Components of Attention
To understand attention, one must first deconstruct its components. A process as complex as attention is not one process but many processes acting in concert. Attention must encompass at least these components:
Arousal and alertness -- the prerequisites to attention
External or receptive attention: sensory processing and interpretation -- as with reading
Internal or reflective attention which includes thinking about ideas, concepts, and organization of projects or tasks
Processing attention or selective attention. This includes:
Focus -- tuning in to an object or topic
Filtering -- signal:noise gradient -- enhancement or activation of relevant stimuli
Inhibition of sensation (sensory inhibition) -- selective sensory input
External or expressive attention -- encompasses what we choose to communicate or suppress, which also evokes components of focusing, filtering, and inhibition.
Working memory -- accessing the retrieval and storage of working memory, ie, the flow of information, the content of active thought
Medscape Psychiatry. 2006;11(2) © 2006 Medscape
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