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Research Proposal
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Selective Attention and Visual Working Memory (Research Proposal Sample)


Research Proposal (ESS)
For this assessment you need to produce a research proposal with a maximum of 1500 words (excluding the reference section).
Research proposals are used to communicate an idea, or plan, for a research study. They are usually used to convince others of the importance of a research study, either to secure resources (e.g. funding) or when seeking expert supervision or input into a study. So, you do not collect or analyse any data, just write the proposal.
Your research proposal should be based on the distractor task experiment from the Practical: Starting It. You will need to develop this research area further by proposing a new experiment which includes the distractor task (low load condition) and at least one additional repeated measures independent variable (you can add more than one repeated measures variable and you can add more dependent variables if you wish, but we would recommend you keep your design as simple as possible).
Therefore, your study will have at least two independent variables. One will be whether trials are with or without distractors (two levels, repeated measures), the other will be your own idea for an additional repeated measures independent variable. You could manipulate the task, the distractor, the environment in which the distractor task is done, or the internal state of the participant.
Do not design a between-subjects experiment (i.e. do not compare different groups of participants). Do not design a correlational individual differences study (you do not need to include questionnaires to measure participant traits such as ADHD symptomatology).
For further details on the experiment refer to Practical: Starting it . For further details on writing the Research Proposal refer to Workshop: Writing it and Workshop: Nailing it.
You may find the Guide to Writing Lab Reports Download Guide to Writing Lab Reportshelpful.
We have prepared a Research Proposal Q & A.
Resources for Academic Skills provide useful support for your research proposal.
Research Proposal Structure
Format & Style
We would suggest using a sans serif font (e.g. Arial) with a minimum font size of 11 so your work can be easily read by us.
Using 1.5 or double spacing means the in-text comments in your feedback are easier to see.
Use scientific writing style (clear, precise, concise) – you can see examples in the relevant literature in the area (e.g. Forster & Lavie, 2016).
Your Introduction uses present tense for your arguments (e.g. "Our study aims to ...", "This evidence suggests that ...") and past tense to describe previous studies (e.g. "Smith et al. (2020) found that ...." ). Your Method should use future tense (e.g. "The experiment will..."). When discussing the predictions, potential results and their implications or importance, then use more tentative (conditional) language (e.g. "A statistical difference between condition x and condition y would indicate that...").
Planned Analyses
Detailed Structure
Your research proposal should use the subheadings provided and follow the detailed guidance below. Use paragraphs, not bullet points. The proposal has some similarities with sections of a lab report, with adjustments because it is written prior to collecting any data. The goal of a research proposal is to communicate what you plan on doing and to justify why the research question is important and why your proposed methods are the best way of answering the question.
Funnel shaped (just like a lab report):
Provide a brief overview of the research area (not too broad -you need to be concise).
Summarise and critique selected relevant previous research (e.g. research relating to the distractor task and load theory and research relating to your proposed variable).
State the purpose of the study (aims) and justify why it is important (does it help to solve a real-world problem?, does is address an important theoretical question? does it solve important methodological issues in the specific research area?) and how it develops the research area.
Provide a brief overview of the main methods (remember this is not a replication, it is an extension of the Forster & Lavie, 2016 study).
Explain and justify the research predictions (hypotheses) -this should flow logically from the arguments you have already made.
This section explains how you propose to conduct your study and obtain your data. You should use the same sub-headings as a laboratory report and language reflecting that this is what you are planning to do in the future. You should provide enough details to allow someone who is unfamiliar with your study to replicate it (see Forster & Lavie, 2016 for an example). Make sure you use your own words in this section. Where appropriate, justify your research design (e.g. reference an established method, consider the accuracy, validity and reliability of manipulations and measures or explain how you have controlled for a potential confounding variable).
State how many participants will complete your study, relevant demographic information of the population being sampled, and how participants will be recruited.
You will not be able to give details like mean age and gender breakdown (as you don’t have the data).
Your study should be inclusive wherever possible (e.g. stating "equal numbers of males and females" excludes participants who don’t identify with these gender categories). Only exclude certain groups of participants if there is a good methodological or ethical reason to do so.
Outline your experimental design (repeated measures), dependent variable(s), independent variables and levels of the independent variables.
Your design should be consistent with your hypotheses.
Define the exact stimuli you plan to use and how they will be selected or created (use references where appropriate). Provide information about the hardware (e.g. PC) and software (e.g. Inquisit for an online study, EPrime for a lab-based study) used to conduct the experiment and any additional materials.
Describe step-by-step what will happen during the experiment. Unless you have good reason to change this, it should be based on the low perceptual load condition from Experiment 1 in Forster & Lavie (2016), who you can reference. Justify any changes you make.
Remember for each level of your proposed IV, you will need trials with and without distractors, so you may need to present the study using blocks of trials (allocating each of your levels of the IV to a different block) or present different conditions on different days.
If you are proposing an online study, you will use different procedures for controlling the size and location of the images on the retina (e.g. using a credit card and virtual chinrest script) than if you are proposing to use the lab (using a chinrest, 50cm string).
Your procedural details should include appropriate ethical procedures.
Planned Analyses
Even if you don’t have data, you can plan your analyses because you have operationalised your hypotheses and research design. Your analyses should be consistent with your hypotheses and research design.
Specify your criterion for the inclusion of data (e.g. correct trials only, removal of very slow or fast responses -refer to Forster & Lavie, 2016).
Describe what levels of the IVs and combinations of levels of the IVs will need to be compared to determine whether your hypotheses were supported. You don’t need to specify any inferential statistics (but you can, if you are confident to do so, e.g. interaction).
If relevant, you may also specify any additional comparisons needed to rule out potential confounding variables (e.g. to show an effect of distraction, not just that participants in one condition had overall faster reaction times).
Use an appropriate referencing style, such as APA style references (and include in-text citations throughout your research proposal). For further guidance on referencing see Purdue Online Writing Lab (Links to an external site.) comprehensive guide. If you want to look up how to reference a certain type of media (e.g. a You Tube video) the APAstyle (Links to an external site.) website is useful.
You do not need to include appendices.


