Assessment of distractibility in non-human primates performing a delayed matching-to-sample task

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2 Scopus citations


The cognitive processes of both working and reference memory are closely linked to, and indeed dependent upon, adequate function of selective attention and memory consolidation in primates. While it is often difficult from a methodological perspective to identify specific behaviors reflective of selective attention, two general components of this process are the abilities to select desired items for conscious processing and to ignore, or filter out, less relevant and distracting information which may compete for cognitive resources. 1 This is perhaps most eloquently demonstrated in the “Cocktail Party Phenomenon” described by Cherry. 2 This work described the ability of human subjects to monitor and evaluate both relevant and irrelevant verbal cues in a crowded room with several different simultaneous conversations taking place. More specifically, an irrelevant conversation not being attended to can immediately become a focus of cognitive processing if a salient word or phrase (i.e., the subject’s name) is heard. Thus, the conversation was filtered out of conscious processing until it became relevant. The most significant implications of this and other similar perceptual phenomenon are: 1) selective attention is an active process that involves a regular perception and assessment of both relevant and potentially distracting information; and 2) the results of these processes have significant influences on the allotment of conscious cognitive resources.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods of Behavior Analysis in Neuroscience
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781420041811
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Medicine (all)


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