Attention in Vision: Perception, Communication, and Action

Attention in Vision: Perception, Communication, and Action

Attention in Vision: Perception, Communication, and Action

Attention in Vision: Perception, Communication, and Action

Synopsis

Attention in Vision is an important work which aims to identify, address and solve some major problems and issues in the psychology of visual perception, attention and intentional control. The central aim is to investigate how people use their visual perception in the performance of tasks and to explore how the intentional control of action is achieved. Through an extensive review of the philosophy of psychology, the history of ideas and theories of intentional control, and an analysis of various tasks, a new theory is developed which argues that there is an important difference between report tasks and act tasks. The first section of the book introduces the issues of visual perception in a historical context and outlines van der Heijden's theory. The theory is developed in the second and third sections by analysing the findings from some of the main experimental paradigms of cognitive psychology and applying the theory to act tasks. Finally, the epilogue skilfully draws together the theory into an explanation of different historical and theoretical perspectives in psychology. This book will be invaluable to researchers and high-level undergraduates in the field of visual perception and attention.

Excerpt

Attention in Vision: Perception, Communication, and Action is a research monograph presenting a selective review of empirical findings on visual attention and a new theoretical account of the findings. It is the third book authored by Lex van der Heijden, and like his previous books, Short-term Visual Information Forgetting (1981) and Selective Attention in Vision (1992), it is a major contribution to the study of attention. Let me sketch the essence of Van der Heijden's work and place it in a historical context.

The first modern theory of attention was the selective-filter theoryproposed by Donald Broadbent in his book entitled Perception and Communication (1958). In this theory, information flows from the senses through many parallel input channels into a short-term memory buffer. Further processing is done by a perceptual categorisation system whose capacity is much smaller than the total capacity of the parallel input channels. Therefore, a selective filter operates between the short-term buffer and the perceptual categorisation system. The filter acts as an all-or-none switch, selecting information from just one of the parallel input channels at a time. Thus, in Broadbent's theory, selection is early in the sense that it is precategorical (i.e., occurring before perceptual categorisation). Perceptual processing capacity is regarded as a limited resource, and perceptual attention as a mechanism forallocating the capacity to selected inputs to the system. Attentional selection of inputs is selection for perception, and it protects the limited-capacity system for perceptual categorisation from informational overload.

Broadbent's selective-filter theory of attention accounted for the main results of early studies on selective listening, but the theory was soon challenged by experimental findings showing that certain categories of stimulus material (e.g., subjectively important stimuli such as the subject's own name) tend to be recognised even if presented on a channel to be ignored. Such findings suggested that attentional selection is late in the sense that it is postcategorical (i.e., occurring after perceptual categorisation). The late-selection view of attention was introduced by J. Anthony Deutsch and Diana Deutsch in 1963 and developed by a few prominent theorists including Richard M. Shiffrin, Donald Norman, John Duncan, and Lex van der Heijden. In this view, all sensory messages that impinge upon the organism

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