Compare and Contrast Early vs Late Selection Models of Attention. How Well Do They Explain How We Selectively Attend to Informatio

2227 Words May 5th, 2013 9 Pages
Compare and contrast early vs late selection models of attention. How well do they explain how we selectively attend to information?

Attention was described by William James (1890, cited in Eysenck & Keane, 2000, p130) as
“the taking possession of the mind, in clear and vivid form , of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalisation, concentration of consciousness are of its essence.”
This definition emphasises how attention is thought of as a selective process. It seems clear from common sense that we cannot attend to all stimuli at once, so some kind of selection must take place as to what information we attend to and process further, and what is disregarded.
Since the 1950’s,
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This led to the assumption that there was a sensory buffer, a very short-lived memory store also known as echoic memory, which could hold on to unattended material for just a few seconds prior to selective filtering (Naish, 2010).
By contrast, late selection models, e.g. Deutsch and Deutsch (1963) place the bottleneck much nearer to the response end of processing. Their model assumes that all incoming stimuli are automatically processed and analysed for meaning, regardless of whether they are consciously attended to or not, with selective filtering occurring only after meaning has been extracted.
Late selection models provide a possible explanation for results obtained in some dichotic listening experiments where processing of unattended stimuli did seem to take place. For example, Corteen and Wood (1972, as cited in Naish, 2010), paired electric shocks with certain words, so that a conditioned galvanic skin response (GSR) took place. Later, when these words were again presented to the unattended ear , (without electric shocks), the GSR still occurred for these words as well as other words from the same category, indicating that processing for meaning had indeed taken place. Late section theories could also be used to explain the cocktail party effect (Naish , 2010) i.e. if someone is attending to one conversation at a party and their name is mentioned in another conversation in the room, they are able to hear their name and switch their
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