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2.6 Summary of Section 2

The results of the visual attention experiments we have considered can be interpreted as follows.

  • Attention can be directed selectively towards different areas of the visual field, without the need to re-focus.

  • The inability to report much detail from brief, masked visual displays appears to be linked to the need to assemble the various information components.

  • The visual information is captured in parallel, but assembly is a serial process.

  • Episodic detail (e.g. colour, position) is vulnerable to the passage of time, or to ‘overwriting’ by a mask.

  • Semantic information (i.e. identity/meaning) is relatively enduring, but does not reach conscious awareness unless bound to the episodic information.

  • Attention, in this context, is the process of binding the information about an item's identity to its particular episodic characteristics.

  • ‘Unbound’ semantic activation can be detected by priming and electrophysiological techniques.


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