24 Ekim 2012 Çarşamba

Too Much Attention May Cause Forgetting

Focusing on a certain thing may cause other things to be forgotten for sometime. After relaxing the focus one may find nothing left from the forgotten things. This may be detrimental where a large systems controller has to return back to handle the normal workload after a critical problem is solved[1,2,3].

Forgetting is inherent in the nature of focusing. “selective attention and behavioral inhibition are two sides of the same coin: Attention is the effect of biasing competition in favor of task-relevant information, and inhibition is the consequence that this has for the irrelevant information[4]”. It is inevitable that irrelevant things will be forgotten when one focuses.

Once focused, brain tries to keep its focus till the goal is achieved.
“PFC must maintain its activity robustly against distractions until a goal is achieved,[4]”. This also makes it impossible to maintain other things in the current memory.

The brain maintains our goals and rewards. “The aim of the cognitive system is not only to predict reward but to pursue the actions that will ensure its procurement[4].”

Setting clear goals and rewards helps to succeed in the current task but increases the exclusion effect of the forgotten current memories. The existence of a reward increases the forgetting effect tremendously.

Many drivers have experienced forgetting the portable parking sign and driving on-hitting it. It is sometimes distraction... But other times when there is no distraction, it is because you have hurry to reach somewhere and you focus all your skill and ability to get out of that narrow parking lot. Too much focusing is not good. Focusing should be proportionate with the task ahead + should have some leeway.

When there are other people in the car the German saying may help: ‘The car is driven not only by the driver but by all the passengers’. There are situations when the large systems operator must really focus his effort. In these situations a copilot, disributed processing of a team serves to replace the forgetting effect.

Unfortunately there are some cases that there exists only one pilot or the ATCO is alone for a short moment etc. In this case, time related intention may be set by the same person. If his volition is in perfact shape, he will automatically remember the waiting tasks as soon as he completes the emergency case. This requires a healthy balance and cooperation between the subconscious and conscious of the operator(I will make a few comments on this later).

Ali R+


[1] ICAO -Threat and Error Management (TEM) in Air Traffic Control

9. ATSP External Threats
9.4.1 Controllers from adjacent units may forget to coordinate traffic,

[2] Steven T. Shorrocka, Barry Kirwanb: Development and application of a human error identification tool for air traffic control; EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre, BP15, F91222, Bretigny Sur Orge, France, February 2002
(i) Perception: errors in visual detection and visual search, and errors in listening.
(ii) Memory: forgetting (or misrecalling) temporary or longer-term information, forgetting previous actions, and forgetting planned actions.
(iii) Judgement, planning and decision-making: errors in judging aircraft trajectories, errors in making decisions, and errors in planning.
(iv) Action execution: actions or speech performed notas-planned.
Memory: Controllers could forget to issue a planned instruction (e.g. FL or heading) after a distraction, or may forget received information. Reduced separation generally allows less time to address resulting situations, and places more demand on the pilot to sight traffic or request and implement avoiding action. Other errors of memory could include forgetting to check the position of traffic previously observed at long range. With reduced separation minima, it is possible that controllers could delay such checks, knowing that traffic will take more time to cover the distance to separation minima.

[3] Thomas Bove: Development and Validation of a Human Error Management Taxonomy in Air Traffic Control, November 2002
type of unintended actions and involve memory failures. Such memory failures can manifest themselves through, for example, forgetting planned items or forgetting intentions.

(1)Center for Learning and Memory, RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139; e-mail: ekm@ai.mit.edu
(2)Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior and Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544; e-mail: jdc@princeton.edu