Space-Based Visual Selective Attention Is Best Characterised by the Spotlight Metaphor’ -Evaluate This Statement Drawing on Alternative Metaphors and Relevant Empirical Research.

Topics: Attention, Evoked potential, Focusing Pages: 3 (1278 words) Published: May 23, 2012
Space based visual attention is when we attend to a certain area of space. This may be for several reasons (e.g. hearing a noise).In the past 30 years of so there has been much research conducted into this area, mostly using lab based computer experiments, manipulating cues and targets to see how we react to and process them. One of the earliest and most influential metaphors, leading the way for many of the others is that by Posner (1980). Posner (1980) came up with the spotlight metaphor to space based visual attention, believing that when attend to areas like a spotlight illuminates areas, ready to be processed. Information outside the spotlight is not processed as much and some believe it is not processed at all. The spotlight can move around flexibly to any areas of interest. There has been lots of evidence for the spotlight metaphor including Posner et al (1980). They conducted a spatial cueing task where participants were told to focus on a cross in the centre of a visual screen. They had to focus on this cross and could not move their eyes, only there ‘mental attention’ (covert attention). They were they shown a directional arrow which either did or did not suggest where the target may appear (valid or invalid). Next they were shown the target which required rapid response. Results supported the spotlight metaphor as it shown that response times were facilitated by a valid arrow cue, making it faster. This shows that the spotlight can freely move around to look for a target. Posner (1980) also suggested that this shows that the spotlight can be influenced by cognitive aspects such as expectations (of where to look due to the arrow cue). From more research in the area, other metaphors such as the zoom lens and multiple spotlights have surfaced. I will discuss these now. The zoom lens metaphor from Erikson and St. James (1986) built upon the spotlight metaphor by adding a zoom to it. They believe that our attention spotlight can be increased and...
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