visual stimuli -Change Blindness (or Inattentional Blindness)
-Failure to notice obvious changes or events in the environment
C. Cultural Differences
In a visual scene:
Western cultures emphasize central objects and deemphasize the background Eastern cultures emphasize the background and deemphasize central objects
Nisbett and Masuda (2003)
Because of these culture differences, they found:
✓ Eastern cultures were more likely to notice changes in the background than in central objects
✓ Western cultures were more likely to notice changes in central objects than in the background
Magic and Misdirection of Attention
● Magicians manipulate attention to prevent noticing an action relevant to the trick
− Stimulus-driven attention: draw audience attention to something salient, but irrelevant to the trick
− Goal-driven attention: engage audience in an attention demanding task
III. Auditory Attention
● Analogy is a gateway that only allows some information into conscious awareness
A. Selective Attention
Selective attention tasks
− Multiple inputs are presented and must respond to some and ignore others