Disengagement of Attention
Unlocking of attentional focus
A process that enables shifting of the focus of selective attention from one location to another.
Michael Posner and his colleagues (1982, 1990) argued that in order to shift from one spatial location to another, people must first “disengage” their attention from an initial visual target or location. This process takes time and has other costs associated with it. Posner recognized that attention is a dynamic process and that its focus shifts to different spatial locations or objects according to current behavioral goals and according to the demands of the environment. The metaphor of an “attentional spotlight” was used. A number of distinct stages are required for attention to move from one focus to another according to Posner: first, attention must disengage from its current focus; second, it must move to the new location; and finally, it must then engage at the new location. Neuropsychological and...