To what extent is attention necessary for us to process information or perform a task

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

All human beings have the ability to process information without even thinking about it. Simple everyday tasks can be performed without necessarily focusing all your attention to complete it. Some information is processed automatically by our brain, which saves us from having to think about. For example The cocktail party phenomenon (Cherry 1959) refers to our remarkable human ability to listen to and follow one source of auditory input in a noisy environment, where the noise is produced by many independent sources of sound or speech signals. But this does not apply for all tasks as some are far more complex than others.

To find out to what extent attention is necessary for us to process information or perform tasks, I will be looking at the different ways we process information: in normal people, children suffering from ADHD as well as the attention needed for the average human to drive a car. Attention refers to your ability to focus on certain aspects of the environment that you consider important or interesting and to flexibly control this information. Attention includes your abilities to receive information, to select what is relevant from the incoming information, to stick with and complete an activity and to change direction when appropriate.

Attention is the basis for all higher-order cognitive processes (memory, communication, etc) that enables you to successfully complete educational activities. As students our attention is likely to be attracted to such things like seeing/hearing the unexpected, complex, intense, emotional stimulus, and stimuli which have personal significance to you. By applying more attention to our studies we are processing more information than we would if you were, say, having a conversation.

Improving attending skills can positively impact performance in note taking, class participation, reading, following directions, completing assignments, group learning, exam preparation, and exam taking. Most tasks require a combination of conscious and automatic attention. Conscious attention is slow and effortful meaning it requires focus and concentration and involves step by step processing such as when learning a new skill or solving a problem. Automatic attention is rapid, it involves parallel processing such as when performing a learned skill.

Our brains work by selective attention, this is our ability to completely attend to certain things while also being able to ignore others. This is due to the fact that conscious processing has limited capacity and needs to be selective to avoid information overload. (Broadbent 1958). Messages presented at the same time gain simultaneous access to a sensory buffer, one input is allowed through a filter, another is held in buffer. This is necessary to prevent overloading of the limited capacity mechanism. Attention span is a behavioural component of attention that refers to the length of time you attend to one thing.

The Attention span of most people is 20 to 30 minutes. This true of most people, but what about when dealing with people such as children suffering from ADHD? Attention is a very important factor when looking at people with ADHD as it is a problem focusing on attention, which will help to show that children and even adults find it harder to process information and perform tasks due to lack of attention. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD affects a lot more people than expected, approximately 3 – 5% of all school children suffer from this disorder and around 2 – 4% of all adults also suffer from ADHD. Goldman LS, 1998).

Children who are easily distracted have a hard time keeping their minds on any one thing and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. If they are doing something they really enjoy, they have no trouble paying attention. But focusing deliberate, conscious attention to organize and complete a task or learning something new is difficult. Homework is particularly hard for these children. They will forget to write down an assignment, or leave it at school. They will forget to bring a book home, or bring the wrong one.

Their homework is often full of errors and the process of completing it can be very frustrating for both parent and child. Here are a few symptoms associated with ADHD: Children are easily distracted by any irrelevant sounds or sights, They fail to pay attention to details and make careless mistakes without thinking about it, It is rare that they follow instructions and completely losing or forgetting items such as: toys or pencils, books and tools required for school, Also they find it difficult stick with one activity and skip from one uncompleted task to another.

Children are diagnosed with many different types of ADHD some more sever than others but even then this has a big effect on their everyday lives. People suffering from less severe cases such as Inattentive ADHD are rarely impulsive or hyperactive and may even look as though they are working, yet they have big problems paying attention. They appear to be daydreaming, “spacey,” easily confused, slow moving, and lazy. They may have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as other children.

When the teacher gives oral or even written instructions, the child has a hard time understanding what he or she is supposed to do and makes frequent mistakes. Not paying attention to what you are doing can be a problem for both children and adults. For example, not listening to the directions in class can cause a student to do an assignment wrong, and running a stop sign can cause an adult to have an accident or get a traffic ticket.

ADHD is one way of proving that attention really is necessary to the optimal performance of our brains in performing tasks, whether they be everyday tasks such as remembering to bring a book with you to class or a more complex task such as writing an essay. As this disorder focuses on the lack of attention and the consequences of it, it is clear to see that there is a difference between people who pay more attention than people who cannot pay attention which I believe proves my point.

I have looked at ADHD in children and adults and the effect this disorder has on their attention but now it is time to look at how attention is useful for accomplishing everyday simple tasks such as driving a car. The task of driving does not particularly require a constant level of attention, this is because some driving conditions require a higher level of attention while other conditions require them less so. A good example of this would be comparing the levels of attention required whilst driving on a two lane street, which would require a lot more attention than on a motorway.

Again curved roads require more attention than straight roads. With time the driver begins to learn how to adapt to driving by using less attention than would have been needed if he/she was still a beginner. Once this starts to happen information processes start to change slightly, now a driver will learn and feel more at ease with driving. Thought processes that would have been controlled before learning to drive switch to automatic processes, which is why we start to feel comfortable with the car than when it was first driven.

Once processes have changed to automatic the need for attention is reduced significantly, this shows that although initial attention is almost definitely required, we learn to perform the task without needing to use as much attention as before. Visual attention is particularly important to assess in driving as the driver gathers most information visually. Drivers use approximately 30 – 50% of their visual attention off the road, this could be due to distractions such as bright lights or moving objects.

These are usually very short distractions with no bearing effect on the driver but studies shown by (Dingus and Hulse, 1993) suggest that more obvious visual distractions could lead to far more dangerous consequences. Sometimes the driver may be focusing on an object for too long which could be dangerous depending on how much visual attention is needed to drive the car safely. Dingus states that the visual attention required by the driving task can change drastically at any given moment, which is why designers take into account the length and level of concentration needed in any information usable to drivers.

A visual display that requires frequent and lengthy glances may prevent adequate monitoring of the driving environment for example. I have shown how attention can vary in different people due to disorders that impair the use of the brains attention, such as ADHD. I have also shown that as a direct result of this type of disorder, it is clear that the brain has more difficulty processing information on a conscious and subconscious level. This proves that attention is actually vital to the processing information and our abilities to perform tasks.

This is only true to a certain extent though, patients with the disorder can still process information but the difference is that they can only concentrate on things that interest them. If compared to a human without ADHD the results would find that people not suffering any disorders like the one mentioned, would be able to perform tasks they don’t particularly enjoy doing with ease, whereas the same task would be more difficult to someone with the disorder.

ADHD has an obvious effect on its victims, people who can’t concentrate on everyday tasks will not be able to perform them. This can also be said with factors affecting the required attention to drive a car. Drivers that are easily distracted will have a higher chance of crashing than someone who was fully aware of their surroundings. Also it has been proven that drivers are much more likely to be distracted when being faced with more than one thought process, so it is safe to say that in this instance attention will be required to perform the task safely.

Tagged In :

Get help with your homework


image
Haven't found the Essay You Want? Get your custom essay sample For Only $13.90/page

Sarah from CollectifbdpHi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out