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Sensation, Perception, and Attention

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Sensation, Perception, and Attention

Sensation, Perception, and Attention
The abilities for sensation, perception, and attention vary from person to person. Many obstacles to communicating successfully are comparable from person to person, once these obstacles are perceived, steps can be taken to avoid these obstacles.
Some people can attend a cocktail party and listen to multiple conversations at once while comprehending most of what is said. Other people can only hear one or two conversations and make any sense of them. These personal thresholds will differ according to environmental and personal factors.
Some people can control their environment by minimizing noise, obtaining enough sleep and taking care of themselves in general, attending to these needs first will help a person to focus on what is perceived as important, whether it is at a conference or a cocktail party.
Many students listen to classical music when studying, Mozart being the first choice. Studies have shown that listening to classical music helps one to concentrate on the task at hand, and helps to eliminate minor outside distractions.
Amanda Rivera Part A: It is important to minimize distractions when reaching an auditory threshold. It is very hard for me to be able to hear anything when there is a lot of noise or distraction.
When I try to work on my assignments for class, I have to make sure that my son is in bed, the television is cut off, and the only sounds are the air conditioner humming. It helps me to concentrate and the noise of the hum drowns out any noise coming from outside.
However, I do not hear the air conditioner hum during the day when the television is on, or the construction workers are bulldozing across the street. People often use headphones to listen to their music from their IPods or laptops. Headphones will minimize all outside distractions and noise, so they can only hear their music. This can be dangerous while walking or driving and has caused many accidents. Some laws have been made for a person not to wear headphones or talk on their cell phone while driving. This not only distracts the person from driving, but can also cause accidents when they are unaware of trains, ambulances, or honking of horns of other drivers. I’d like to think that I am a multi-taker with the husband, six kids and working full time, along with school. I can sit here and do my homework while managing kids’ homework, shower line up, dinner, or a million questions from every direction. Oddly when I am in a quiet room I can get things done and focus on my work but I am so used to the other distractions that it is a part of the routine, so when it’s not there it feels off balance.
In the periodical Redundancy gains in simple responses and go/no-go tasks, it states that “In order to construct a unified and holistic representation of the environment, the information of the different sensory systems needs to be integrated” (Gondan, Götze, & Greenlee 2010). Pursuing that the information and attention to content your sensor’s need to be in tuned with what is being reciprocated.
At work I hear everything, being that my office is a 6ftx6ft cubicle with 50 other social workers might be a good reason; but it is hard not to hear a voice out of the stone silence, it sometimes hard to not hear it. It almost echo’s into your ear because it came out of nothing. I hear it but I’m not a repeater, even though some are, it’s amazing how middle aged people act like high schoolers.
Sometimes I can hear things at all, my husband will hear the faintest yell from one of the kids upstairs or a noise outside and I still don’t hear it, he swears I am deaf. But for the most part I hear well, it is easier to hear if there is something to associate it with if that makes sense. I am also easily drawn away from things because I multi-task, I start one thing, then another, then another, and then I am going from one to the next to the next. Part B: The cocktail party phenomenon is when “one can attend to only one voice in a crowd at any one moment; yet a stimulus highly pertinent to one's self-interests, such as one's name, supposedly can capture this singular focus of attention when pronounced by an unattended speaker,” (Wood & Cowen, para.1). If someone is at a party that is very loud, with music and people’s voices, it will be very distracting to hear anything but the one person with whom you are talking. However, if your friend walks in the room and calls your name across the crowd, you would be able to hear them. This happened to me when my son was staying at the Child Development Center. All of the noises from the babies were erupting through the room; however, I could hear my son’s cry over the other babies crying. He immediately got my attention over all of the distractions because I am familiar with his cry and his needs. It is difficult in this situation to attend the needs of a party. As a host, noises from a party may distract them from having an important conversation with someone. They may hear something break over the loud crowd, or get easily distracted. However, it is easy to multi-listen to some things like music and a friend. More than likely a person is more focused on one thing over the other. With the “cocktail party phenomenon” I think I am an avid receptacle of this effect. I can definitely be in a noisy crowded room and focus on one thing or person; I have to be able to do this to function daily. If I am very into what the speaker is saying, as a listener I will be more involved. Like in movies where the man and the woman are sitting in a noisy bar or restaurant and he is saying sweet flattering things to her to make her feel like she is the only woman in the room that he is focused on, the room seems to quiet out and everything else is almost nonexistent anymore because she is so into what he is telling her. That to me is a deep effect of the cocktail party phenomenon. I think it does depend on how into the conversation that you are having in the area of the distraction really is; if you are not very intrigued with the conversation do you believe that you will tune out other voices or conversations? It is stated that “the cocktail party effect demonstrates that selective attention does not function as an "all or nothing" mechanism; in other words, irrelevant information is not totally suppressed, but merely attenuated” (Fringes 2006). So this is a controversy of the dichotic listening, if it is