When something is emotionally riveting, furthermore, we can get lost it. If somebody was to try and get our attention in such a moment, we might not even notice the stimuli meant for us, and perceived by our subconscious.
Evidence suggests that attention can concurrently isolate multiple locations for focus. Still not clear, however, is if this ability depends on continuous allocation of attention to the different targets, referred to as a “parallel” strategy, or if attention changes rapidly between the targets, known as a temporal “sampling” strategy. but, either way, both techniques can explain the “set size effects,” whereby, with each additional attended item, cognitive attention and performance decreases.
William James wrote of attention in his textbook, Principles of Psychology: (Broadbent 190)
“Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed and scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreutheit in German.
The process demonstrated in the cocktail party effect revolved around sound localization. Time-and-level differences between both ears, timing analysis, correlation analysis, spectral information and pattern matching are the processes which constitute this ability. Animals also use ear movement in order to localize sound. Neurons sensitive to sound level differences are excited by stimulation of a certain ear more than another. This depends on the strength of the two inputs, which depends on the sound intensities at the ears. (Broadbent 193)
The best way to promote attention in a quiet learning environment is to make the materials in question interesting. When giving people information, it is helpful to use as many different senses as possible, not because people have different learning styles, but to give them as many reference points as possible.
1. Deutsch, J.A. & Deutsch, D., (1963) “Attention: some theoretical considerations,” Psychological Review, 70, 80-90.
2. Phelps, Elizabeth a. Ling, Sam. Carrasco, Marisa, (2006) Emotion Facilitates Perception and Potentiates the Perceptual Benefits of Attention. Psychological Science, April; 17 (4), 292-299
3. Broadbent, D.E. (1954). The role of auditory.