Attention Mechanisms

Attention mechanisms are the processes that prompt us to pay attention to particular stimuli.

Divided Attention

Q. Are you good at multitasking?

The brain cannot simultaneously focus on different tasks, so multitasking is actually a process of continually refocusing or toggling between different sets of information, this process of stopping and starting actually makes the tasks take longer and increases the potential for error.

Focused Attention

This is what we call tunnel vision; focusing only on the information that is relevant to the task. Focusing attention in this way causes a loss of other sensual information, hearing being the first to go.

Sustained Attention or vigilance

Refers to situations where attention is maintained overtime. We find it particularly difficult to sustain our attention in this way. An example would be watching an EEG screen in order to make the earliest possible detection of a blip that might signify a change in activity levels.It is particularly difficult to detect infrequent signals of this nature.

Selective Attention

The process by which people find or select something to pay attention to; often referred to as the Cocktail Party Effect when the conversation at the other side of the room can be much more interesting than the one you’re involved in. This is not necessarily a conscious process.

If you are not using a computer within the N3 network you will be able to view a video created by London transport; which will allow you to test your awareness:

London Transport Video (hosted on youtube)

Memory Experiment

Try to remember as many of the words as you can but do not write them down, then go onto the next page:

  • sofa
  • couch
  • stool
  • recliner
  • seat
  • settee
  • chaise longe