Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Ronald A. CohenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1267


Concentration; Focus; Vigilance


Cognitive processes that enable the selection of, focus on, and sustained processing of information. The object of attention can either be environmental stimuli actively being processed by sensory systems, or associative information and response alternatives generated by ongoing cognitive activity.

Historical Background

Attention is subjectively self-evident to all people, and terms that referred to attention-type experiences have been described by philosophers through the ages. The concept of attention is strongly linked in the philosophy to the nature of consciousness, self-awareness, and most theories of the “mind.” Accordingly, attention has been the subject of psychological inquiry from the beginning of this scientific discipline. The writings of William James captured this fact, as evident from this well-known excerpt from his Principles of Psychology (1898).

Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Cohen, R. A. (1993). Neuropsychology of Attention. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cohen, R. A., Meadows, M. E., Kaplan, R. F., & Wilkinson, H. (1994). Habituation and sensitization of the OR following bilateral cingulate damage. Neuropsychologia, 32(5), 609–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Colquhoun, W. P., & Baddeley, A. D. (1967). Influence of signal probability during pretraining on vigilance decrement. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73, 153–155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Desimone, R., & Gross, C. G. (1979). Visual areas in the temporal cortex of the macaque. Brain Research, 178, 363–380.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Deutsch, J. A., & Deutsch, D. (1963). Attention: Some theoretical considerations. Psychological Review, 70, 80–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fuster, J. M. (1989). The prefrontal cortex: Anatomy, physiology, and neuropsychology of the frontal lobe. New York: Raven.Google Scholar
  7. Goldberg, M. E., & Bushnell, M. D. (1981). Behavioral enhancement of visual response in monkey cerebral cortex. II. Modulation in frontal eye fields specifically related to saccades. Journal of Neurophysiology, 46, 783–787.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hasher, L., & Zacks, R. T. (1979). Automatic and effortful processes in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 108, 356–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Heilman, K. M., Bowers, D., Coslett, H. B., & Watson, R. T. (1983). Directional hypokinesia in neglect. Neurology, 2(33), 104.Google Scholar
  10. Heilman, K. M., Watson, R. T., & Valenstein, E. (1993). Neglect and related disorders. In K. M. Heilman & E. Valenstein (Eds.), Clinical neuropsychology (3rd ed., pp. 279–336). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Heilman, K. M., Watson, R. T., Valenstein, E., & Goldberg, M. E. (1988). Attention: Behavior and neural mechanisms. Attention, 11, 461–481.Google Scholar
  12. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 403–404). New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
  13. Kahneman, D. (1973). Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  14. Kahneman, D., & Treisman, A. (1984). Changing views of attention and automaticity. In R. Parasuraman & D. R. Davies (Eds.), Varieties of attention. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  15. Kaplan, R. F., Verfaellie, M., DeWitt, L. D., & Caplan, L. R. (1990). Effects of changes in stimulus contingency on visual extinction. Neurology, 40(8), 1299–1301.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mattingley, J. B., Bradshaw, J. L., Bradshaw, J. A., & Nettleton, N. C. (1994). Residual rightward attentional bias after apparent recovery from right hemisphere damage: Implications for a multi-component model of neglect. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 57(5), 597–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mesulam, M. A. (1981). A cortical network for directed attention and unilateral neglect. Archives of Neurology, 10, 304–325.Google Scholar
  18. Parasuraman, R. (1984). Sustained attention in detection and discrimination. In R. Parasuraman & D. R. Davies (Eds.), Varieties of attention (pp. 243–289). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  19. Pardo, J. V., Fox, P. T., & Raichle, M. E. (1991). Localization of a human system for sustained attention by positron emission tomography. Nature, 349(6304), 61–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Posner, M. I., & Cohen, Y. (1984). Facilitation and inhibition in shifts of visual attention. In H. Bouma & D. Bowhuis (Eds.), Attention and performance X. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Posner, M. I., Walker, J. A., Friedrich, F. A., & Rafal, R. D. (1987). How do the parietal lobes direct covert attention? Neuropsychologia, 25(1A), 135–145.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pribram, K. H., & McGuinness, D. (1975). Arousal, activation, and effort in the control of attention. Psychological Review, 82, 116–149.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schneider, W., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1977). Controlled and automatic human information processing: I. Detection, search, and attention. Psychological Review, 84, 1–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shannon, C. E., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana: The University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  25. Treisman, A., & Gelade, G. (1980). A feature-integration theory of attention. Cognitive Psychology, 12, 97–136.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Verfaellie, M., Bowers, D., & Heilman, K. M. (1988). Attentional factors in the occurrence of stimulus-response compatibility effects. Neuropsychologia, 26, 435–444.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Watson, R. T., Heilman, K. M., Cauthen, J. C., & King, F. A. (1973). Neglect after cingulotomy. Neurology, 23, 1003–1007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wurtz, R. H., Goldberg, M. E., & Robinson, D. L. (1982). Brain mechanisms of visual attention. Scientific American, 246(6), 124–135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory, McKnight Brain Institute, University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA