Learning & Teaching Foreign Languages

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Selective Filter

Read and Reflect

Look at Spencer's diagram of the model of attention developed by Broadbent, showing the role of the selective filter, and read his explanation below.
  1. How does the selective filter operate?
  2. What are its consequences for information processing?

Simplified version of Broadbent's Model of Information Flow (1958)
According to the Broadbent model, information passes from the senses and is held for a few seconds in the short term memory store where it will rapidly fade unless the selective filter mechanism permits access to the single limited channel, thence to the higher centres concerned with long term memory and control of behaviour.

The short-term store which feeds information into the processing channel, via the filter mechanism, was demonstrated to have certain limitations, in that only a relatively small number of items could be held in the memory at a given time, and that attention to new inputs causes old activations to fade away. Even short lists will completely fade in as little as 18 seconds if the subject is prevented from repeating the list to himself (a process known as 'rehearsal').

(Spencer, 1991 )


1. How does the selective filter operate?
The filter allows only certain information from the senses to leave short-term memory for further processing
2. What are the consequences for information processing?

Certain information perceived by the senses will not be remembered because the selective filter prevents it reaching higher levels of processing.

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