Role Of Attention In Perception

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Attention is an activity during which a person focuses on particular objects at the same time ignores the others present near the vicinity of the object of his or her interest. The act of attention brings the object into view and complements the processing and perception of the object (Kulke, Atkinson, & Braddick, 2016). However, some of the inputs are processed at a faster rate and deeper than other data providing them with a better chance of producing or influencing a behavioural response. Attention plays a major role in the perception as a typical visual scene that contains more information and which cannot be prepared through the visual framework at any given time. The visual system lacks the capability to process all the inputs simultaneously. The attention filters and selects one or more objects through processing and causes inattentional blindness. Cohen, Alvarez, & Nakayama (2011) established that individuals complete supported consideration assignments and may encounter intentional visual deficiency for various forms of characteristic scenes. Sometimes people find difficulty in detecting the change even though it is obvious. This problem in identifying changes in scenes is referred to as change blindness. Fei-Fei, Iyer, Koch, & Perona (2007) proved that human perceives most of the object and scene information at a single glance. Attention causes increased and synchronized neuronal activity while processing the attended stimuli. In other words, it acts as a gain-control mechanism and improves the signal-to-noise ratio inputs. For example, while walking down the street, the things which one may pay attention is a ‘Don’t walk sign and some other things while ignoring others. It is because the perceptual system has a limited capacity to process the information (Scalf, Torralbo, Tapia, & Beck, 2013). Therefore, to prevent the overloading of the system, some of the things are withdrawn from the perception. The mechanism of selecting certain things in the visual environment is known as visual scanning. Visual scanning is essential for efficient perception as good detail vision is created only on the cone-rich fovea in the retina (Provis, Dubis, Maddess, & Carroll, 2013). 

Overt attention and Covert attention are the two types of attention involved in the process of perception. Overt attention is associated with scanning the objects to look at the objects of our interest or attention directly. Covert attention plays a major role in sports, in which the observer keeps looking at a small dot without moving their eyes and pays attention to an area off to the side (Kulke et al., 2016).  For instance, a basketball player looks at the right but suddenly throws a dead-on pass to a teammate who is on the left side. 

Literature Review: 

Most of the studies have been conducted on visual attention rather than auditory attention because a scientist believes that vision is the most important sense modality. Also, it is far simpler to govern the presentation time of visual stimuli than the auditory stimuli (King, 2009). McDermott (2009) identified that acoustic segmentation is often much harder than visual segmentation. There is a considerable overlap of signals from different sound sources in the cochlea, whereas visual objects tend to occupy different regions of the retina. Further, each sound source adds to the signal reaching the ears. On the other hand, the nearer objects block out further ones with visual signals reaching the retina. 

 Golumbic et al. (2013) proved that the people at cocktail events might want to doubtlessly use the visible information to follow the commands of the speaker. In their study, the researchers made the participants listen to two messages simultaneously; one was given in a male voice and the other in a female voice. Then few participants were instructed to follow the directions provided by a male voice, and the other instructed to follow the instructions given by a female voice. The processing of the attended message turned into progressed while members could see a film of the speaker talking whilst paying attention to the message. It can be because of the effect of the visible input, which made it easier to attend to the speaker’s message.

Allocation of attention to two or greater non-adjoining areas of visible space is referred to as split-interest. It saves the processing resources by preventing an individual from attending inappropriate regions of visual space lying among the two applicable regions. However, the concept of split attention is controversial as Jans, Peters, & De Weerd (2010) argued that attention is highly influential in figuring out motor action. On the other hand, Cave, Bush, & Taylor (2010) disagreed with Jans and colleagues. They contended that flexibility provided by split attention is advantageous than problematic. 

Morawetz, Holz, Baudewig, Treue, & Dechent (2007) experimented wherein they provided letters and digits at five places concurrently. One letter was positioned in every quadrant of the visual field and one in the centre. The researchers discovered that the contributors attended the visible stimuli positioned at the upper left and bottom right locations and overlooked the other stimuli. Further, the scientists observed that the enhancement of cortical regions resulted in brain activation. But, there was much less activation related to the regions in between. This pattern of brain activation suggests split attention.  In addition, the study conducted by Niebergall, Khayat, Treue, & Martinez-Trujillo (2011) supported the idea of split attention. They recorded the neuronal responses of monkeys attending to two shifting stimuli (random-dot patterns) at the same time as ignoring a distractor. The critical condition was the one wherein a distractor was positioned among attending stimuli. For the duration of this condition, the neuronal responses to the distractor reduced. The observe findings defined the mechanism of split-interest with decreasing interest.

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