"What have cognitive psychologists learnt about the nature of attention, from dichotic listening experiments?".
Attention usually refers to a cognitive process during which the human brain selects the information that is significant enough to attend to and ignores the rest. Attention was neatly defined by William James: "It is the taking possession in the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of several simultaneous possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration of consciousness is of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others" (James, 1890).
Attention has attracted significant interest amongst the researchers since the 1950s. Primarily research has been focused on the mechanisms within the brain that enables us to register, attend to and ignore inputs from our external environment. During the early days researchers hypothesized that the brain is similar to a computer processor, which suggested that the information that humans could attend to is quite limited, so a process of selection takes place. One has to bear in mind that at the time computers were rather primitive. Since then it exists an ongoing debate about the timing of the selection of information, that is, whether it happens at an early or late stage before processing. Both early and late selective models of attention originally span from research into auditory attention. In attempting to understand how the brain is able to process the vast amount of information, researchers used a psychological test referred to as the dichotic listening task to investigate selective attention. Researchers like Broadbent (1954), Treisman (1960) and Deutsch & Deutsch (1963) are perceived as peers of selective attention (Naish, 2015). By looking into their theories and experiments we will endeavor to evaluate how well these models explain the mental processes involve in auditory attention and how we can understand better the cognitive theories regarding attention.