INTRODUCTION mind is the most difficult thing to know,


            Cognitive science is the
interdisciplinary study of mind and intelligence, embracing philosophy,
psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and
anthropology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Cognitive science can be seen
as the study of mind, but these minds can be human minds, animal minds,
computer minds, robot minds, alien minds, group minds or whatever minds. In
practice, human mind is studied mostly.

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 In psychology, the mind is about mental
processes, thought and consciousness. Human mind is the most difficult thing to
know, because it is unlike the other things that psychologist study. Human mind
is not something we can easily observe, measure, or manipulate. In addition, human
mind is the complex entity. It is because human brain is estimated to contain
ten billion individual neurons and each of these neurons have many connections
to other neurons. In order to understand the human mind, we need to understand
it essential duality, it capacity for egocentrism and it capacity for
reasonability. There are three basic functions of the human mind, that is
thinking, feeling and wanting. In human mind, the most important function is
thinking. Thinking is part of our mind that figures thing out. It creates the
ideas through which the situations, relationships and problems. While, feeling
are created by thinking. It is evaluating whether the events of our lives are
positive or negative. Our desires will make us make try to get something we

The relevance of an understanding of human mind to the
field of Cognitive Science practices is to gaining deeper understanding of the
processing of brain functions. Based on the theory of Sigmund Freud in the
early 1900’s, there are three levels of human mind which is conscious,
subconscious, and unconscious. First level of human mind is conscious,
awareness of something and being able to call it to mind. The capabilities of
conscious mind are ability to focus and ability to imagine something which is
not real. Subconscious is the storage that save our recent memories that need
to be a quick recall. For example, remember telephone number or the name of a person
you just met. Besides, this memory also holds recent information that use every
day, such as our habits. The last one is unconscious mind. Unconscious mind is
where all of our memories and past events reside. Those memories have been
repressed through trauma and simply been consciously forgotten and no longer
important to us.

Philosophers have studied about the nature of mind for
thousands of years but human mind is difficult to study. Cognitive psychologists
try and make functional models of human mind, which can be used to make
predictions of human behaviour. In practice, the work of human mind is hard to distinguish
by cognitive psychology until now. In this project, we implement it at BRC
Cafe. BRC Cafe is located at Bunga Raya College, University Malaysia Sarawak,
94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak. A café is a small restaurant that sells light
meals and drinks. The reason as to why we choose to do this project at BRC Cafe
because it is located near to our residential college and it is easy for us to
go there. 





concept studied in cognitive psychology that refers to the process of
concentrating on specific feature of the environment or specific thoughts or
activities is called as attention. There are several sights, sounds and sensations
going on around but, yet we are only focusing only one element from our
surrounding. Attention allow us to ignore all sort of information, sensations
and perceptions that are not relevant and focused on the information that is
important. However, focusing our attention on a primary target might result in
losing the second target at all. According to William James, attention “is the
taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem
several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization,
concentration of consciousness is of its essence.  It implies withdrawal from some things in
order to deal effectively with others.”

Aiming BRC café as the focus, the visual search paradigm
permits us to define a target either by its separate features or by their
conjunction on what is happening around the café. Simple features can be
detected in parallel with no attention limits (Treisman & Glade, 1980). For
instance, when there are less of customers in the café, it is easier for the
waiter to call out names and search for a customer because less distraction
come along in their way. However, the search for such features is affected by
differences in the number of distracters in the display (Treisman & Glade,
1980). According to Cherry (2017), attention is limited. It is demonstrated in
terms of capacity and duration. Increasing in display size tend to increase the
search times to look for something by forcing serial eye fixations. Remington
as cited in Posner and Peterson (1989) stipulated that improvement in eye
efficiency at the target locations begins well before the eyes start moving. It
is a guideline for the eye to pay attention at an appropriate area of the
visual field to function completely (Fischer & Breitmeyer; Posner &
Cohen as cited in Posner & Peterson, 1989).