Selective Attention and Visual Working Memory
Selective Attention and Working Memory
Maintaining a conversation, finding a book in a messy workplace, or understanding an abstract concept all need concentrating on certain pieces of information while disregarding others. When such concentrating or selection is motivated by objectives or interests rather than provoked by sensory qualities, this capacity is referred to as top-down selective attention. (Zomeren, & Brower, 2014). This research investigates the link between selective attention and visual working memory capacity in order to better understand the mechanisms that contribute to the development of attention and concentration capacity. In this article, we will first look at the evolution of selective attention. Then, will look at theories of attention capacity and analyze potential processes through which selective attention might alter visual working memory.
Humans can encounter renewed circumstances and adjust to changing surroundings in a flexible manner because of a collection of cognitive skills known as executive functions, which include attention and memory (Zomeren & Brower, 2014). Working memory reveals the strong link between these components. Targeted and chosen perception, attention in a specific source of stimuli, or focus on a task are all examples of attention. From birth to maturity, its capability gradually develops, but its function is not limited to regulating information inputs; it is also engaged in digesting the same information.
The capacity to focus on and optimize relevant information while separating out irrelevant details is often referred to as selective attention. In selective attention tasks, this prioritization manifests itself by attending only to a single channel. (Coch, Sanders & Neville, 2005) used a dichotic listening challenge to give convergent evidence for developmental variations in filtering. Participants were asked to pay attention to one channel while ignoring other, and an unusual inquiry happened in either channel. According to ERP data, while 6–8-year-olds and adults could identify the oddball in the participated channel, only children were effective in detecting it in the unmonitored channel (Conway, Jarrold & Towse,2017).
The experiment was place at CCT University of Sussex's experimental light laboratory. The researchers assessed cognitive effectiveness and efficiency in 20 volunteers (mean age 18.16 years) and children aged 3-7 years with normal or corrected eyesight and no medical treatment. Subjects were instructed to say the words at their own pace phrases given on screen and to memorize the final word of each sentence for subsequent recall. The individual was presented with increasingly bigger groups of sentences and distractions in terms of (noise) until they were unable to recall all three groups of the appropriate size.
The sample comprised 20 people aged 19 (13 21-18 years aged females) and 18 (21-17 years aged, 7 boys). Two more students were eliminated owing to poor productivity, i.e., bad performance as a consequence of more false alarms than answers on trial types in the capacity test. Students from lower classes were included as a dependent variable. Meanwhile, eight more three-year-old were dropped. two for exhibiting a 'yes' bias in the task, two for failing to complete the research, and two for performing poorly in the capacity exercise. Participants were University of Sussex undergraduate students who got course credit. Children were selected from preschools, daycares, and primary schools around the University of Sussex who were generally growing and had no documented vision or hearing abnormalities.
The experiment was conducted on either a HP desktop (for adults) or a HP laptop (for children), with objects shown on a black backdrop and manipulated using Psych Toolbox. The experiment consisted of two tasks that were presented in a predetermined order:(1) a regular attention task and (2) a filtering task. The objects in the capacity assignment were purple, rectangular blocks.
The resources for the screening exercise included two sets of items: one set of rabbits marked in a red rectangle and another set of cows drawn in a purple rectangle. Subjects were randomized to a 'target set' at random. The remaining set functioned as the distracting block. To assess filtering effectiveness in the processing task, we employed pure and filtering experiments. Pure trials with no distractions were comparable to the visual working memory capacity task. Pure trials were classified into two categories. Students were included in the 'low load' trials since these figures were believed to be within their capabilities. Respondents in different 'High load' trials were sperate students. These dimensions were selected based on previous research on capacity development (Simmering, 2012). By adding two or four distractor items to basic visual working memory trials, three different types of filters trials were established.
Individual tests were administered to participants on university in the lab. They were warned that they would see many purple blocks come on the screen fast and then vanish. The blocks then would again seed, but one of them could have rotated. A presentation was shown to students to explain the task. A single purple block came on the screen, then vanished and returned after being turned 45 degrees. The rotation was highlighted by the computer for students. The identical sequence of events presented trials without rotation, showing the block's consistency.
Following the presentation, participants did eight practice trials, each with one to four objects one to three for young kids shown together around fixation cross. Impulses were provided to children for 500 ms and adults for 100 ms. The screen turned blank after the authorized display duration for a 900 ms retention period. After then, the array of objects reappeared for 1,000 milliseconds. After this period, participants had to reply to which one of the blocks had spun or if all of the blocks had remained the same. For right and bad replies, happy and sad faces were presented as feedback. Following the practice block, participants moved on to the capacity test, which was identical to the practice trials except that no response was provided.
Researcher was done on 24 trials in which the set size or if an item altered were both regulated. The capacity test was followed quickly by the filter task, which contained the sets focus and distracter. Participants were told that they might observe cows and rabbits on a farm, and that some of these animals moved about. Their objective was to predict when one of the animals will spin. Participants were given a 'clue' depending on their distractor/target set assignments. They were informed that even the cow loved to move in the 'cow condition,' and they were instructed to pay careful attention to just the chickens. They were informed the same thing about the rabbits while they were in the rabbit state.
Only modifications in the goal set were asked about by the participants. Participants were shown both a test in which one item rotated and a test in which neither item spun, just as they were in the ability task. Participants viewed two items from the goal set briefly before they vanished. One of the things had spun and the other had stayed the same when th

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