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Submitted by on Aug 27, 2021

The behavioural and cognitive activity of selectively concentrating on a particular piece of information, whether subjective or objective, while disregarding other perceptible information is referred to as attention. According to William James (1890), “The act of the mind taking hold of one of numerous seemingly contemporaneous potential objects or trains of thought in a clear and vivid form is known as attention. Its core is focalization, attention, and consciousness.” The deployment of limited cognitive processing resources has also been defined as attention. For example, in human eyesight, only around 1% of the visual input data (at about one megabyte per second) can get through the attentional bottleneck, resulting in inattentional blindness.

Within education, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology, attention is still a hot topic of research. The source of attention-generating sensory cues and signals, the effects of these sensory cues and signals on the tuning properties of sensory neurons, and the relationship between attention and other behavioural and cognitive processes, such as working memory and psychological vigilance, are all areas of active research. The diagnostic symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury and their consequences on attention are the subject of a relatively fresh field of study that builds on older psychopathology research. The way people pay attention differs from one culture to the next.

The interrelationships between attention and awareness are complicated enough to justify ongoing philosophical inquiry. Such research is both old and always relevant since it has ramifications in disciplines as diverse as mental health and the study of consciousness disorders to artificial intelligence and related research topics.

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Attention was examined in the realm of philosophy prior to the establishment of psychology as a scientific science. As a result, philosophers were responsible for many of the breakthroughs in the realm of attention. Juan Luis Vives is referred to as the “Father of Modern Psychology” by psychologist John B. Watson because he was the first to understand the significance of empirical research in his work De Anima et Vita (The Soul and Life). Vives discovered in his memory research that the more attentively one attends to stimuli, the better they are remembered.

By the 1990s, psychologists were imaging the brain using positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while monitoring attention. Because this pricey technology was typically only available in hospitals, psychologists sought out neurologists for collaboration. Brain imaging studies of selective attention were pioneered by psychologist Michael Posner (then already well-known for his significant work on visual selective attention) and neurologist Marcus Raichle.

Their findings piqued the curiosity of the neuroscience community, which had hitherto concentrated solely on monkey brains. Neuroscientists have been interested in this sort of study, which integrates complex experimental paradigms from cognitive psychology with these new brain imaging techniques due to these technical advancements.

Although cognitive psychophysiologists had long used the older electroencephalography (EEG) technique to study the brain activity underlying selective attention, the ability of newer techniques to measure precisely localised activity inside the brain piqued the interest of a broader community of researchers. A increasing corpus of neuroimaging research has discovered a frontoparietal attention network that appears to be in charge of attention regulation.

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