Attention enables us humans to place
information in the working memory storage. According to Ormrod (2008), “if we want to move information from the
sensory register into working memory, it appears that, at least in most cases,
we must pay attention to it” (p. 171). As an example, if we meet someone
and hope to be acquaintances with that person, we need to pay special attention
to his or her name and looks. This information that we gathered from our
sensory memory by paying attention to their features will be stored in the
working memory. In the near future when we cross paths with the said person, we
would be able to recognize them and recall their name. However, in the case at
BRC Café, this such attention is seen when the man selling fried delicacies
such as ‘keropok lekor’ and banana fritters (‘pisang goreng’) takes the order
of a customer. When a customer comes to his stall, they will indicate what they
want and how much of it they want. The seller has to pay attention to what the
customer says by listening attentively and then only is he able to start
packing the requested food into plastic bags. The customer on the other hand
will have to pay attention to the seller by looking at the actions of the
seller while he is packing the food for them so that the seller does not
short-change them by giving them less food than ordered.

Attention also allows us to stay focused.
This is because our attention helps us to carry out tasks effectively. Imagine
if we are unable to pay attention, simple tasks such as writing an essay would
take a very long time to complete. When we are able to carry out tasks
effectively and within a shorter time period, then this shows that our human
potential is improving. An example of how attention helps in us focusing on a
task bring carried out is shown by the cook or chef in BRC Café. The cook is in
the kitchen cooking the food ordered by the customers and he is focused at the
task at hand. If he is not focused, he will most likely burn the food and have
to repeat the whole process of preparing the ingredients and cooking from the
beginning. Thus, taking a longer time and risking the business as customers
will not want to wait any longer than necessary. 

Attention also indirectly improves human
potential because it improves productivity at the workplace and this can be
seen in the case of the workers in BRC Café. For example, the workers in BRC
Café use divided attention. Divided attention is exhibited when an individual’s
attention is split between more than one thing at one time. In simple terms,
divided attention is similar to multitasking. The cashier in BRC Café is able
to take down new orders from customers while finding for the right amount of
change in the cashier. Besides that, the worker in charge of the drinks is also
able to make a drink while listening and remembering the order from a new
customer. This improves productivity in the workplace because if the workers
are only able to do one thing at a time and cannot split their attention
between few tasks, then work and orders at the café will be taken at a very
slow pace and business for the café will dwindle.



Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of the mind
as an information processor. It emphasis on the study of internal mental
operations. Cognitive psychologist is to develop theoretical framework to
explain the workings of the brain and to carry out experiments to illuminate
the framework. Cognitive psychology had shown major development in the last 50
years. It has produced many concepts, theories and models which are useful to
different areas of psychology. At the same time, it has made some contribution
towards the development of cognitive science practices in Malaysia.

One of the contribution is the knowledge of cognitive
psychology is applied in making effective advertisements. Marketing and
advertising companies uses the knowledge of cognitive psychology to attract the
consumer’s attention. In BRC café, the menus are designed to draw the
customer’s attention by using brighter colours.

Other than that, the knowledge of cognitive psychology
also benefits the staffs in BRC café. In cognitive psychology, it is known that
divided attention can be achieved with sufficient practice. In BRC café, it was
found out that the cashier was able to give the correct amount of change to a
customer while taking an order from another customer. This requires a certain
amount of experience and practices. It is proven by the experiment carried out
by Walter Schneider and Robert Shiffrin at 1997. As Schneider and Shiffrin
mentioned, practice allowed the participants to divide their attention to deal
with all the target and test items simultaneously. In Malaysia, most cashier in
restaurants will need to take order and find change to the customers. With this
knowledge, the employers will know that this is possible but requires certain
amount of practice. So, in order to achieve higher performance, certain
organizations will carry out training for the employees to enhance their
divided attention skills. However, divided attention has its limitations, it
depends on the cognitive resources, cognitive load and task-irrelevant stimuli.
Cognitive resources refer to a person has certain cognitive capacity to carry
out various task. Cognitive load is the amount of a person’s cognitive
resources needed to carry out a particular task. Lower cognitive load task used
up less cognitive resources while higher cognitive load task will used up more
cognitive resources. It is proven by the experiment known as the Flanker
Compatibility Task, carried out by Eriksen and Eriksen, 1974. This knowledge
benefits the owner to plan the job scope for the employees in BRC café. It
enables the owner to save costs and have an efficient planning as the owner
will divide the jobs according to the cognitive loads of a job. For example,
the chef in the café is specialised in cooking however the waiter and cashier
will have to do more task in one time. This is due to cooking is a higher load
task than the tasks carried out by other employees. Knowledge in attention of
cognitive psychology brings improvement and development of the restaurants in

