The concept of attention has led a rather chequered existence during the history of psychology. It was highly regarded by the introspectionists and armchair theorizers of the nineteenth century, some of whom had important things to say about attention. For example, the following quotation from William James (1980) anticipates a number of later theoretical developments: “If, then, by the original question, how many ideas or things can we attend to at once, be meant how many entirely disconnected systems or processes of conception can go on simultaneously, the answer is, not easily more than one, unless the processes are very habitual; but then two, or even three, without very much oscillation of the mind from one to the next, and no consequent gain of time” (p. 409).
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