It is a fair certainty that prior to reading these words you were not aware of the pressure of your feet on the floor, nor the space directly behind your head; and it is also very likely that now your attention has been directed to these things, you are. From one moment to the next the whole world of your awareness changed – what happened? This series of three lectures will review the vast field of research in selective attention (mostly visual attention), touching on some of the classical controversies and the ingenious solutions that have been proposed. We will begin by considering the intuitive notion of selective attention as a filter, helping us to avoid information overload. What information is lost in attentional
filtering, and what is preserved? The answer to this might depend on whether the filter operate early on just after sensory processing, or late after semantic analysis? Experimental evidence supports both possibilities!But one influential theory proposes that both may be right, depending on the current ‘cognitive load’.