Does The Concept Of Negative Priming Contribute To Our Understanding Of Selective Attention?

1863 words - 7 pages

It is often thought that humans can receive all the information that invades their senses, however, it is fact they are not able to process all of the received information. Humans must selectively choose what information to perceive and ignore irrelevant information. Two questions are raised, therefore: what allows us to selectively attend information and what happens to unattended information, is it proceeded to any extend or not proceeded at all? Recently, the phenomenon of negative-priming started to be used to study selective attention.

Negative priming is following. Two stimuli are presented to participants and they are asked to react only to one stimulus and ignore the other. The observed responses are slow if the item they have to respond to is the same as the item they have to ignore. The theory of negative priming holds that this slowdown is a result of the dual-process mechanism of selective attention where perceived information is activated and distracting information is prevented . Thus, the slowdown is the result of participant's trying to respond to an item that was prevented before the request.

Many people, however, believe that the available evidence does not support the notion of an inhibitory component of the selective attention . It means that the slowdown, a characteristic of the negative priming, is observed not because of the fact that the target was previously ignored . Negative priming phenomenon reflects interaction between automatic memory processes and controlled selection processes. The presentation of the item which was a distractor before allows that item to be faster selected by the controlled selection process.

Most of the work on these issues has been collaborated with Dr. Bruce Milliken who focused on the negative priming paradigm. His point of view can be presented in the following example. If a person is presented to two words, one written in green ink and the other in red ink, and asked to point to word written in red ink, he is forced to pay all attention to red word and ignore the green word. If later he is asked to name the green word, it will take longer than in the situation with red, because it had just been ignored on the previous trial.

The main objective of the selective attention model is to achieve the higher level of processing of the achieved information. The primary function of the attention is focusing on the attended information more compared with the rest of the stimulation received .

The efficient selection and response to targets simultaneous with disregard of distractors is an adaptive ability of humans and has been of high interest for many cognitive psychologists. Broadbend was one of the first to define the theory of selective attention. He supposed that attention is like a filter that processes the received information further and rejects the irrelevant information. The key point of his research is that selective attention either processes...

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