Automatic and effortful processing - Essay Example

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Encoding processes exist on a continuum of attention requirements, with those requiring little or not attention on one end and those require a lot of attention and effort on the other. The former is referred as automatic processing and the latter as effortful processing…
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Automatic and effortful processing
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AUTOMATIC AND AFFORTFUL PROCESSING Encoding processes exist on a continuum of attention requirements, with those requiring little or not attention on one end and those require a lot of attention and effort on the other. The former is referred as automatic processing and the latter as effortful processing. Experimental evidence supports the theoretical distinction between automatic and effortful processing cognitive processes. Compared to effortful processes, automatic processes require minimal amounts of attention capacity, and are relatively resistant to the influences of effort and concurrent tasks.
In the last twenty years several researchers have proposed a shift in memory development from the use of primarily associative memory relations in younger ages to categorical semantic memory relations at later stages of development in memory organization. These results have been linked to work regarding the automatic nature of associative memory operations as compared to the more effortful activation required in categorical organization and memory strategies.
Younger children's recall is mediated by relatively automatic activation of associative relations, and that continued activation of these associative relations leads to the development and use of categorical associations.
Because automatic and effortful processes differ in type, they are affected by different things. For instance, effortful processes can be influenced by attentional resources. Thus, performing more than one task at a time may hurt performance utilizing effortful processes. For the most part, automatic processes are not influenced by attentional resources. Instead, they are influenced by the sorts of things that affect memory retrieval, such as relevant differences in retrieval context (if you can't recognize an instance of a specific schema, you can't retrieve the schema), and concurrent retrieval processes. Since learning is a continuum from effort to automaticity, the degree to which different factors (e.g., attention and contextual factors) influence the performance of a task will differ depending on how many traces have been encoding, and thus how reliant task performance is on general, effortful algorithms.
The transition in skill acquisition illustrates another interesting difference between effortful and automatic processes. Conscious, intentional intervention, once an automatic process has begun, can often result in less efficient task performance. Anyone who has ever played a sport that required repetitive and overlearned motor tasks has probably exeprienced this. In basketball, for example, free throw shooting is practiced for hours on end to make all of the movements automatic. However, even the most skilled player occasionally consciously interrupts the automatic motor programs, or thinks about the shot, and when he or she does, the result is usually a missed free throw. This is because the conscious intervention makes the task effortful, and therefore less reliant on the retrieval of successful motor programs from memory.

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