Free «Processing Capacity and Selective Attention» Essay Paper

Processing Capacity and Selective Attention

Efficiency in selective attention is highly determined by a number of variations in cognitive and perpetual demand. In this regard, selective attention simply refers to a mechanism consisting of neural part of the body that is to a larger extent controlled by certain instructions. Furthermore, it goes ahead by selecting a specific kind of stimuli or rather neural signals that perform specific tasks of processing neural information. It should be noted that an instruction, which plays a major role in the entire process of selective attention is basically a stimulus that once it is stimulated by the process of conditioning, becomes activated and associates itself with a given kind of neural signal activity in the body. Therefore, attention has a limited capacity since it cannot be focussed on more than one thing or event at the same time.

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It is essential for one to have the ability to pay attention selectively. As in the case of drivers, they can focus on the road while driving and ignore other irrelevant issues that may distract their attention. Just like the bottleneck, which is highly restrictive on the flow passing through it, so is the attention because human beings cannot attend to all inputs through sensory body organs. Materials that pass through will have to be selected for efficient and proper functioning of the body processes.

Broadbent’s Filter Model

As a renowned contributor to the approach of information processing, Donald Broadbent abandoned his career at air traffic controllers, where he experienced scenarios where messages of incoming and departing aircrafts were competing for his attention at the same time. In this case, one can only deal with one particular given message that is perceived to be the most important (Glyn & Claus, 2010).

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As a result, Broadbent designed a dichotic listening experiment in pursuit of finding out the key processes that mainly involved when it comes to switching attention. According to him, information from given stimuli gains entrance through a sensory buffer. In this case, inputs are selected basing on physical characteristics so as to allow further processing. Due to the limited capacity of human body to process information, the available filter is positioned in a way to prevent an overload of the system concerned with processing particular given information (Glyn & Claus, 2010).

Broadbent was mainly interested in seeing how individuals would be able to focus their attention selectively. Therefore, to get the desired results, he exposed them to extremely many signals with an intention of overloading them with stimuli so that they had a large portion of information to process at the same time. However, basing on the results that were obtained from the experiment, he ended up concluding that human beings can only be attentive and pay attention once in a given time. It is with regard to the physical characteristics of the same information that may be coming in at that particular given period of time. Therefore, in the event that a message is sent to a given unattended ear, such given message is not understood by an individual at all. It happens because those pieces of information that are initially not selected by the filter will shortly remain in the buffer store of the body’s sensory system (Glyn & Claus, 2010).

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Treisman’s Attenuation Model

On the other hand, selective attention and the entire processing capacity can be explained by the above-mentioned model. According to Treisman’s model, unattended materials received by the sensory system of the body are eliminated by the filter. In addition to this, attenuation is compared to the scenario of turning down the volume in that in case an individual is in a room having a TV, a radio, people talking and a baby crying, one will be required to turn down three source of sound to attend to the fourth one. Similarly, the results will be the same as to turning off the sources of such sound because the material that will not be attended to will be lost. However, in the event that the channel that is unattended to has your name, the possibility of hearing it are high (Glyn & Claus2010).

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In his experimentation of selective attention and information processing, Treisman used speed shadowing method. Therefore, messages that were identical in nature were exposed to two ears such that there was a slight delay between one ear and another. In the event that the delay was extended with regard to how materials were presented to the two ears, then it was apparent that the participants were unable to tell that the similar material was presented to their both ears (Glyn & Claus, 2010).

Attenuation Theory conducted by Treisman established that the messages that were unattended to were processed less thoroughly as compared to those messages that were attended to. Therefore, the unattended message that is being processed by body’s sensory system is reduced proportionally mainly basing on the limited capacity of the processing system of the body (Glyn & Claus, 2010).

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Received messages by the sensory system of the body are processed systematically mainly by thorough physical characteristics analysis coupled with words of an individual and the pattern of the syllables. After all this entire complex process, the intended meaning and grammar structure will be understood. In order to be analysed by the body’s sensory system, respective items ought to reach a particular threshold with respect to their intensity. Therefore, in such a case, only those materials that will be selected will be able to reach this threshold unlike some of the other materials that will be attenuated. In addition to this, there are some materials and items that will have a threshold that is reduced permanently. It will be for the case of things such as one’s own name and even phrases and words like fire or help that are basically easy to remember quickly (Laurent & Geraint, 2005).

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Consequently, it should be noted that the capacity associated with a particular neural process that is selected for processing may sometimes exceed the selected input amount at that particular given point of time. Therefore, the whole process of selective attention is equally important with regard to performing a number of assigned tasks. It is irrespective of the limited capacity that is independent of a given neural processing activity. In addition to this, there are some given tasks whose performance is highly limited by the flexibility nature of the entire mechanism of selective attention. Therefore, other equally important tasks are also limited in their capacity and task combination by the neural process. There are cases where there is limited performance of tasks basing on the input by the neural signals such that the flexibility mechanism of selective attention is limited to a larger extent (Laurent & Geraint, 2005).

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Furthermore, capacity of the body’s sensory system plays a pivotal role when it comes to selective attention. It is because of the effect of the perpetual load that modulates such issues as display while on the other hand the work of the memory that is mainly modulated by the cognitive load. In this case, it is clear that cognitive and perpetual load do not only have independent but also opposite effects with regard to how resources are concerned with attention, which latter on enhances the efficiency of selective attention. Therefore, working memory will be in a position to function efficiently so as to maintain and enhance priorities in respect of tasks at hand and actions.

Marginal increase in cognitive load that is basically induced by the difficulty level of the secondary task at hand leads to the significant reduction of the distractor inhibition. It is mainly as a result of the fact that the attention target area will be narrowing in course of all those chain processes. Therefore, neural circuits within the sensory system of the body and lateral inhibitions will tend to spread in an outward direction thus becoming comparatively weaker. Furthermore, the intensity nature of the entire attention activity will also significantly reduce. It is highly attributed to the fact that the effect of the cognitive load is not in any way associated with the changes occurring in the allocation of respective materials. However, instead the cognitive load will be highly affected when the ability of the observer to inhibit his or her response is decreased by the distractors. Therefore, the key responsibility of perpetual mechanism with regard to selective attention is to exclude any information that may be irrelevant to an individual in case there is high perceptual load. The cognitive mechanism, on the other hand, will be concerned with governing and controlling attention in the event that an individual is experiencing a comparatively low perceptual load. This will not in any case depend on the information that will be available at that particular point in time (Laurent & Geraint, 2005).

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Therefore, it can be ascertained that both the perpetual mechanism and cognitive mechanism that mainly lead to the entire process of processing capacity and selective attention are highly independent because each of the mechanisms obtains its resources for the whole process in a completely different pool. Thus, it is the task of an observer to control how the said resources are distributed (Laurent & Geraint, 2005).

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