Selective Attention


perception, in psychology, mental organization and interpretation of sensory information. The Gestalt psychologists studied extensively the ways in which people organize and select from the vast array of stimuli that are presented to them, concentrating particularly on visual stimuli. Perception is influenced by a variety of factors, including the intensity and physical dimensions of the stimulus; such activities of the sense organs as effects of preceding stimulation; the subject's past experience; attention factors such as readiness to respond to a stimulus; and motivation and emotional state of the subject. Stimulus elements in visual organization form perceived patterns according to their nearness to each other, their similarity, the tendency for the subject to perceive complete figures, and the ability of the subject to distinguish important figures from background. Perceptual constancy is the tendency of a subject to interpret one object in the same manner, regardless of such variations as distance, angle of sight, or brightness. Through selective attention, the subject focuses on a limited number of stimuli, and ignores those that are considered less important. Depth perception, considered to be innate in most animals, is produced by a variety of visual cues indicating perspective, and by a slight disparity in the images of an object on the two retinas. An absolute threshold is the minimal physical intensity of a stimulus that a subject can normally perceive, whereas a difference threshold is the minimal amount of change in a stimulus that can be consciously detected by the subject. Recent studies have shown that stimuli are actually perceived in the brain, while sensory organs merely gather the signals. William Dobelle's research, for instance, has offered significant hope for the blind.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Selective Attention: Selected full-text books and articles

Attention: A Neuropsychological Perspective By Antony Ward Psychology Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "Selective Attention"
Attention and Memory: An Integrated Framework By Nelson Cowan Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian's tip: Part II "Selective Attention Phenomena"
Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention: A Developmental Perspective By John E. Richards Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "Selective Attention over the Life Span: Behavioral Measures" and Chap. 14 "Summary and Commentary. Selective Attention: Its Measurement in a Developmental Framework"
Applied Neuropsychology of Attention: Theory, Diagnosis, and Rehabilitation By Michel Leclercq; Peter Zimmermann Psychology Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: "Selective or Focal Attention" begins on p. 4 and "Assessment of Selective Attention" begins on p. 193
Attention and Brain Function By Risto Näätänen Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992
Librarian's tip: "Auditory ERPs and Attention: Multi-Channel Tasks (Selective Attention) begins on p. 247 and Chap. 8 "Regional Cerebral Blood-Flow"
Selective Attention in Vision By A. H.C. Van Der Heijden Routledge, 1992
Attention and Orienting: Sensory and Motivational Processes By Peter J. Lang; Robert F. Simons; Marie T. Balaban Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997
Librarian's tip: "Active Selective Attention: Localized Orienting" begins on p. 436
Object Perception: Structure and Process By Bryan E. Shepp; Soledad Ballesteros Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1989
Librarian's tip: "Stroop and Garner Measures of Selective Attention" begins on p. 55
Attention and Performance XI By Michael I. Posner; Oscar S. M. Marin Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1985
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Aspects of Cortical Organization Related to Selective Attention and Selective Impairments of Visual Perception: A Tutorial Review" and Chap. 15 "Smooth Eye Movements as Indicators of Selective Attention"
Attention in Action: Advances from Cognitive Neuroscience By Glyn W. Humphreys; M. Jane Riddoch Psychology Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 14 "Selective Attention and Response Control Following Damage to the Human Pulvinar"
Handbook of Cognitive, Social, and Neuropsychological Aspects of Learning Disabilities By Stephen J. Ceci Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, vol.2, 1987
Librarian's tip: "Selective Attention" begins on p. 67
The Handbook of Aging and Cognition By Fergus I. M. Craik; Timothy A. Salthouse Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: "Empirical Approaches to Attention in Aging: Selective Attention" begins on p. 222
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