Attention and Associative Learning: From Brain to Behaviour

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Attention and learning are two of the most important topics in contemporary cognitive psychology and behavioural neuroscience. Of even more interest is how the two interact. Meaningful stimuli and their meaningful effects are invariably embedded in a complex background of meaningless information. Yet, in order to learn about meaningful relationships between events, an organism needs to be able to extract the relevant from the irrelevant. The ability to direct attention selectively to some stimuli and away from others is one fundamental mechanism by which this filtering of information can occur. But what controls this selective attention? Why are certain stimuli selected and others rejected? What are the neural mechanisms underlying this ability? Are they the same in humans as in other animals? And what are the consequences of damage to this attentional system? These are the questions that this book aims to answer.

The idea of an interaction between attention and learning has experienced a huge surge of interest in recent years. Advances in behavioural neuroscience have made it possible to investigate the neural basis of attention mechanisms; advances in connectionist modelling techniques have allowed us to implement and test more complex computational models of the operation of these mechanisms; and recent studies have implicated impairments in the ability to deploy selective attention appropriately in disorders such as schizophrenia and Parkinson's Disease.

This book brings together leading international learning and attention researchers to provide both a comprehensive and wide-ranging overview of the current state of knowledge of this area as well as new perspectives and directions for the future. There are coherent themes that run throughout the book, but there are also, inevitably, fundamental disagreements between contributors on the role of attention in learning. Together, the views expressed in this book paint a picture of a vibrant and exciting area of psychological research, and will be essential reading for researchers of learning and attention.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199550531
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/30/2010
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr Mitchell studied for his BSc and PhD in psychology, and also conducted 3 years of post-doctoral research, at University College London (1987-1997). His PhD examined conditioning effects in cancer chemotherapy using a rat model, and was supervised by Prof Cecelia Heyes. His post-doc, also with Prof Heyes, concerned an investigation of imitation in rats. Dr Mitchell then moved north to the Wirral, where he worked for Unilever Research, Port Sunlight, as a consumer scientist. Since July 2000, he has worked in the School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Australia. His first position was as a post doctoral research fellow with Prof Peter Lovibond. Dr Mitchell became a member of faculty in 2002. Throughout this period, the focus of his research has been on human associative and perceptual learning.

Dr Le Pelly studied for his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and carried on to complete his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology (investigating human associative learning) at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of I. P. L. McLaren, graduating in 2002. He then held the Sir Alan Wilson Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, for just over two years before taking up a lectureship in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University in 2004, and he has been there ever since. Throughout this time his main research interests have been in the fields of human and animal associative learning.

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Table of Contents

1. An introduction to attention and learning, Chris J. Mitchell and Mike E. Le Pelley
2. Two theories of attention: A review and a possible integration, John M Pearce and Nicholas J. Mackintosh
3. Selective attention to conditioned stimuli in human discrimination learning: Untangling the effects of outcome prediction, valence, arousal and uncertainty, Lee Hogarth, Anthony Dickinson and Theodora Duka
4. Attentional learning, Geoffrey Hall and Gabriel Rodriguez
5. Latent inhibition, Nathan M. Holmes and Justin A. Harris
6. Attention and perceptual learning, I.P.L. McLaren , A.J. Wills and S. Graham
7. Acquired distinctiveness and equivalence: A synthesis, Robert C. Honey, James Close & E. Lin
8. Attention and human associative learning, M. E. Le Pelley
9. On the use of the term 'attention', Philip Quinlan
10. Attention and memory in human learning, Chris J. Mitchell
11. Backward blocking of relevance-indicating cues:Evidence for locally eayesian learning, JohnK.Kruschke and Stephen E. Denton
12. Brain systems of attention in associative learning, Peter C. Holland and Jean-Marie Maddux
13. Neural correlates of attentional set, David N. George, Anais M. Duffaud & Simon Killcross
14. Clinical studies of attention and learning, Adam Hampshire & Adrian M. Owen

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