Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 109–145 | Cite as

Analysis of the elements of attention: A neuropsychological approach

  • Allan F. Mirsky
  • Bruno J. Anthony
  • Connie C. Duncan
  • Mary Beth Ahearn
  • Sheppard G. Kellam


A model for conceptualizing the components or elements of attention is presented. The model substitutes for the diffuse and global concept of “attention” a group of four processes and links them to a putative system of cerebral structures. Data in support of the model are presented; they are derived from neuropsychological test scores obtained from two samples, the first consisting of 203 adult neuropsychiatric patients and normal control subjects, and the second, an epidemiologically-based sample of 435 elementary school children. Principal components analyses of test scores from these two populations yielded similar results: a set of independent elements of attention that are assayed by different tests. This work presents a heuristic for clinical research in which the measurement of attention is essential.

Key words

attention elements neuropsychological tests brain system 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan F. Mirsky
    • 1
  • Bruno J. Anthony
    • 1
  • Connie C. Duncan
    • 1
  • Mary Beth Ahearn
    • 2
  • Sheppard G. Kellam
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Psychology and PsychopathologyNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesda
  2. 2.Department of Mental Hygiene, School of Hygiene and Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore

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