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    Attention and Cognition

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    1. How do you define the concept of attention?
    2. Can attention be consciously allocated to tasks? Why or why not?
    3. What is the relationship between attention and cognition?

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    1. How do you define the concept of attention?

    According to APA, attention is a state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information. (http://www.psychologymatters.org/glossary.html#c) Say another way, attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Examples include listening carefully to what someone is saying while ignoring other conversations in a room (the cocktail party effect) or listening to a cell phone conversation while driving a car (Strayer, D. L., Drews, F. A. & Johnston, W. A. (2003). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 9, 23-32.)

    Interest is linked to attention. For example, the higher he level of interest in the task. As a case in point the more you are interested in what is happening on the street and the less in what your mother is telling on the cell phone, the less it induced failures of visual attention during simulated driving. Only when a person doesn't feel any interest in immediate environment, the attention shifts to matters unrelated to the external environment, a phenomenon referred to as mind-wandering or "spontaneous thought".

    There are many theories about consciously attending to allocated tasks, while some argue that attention is part of the automatic brain function. Both seem to be true and explain human attention. For example, Treisman's attenuation model proposes "that there is a selective filter that distinguishes between two messages on the basis of their physical characteristics, such as location, intensity and pitch. The 'dictionary' in Treisman's model allows for selection between messages on the basis of content. Certain information requires a very low threshold in activating awareness of a stimulus, such as our name in the cocktail party example. The attenuation model therefore proposes that there is a decrease in the perceived loudness of an unattended message. This message will usually not be loud enough to reach its threshold unless it has a very ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution defines the concept of attention and explains if attention can be consciously allocated to tasks, including why or why not. Finally, the relationship between attention and cognition is explored. Supplemented with theories on attention and a journal article examining attention and cognition.