Automatic Processing

A key phenomenon in studies of divided attention is the dramatic improvement that practice often has on performance. The commonest explanation for this phenomenon is that some processing activities become automatic as a result of prolonged practice. There is reasonable agreement on the criteria for automatic processes:

• They do not reduce the capacity for performing other tasks (i.e., they demand zero attention).

Response times on a decision task as a function of memory-set size, display-set size, and consistent vs. varied mapping. Data from Shiffrin and Schneider (1977).

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