Next, in BRC café, it was observed that one of the
knowledge of attention in cognitive psychology has occur, which is “cocktail
party effect”. Cocktail party effect refers to the ability of a human to
selectively attend to a single talker from a multitude of voice streaming in
the environment (Stifelman, 1994). The customers were able to pay attention to
what their friends are talking in a noisy environment. Other than that, it was
also observed that the cashier in BRC café are able to identify what the
customer was saying and comprehend it while there are multiple streams of audio
were present at the café. This helps the staffs in BRC café to be able to carry
his or her task even under a noisy environment.

The knowledge of attention in cognitive psychology helps
BRC café to reduce the work load of the staffs. The customers will write down their
names while ordering food at the counter, when the food is ready, the name will
be called out and the customers will have to collect the food by themselves. In
a noisy environment, the customers are able to hear their names being called
out. According to Treisman (1964), words that are common or important such as
the listener’s name has a lower threshold to be detected by the listener, in
other words, it will be easily detected by the listener. So, when the name of
the customer is being called out, it will be detected by the particular
customer to collect the food. This indirectly reduce the work load of staffs to
serve the food to their table. If human mind does not have this ability, this
kind of system will not work in the café.





Every act needs attention for its successful performance.
Working, talking, studying and playing require attention. Even eating or
waiting for an order at a cafe also require attention in order to be handled
efficiently. People are not born with the power of attention. It is a skill
that need to be developed. Based on the topic that we had chosen, we try to
observe the attention at Bunga Raya College’s cafe where the students are
waiting for their orders. Later, we focus on the attention of the student who are
chatting with their friends, watching the television, or even texting on the
phone while waiting for their order. After ordering food, the students are
supposed to focus on the waiter or waitress that are working at the cafe to
call out their name. All of these actions may help to develop and focus the
power of attention, but they are not since there are always distractions that
will distract their attention.

There are times when the attention becomes deeper, even
though it is involuntarily, and without exercising the real control over it. We
have certainly experienced a few times of a total blankness to the outside
world, when we were too absorbed watching or listening to a song, or while
reading a captivating book. These usually happens when we engage in the
activities that we enjoy and love. The same goes to the students at the cafe.
They feel bored while waiting for their orders, that is why they try to do some
activities to kill the times. However, because of they are too immersed in what
they are doing, they could not focus on the waiter or waitress who calls their
name to take their order.

For this ability to be useful, it should be under the
control of our will. We have to be able to decide where and when to focus your
mind. The real and effective power of attention should be available whenever we
need it. Every day, we are presented with a plenty of opportunities to
strengthen the power of our attention, be we are oblivious to these
opportunities. Actually, every actions can be turned into an exercise for
developing this skill. Just focus our mind on whatever we do, and try to
concentrate without moving it to something else. It is very useful to practice
on the concentration exercises, but if we cannot find the time and place to
practice them, we can turn the whole day into an enjoyable exercise. All we
need is try to focus on whatever we are doing, and in time, our ability to do
so would improve.

In this way, we will not only strengthen our attention and
concentration, but everything we do will be done better, more efficiently, and
even faster. In time, as our attention gets stronger, thoughts will lose their
power to distract us, and we will find that we can absorb yourself in whatever
we do. This will also increase our efficiency and make us enjoy on whatever we






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Posner, M. I.,
& Peterson, S. E. (1989). The Attention System of the
Human                                   Brain (RR04206). St. Louis,
Missouri: Washington University.

Stifelman, L. J., (1994). The cocktail party effect in
auditory interfaces: A study of                       
simultaneous presentation. MIT Media
Laboratory Technical Report. 1-18.

Treisman, A. M.,
& Gelade, G. (1980). A feature-integration theory of attention.
In Cognitive    Psychology (p. 99).
Retrieved from                                                                        attention.pdf



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