Cognitive Psychology of Attention: Foundations

  • Ronald A. Cohen


Formal scientific inquiry into the processes underlying attention largely coincided with the emergence of the nascent field of cognitive psychology in the middle of the last century. As cognitive scientists developed models to explain how humans process sensory information, it was necessary to select certain salient stimuli, while ignoring stimuli with less informational value, thereby reducing the amount of input that has to be handled at any given moment in time. This selection process was conceptualized as “attentional” and considered to be an essential aspect of cognition. In this chapter, some of the major cognitive theories and experimental approaches to the study of attention will be discussed. The chapter begins with a review of information-processing theory and early cognitive studies of attention that focused on sensory selection. This will be followed by discussion of other early cognitive theories and approaches. In the next chapter we will review developments in the cognitive psychology of attention that have occurred since the first edition of this book (post-1990) and current status of the cognitive psychology of attention.


Selective Attention Secondary Task Resource Model Dichotic Listening Imperative Stimulus 
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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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