Attention and Brain Function

Attention and Brain Function

Attention and Brain Function

Attention and Brain Function

Synopsis

This book delineates cerebral mechanisms of attention in humans as they presently appear in the light of data obtained by using various modern brain-research techniques. While the book focuses primarily on the ways humans select environmental information, the selectivity manifest in human thinking, consciousness, and motor behavior is also dealt with in the framework of an expanded attention concept. By combining the most recent evidence from diverse fields of human brain research and relating these physiological data to achievements of modern cognitive psychology, the author has developed an integrative view of human information processing. This theory concentrates on mechanisms of attentional selection and on the automatic processing which provides a basis for the selective processes.

Excerpt

This book by R. Näätänen, Attention and Brain Function, presents original psychophysiological research based on computerized techniques of recording and evaluating event-related brain potentials. The application of multichannel magnetoencephalography greatly contributes to exact localization of corresponding neuronal generators responsible for attention. The book contains a bulk of information concerning data obtained by cognitive psychology in the area of study of attention. These results are closely linked with neurophysiological investigation of attention.

The problem of attention has been studied in classical psychology mainly by using introspection data concerning an enhancement of subjective phenomena, improvement of task performance, and modification of motor responses due to a voluntary set or a given instruction. Thus, the psychological research of attention has focused on the voluntary (active) forms of attention. Two main difficulties arose on this pathway. On the one hand, under a voluntary set or due to a verbal instruction, attention was integrated into a behavioral act requiring a later separation of attentional mechanisms from decision making, response elicitation, and reinforcement. On the other hand, voluntary set and verbal instructions could not be applied for research of involuntary (passive) attention.

Cognitive psychology, however preoccupied with computer metaphor, was separated from the neurophysiological basis of attention. Such terms as allocation of resources used in explaining attention were influenced by computer science. No attempts were made to bridge the gap between the concept of resource allocation and its structural implementation into neural networks.

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