Neuropsychological Models of Attention

  • Ronald A. Cohen


A number of neuropsychological models have been proposed to account for the processes and brain systems underlying attention. These models have been based on two types of clinical data: (1) clinical inattention syndromes in patients with well-identified circumscribed brain lesions and (2) neuropsychological deficits in samples of patients with neurological or psychiatric diseases affecting the brain. There has been a remarkable degree of convergence among most of these models. We will review several to highlight commonalities and differences and to summarize current thinking regarding the neuropsychology of attention. In this section, models proposed by Heilman, Watson, and Valenstein [1, 2] and Mesulam [3, 4] will be discussed first, as they were based on neurological and neuropsychological studies of hemi-neglect syndrome. This will be followed by models of attention with origins in primate neuroscience (Pribram), cognitive science (Posner), and then a number of subsequent models that placed greater emphasis on executive-attention (Shallice, Stuss, and others). Finally, two separate attention frameworks proposed by Mirsky and Cohen over 2 decades ago are considered. All of these models and frameworks have a number of elements in common, illustrating a confluence of thinking that exists regarding the neuropsychology of attention.


Selective Attention Sustained Attention Executive Control Brain System Sensory Selection 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald A. Cohen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry and AgingGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive Aging and MemoryUniversity of Florida College of MedicineGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Warren Alpert School of MedicineBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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