Christopher Mole

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195309799
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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The article focuses on Broadbent's approach to the explanation of attention. Broadbent shows that one's information-processing resources have sufficient capacity to encode the simple physical properties of all the stimuli that one is presented with, but have only a limited capacity for the encoding of the semantic properties of those stimuli. The resulting model depicts perceptual processing as proceeding in two stages. The first stage entails that a large capacity sensory system processes the physical features of all stimuli in parallel. A subset of the representations generated by the large capacity system are selected to be passed on to a second perceptual system, which has a smaller processing capacity, and which has the job of processing the stimuli's semantic properties. Broadbent's theory would explain that pre-bottleneck processing is responsible for the detection of simple physical features, and also for own-name detection. The phenomenology of one's shifting awareness in conditions of binocular rivalry is naturally described as the manifestation of a competition, and perhaps of a biased competition.

Keywords: attention; Broadbent's approach; biased competition model; cognitive phenomena

Article.  10337 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind ; Epistemology

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