According to D. E. Broadbent's (1958) selective filter theory, people do not process unattended stimuli beyond the analysis of basic physical properties. This theory was later rejected on the basis of numerous findings that people identify irrelevant (and supposedly unattended) stimuli. A careful review of this evidence, however, reveals strong reasons to doubt that these irrelevant stimuli were in fact unattended. This review exposed a clear need for new experiments with tight control over the locus of attention. The authors present 5 such experiments using a priming paradigm. When steps were taken to ensure that irrelevant stimuli were not attended, these stimuli produced no priming effects. Hence, the authors found no evidence that unattended stimuli can be identified. The results support a modern version of Broadbent's selective theory, updated to reflect recent research advances.
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