Beyond Capacity: The Importance of Attentional Coordination
Strong, Roger W.
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CitationStrong, Roger W. 2019. Beyond Capacity: The Importance of Attentional Coordination. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractVisual attention is the process of prioritizing visual information relevant to current behavioral goals (e.g., prioritizing cars over billboards while driving). A large body of research has characterized various attentional systems, while additionally exploring whether the capacity of those systems can be improved with training. Despite this work, training paradigms attempting to increase attentional capacity have largely failed to produce benefits that generalize from trained tasks to untrained tasks. The research presented in this dissertation demonstrates that attentional processing is limited not only by the capacity of individual cognitive systems, but also by the ability of those systems to coordinate with one another. In the first chapter, an attentional training study demonstrates that rather than enhancing the general capacity of attentional control, training may instead enhance the coordination between attentional control systems and task-specific representations. In the second chapter, behavioral studies demonstrate that separate control of spatial attention exists for the left and right visual hemifields, indicating that coordination between these hemifield-specific control systems is necessary for completing spatial attention tasks. Finally, the third chapter shows that hemifield-specific attentional control systems exchange information when attended information moves between hemifields, and that the efficiency of this exchange depends on how attention is allocated. Because attention is limited by interactions between separate cognitive systems, cognitive training studies should explore whether enhancing these interactions can produce generalized training benefits.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029519
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