Donald Broadbent: A Brief Biography Of This Cognitive Psychologist

The history of mankind has left us with people and celebrities the echo of wisdom, even today it has an impact on our modern world. Much of his research, work and studies have formed the basis of the development of knowledge today.

In this article, we will talk about a very relevant person in the field of cognitive psychology: Donald Broadbent. We will find out who this researcher was from a brief biography of Donald Broadbent, Aspects of his scientific career, what were his most relevant contributions and on what he based these contributions.

    Brief biography of Donald Broadbent

    Donald Eric Broadbent FRS (Fellow Royal Society) was an experimental psychologist born in Birmingham in 1926 and died in 1993 at the age of 66. His career was centered on cognitive psychology, Which is the field of psychology that focuses on cognition, that is, on the mental processes involved in knowledge.

    As the name suggests, Donald was a member of the Royal Society. This is an honorary degree awarded to high-level scientists who are nationals or residents of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland (scientists of other nationalities may belong as foreign members). This title is chosen by the members of the Royal Society themselves and implies that the members have made “a substantial contribution to the improvement of knowledge”.

    Donald Broadbent has focused his career in the scientific field of psychology. A 2002 survey by Review of General Psychology, a scientific journal born out of the American Psychological Association, ranked Broadbent as the 54th most cited psychologist, in scientific papers, of the 20th century.

      professional career

      Donald Broadbent graduated from Cambridge University, in 1958 becoming the Director of the Applied Psychology Research Unit, a unit that had previously been established by the UK Medical Research Council in 1994.

      Much of his work has focused on practical problems of military or private industry, always combined with theoretical work. His career has been recognized for his two theories: selective attention theory and short-term memory theory, Made using the first computer tools, necessary for their analysis of human cognition.

      The two theories combine to form what is known as the single channel hypothesis, called the “Donald Broadbent filter model”. This concept proposes that the physical characteristics (eg, tone) of an auditory message be used to focus attention only on the particular message.

      This implies that irrelevant messages are filtered out by the brain, before stimulus information is processed for meaning.

        Contributions to cognitive psychology

        Donald Broadbent was one of the pioneers of cognitive psychology, also known as cognitivism. The term cognitive means the act of knowledge, which considers their actions of storage, retrieval, recognition, understanding, organization and use of information received by the senses.

        This discipline of psychology aims the study of the fundamental and profound mechanisms by which knowledge is developed, From perception, memory and learning, to the development of simple and complex concepts, as well as to logical reasoning.

        Donald Broadbent’s theories are developed around cognitive psychology, and more specifically, on the basis of attention filter models.

        The attentional filter model

        The filter model is a theory of psychology that states that a person’s attention is focused on information filtered through the brain. It consists of receiving information, and from this information, a fragment will go to the sensory flow (that of the senses) and will be processed in the central processing channel, and the other information will not (selective attention).

        In the case of Donald Broadbent’s filter model, it is a filter that we call “precategorized”, that is to say the filter first passes to the semantic analysis of the information. In other words, the stimuli appear first, which are stored in the sensory area. And then the filter would act, which would select the information.

        This information would be stored in short-term memory (a channel of limited capacity), and eventually some information would pass into long-term memory. Sensory memory temporarily stores information.

        The filter installed is rigid and selective as desired a fragment of sensory flow and gives you access to the central channel, while the rest of the irrelevant information is lost.

        Research of the attentional model

        Specifically, Donald Broadbent’s attentional filter model postulates the existence of a theoretical filter device, located in the brain, that links incoming sensory recording and short-term memory storage.

        This means that this filter allows the person to manage two types of stimuli displayed at the same time. so when two stimuli are received at once, one of them remains waiting in the brain for further processing, while the other is recorded. This filter prevents short-term memory overload.

        This Donald Broadbent theory was based on the following experiment: three pairs of different digits were presented simultaneously, 3 digits in one ear and three digits in the other.

        Most participants remembered the numbers from ear to ear, rather than bats in pairs. For example, if 382 were presented in one ear and 497 in the other, participants recalled the number 382,497 together, instead of 348,927 (bat to bat).

        Authors who leave their mark

        They say the difference between fame and prestige is that with fame people know you; with prestige, on the other hand, it’s the important people who know you. With this in mind, Donald Broadbent was a prestigious man, known for his contributions to experimental psychology and basic psychology.

        This is evidenced by the fact that he was a member of the Royal Society and that a conference in honor of Donald Broadbent is held each year at the British Psychological Society.

        Outraged, his work has resulted in two prestigious awards from the scientific community; the APA Prize for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology in 1975 and the William James Prize in 1989.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Clavijo Gamero, R. and Pérez Díez, DI (2019). PIR exam preparation manual. Resident internal psychologist. Exam exercises. Editorial Mad.
        • Moray, N. (1995). Donald E. Broadbent: 1926-1993. American Journal of Psychology 108 (1): 117-121.
        • Redolar Ripoll, D. (2013). Cognitive neuroscience. Editorial Panamericana Spain. 1st edition.
        • Reed Hunt, R. and Ellis, H. (2007). Fundamentals of Cognitive Psychology. Modern editorial manual.

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