Attention and Iconic Memory

In Christopher Mole, Declan Smithies and W. & Wayne Wu (eds.), Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays. OUP (2011)
Abstract
Orthodox interpretations of Sperling‘s partial report paradigm support the idea that there is substantially more in our streams of consciousness than we can attend to or recall. I propose an alternative, postdictive interpretation which fails to support any such conclusion. This account is defended at greater length in my ‗Perception and iconic memory‘. Here I focus on the role ascribed to attention by the rival interpretations. I argue that orthodox accounts fail to assign a plausible role to attention. In contrast, I suggest a novel way in which heterodox, postdictive account can assign attention a plausible role. We should therefore prefer such accounts over their orthodox rivals. Consequently, Sperling‘s paradigm fails to probe the true extent of conscious awareness unfettered by limitations on attention or memory.
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