a natural type of listening or selective hearing. Part C: Dividing attention really affects my ability to learn. It is hard for me to have the television on while doing my schoolwork. It also makes it hard for me to read if a radio is playing music (of any type). The only way I can learn is if the house is quiet. My son’s needs come before my own, because he is just a baby. He keeps my full attention during the day. I cannot concentrate on anything if he is playing one of his musical toys or crying it immediately takes my attention away from the things that I am doing to directly tend to him. Eliminating distractions is important and helps learning so that the person is focused on only one thing at a time. Some people can multi-task, but I can only do this while driving: I can drive, take a sip from my water bottle, listen to the radio and look for traffic signs at the same time. Dividing attention does initiate a way to stretch the mind; multi-tasking is not all a bad thing. I like that I am able to do this, I would be buried in my life if I didn’t know how to. Having multiple children and being a student myself, is a perfect example as to why dividing attention is good and bad. The good points are things like sharing my time between the two and being able to still be active in the kids’ life and still manage my schooling as well.
The downfall is that I rush things and it leaves more room to make mistakes, if I rush right through things I miss the small stuff. Also it doesn’t always stick, I read something and discuss it and a few months down the road it is so vague it is hard to recall specific things on the topic.
Part D: Sensory decline can occur with age. “The direct-cause hypothesis postulates that sensory decline in older adults can directly impact cognitive function by limiting the effectiveness of the stimulus encoding stage. This should be most apparent for tasks in which perceptual processing demands are high; however, stimuli frequently used in many tasks are familiar and well-learned verbal items that often occur in a context that provides support for perceptual processing and for recall,” (Glass, p.4). For instance, a certain cell phone ring has been popular for the younger generation because the high pitch cannot be detected by adults. This new ring is called the Mosquito ring. Age decreases the effects of hearing this pitch. According to the hearing test, that test out your ability to hear high frequency tones, “Results should not be a substitute for the professional opinion of an ear doctor. We test the ability to hear tones in the 8 kHz to 18 kHz range. Most sounds that you hear everyday fall well below that level.” Fortunately for myself, I can hear all of the rings up to the 18 kHz, but there is no specific age that this high pitch will not be heard. Many things can affect hearing, such as background noise or distractions, but also damaging the cilia in the ears or the eardrum. Hearing aids are a temporary treatment of hearing loss but the hearing loss can still get worse from environmental factors or further increase in damage to the eardrum. It is very important to take care of your hearing by not raising the volume in headphones, wearing ear plugs around loud machinery, and not standing too close to the stage at concerts. The sensory perception problem is how a person is communicating with others, how they are processing things that they are hearing and how well they are hearing. This is the same for visual problems, if you cannot see clearly what you are viewing than how do you know you are interpreting it correctly? Also if you are upset and emotionally differentiated then how sure are you that you’re going to see the situation at hand clearly. This is an issue that is debatable among opinions; it can be biased to the eye of the beholder. Part E: I live in Japan, so it is harder for me to be contacted by phone. I could however use an instant messaging system such as Yahoo Messenger to do video conference calls. It is important for our team not to have distractions while doing their assignments and for our team to have adequate open conversations. Ground rules and recommendations I would suggest we have better communication between everyone (all three of us now). We got a taste of what poor communication is in a team, this shouldn’t happen. As team members and a student I will make sure that I am communicating as often as possible with my teammates assuring that everyone is on the same page and that the understanding of suggestions and perceptions to papers are clear and precise. Also have patience, it’s a virtue. Teammates should contact each other, via phone, email, or our team forum if they are unable to complete an assignment or need help. It is important that everyone has their full attention on the assignment and communication with one another in order to complete the assignment and finish with a good grade.
In order for the team to communicate effectively with each other, each team member must understand the barriers to our communication with one another. It would behoove the A Team members to get enough sleep, taking care of any medical or physical needs, and avoiding other distractions, such as noisy children or demanding pets, before conducting any team meetings.
When all members can control the distractions in their environment everybody wins, and by having the most effective communications between one another we can expect the success of our team and a well-earned grade to match!

References

Christian Frings. (2006). Relevant distracters do not cause negative priming. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13(2), 322-7. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1204784351). Glass, J. (2007). Visual function and cognitive aging: differential role of contrast sensitivity in verbal versus spatial tasks. Psychology & Aging, 22(2), 233-238. Retrieved from CINAHL Plus with Full Text database.
Gondan, M., Götze, C., & Greenlee, M.. (2010). Redundancy gains in simple responses and go/no-go tasks. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 72(6), 1692-1709. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 2118686271). Hearing Test. (2010). Retrieved October 04, 2010 from Mosquito Ringtone: http://www.freemosquitoringtones.org/ hearing_test/.
Wood, N., & Cowan, N. (1995). The cocktail party phenomenon revisited: How frequent are attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology / Learning, Memory & Cognition, 21(1), 255. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

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